Sigma 8-16mm DC HSM review by Michael De Nysschen
One of my first lenses that I received from Sigma South Africa was the Sigma 8-16mm DC HSM f4.5-5.6. I have been using it almost exclusively for interior and architectural work. Now many photographers out there do not like the ultra wide lenses for interior or architectural use due to extreme effects they tend to have on perspective.
That however, is the beauty of these lenses in my opinion. They create space and have the ability to create a feeling of open space in what might otherwise be perceived as a small space or room. Over the last year this lens has seen extensive use. Shooting anything from 50 to 1000 images per shoot depending on what the job was. I have high praise for the build quality. It is solid, the focus and zoom ring still works as the first day I got the lens. It shows minimal wear.
Lets however get down to the nitty gritty. Does the lens perform?
If you are using a crop sensor like I do, currently a Canon EOS 7d Mk II, this lens is a fantastic addition to your arsenal of lenses.
As I mentioned earlier, this lens is well built. It is equipped with a metal mount, as all Sigma lenses are. The zoom ring is 17mm wide and a joy to use. Smooth and accurate with no play or looseness. Between the zoom and focus ring is a distance scale which is easy to read and use. At the front end of the lens you have a built in petal hood that protects the front element really well. The front element is convex but never protrudes beyond the hood at any focal length. The only downside of this built in petal hood is the fact that you can’t use standard filters on the unit. You need to fork out a pretty large amount of cash for the Lucroit filter system. This does limit its uses for landscape work if you are into using lots of filters. I won’t go into the nitty gritty of how many elements there are and what they are made of. Trust me when I say it is well built and delivers.
This is undoubtedly the crux of any review. Most of you have gone directly to this paragraph, right? Images are sharp with IQ going down in the corners and edges when shooting wide open. Stopping down to around f9 – f11 will get this sorted out. There is some chromatic aberration present shooting wide open. When you have high contrast scenes with bright areas you will need to remove aberrations in post processing. It is not excessive but visible if left unattended to.
As with any lens of this focal length you will have some distortion, but, this lens performs brilliantly. Sigma already handled distortion well with the Sigma 10-20mm lenses and they just kept on going with this one.
When it comes to vignetting of the lense, yes it does have some. Again this is quite easily solved in post processing and I have found that in Lightroom the lens correction presets work perfectly. A one click, OK…two click correction.
Flaring is well controlled but again, as with any ultra wide lens, you will have flaring. With the Sigma sporting an almost 120 degree angle of view you cannot criticize it too harshly. Once again when doing landscape work, flaring can easily by countered with some clever landscape shooting tricks using your finger to block out the sun flare.
The small little things…
What I have found rather annoying is when shooting interiors or sunrise/sunset landscapes, you have to make sure that your lens is perfectly free of dust particles on the front element. I have gotten into the habit of using my Rocket blower and a soft brush to clear off anything that might have ended up on the front. If you forget this you will soon have little circular highlights dancing around high contrast edges and very bright areas. Cloning these out is time consuming and really a hassle.
On the topic of cleaning, if it does happen that you do get a finger smudge or mark on the lens element, it takes a bit of nifty finger work and finesse to clean. The space between the element and the petal hood is very limited and unless you have a very clean lens cloth, it will be difficult. Lens pen nibs can’t really get into that space. Make sure you have some new and unused good quality lens cleaning cloths that don’t just wipe but clean properly.
Other than that, if you are looking for an ultra wide lens to use for landscapes on a crop sensor body, you cannot go wrong. For interior work this is the next best thing for crop sensor cameras and those that cannot afford a tilt-shift lens from the brand names. All in all, I am very happy with the lens. The few things I have mentioned, should not be an issue for anyone. It really is fun using the lens and provides sharp, clear images. If you have any questions or remarks drop me a message on the website or my Facebook page.