miketaylor's reviews

  • Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Build, optics, internal focus
    Requires a whopping 77mm filter, aberrations at 10mm

    After seeing numerous photographs taken at wide angle for years, I've wanted an ultra wide angle lens.

    I had no idea for what I was in until I actually obtained one!

    First off, I love taking photos of sunsets and clouds.. big sky photos and displaying object scale. For this an ultrawide can get you what you want.

    However, I had no idea the amount of work involved in avoiding distortion when at the wide side of this lens (10mm)... you must be careful not to pitch up or down the camera from the subject or you will get massive image distortion! This can be played to your advantage but it can also be simply annoying too. Also close up, objects take on a slight to moderate fisheye effect almost. To really get this effect though, the lens would have to be able to focus even closer than it can.

    Also, 10mm is simply REALLY INCREDIBLY wide! This is fantastic if you are in a tight place and want to have much of the space in the image (interior shots -- especially in realty or the sort). However, outside in larger space, this means you are losing detail of your subject simply from covering more area in the field of view.

    For landscapes and such, the longer end of this lens is probably going to be the smarter option (focal length wise). Forget about Panoramas with the wider end btw. In my experiences, way too much distortion means you will have headaches getting images to properly overlap.. even with distortion correct enabled (LR user here). Plus with distortion correction enabled, means you will be removing a portion of the actual image in crop to accommodate said distortion (it can be rather severe on the edges and somewhat complex). So just use the mid to long side of this lens if you are considering panoramas or landscapes with more detail. The issue there is this Sigma 10-20mm lens tends to be softer in the mid to longer side of the focal range. I think my 18-135 might be sharper and around the same barrel distortion amount as this Sigma lens (which is rather minimal on long side of the 10-20) at 18-20mm. Also, you're getting f/5.6 on the long end of this lens.. so forget about it if you are in a low lit space with no tripod.

    I hope this review makes sense.. The lens isn't a dog.. by any means.. it is rather sharp stopped down to F/8 and F/11 but you might want to handle an Ultra wide lens before buying just to ensure this is really your cup of tea. It is the only lens where I really had to practice using it and work through the dynamics of such a particular focal range and the properties of this particular lens -- didn't come automatically.

    This is a chubby lens but it is plastic so it is lightweight. Some might find that a flaw, but I think had it been metal, this would have been a brick to hold! 77mm threads means screw-on filters are going to be expensive. I use a Cokin P series step down ring and the square filters instead. That way, I can use all of my ND filters without having to get individual ones for each thread size. Just a cheap step down ring for the filter holder (bought a ton of those step down rings on ebay for next to nothing).

    Also, this lens WILL flare in bright light sources (namely the sun!). You won't get a super awesome copy that doesn't flare. This lens flares. Expect it to and plan accordingly. If you take lots of shots with the sun visible or just off camera, and don't want to Post Process the flare effect out, look for a different lens.

    I'm glad to have this lens and will get much use out of it.. but I don't think it will be the most affixed lens on my camera as I thought it might have been before receiving it. 10mm, however, is fantastic for big sky photography, massively large landscapes (where detail isn't the leading factor), interior spaces, creative effects, and generally projecting scale of objects. I find, as a result, this Sigma 10-20mm makes up for it's limitations.

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    reviewed November 2nd, 2015 (purchased for $400)