Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art

 
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14mm $1,492
average price
image of Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art

Updates:
08/16/2018: Field Test & Gallery Images posted

 

Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Field Test

Ultra-wide, ultra-fast and very good

by Jeremy Gray | Posted 08/16/2018

Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
Nikon D800E: f/6.3, 1.6s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.

The Sigma 14mm f/1.8 is a unique lens. It's not often you can say that a lens has no direct competitor, but in the case of the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art, it's true. It's the world's first full-frame ultra-wide-angle lens to offer an f/1.8 maximum aperture. Let's take a closer look at the lens to see how it handles and performs in real-world use.

*Note: All gallery images in this Field Test were shot using a Nikon D800E.

Key Features and Specifications

  • "World's first and only full-frame f/1.8 ultra-wide-angle lens"
  • Splash- and dust-resistant design
  • Aperture range of f/1.8 to f/16
  • 16 lens elements in 11 groups, including three FLD elements and four SLD elements
  • Minimum focus distance of 10.6 inches (27 centimeters)
  • 9 aperture blades
  • Compatible with Sigma USB dock
  • Available for Canon EF, Nikon F, Sigma SA and Sony E
  • Retails for $1,599 USD
Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Review -- Product Image

Construction and handling

Large, heavy and very well-built is how I'd describe the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art lens. It's a hefty lens, weighing over 2.5 pounds (1,170 grams). Its shape and heavy front elements also mean it won't balance well on smaller cameras. With that said, the weight is not wasted. The lens has a splash and dust resistance construction and rubber sealing. The lens is built using both metal and Sigma's Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material. All in all, the lens is designed for the rigors of a professional workload.

Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Review -- Product Image

The lens feels very nice in the hands, you can sense the quality. The focus ring is large and features a rubbery ridged design that's easy to grip. The lens also has a built-in focus scale, which is always a welcome addition. There's a switch for toggling between autofocus and manual focus on the side of the lens.

Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Review -- Product Image

It's a fairly long lens in addition to being heavy. The lens is just under five inches long (126 millimeters) and has a maximum diameter of 3.8 inches (95.4 millimeters). It's not too different in size when compared to a Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, if that gives you a better sense of the lens' size. Despite its weight, the lens is fairly comfortable to hold and use. As I mentioned, it can feel a bit front-heavy, but that's not easy to avoid with an ultra-wide-angle optic.

Optical design and image quality

The Sigma 14mm f/1.8 lens has a complex optical structure. It features 16 elements across 11 groups. Of these elements, three are FLD elements, four are SLD elements, four are aspherical elements and the lens also features SMC coating to suppress ghosting.

Sharpness

The Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art lens is impressively sharp in the center, even when shooting wide open. The lens gets very sharp at f/2.8 and f/4.0, which are still pretty bright apertures, all else equal. Diffraction starts to set in slightly around f/5.6, but only becomes significantly more noticeable and problematic around f/16. Even at f/11, the lens is still quite sharp and by that point, you have a lot of depth of field to work with, which could prove useful for landscape photographers in particular.

Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/1.8, 1/1600s, ISO 100.
RAW processed image with Adobe Camera Raw defaults, lens corrections applied and -25 Highlights applied. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/1.8, 1/1600s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop from a RAW processed image with Adobe Camera Raw defaults, lens corrections applied and -25 Highlights applied. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/2.8, 1/800s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop from a RAW processed image with Adobe Camera Raw defaults, lens corrections applied and -25 Highlights applied. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/16, 1/25s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop from a RAW processed image with Adobe Camera Raw defaults, lens corrections applied and -25 Highlights applied. Click here for the RAW file.

With respect to the edge of the frame, there is some sharpness loss as you move to the extreme corners, but it's not too bad and can be corrected by stopping the lens down a bit. It is worth pointing out that with this kind of a ultra-wide lens -- one with such strong field curvature -- you simply aren't going to achieve the same level of detail across the frame as you could expect from a similar-quality lens at 20mm, 24mm or something longer. If you want a fast aperture, shallow depth of field and top-notch sharpness across the frame, you might come away slightly disappointed with this lens, but in less demanding situations, the Sigma 14mm still delivers good performance in terms of sharpness across the frame.

Vignette

Where I'm less impressed with the lens is with respect to vignette. Vignette is quite strong at f/1.8. Fortunately, by f/2.8, the situation is considerably better. In most cases, vignette won't be particularly noticeable, but it is most-visible when trying to capture images with a shallow depth of field at f/1.8 or when shooting at night, another situation where f/1.8 makes sense.

Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/1.8, 1/1600s, ISO 100.
Vignette test, -100 clarity applied in Adobe Camera Raw to reduce fine detail in the subject. Click here for the RAW file.
Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/2.8, 1/640s, ISO 100.
Vignette test, -100 clarity applied in Adobe Camera Raw to reduce fine detail in the subject. Click here for the RAW file.
Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/5.6, 1/200s, ISO 100.
Vignette test, -100 clarity applied in Adobe Camera Raw to reduce fine detail in the subject. Click here for the RAW file.

Aberrations

The lens generally performs quite well with respect to aberrations, although there are some cyan and magenta chromatic aberrations around high-contrast edges and fine details. There is also some purple fringing, which is a bit distracting at times. With that said, overall performance with respect to CA is good, and the issues that are present are not particularly obtrusive nor are they difficult to correct during post-processing.

In the field

Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/1.8, 1/1000s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.

The Sigma 14mm f/1.8 is an interesting lens to use because it offers a very wide field of view and also a fast aperture. Like many other ultra-wide angle lenses, you will struggle with using filters. You'd need some sort of an adapter to use large filters on the front as there is no filter thread.

Autofocus

In my case, I needed to perform extensive autofocus fine-tuning with the Nikon D800E I was using to achieve acceptable results with the Sigma 14mm f/1.8. This could be due to the camera, the particular lens sample, or perhaps a bit of both. In any case, I wanted to mention it, but I can't speak to whether this may be typical with the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 in general or just the sample I used.

After the fine-tuning, the lens focused quite smoothly. It's not rough, loud or apprehensive during focusing. I wouldn't say that it's super fast, but it's certainly quick enough and delivers solid, reliable focusing.

Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/8.0, 1/10s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.

Shooting at night

With its wide field of view and fast aperture, the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 practically begs to be used as a night sky lens. Even wide open, the lens does not display much by way of comatic aberration. There is some at the extreme corners of the frame, but it's not bad at all. Further, the lens has a built-in focus scale and a nice focus ring, which is great in general, but especially appreciated when trying to dial in focus at night.

Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/1.8, 15s, ISO 1600.
This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/1.8, 13s, ISO 3200.
Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/1.8, 13s, ISO 3200.
100 percent crop from the above image. Click for full-size image. Click here for the RAW file. We can see a fair bit of comatic aberration in the extreme corner.

Compared to manual focus fast prime lenses, of which there are multiple options out there including at 14mm, the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 is considerably more expensive and heavier. On the other hand, there's a substantial difference between f/1.8 and f/2.8. The extra light-gathering ability cannot be understated, especially for shooting at night. I cannot say which is the right choice for you, but I can say that I would definitely recommend the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 for night photography.

Field Test summary

Impressive ultra-wide angle lens delivers great performance and fun

What I like:

  • Very good build quality
  • Impressive image quality, even wide open, in the center
  • One-of-a-kind full-frame lens
  • Fun to use
Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/7.1, 0.6s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.

What I dislike:

  • Autofocus performance seems only fair
  • Some comatic aberration
  • Corners seemed a little soft (but we've asked for a second sample, stay tuned)
  • Like many other ultra-wide lenses, you won't be able to easily use filters

The Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art ultra-wide lens is a very interesting and enjoyable optic. The lens has pro-grade build quality, high-end optical performance and is well-suited to many different ultra-wide angle shooting situations thanks to its bright maximum aperture.

Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
f/6.3, 6s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.

If wide-angle photography is up your alley, then this niche lens is a very good choice. Its price is fairly high at just under $1,600 USD, but you get a lot of lens for the money. The Sigma 14mm f/1.8 lens is a very good choice for architecture, landscape and night sky photography.

 

• • •

 

Product Overview

(From Sigma lens literature) In taking photographs of starry skies or other celestial scenes at night, or of the seashore with a wide perspective, a large-diameter lens is a strong ally, since it allows the capture of a moving subject by adjusting shutter speed without relying on ISO sensitivity. With its full-frame 35mm coverage, 14mm focal length for an ultra-wide angle of view, F2 barrier-breaking F1.8, the SIGMA 14mm F1.8 DG HSM | Art is the true high-speed ultra-wide-angle lens for which so many photographers have been waiting. Although some zoom lenses are available that can cover 14mm, the large diameter delivering F1.8 brightness is a singular advantage. Going beyond fast shutter speed, this lens can capture a swarm of fireflies with crystal clarity, a beautiful bokeh effect, and outstanding control of light streaking.

Key features

1. 14mm ultra-wide angle of view and F1.8 brightness deliver a new dimension of visual experience
By leveraging its extreme angle of view and the dramatic perspective this creates, an ultra-wide-angle lens can get up close and personal with a subject while at the same time taking in a vast background-an example of photography going beyond normal human vision.

SIGMA 14mm F1.8 DG HSM | Art combines the extremely deep depth of field that comes from an ultra-wide angle of view with the extremely shallow depth of field that comes from F1.8 brightness. The result is a sharply captured subject set against a vast background dramatically blurred with a beautiful bokeh effect. It is a highly impressive mode of photographic expression that until now simply has not existed.

  • Minimized chromatic aberrations
    Three FLD ("F" Low Dispersion) glass elements and four SLD (Super Low Dispersion) glass elements help minimize transverse chromatic aberration, which tends to be noticeable in shots taken with ultra-wide-angle lenses. The result is outstanding image quality from the center of the image to the edges.
  • Featuring a large-diameter aspherical lens element
    The SIGMA 12-24mmF4 DG HSM | Art was the first SIGMA lens to feature a large 80mm aspherical lens element. Building on the expertise derived from this success, the new lens features a large 80mm precision-molded glass aspherical lens as its front element. This technology has made possible the 14mm F1.8 specification-the first of its kind.
  • Minimized distortion
    Serving as the front lens element, the large 80mm precision-molded glass aspherical lens effectively minimizes distortion. Offering excellent peripheral brightness, this lens delivers outstanding image quality from the center to the edges.
  • Distinctive bokeh effect
    Even at the 14mm ultra-wide-angle of view, F1.8 brightness makes possible a very shallow depth of field with the subject standing out dramatically against a bokeh background. It's the unique mode of expression that only a large-diameter lens can deliver.

2. Seventh 35mm full-frame prime lens to join the Art line
Launched in 2012, the SIGMA 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art was the first lens in the Art line. Since then, SIGMA has developed a wide variety of lenses for the line, and the SIGMA 14mm F1.8 DG HSM | Art is the seventh prime lens in the line to offer 35mm full-frame coverage. Now even stronger, the Art line sets the new standard for prime lenses in the ultra-high-megapixel era.

3. Other features

  • Fast AF with full-time manual override
    Note: The operation of full-time MF may vary based on mount type
  • Compatible with Mount Converter MC-11
  • Available SIGMA USB DOCK
    Makes customization and flexible adjustment possible
  • Available Mount Conversion Service
    Allows use with another camera body
  • Rounded diaphragm
  • Designed to minimize flare and ghosting
  • High-precision, durable brass bayonet mount
  • Evaluation with SIGMA's own MTF measuring system "A1"
  • Made in Japan
    With outstanding craftsmanship
  • The lens barrel is engraved with the year of release

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