on October 21, 2006
I went into a local camera store to look at the Nikon 12-24mm wide angle zoom to eventually augment the Nikon 50mm 1.8 and 18-200mm VR I currently use on my D200. After seeing the Sigma 10-20mm, taking test shots with it and the Nikon, and then printing the shots in the store, I walked out with the Sigma lens.
I had planned to buy the 12-24mm Nikon next Spring when my budget would allow the expenditure. I have had success with Nikon optics in the past - starting with my first Nikon FM back in the seventies. The Sigma's good construction, nice finish, smooth+fast+quiet focusing and 10mm focal length convinced me to try my first non-Nikon lens in 30 years. A big factor: The Sigma lens is less than half the price of the Nikon lens here is Canada. It fit my budget, so I took the plunge.
The Sigma fits into my "sharp enough" category. In real world shooting, its sharpness is on par with my 18-200mm Nikon. Both lens are less sharp than my $100 50mm 1.8 when "test" images are blown up to 16"x20" size. I never notice any lack of sharpness in "real" pictures. I care more about color saturation, contrast and color balance anyway. In this area, the Sigma does well. Saturation and contrast are equal to both my other Nikon lens - particularly at f8 and smaller aperatures. Wide open, I find some weakening in contrast. The Sigma has a warmer color termperature than my other lens. One click toward blue in Photoshop would fix this minor variance in color. But I use my 10-20mm almost exclusively for landscapes. The warmer color is generally a good thing.
I have noticed some vignetting @ 10mm f4. Zooming to 12mm or stopping down to f5.6 elminates any artifacts in pictures I have taken thus far. I have found it's more important to avoid "thick framed" filters - and stacking filters is a no no with this lens. They cause more darkening than a wide open f-stop. BTW: I added a 72 to 77mm step-up ring to my 18-200m VR Nikon to allow me to share filters between my zoom lens.
I do miss having a manual/autofocus switch on the Sigma lens. I have accidently nudged the manual focus ring a couple of times. With that said, the incredible depth of field of this lens (or any lens at this focal length) means small focusing errors can be tolerated :)
I recommend this lens - even to people like me, who never had a non-nikon lens before.
on February 28, 2009
I am rating this lens with only three stars because I am reviewing two lenses. Here is why:
When I received my lens I later realized that I did not receive the extended three year warranty card that comes with the USA versions of the lens. Instead of just sending me the extended warranty card Amazon shipped me a whole new lens. Now while I was reading reviews prior to ordering this lens I had seen many reviews where the reviewer either loved this lens or they hated it. After a while I could see why...
Some of the lenses that are being shipped are sharp all the way around while some are not sharp at all. Many claimed it was sharper at F:8 than F:4 while others said theirs was never sharp at all. Some complained about distortion and or dull or over saturated colors. I finally found a reviewer who had the opportunity to try 3-4 different lenses. They found that there seemed to be a lack of quality control all around when it came to this specific lens. Having a few days of both lenses I decided to compare them out for myself. I am glad I did.
I put my camera in the front yard on a tripod and shot numerous sets of three for each lens at 10mm, 14mm, and 20mm. The results were surprising. The original lens I had been sent first was a clear winner. The trees and anything else around the picture were sharp, The replacement lens was anything but sharp. The colors on lens two were more vibrant than lens one but one can fix that with software where a blurred image is not really fixable.
I shot numerous sets with both lenses and a few different F settings and the results remained the same. The replacement lens was the one being returned. Lucky for me the Sigma extended warranty cards have nothing on them, you enter the serial numbers yourself so I kept the card and returned the replacement lens.
I have included two photos to the gallery for this lens so you can see what I found. In the end my first lens would have received a 5 star rating because they really are excellent lenses if you can get a good copy. The replacement copy would have received a 1 star rating. Luckily I had the chance to compare the two copies side by side or I may have never known just how bad lens number two really was.
If your lens has problems like lens number two you have a poor copy of the lens, return it. Sadly from all of the reviews I have read it seems that maybe 20% of the lenses are not good copies. Many just think poor sharpness is just a general lens limitation when chances are it is just a poor copy they received.
1. Get the lens out and shoot some shots, If it is not sharp around the edges return it for another copy.
2. If you do not get your extended warranty card you may have gotten a gray market lens. Return it.
Upon talking to a Sigma rep I was told they have no way to verify whether the lens is USA or Gray market (international) by the serial number, if you do not have the extended warranty card you will not get the warranty extension so buyer beware. The card is a card stock type black and red folded warranty card that specifically states that it is the extended warranty card. Don't let any dealer tell you that it has the extended warranty without it being in your hands. Sigma currently has no registration on their website. The rep told me to keep the card in a safe place and then in the event that I need service I will send it and a copy of the original sales receipt in with the lens for service.
All that being said I can tell you that this is a wonderful lens if you need a super wide angle lens and you get a good copy. They are not the fastest lenses around but for the money you cannot beat it.
Take a look at the pictures I included for the lens and hopefully they will help you determine if you were lucky on the Sigma draw and give you an idea of what you need to check for.
on February 9, 2006
there are currently 4 wide angle zoom choices available on the EF-S canon mount (d-rebel/xt/20d) canon 10-22, Sigma 12-24, sigma 10-20, tokina 12-24. Of these, sigma 12-24 is the only one which is usuable on a full frame sensor (canon 1d, 5d, possible future cameras). There is sizable difference in field of view between the 10 mm, and 12 mm. and the tokina is closer to 13 mm on its wide end. The sigma retails for about 2/3 the price of the canon. Optically they are very similar, with the canon having a larger maximum aperature, which is generally not important in a wide angle lens. The built construction is EX, they higher line of sigma, and it excellent. The focus motor is HSM, making it fast, and very accurate. Resolution chart show the sharpness to be very close to that of canon. The color and contrast is excellent, the flare and chromatic abberation genenrally well controlled. A fun lens to use, and excellent value.
on September 27, 2007
Before purchasing this lens, I looked at the Nikon 12-24 and the tokina 12-24. Both were more expensive, and claimed to be be excellent performers. After comparing all three, the Sigma 10-20 was the hands down winner in my book for a number of reasons.
1. Packaging - Came in a very attractive box with a manual and included not only a lens hood, but a very nice lens case! Good Job Sigma!
2. Build - The lens feels tough and has a very attractive finish to it. The focus ring is nicely dampened and is very easy to modulate. My only gripe is that the lens cap is useless, get a nikon lens cap and youre all set.
3. Performance - The sigma is 2mm wider than its nikon and tokina counterparts and boy does it make a difference. The FOV is wide on my D50 and i can capture so much on one single shot that when people see them, their first words are "how the hell...". Distortion at the wide end is there, but is easily controllable through precise leveling or from post processing. You might see some vignetting at 10mm but just stop it down and you should be all set (or you can correct it with a click of the mouse in photoshop). I have heard complaints about sigma not having a constant aperture. In my opinion, who the hell needs it. When I am taking shots in the day, the natural light is sufficient enough. For night shots, i use a tripod and usually stop it down to F8-f10 where the sigma's optical performance is at its best. This is an amazing piece of glass and I encourage those looking for a wide angle lens to definintely take the sigma into consideration. Looking at Sigma's future lens lineup, I don't consider them to be a 'third party' lens company anymore. Sigma will definitely be considered on my next purchase for a telephoto lens.
on December 2, 2006
(also posted for the Canon version)
I have been using the lens with my Nikon D70 for over a year, and I am very happy with it. I use the lens for most of my day to day shooting.
(+) 10mm focal length - Yee haa! One year after, and I still can't get the smirk off my face. Even with the accompanied pincushion distorsion (see below) the 10mm focal length is simply a joy (Nikon's zoom only goes as wide as 12mm, 12 is noticable narrower than 10).
(+) Optical quality - is very good as far as I can judge. There is a pretty noticeable pincushion distorion at the 10mm end, but I understand all ultra-wide zooms suffer from the same phenomena. The distorsion at 12mm focal length is far less noticable.
(+) Build quality - no complaints. except for this lens I also own Sigma's 30mm f/1.4 lens (which has disappointing optical performance IMO). 30mm's optical issues aside, - both feel solid and stable, no loose rings or levers or anything like that. Sigma does an excellent job here.
(+) HSM focusing works very well, my guess is that Nikon would be as good or perhaps slightly better. One of the other non-Nikon alternative uses the screwdriver blade type auto focus rather than ultrasonic motor (the built it ultrasonic AF is way nicer to use).
All the negatives or 'cons' if you will, are right there in the data sheet, no unpleasent surprises whatsoever. The lens is big and heavy but so is the competition (Nikon). I wish it could go a little further to say 22mm or 25mm, but again - I knew it won't, before I bought it. As a Nikon owner I don't really think there a significantly better choice, if you own a Canon DSLR body though, then the EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens may be a better choice.
5 start with no hesitation, no other DSLR lens I know gives so much value for the money! (except, perhaps, for that 10-22 canon lens, which is the forbidden fruit for us Nikonians).
on June 28, 2008
I'm a nut for wide-angle photography. I don't mean to get technical, but for those who do not know the sticky details, modern Digital SLRs often have sensors that are quite a bit smaller than the traditional exposure area of film: 24mmx36mm. In the case of Nikon DSLRs (all current models except their $5000 Nikon D3 12.1MP FX Digital SLR Camera (Body Only) professional FX sensor model) use what they call a DX sensor which is 16mmx24mm.
For us old film hounds, this means that a lens of a given focal length will roughly translate to 1.5x when switching from film (of Full frame) to DX. So, your old 20mm wide angle lens will "crop" to about the equivalent of a 35mm lens when put on a DX sensor DSLR.
For those who really like telephoto shots, this is a positive boon. Your 300mm lens will take pictures that have the same angle of view as a 450mm lens, but for those of us wide-angle freaks, this "digital crop factor" takes some of the "punch" out of the bottom end. Many general-use zooms for the DX sensor cameras start around 18mm. This would be ultra-wide on that old film camera, but it takes pictured that look more like what you'd expect from a 28mm lens on a traditional film camera.
Ok, sorry for all the mumbo jumbo, but now on to why this lens is so great...
With its 10mm-20mm focal length, this lens is the 35mm film SLR equivalent of a 15mm to 35mm zoom lens, and 15mm full-frame is about the widest you can go before getting into "fish-eye" territory.
With this Sigma lens at 10mm, you get a very wide angle perspective without crossing over into fish-eye territory. Yes, there is noticeable "barreling", but nothing beyond the range of most modern photo/image editing software's ability to fix. Frankly, I like a little of that in my ultra-wide photos. At the 20mm end, the "barreling" is much less noticeable.
As will all extreme wide angle lenses, if you get right on top of your subject, you'll really amplify the distortion effect, but if you're shooting at 10mm and focusing down to the lenses minimum focus distance (an amazing 10" or so), you're probably already expecting, and even counting on such distortion anyway.
Did I mention that it focuses down to around 10"?
The construction of this lens is solid, and it has a little heft to it. It comes with its own custom lens hood. USE IT. The front element on this lens bulges out a bit (as you can see from the product photos), and aside from helping with lens flare, that extra bit of "guard rail" will help you avoid scratching the thing. I've put a UV filter on the front to help protect the glass, but the distance between that glass and the front lens element makes this "reflection box" that has visibly shown in some of my highly backlit/highly contrasty photos.
The focusing is fast and silent. I really like the fact that this is one of those "internally focusing" lenses which means that the act of focusing does not turn the manual focus rung, and doesn't make the lens change position or size. More importantly, if you want to manually focus, you can just grab the ring and turn because it's not "locked" into place in AF mode like many other lenses.
I've taken some of my best photos with this lens, and for the wide-angle enthusiast with a DX sensor Nikon DSLR, I'd go so far as to say this is a must-have. It's got 2mm wider focal length than the nearest Nikon (with DOES make a visible difference at the low-end), but its incredibly well made and clear from edge to edge (though, it does have that "barrel" distortion... it's still crisp from end to end with little to no vignetting)
Sorry, I probably went on a bit, but as you can tell, I really like this lens. I'd highly recommend that you do your research before you buy it as ultra-wide angles do have some idiosyncrasies, but if you know what to expect (photographically) from them, then this lens is one of the best I've ever played with/owned.
on March 29, 2007
This 10-20mm lens is equivalent to a 15-30mm in a 35mm film camera, so it's an ultra-wide lens at 10mm. I was pleasantly surprised at how sharp the images are from this lens; and it's rectilinear, which means that straight lines in real life remain straight in the photograph. It is a well-made lens, made with high-grade materials. What this lens excels at is when you want to photograph sweeping landscapes, close-quarters interior photography, and in architectural photography where you don't mind the exaggerated converging lines that an ultrawide produces (and is typical of wide-angle lenses). You can also get close to the subject as well: 5 inches from subject to the front surface of the lens. By the way, if you're going to photograph in Big Sky Country, this is the one lens you can't leave home without. And, I suggest purchasing a graduated neutral density filter to balance out the luminance range between the sky and the landscape below. This great lens package comes with front & rear lens cap, lens hood, and a very nice cushioned & zippered lens pouch!
on August 14, 2006
I have been shooting for about eight months now. i was torn between the sigma and the nikon. I read several reviews and wnet to a camera store and tested both lens and enlarged them in photoshop. I love the sigma. It is wider, less CA and seems like less barrell. It is as sharp as the nikon, the only downside is that there is light fall off when the lens is wide open at 10mm. It is very noticable, so i just stop down to 7.1 or 8 and the problem is fixed. The sharpness is clear through the whole picture. For the price it can not be beat. I would rate this lens equal with the nikon 12-24. I see no advantage to going with the nikon over the sigma unless you like the constant 4 and minor light fall off when wide open, easily fixable.
on June 30, 2006
Having purchased both the Nikon 12+ and the Sigma 10+ before returning the Nikkor and keeping this Sigma, I can honestly say that I can not be happier with this lens. The photos are super sharp, the lens works perfectly, it feels good on my D200, and it has become the only other lens I carry along with my 18-200 VR. I can't recommend this lens more.
on January 30, 2008
I wanted an ultra wide angle lens for my new Canon EOS 40D, but I didn't have the money to purchase a high cost Canon ultra wide lens. Careful research kept pointing to the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DS HSM lens. At 4 to 5.6, this lens is slightly dark, but for an outdoor lens I figured lighting wouldn't be much of an issue. With a range of 10 to 20mm I decided this lens would offer very wide shots and near fish-eye creativity capabilities.
I always buy only Canon lenses, but I don't buy the professional level models. After all, I am a photo hobbyist, not a professional photographer. Well even though I really wanted to purchase a quality ultra-wide angle lens, I was low on funds due to recently over spending on Christmas gifts for my friends and family. Although I wanted to buy a Canon ultra-wide, I just didn't have that kind of cash. I read several rave reviews on this Sigma 10-20mm lens so I ordered one up. I haven't had it very long but I have taken several photos with this lens and so far I am quite impressed. At 10mm you do get some curved distortions, giving a bit of a fisheye effect. This can be good or bad, depending on what you are looking for in your shot. As another reviewer pointed out, this effect can make clouds look wonderful. This is an EX series Sigma, with a super fast HSM auto focus. The focusing is quick and accurate. The filter size is 77mm, which is HUGE, and filters can be quite expensive, but for what you save on the cost of the lens you can afford to invest in quality UV and polarizer filters. This lens is also fairly light weight and very classy looking. The shiny gold ring is a nice touch indeed. I also really love the fact that this lens comes with a lens hood and a nice padded case.
I only have a couple of minor complaints, neither of which would cause me to reduce my rating. First and most distracting is the fact that the focus and zoom rings are reversed, compaired to the Canon lenses, so I find myself constantly adjusting focus when I mean to adjust zoom. This is something that I will get used to and certainly does not affect the overall quality of the lens. Secondly, with the lens stored in its squarish, padded case, it makes the whole package a bit large and I cannot fit it in my camera bag.
So, with all of this being said I have to give this Sigma EX series 10-20mm lens a solid 5 stars. The optics produce quality photographs, the overall feel of the lens is perfect, and the price is substantially less than the closest Canon equivalent. 5 stars may seem a bit high to some people, who feel that only the most perfect, professional lenses deserve this high of a score. But I feel that the quality and performance of this lens merrits a perfect score. For the average consumer photographer there just isn't a better ultra-wide lens on the market today. It even scores better than the Canon ultra-wides! I couldn't be happier with my new Sigma EX 10-20mm, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an excellent ultra-wide lens.