Sigma 8–16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM: Wide, Wider, Widest!

Sigma 8–16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM

Sigma 8–16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM

For non-full-frame users, there is no other lens that gives such a wide angle of view. Neha Mutreja puts the Sigma 8–16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM lens through rigourous tests.

For those who only recommend buying proprietary lenses, you may want to read this. Sigma’s latest ultrawide lens, the 8–16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM, is the widest lens ever designed for non full frame cameras. The lens has been designed for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax and Sigma mounts. In fact, none of the other companies boast of something that is so wide. This factor kept our interest levels high, when we tested a Canon-mount version of the lens on an EOS 500D.

Do remember that wider is not always better. It is not easy to use a lens of this nature. One needs to really go close to the subject to ensure that the entire frame has been used efficiently. Of course, when you do make effective use of this lens, you can capture some stunning perspectives that make ordinary life quite dramatic indeed. You can shoot images in some really cramped spaces, or capture unconventional images of never-ending landscapes, sports like skateboarding and even events like wedding celebrations. The 121.2° field-of-view at the wide end is ideal for subjects that demand an exaggerated perspective.
The minimum focusing distance of 24cm is useful, since you can get really close to a person while shooting them in their environment.
The Sigma 8—16mm is one of the first few lenses to use the FLD technology. It has four ‘F’ Low Dispersion glass elements, which basically give the same performance as fl uorite glass, but at a cheaper price. It also helps make the lens lighter, which was something that immediately struck me—wide angle lenses are usually quite heavy.
The lens also has a hybrid aspherical lens and two glass mould elements meant to correct distortion and other optical defects. In addition to this, it has a Super Multi-Layer Coating that are supposed to reduce fl are and ghosting.

Considering the field of view and the effect that an ultrawide lens gives, I decided to make pictures near the Gateway of India monument. I also shot some portraits of my friends. It is convenient to use and easy to carry, due to its compact size. The best bit about this Sigma lens is that despite the reduced weight, it feels quite sturdy.
The design of the lens is excellent. The front of the lens has a fixed hood with no filter thread. The lens cap does not directly fit onto the hood, so it has a front cap adapter that accommodates the lens cap. Curiously, while shooting with the front cap adapter, you will notice when at wide end the images almost have a circular fisheye feel. This is because of the severe mechanical vignetting that happens when this adapter blocks your view. Of course, this can be used quite creatively, almost making your photos seem as if they have been shot with a unique Lomo camera.
The zoom action between the two extreme lengths of the focal range is extremely small, which means that one small rotation of the ring takes you from 8mm to 16mm. The zoom and focus rings have a rubber exterior, which helps provide a good grip and makes it easy to handle. Manual focus can be adjusted by rotating the front ring.
This lens incorporates a Hyper Sonic Motor, that ensures quiet and high-speed autofocus. It has an AF/MF switch, and also allow you to override autofocus, so that you can fine tune it manually.

After using the lens for different styles of photography, I found that the AF speed of the lens was excellent, even while shooting fast moving subjects. The lens shows superb sharpness at the wide end. There is a slight loss of sharpness at the edges, but the performance is still very good for a lens of this nature. Distortion, as expected, is present at 8mm, but it is well controlled at the telephoto end. There is minimal fringing and very good control over fl are. Our only concern was some unwanted vignetting, but this can be solved by using a narrower aperture.

There is absolutely no doubt that the Sigma 8–16mm lens is one of its kind. Fortunately, it delivers what it promises on paper, and is a delight to use on field. It is a special purpose lens, and should only be considered if you are sure you need a lens of this nature. But if you do go in for it, it is well worth its price tag of Rs. 49,000. Considering that no other manufacturer even produces something this wide, we have a winner.

Final Ratings
Widest lens for APS-C, FLD element

Sharp at the middle apertures, prominentfringing

Build Quality
Plastic construction, yet sturdy

Light and easy to use

Warranty & Support
Two and a half year warranty, poor service

Value for Money: 4.5/5 stars

Tags: Neha Mutreja, June 2011, Sigma 8–16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM, wide angle zoom lens