Customer Reviews: Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 AF II DG HSM Lens for Canon Digital SLRs
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Style: Canon Digital SLRs|Change
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on January 11, 2012
I want to support Sigmas efforts to develop a lens that covers these extreme ranges in a usable zoom so I am writing this review to put the professional photographers mind at ease when considering this lens. This lens is an important lens for me and can be for many other professional photographers as well.

I have been shooting professionally for about 25 years and have worked with everything from 35mm film to 8X10 film. I shoot advertising, food, catalogs and architecture and went digital in 1999 with the Kodak system mounted to Nikon bodies. I switched from Nikon to Canon for the full frame Canon 5D and currently shoot Canon 5D MKIIs and have all the usual L lenses.

Digital sensors are different than film in that film is actually three demential. The "grain" in film is three-dimensional crystals and can easily react to light even if that light arrives from extreme angles. Digital sensors are flat planes with pixel wells and react differently to light. The lens manufacturers figured this out and acted accordingly and today we have lenses that are much better than yesterdays film lenses. These lens improvements are not as critical in moderate telephotos around 100mm but becomes more significant at focal lengths shorter than 28mm. With all this in mind I figured that Sigma has addressed these issues and probably developed a pretty nice lens. After reading as many reviews as possible and weeding out the less experienced users I found that many people were satisfied given the limitations and the cost of this lens. First of all this is a zoom and the compromises must be considered when forming your expectations. Second, this lens is pretty cheap in cost so that is also factored in with my opinion. Third, I had realistic expectations and didn't expect this lens to be exceptional at any focal length. That being said I am pretty happy with this lens. There have been some reviews that noted this lens tends to have zones of sharpness and zones of softness. I too have noticed this behavior but upon closer examination I began to realize that the problem lies with hyper focus rather than softness. With traditional wide lenses one chooses a distance "range" that is deemed sufficient to carry focus and then sets the lens accordingly. This usually gives good results and it's easier to achieve the with wide angle lenses. To test a lens like this you shoot a flat surface such a the side of a building and look at the results at 100%. Normally you expect to see some softness in the corners. This lens seems to be different in that it has pretty a shallow DOF given it's extreme wide angle. So when you shoot a flat building the results with this lens are pretty bad and it's easy to pass this lens off as not good. This lens has aspheric elements to compensate for the usual problems associated with wide angle lenses and it seems that this lens also has aspheric DOF. I have done considerable testing in real world situations and have found that in situations such as shooting buildings with deciduous trees in front of them where you can see the building through the trees an interesting phenomenon occurs. Parts of the trees are in focus and parts of the building are in focus as if there are waves of DOF in the image. It is like some areas are in focus and right behind those areas there is a zone of softness and then and behind that area it is sharp again! Stop the lens down and the sharp areas become sharper and the out of focus areas become sharper but there seems to be little increase in overall DOF! I have learned that where the lens is focused on the scene is VERY critical and if it's off by even a small amount the lens will seem out of focus which is contrary to extreme wide lenses because one would expect a wide lens combined with a smaller aperture would improve DOF to the extent that where the lens if focused does not matter. NOT so with this lens. So when you read that this lens is not sharp the reviewer may not be focusing the lens properly. The trick with this lens is to use it manually and set it to infinity or very close to infinity when shooting scenics and carefully focus the lens when shooting anything closer than 20 feet. One would think that 20 feet on a 12mm lens would be carried by hyper-focus but with this lens it is not!

It is a very good lens and I am very happy with it. I respect it's limitations but I am confident enough to use it on any jobs I have.

Date 02/17-2012
I have now had plenty of time to shoot several jobs with this lens and I am very impressed with it. As I said above this lens requires some work to get the best results but once I figured out how to focus this lens and process the images I could not be happier with the results! I can't keep it on one body all the time because the longer 25mm focal length is too short for many uses and I find my self needing a longer lens like the 16-35mm but when I need a lens wider than 25mm I have no hesitation with using this lens in place of the Canon L lenses. This lens paired with the 24-105 L is really a nice combination because I can get a wide view and also a nice telephoto look with the 24-105 and when I need to go really wide I have this lens. And I don't have to worry about explaining to clients the differences in images when I mix the images from the Sigma with the Canon lenses because there is little difference.

Bravo Sigma!
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on September 12, 2011
After reading all of the reviews about distortions on this lens compared to the
older version which I just sold I was very hesitant ordering version II.
But with Amazon return policy I could not go wrong.
Got this lens and I was very surprised.
Distortions are not as bad as in reviews. In the worst case
if straight lines are very close to the edge and the edge is just few feet from the lens
I get barrel distortion. Easily fixed and at the most I lose 1mm. Probably less.
In real life it almost never happens. This lens is also very sharp wide open maybe even slightly sharper than Canon 16-35mm F2.8
at F4.
On the other hand corner sharpness is almost 2 stops better than previous version of this lens.
Not only that but on previous version corners were smudged unless stopped down to at least F8 or more.
On the new version corners are just less sharp but still very acceptable wide open.
Combine that with much less vignetting (at least one stop less) and we got a winner here.
I use this lens on Canon 5D MK2.
I would give it 4.5 stars if I could.
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on April 17, 2013
Every now and then, a third party lens is actually all-around better than Nikon's own lenses and this is one of them. This is some great glass for full-frame Nikon cameras. I use mine on the D600. A little soft in the corners at 12, it is none-the-less still usable there. Its generally sharp across the entire focal range, and its great to have something this wide on a full frame camera. At half the price of the best Nikon comparison, its a steal. A true 12mm gives you some real artistic options. Consider this lens for your full frame camera, give it a try, and you might find like I did that its the absolute best buy in its class.
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on September 4, 2011
Soft in corners at 12mm until f/11-16. A little more CA at 12mm than I had hoped with all that FLD glass. More barrel distortion at 12mm (but easy to correct) than I saw in tests of original version lens (I don't have it).

Excellent landscape lens. Good corner sharpness when stopped down. Better than my beloved 17-40L Canon. (They have similar MTF charts). Good autofocus, fast and accurate.

I tested the new version vs Canon 17-40mm L at 17mm and 24mm focal lengths on Canon 5d (FF). The 12-24 has much better corner sharpness than the Canon at 17mm and equal or better corner sharpness at 24mm at all apertures. At 12mm, the extreme corners (last 2-3mm) are very soft wide open and soft until f/11 (pixel peeping at 100%). No issues with sharpness when used on APS-H or Aps-C crop cameras. Not as sharp in corners as 14mm F2.8 Samyang/Rokinon at any aperture.
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on October 16, 2012
Well, after getting the first copy of this in non working condition, I tried a second copy. I am happy to say, this one is very good.


Solid build, very smooth and well damped focus and zoom rings, small for what it does, great sharpness across most of the frame, fast and accurate AF performance, great fit and finish.


Soft in the corners when wide open, and until around F8 (which is about the min on FF cameras IMO, for a lens this wide), not able to take a filter so difficult to use ND's etc.

I just tried this lens for the first time (had the older version) and am pretty satisfied with its performance. I found that F9 - F11 is where I like it best. Used for architectural work in setting sun, it performed admirably leaving little in the way of CA and flare. This is the best lens in the WA lenses I have tried (excepting the Nikon 14-24). The feel of it is great, having a quality and build that equals most nikkors and is practically silent to AF. The Zoom ring moves the lens without apparent effort, but is perfectly damped. When you arrive at your happy FL, you simply stop zooming and it seems to seat without play. I will be keeping this one, very happy.
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on August 21, 2014
I bought this lens for my Sony A7 using the LAEA-4 adaptor, since no sony product that covers this focal length. The pictures are sharp especially with aperture >F8. The lens is almost the weight of sony 70-200 f4 FE lens. Not weather resistant nor built with OS, but built like a tank. This lens is fun to use and you really have to practice with this lens. Great for landscape and interior photography. A wonderful addition for sony A7 series users.
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on March 27, 2014
I spent a lot of time looking at my options for a wide angle lens for my Canon. I read many reviews of this lens, and the Canon 16-35 2.8. In all, I probably spent 4 months researching. The Canon 16-35 is a stellar lens, that can't be argued. However, this Sigma lens was very well reviewed, as well.

It finally came down to these factors for me:

1) Half the focal length of the 16-35 is already covered by my 24-70 2.8. What I wanted was a lens that I could get significantly wider width, and the Sigma deliver that.

2) Price. Lets face it, this lens is half the price of the 16-35.

3) Purpose. As I said, I've already got the 24-70, and wanted a lens that could give me a wider field of view for landscape photography. I also wanted to stay away from fisheye lenses because of the distortion. The Sigma is the only rectilinear lens that delivers this range of view.

So, now that I have the lens, what do I think of it?

I love it. It delivers great image quality, and a field of view that's equally impressive.

I've really had some fun with it shooting night shots with 15 and 30 second exposure times.

For landscape shots, the Sigma delivers crisp images, with no chromatic aberrations. I've read some comments that people have had focusing problems with this lens, but I have no complaints.

This lens lives up to everything I hoped and expected it would be. I'd buy it again if I had the choice to make over.
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on January 20, 2015
I'm so glad I purchased this lens. I ended up finding it used through Amazon Fulfillment. I researched the Canon 14mm USM L series, the Canon 16-35 mm, the Zeiss 15 mm, and the Sigma. For the money I felt that the Sigma was the best purchase. The lens has done well in low light/night shooting despite the fact that it it's a F5 lens. Additionally, when I'm shooting around F8 and above the lens is pretty sharp. This lens is well worth the money.
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on February 9, 2016
This is a great lens for the money. I was able to pick it up a mint condition copy here on Amazon for a little over half the price of a new lens. It's sharp wide open and focuses quickly on my D750. I can see a little softness in the corners but it disappears almost completely when it's stopped down a few stops. At f/8 this lens is very sharp and offers great color and contrast. Before buying this lens, I read a few reviews criticizing its sharpness but I can't complain at all about how sharp it is, particularly in the center. Some people would consider its slowness to be a drawback, but I normally shoot it around f/8 anyway, so the f/4.5 minimum aperture is a non-issue for me. If you need a wide-zoom, give this lens serious consideration over the more expensive alternatives.
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on September 5, 2015
First impressions after a week of use: this is a very nice lens, with a wide angle zoom range that is unique. Autofocus is quick. Appears to be giving excellent picture quality results. I will know more after using it for a few weeks. But so far I am very pleased.

Update after a couple of months use:

I continue to be very happy with this lens, and have changed from 4 stars to 5 stars. Effective use of any wide angle lens can benefit from a technique tune up for composition and focus to avoid cartoon style exaggerated shots. But once you have some practice, getting a good shot can become second nature. I found that spending a bit more time composing during the first few weeks let me make sure the vertical and horizontal angles were not going to exaggerate elements of the scene, something that can be easy to mess up when subject elements vary in distance from the camera. Finding the right focus point can also sometimes be a bit tricky given the wide range of subject matter that can show up at different distances, so autofocus is not always the right answer. In some cases I have used manual focus to be sure I have the right focus point. The results are worth it. The flexibility of having this zoom range is a great feature.

I am glad I made the decision to buy this lens, and can recommended to others. Just keep in mind that this is going to take you into a new realm of photography and make a little time to adjust your technique accordingly.
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