Sigma AF 14mm F2.8 EX HSM Lens

Author sophos9 - Last updated: 08.11.2010


I have been looking for a little while for something that would shoot wider than my Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 lens,i had been looking at the Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 but the cost was a factor on this occassion.The Nikon 14mm f2.8 seemed a good alternative and then i stumbled on the Sigma 14mm f2.8 online. While i was making my mind up as reviews on the internet were putting both the lenses on equal standings with each other Sophos purchased a Nikon 14mm f2.8 and kindly put a review up on the forum.I knew what Sophos had paid for his and basically it was a bargain so in a moment of madness i aquired the Sigma model from a relative who was basically selling up and emigrating.In my mind it was the chance to get a lens with a cracking performance review but it was also a chance to do an alternative review to the Nikon.

The Sigma 14mm is a rectilinear lens, rather than a fisheye.For those new to wide-angle photography,rectilinear lenses include special aspherical elements designed to reduce the spherical,fish-eye distortion that can be produced by extremely wide-angle lenses.

Sigma’s HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) autofocus mechanism is extremely speedy and quiet,and is certainly competitive with Nikons technology.Like many Nikon lenses,after autofocusing,the Sigma 14 can be manually tweaked simply by turning its focus ring.You don’t have to switch to manual mode to make focus adjustments,although the camera can, of course,be put into a manual-only mode by simply sliding a switch near the back of the lens.

Finally, I think the overall build quality is excellent.The lens is completely creak-free,feels very sturdy,and is made from a nicely-finished metal,with a rubberized focus ring,that feels solid and hefty.If the £600 “new” price tag is a little off-putting,know that you won’t be getting a cheap plastic feeling piece of gear.

You also won’t be getting just a lens.Unlike some cheapskate major camera companies,Sigma includes a nice padded case and a gel filter holder that attaches to the back of the lens.While no substitute for a good screw-on filter,gel filters at least provide an option for some additional color control,if you feel you need it.A used lens can be picked up from Ebay for as little as £400 and thats a 1/3 of Nikon price of £1200 for their 14mm f2.8 AF model

Performance

Obviously, when considering a lens this wide, your main concern will be distortion.On a lens with a front element that’s this round,your second concern will be lens flare.The Sigma 14mm f2.8 does great with the distortion,but you’ve gotta be a little careful when it comes to flare.

Overall sharpness and contrast are both excellent, and images have a nicely warm quality, particularly when compared to Nikon 14mm f2.8.Color accuracy is very subjective,of course.I’m very pleased with the color tone and quality of the Sigma 14mm.The Sigma is also consistently brighter than the Nikon 14mm f2.8 at the same exposure settings.

Flare is a different story. With its wide field of view and extreme front element,it’s hard not to get flare when shooting towards any kind of light source.The flare isn’t huge,but it’s enough to mar your image,and complex enough to be difficult to remove later.It’s easy enough to shield the lens with your hand,but if you shoot in situations where you need to move quick and don’t always have a hand to spare,then you might have a problem.

Recent Test Images



Specifications

  • Camera Format – 35 mm SLR / FX (Full Frame) Digital sensor
  • Lens Type – Fixed Focal Length Lens
  • Focal Length – 14mm
  • Lens Max Aperture – f/2.8
  • Min Aperture – f/22
  • Focus Type – Autofocus
  • Closest Focusing Distance – 7.1 in
  • Picture Angle – 114 degrees
  • Groups / Elements – 14 Elements in 10 Groups
  • Diameter – 3.2 in
  • Length – 3.3 in
  • Weight – 23.3 oz
  • MPN – 461306
  • Product ID – 20724858

Conclusion

[message type="success"]The Sigma 14mm f2.8 in my eyes is on par if not better in certain circumstances than Nikon’s 14mm f2.8 offering and if bought new its £600 halve of Nikon’s lens.A used lens can be bought from £400 on ebay or from used lens dealers..but be warned Sigma stopped producing this lens approx 3 years ago so looking for one is like looking for and finding rocking horse poo..!! pretty rare to come by,so if you see one buy it immediately because when you go back for a second look i guarantee it will have gone.[/message]

[message type="warning"]Contrast Control.Watch for any stray light hitting the front element because of lens flare. Composition Problems.When you’re taking in 114 degrees,you’d better be a master of placing objects in the frame (and have a 95% or better viewfinder).As with any wide angle,it helps to have foreground,midground,and background interests,but the 14mm will push your wide angle framing skills.

The Lens Cap.Because it slips over the built in hood,the unique cap has a tendency to come off in a tightly packed case leaving the front element exposed.[/message]

Sharp and clear.Sigma has managed to make a very wide angle lens without most of the optical issues that plague them (light falloff, corner softness, chromatic aberration, etc.).

Great value.Much less expensive that some of the alternatives (Nikons 14mm f2.8),yet you don’t really give anything up.
Fast glass super in very low light situations

References

Thom Hogan
Sigma
Luminous-Landscape

2 comments

#1AndyMay 5, 2011, 8:56 pm

This is indeed a pretty good lens, but I got rid of mine as I just couldn’t live with the flare and chromatic aberration. It was also very very soft around the edges. However, it’s far cheaper than the Nikon equivalent, well built, focuses very close up, and it’s a good fun lens to use!

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