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Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM

 
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Lab Test Results

  • Blur
  • Chromatic Aberration
  • Vignetting
  • Geometric Distortion
8-16mm $651
average price
image of Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM

SLRgear Review
August 26, 2010
by Andrew Alexander

Announced at PMA2010, Sigma's 8-16mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 DC HSM is essentially the APS-C version of the company's popular 12-24mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 ultrawide angle zoom lens. Using new FLD lens elements (which Sigma touts to have performance equal to fluorite lens elements) the lens was released in pretty much every lens mount but 4/3 and micro-4/3.

The 8-16mm isn't a ''constant'' lens, in that as you increase the focal length, both the maximum and minimum aperture sizes decrease. The following table reflects the change in aperture with focal length:

Focal Length (mm) 8-9 10-12 13-14 15-16
Largest aperture ƒ/4.5 ƒ/5 ƒ/5.6 ƒ/5.6
Smallest aperture ƒ/22 ƒ/22 ƒ/25 ƒ/29

The 8-16mm bears Sigma's DC specification, meaning it is designed to fit the APS-C digital sensor. The lens shows hard vignetting when affixed to a full-frame body, at all focal lengths. The lens is available now for around $700, and features a fixed petal-style lens hood.

Sharpness
For such a wide-angle lens, the 8-16mm provides impressive results for sharpness, especially where it's likely to be used most: wide-open (ƒ/4.5) at its widest angle (8mm). At this setting, there is a generous sweet spot of tack-sharp (1 blur unit) clarity in the center of the frame; in the corners, it's around 1.5 blur units. There isn't much point to stopping down - there is only a slightly marginal improvement at ƒ/5.6 - and after that there is slight degradation, though it isn't really noteworthy until about ƒ/11 where we note results just shy of 2 blur units across the frame. At ƒ/16 it's just over 2 blur units, and fully stopped-down at ƒ/22, it's around 3.5 blur units. Performance is similarly good at 14-16mm, though the maximum aperture gets even smaller at ƒ/29, and the results there are mediocre (around 5 blur uneven blur units).

There's a very slight drop in performance between 10-13mm - that is to say, it's excellent, but not quite as excellent as either the wide end (8-9mm) or the other wide end (14-16mm). Corner softness is just slightly higher at this middle setting, hitting 2 blur units wide open at ƒ/5. But the differences are very slight indeed.

Chromatic Aberration
CA is very slight when the lens is used at its widest angle; there seems to be some optimization in this regard, as CA seems to increase as the lens is zoomed out. It really only becomes noteworthy in the corners at 14-16mm, used wide open at ƒ/5.6-8; at other settings, it's not really noticeable.

Shading (''Vignetting'')
Corner shading is something of a staple for this lens, which shouldn't be surprising given the impressively wide angle of view that can be achieved. That said, it doesn't begin to approach what we saw in its full-frame big brother: the worst case scenario for this lens is 8mm at ƒ/4.5, where the corners are 3/4 EV darker than the center. On average you'll see between a half-stop or a third-of-a-stop of corner shading, and even at 16mm, the differential is a quarter-stop.

Distortion
Results for distortion are considerable, again, not surprising for an ultra-wide-angle lens. Below 13mm, the distortion effect is predominantly barrel, showing +1.4% distortion in the corners. At around 13mm there is a point of convergence where the distortion effect is just slightly barrel; after that, we note slight pincushion distortion (-0.25% in the corners).

Autofocus Operation
The Sigma 8-16 ƒ/4.5-5.6 uses Sigma's HSM focusing technology, allowing for a screw-less design that works on modern camera bodies. The lens focuses quickly and silently, going from infinity to close-focus and back to infinity in less than one second. Micro-changes in focus are done very quickly. Autofocus results can be overridden at any time by just turning the focus ring.

Macro
The 8-16mm makes a poor macro lens, with just 0.13x magnification. Minimum close-focusing distance is quite close, at 24cm (just over nine inches).

Build Quality and Handling
The Sigma 8-16mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 is a compact lens, with plastic construction and a grippable black texture. The lens itself isn't heavy, just over 19 ounces, and mounts well with both our sub-frame (7D) test body. The lens mount is metal, and there are no filter threads, as the lens hood is integrated into the design. The front cap is attached in two parts: a shroud attaches over the hood, to which the cap can be attached. Shooting is possible with the shroud attached, but some vignetting will be seen on the edges of the image.

Only one control feature exists other than the focus and zoom rings, a small switch to enable or disable autofocus on the lens. The lens is equipped with a recessed and windowed distance scale, showing distance information in feet and meters. Depth-of-field measurements are not available, and neither is an infrared index marker present.

The zoom ring of the lens is the larger of the two rings, at 7/8'' wide. The ring is composed of raised rubber ridges running parallel to the body of the lens. Seventy-five degrees of turning action runs the lens through its zoom range, and given that the lens extends about a quarter-inch at the tele end (ok, not exactly tele, the ''less wide'' end), zoom creep really isn't a problem. The zoom ring has a nice feel to it; not too tight, and not too smooth.

The focus ring uses the same texture as the zoom ring, and is about the same size, meaning you'll have to get used to which ring is which if you want to operate the lens without looking at it (the ribs are however slightly closer together on the focus ring). The ring is smooth to turn, and there are soft stops on either end of the focus spectrum. There are about 100 degrees of turning action, but the ring will keep turning even at close-focus or infinity focus, with a slight increase in tension to signal you that you've reached the end.

The integrated lens hood is petal-shaped. As with most ultra-wide lenses, the juggling act to actually make the lens hood useful is a tough one; when used at wide angle, you are getting so much of the scene into your photo that to keep the sun out is a challenge. Mounting the lens cap holder adds about 1/4'' to the length of the lens.

Alternatives

The Sigma 8-16mm is currently (Aug 2010) the widest zoom lens available for APS-C cameras, so if you need 8mm of coverage, this is the lens you need. If you're comfortable with 10mm as a wide end, you have some options.

Sigma 12-24mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 EX DG Aspherical HSM ~$859
Full-frame camera users who are interested in the ultrawide zoom experience can find it in this lens, which offers pretty much the same experience, with the exception of some fantastic corner shading results.

Canon EF-S 10-22mm ƒ/3.5-4.5 USM ~$750
The Canon ultrawide for APS-C was released in 2004, so it's comparatively long in the tooth; sharpness doesn't match what the Sigma can offer and CA is slightly higher at the wide end; corner shading isn't great, but distortion is quite low for an ultra-wide.

Nikon 10-24mm ƒ/3.5-4.5G ED AF-S DX ~$800
The Nikon 10-24mm is very good, offering excellent results for sharpness at all focal lengths, but never quite hitting the tack-sharp levels that the Sigma 8-16mm could demonstrate. CA results are good at the wide and tele ends, and excellent in between; comparable if not slightly better than the Sigma. Corner shading and distortion are about the same.

Tamron 10-24mm ƒ/3.5-4.5 Di II LD SP AF ~$500
While there are good results at most focal lengths, there are a few trouble areas pertaining to sharpness results with the Tamron 10-24mm. CA is also problematic, and in this regard it's definitely trumped by the Sigma. Corner shading is similar, and distortion is slightly better.

Tokina 11-16mm ƒ/2.8 AT-X 116 PRO DX ~$600
We haven't yet tested this lens, but if you're willing to sacrifice 2mm of focal length, trade-off is an ƒ/2.8 aperture.

Conclusion
Optimized to work where you'll probably be using it, there's not much more to say here that the review doesn't cover. If you need ultra, ultra-wide, you won't go wrong with the Sigma 8-16mm, and at present, there's not a whole lot else to choose from.

Sample Photos

The VFA target should give you a good idea of sharpness in the center and corners, as well as some idea of the extent of barrel or pincushion distortion and chromatic aberration, while the Still Life subject may help in judging contrast and color. We shoot both images using the default JPEG settings and manual white balance of our test bodies, so the images should be quite consistent from lens to lens.

As appropriate, we shoot these with both full-frame and sub-frame bodies, at a range of focal lengths, and at both maximum aperture and ƒ/8. For the ''VFA'' target (the viewfinder accuracy target from Imaging Resource), we also provide sample crops from the center and upper-left corner of each shot, so you can quickly get a sense of relative sharpness, without having to download and inspect the full-res images. To avoid space limitations with the layout of our review pages, indexes to the test shots launch in separate windows.

Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM User Reviews

8.9/10 average of 9 reviews Build Quality 8.8/10 Image Quality 9.3/10
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (15 reviews)
    Wide, so very wide. Price is so very reasonable, Sharp, pretty sharp
    Not FX ... But good enough in DX even on FX

    I love the Tokina 11-16mm... Recently got a D800...

    So was investigating options. Tried the 12-24mm Sigma version II...

    I prefer the corner sharpness and image usability in the 8-16 shoot DX on the D800 over shooting the 12-24 FX on the D800... The 12-24 is going back to Adorama... TY Adorama for the great service.

    See images and pixel peeks of the corners at:
    http://glamourphotography.co/?p=6879

    reviewed January 23rd, 2013
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (8 reviews)
    Extremely useful (and funny) lens for general wide-angle and travel photography
    Absolutely none to worry about (and the Sony version is also HSM!!)

    This is probably a lens you don't think you'll need until you have tried it. I use it on a Sony a580, which means having a tilting screen that allows framing while holding the camera in awkward positions. In auto exposure and auto focus mode it can be used in ways you never have done before: Standing in the corner of your room holding the camera above your head you get a wall to wall picture capturing the entire room. Alternatively, you may point the camera at your face a few inches from your chin, getting an unusual portrait, or enhance items with extreme depth of field.

    In normal situations you can take spectacular almost undistorted architectural photos. When people say they see much lens distortion, it is more likely they see the normal perspective effects for which no lens can be corrected. If you keep the sensor-plane of the camera parallel to the subject features you want to appear parallel (like a tall building or a long row of buildings in a street), they appear parallel in the picture. If you frame an image with the center pointing at a spot at the same level horizontally as yourself, you will be surprised how high up on buildings the frame reaches, even using the landscape format. In this way almost half the image is foreground, which often is a good thing, or you can leave it out later.

    This lens cannot take filters, but many effects are available in post processing. I have never missed it; probably because my Sony camera has HDR in camera processing of 3 separate images, obviating a grading filter altogether with much better result. The lens focuses fast and accurate and provides full time manual override. It is a unique lens and very well built. Regards JvE

    reviewed March 27th, 2012 (purchased for $675)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (12 reviews)
    8mm are veeeery wide, contrast, only very few CA´s, centre sharp, buildings
    the borders suffer at 8mm (you must stop down to f10), strong vignette

    A very good lens, very wide but with SLR with more then 12 MP you will see some flaws at 8-10mm specially in the extrem borders. Take care on decentering when you buy! (I needed 3 exampels!). Very good construction-quality and very "handy".

    reviewed March 19th, 2012 (purchased for $630)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (3 reviews)
    Sharp, sharp, sharp!
    Lens cap can be a pain

    I was apprehensive about buying this lens as i have had bad experiences with Sigma lenses in the past.

    However this lens is different!
    Its sharp across the board at all focal lengths
    Even wide open, this lens is sharp, so the relative slowness is almost a non issue.
    I wish all lenses where this good!!!

    I used to own a Nikon 10-24mm, but the Sigma leaves it in the dust!
    The Sigma is better in almost every way!
    Its half the price, has a better build, is more reliable and much sharper!

    The only problem/ annoyance was the lens cap.
    Its bulky and awkward to use.
    However i replaced it with a hoodie.

    I have no hesitation in recommending this lens!

    reviewed February 22nd, 2012 (purchased for $699)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (3 reviews)
    Sharp center, good sharpness on the corners wide open through f11.
    No front filter to protect the FE.

    I found this lens to be sharp wide open up to f8/f11.
    Diffraction starts from f11 on my 40D, but still acceptable, beyond that, its noticeable.

    The size and weight is just right specially on the midrange SLRs (Canon xxD). The focus and zoom rings have no play and are stiff but smooth (not quite L smooth but still very good).

    Only real complaint is that due to the bulbous FE, it cannot be protected by filters.

    reviewed December 23rd, 2010 (purchased for $896)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    True WIDE angle for a crop body.
    Extreme distortion of buildings, but hey, it's a wide angle lens, right?

    This has to be hands down the funnest piece of glass we own. The pictures I've been getting are incredible. The incredible wide angle is fantastic for landscapes. If you hold it just so, under some circumstances it can be used as a walk about lens, but don't put people too close to the outside of the frame, they start to look really strange.

    My only real quibble about the set up is the two piece lens cap system. There's a round barrel to which the cap is applied and the whole thing goes over the lens. The cap comes off easily. I've had the lens 5 or 6 weeks and lost the cap last night while out on a shoot.

    reviewed December 7th, 2010 (purchased for $595)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (3 reviews)
    wide enough that u can take anything in a confine space
    8mm too much barrel distortion, small aperture, want a F/2.8 version

    The front "hood" can be mount a 72mm thread filter but then 8mm will have a black side just like in a fish-eye lens

    Out of curiosity, why cant they make a F2.8 and/or EX version of this lens since they already have those technology?

    Really satisfied with the ultra Ultra wide angel that many cameras cant take those shots in a confine place, but yet again its small aperture is the down costs.

    What compensates my shot was only small aperture, other than barrel distortion

    Afterall, it is a landscape nice lens for all outdoor usage

    reviewed November 30th, 2010
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    Very sharp, fast, incredibly wide, sits well in hand.
    Sensitive Flair, do not get Filters

    I struggled with myself between the Sigma and Nikon 10-24 and I do not regret a moment.
    amazingly wide lens, distortions quite reasonable, very sharp and gives amazing results.
    I personally was very pleased.
    strongly recommend for those who seek a broad lens.
    Too bad she does not accept filters, but I believe that it will find a solution soon.

    reviewed August 24th, 2010 (purchased for $560)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (7 reviews)
    super wide, sharp
    no front filter can be used

    Nice superwide angle! Very sharp across the frame, just great for a landscapes. Little slow indoor, but pretty usable. Just wish I could mount front filter on it...

    reviewed July 16th, 2010 (purchased for $500)