Sigma 18-35 Review

Sigma 18-35 Review

Sigma develops high-intensity wide-angle normal zoom for APS-C with the Sigma 18-35

With a continuous speed of F1.8, Sigma is currently developing the fastest zoom lens for APS-C cameras with the Sigma 18-35.

The focal length range should range from 18-35 millimeters, which corresponds to a 35mm equivalent of 27-53 millimeters for APS-C sensors. Sigma even sees the new powerful zoom as an alternative to several fixed focal lengths in the photo bag of the ambitious photographer. In any case, the lens should come with connectors for Canon, Nikon and Sigma on the market. Sigma currently expressly does not exclude others.

sigma 18-35

sigma 18-35The Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM belongs to the new Art line of the Japanese optics specialist and should be able to replace several fixed focal lengths due to its high optical performance. With such a fast zoom, the correction of imaging errors becomes a very special challenge, which Sigma wants to master with a self-developed, brightly pressed aspherical glass lens and the installation of SLD glass, which has a particularly low dispersion. The lens is composed of 17 elements in 12 groups, the nine aperture lamellas are intended to create a particularly round opening, which provides a softer bokeh. The closest focusing distance is 28 centimetres, which enables a maximum magnification of 1:4.3.

Both zoom adjustment and focusing are internal, so the lens does not change its length. The Hypersonic motor of the Sigma 18-35 ensures fast and quiet focusing at the same time. Filters can be attached via the 72 mm front thread, a tulip-shaped lens hood and a lens quiver should be included in the scope of delivery. In addition to the lens hood, the Super Multi Layer coating should help to avoid reflections and ghost images. At 810 grams, the Sigma 18-35 mm F1.8 DC HSM is not exactly a lightweight.

The new lens should also be able to be supplied with firmware updates via the USB dock.

In recent years, Sigma has repeatedly presented lenses that deviated from the usual monotony with unusual focal lengths or light intensities. The Sigma 18-35 mm F/1.8 DC HSM is again such a unique thing. With a slightly spectacular focal length range but extreme light intensity, the voluminous standard lens opens up interesting possibilities for cameras with sensors in APS-C format.

In terms of focal length, the Sigma 1.8/18-35 mm on the CanonAPS-C sensor (bleed factor 1.6), designed exclusively for cameras with an APS-C sensor, is equivalent to 29-56 mm on the Canon APS-C sensor (bleed factor 1.6), and 27-53 mm on the other APS-C DSLRs (bleed factor 1.5), which is less than conventional standard zoom lenses. On the other hand, it is 2 to 3 f-stops brighter, so it lets four to eight times more light onto the sensor.

It is therefore possible to work with low ISO values for large aperture openings and thus at least partially compensate for the quality advantage of cameras with sensors in 35 mm format. In terms of design with selective sharpness, this results in the effect of a continuous aperture of 2.8 compared to 35 mm focal lengths, which is currently unique. So much for pure theory. More important, of course, is how the ambitious lens proves itself in practice.

Sigma’s high-quality Art series offers the world’s fastest standard zoom lens (interchangeable lens) with the Sigma 18 – 35mm / 1.8 DC HSM Art. The Sigma is calculated from the image circle for APS-C models such as the 7D Mark 2, 70D, 700D, 650D, 1200D etc.. But it can also be very interesting for full format models, as it vignettes only below 26mm and the marginal image performance is hardly weaker than e.g. on a much more expensive Canon 24mm/1.4 II.

With the Sigma 18-35 mm F1.8 DC HSM Art, released in 2013, they have released a very fast zoom lens with a continuous aperture of f/1.8. It has been developed for the APS-C market and for many photographers it is THE alternative par excellence. The initial RRP of 999,-€ has already gone down a bit, which made it more and more attractive for hobby photographers from time to time. With the current street price of about 549,-€ (for Canon) it competes with our fixed focal lengths. The scope of delivery is very extensive, so there is not only a front and back cap, but also a matching lens hood and a lens quiver, which is not uncommon in this price range.

Whether the imaging performance is really as good as it is said in many forums remains to be seen. We got to the bottom of the matter and let this lens compete against our fixed focal lengths – Canon EF 50mm 1.8 and Canon EF 85mm 1.8 – which are also in our lens park.

Here is the review, in this paragraph from user Sigma77, who is a usual participant in our comments section: I bought the lens for the a6300 with an appropriate a-mount adapter. I had previously tested some fast objective lenses and was disappointed by all of them (samyang 21mm, sony sel35).

I was very impressed by the Sigma 18-35. At 18mm, it’s not insanely wide-angled, that’s a little too bad. The light intensity and the image quality convinced me absolutely. The autofocus didn’t want to be as awkward (honestly rare) as I did, yet it was absolutely reliable. The weight is heavy compared to other objective cameras, the camera almost disappears behind it. But I still liked it a lot. The processing is very valuable and almost better than the in-house objective. I would give an absolute recommendation for hobby photographers like me, provided you are willing to pay the price (almost 900€ with adapter).

Another user in the comments section: Pin sharp, super fast, beautiful photos. I use the lens on the nikon d500 and love it. At the beginning the focus point was about 1mm below the granted point. Funnily enough, it’s now accurate. Maybe I just did something wrong, too.

Comment from user LalyAFC, is “I was looking for an objective with a large open aperture and after some research I came across this one. After the first test photos I could see a small front-focus. But since I already assumed this, I also ordered the usb-dock at that time. After a little trial and error and repeated shooting of test photos and recalibration, I’ve now got the best out of the objective. So sharp at an aperture of 1.8. . . Unbelievably clear is the sharpness range with objects in the proximity relatively to very small, but where it should be sharp it is that. And how I use a nikon d7200 and can only recommend this lens to others. in my opinion, there’s nothing to complain about. I will be happy to provide you with sample photos I have taken”.

I have been using this objective for several months now and I am thrilled. Sharpness and image quality cannot be compared to the standard kit objective lenses. The investment is definitely worth it.

Luckily, when I asked for a new camera – I use a nikon d 5200 – or a new lens, I opted for this new lens. Very sharp, clear images are achieved with this. There were no problems with the autofocus. On my part, a clear recommendation to buy.

Now I am also happier owner of this objective. I use it on the nikon d5200. On the packaging of the sigma stand “d5300 compatible”. That means there were problems with the d5300 in the past and it was reworked in the firmware. And I suspect that this is also the reason why some people have problems with the autofocus, because the firmware of the objective should work optimally with the camera. I have no problems with front or back focus. I had also ordered the usb-dock, but a calibration was not necessary. The newest firmware version 1. A firmware update was therefore not necessary.

Highlights For The Sigma 18-35

  • Bright – f/1.8
  • Smooth, quiet HSM focusing when recording video with compatible cameras.
  • IF = internal focusing
  • Metal bayonet.
  • Closest focusing distance: approx. 0.28m


In the first autofocus test, the Sigma on the 7D Mark 2 shows itself quite well. Although there is no 70D analog AF problem directly recognizable on the 7D Mark 2, we have to use a quite strong autofocus fine adjustment (WW: +20, Tele +10) in order to achieve satisfactory results with viewfinder-based AF. The 7D Mark 2, however, also shows difficulties with the Canon 24mm/1.4 II with an unreliable hit rate, which at the moment cannot be fully controlled by fine adjustment and which is not more optimal even with lateral fields.

On our EOS 70D, on the other hand, the AF problem described in the video with the middle AF field, which partly and then persistently (but not always) blurs sharply, while a lateral viewfinder field reliably focuses, becomes apparent on the Sigma 18-35mm/1.8.

In live image AF, neither 7D Mark 2 nor 70D problems occurred, here the dual pixel CMOS AF reliably picks up.

In video mode, the sigma is quiet but not inaudible when servo AF* is activated. Recorded with internal microphones, you can still hear a soft ticker. STM lenses equipped with stepper motors, which are usually inaudible (with the exception of the 40mm/2.8 STM).

After adjusting the focus and taking the first test shots, the autofocus does its job quickly and with 98% accuracy. That’s what we would have liked from the beginning, but once the 18-35mm was properly shot off, there’s no stopping.

Handling and Workmanship

sigma 18-35 reviewThe bayonet is made of metal and works very well. When unpacking, we immediately noticed the higher weight, but this does not affect negatively. It lies outstanding in the hand and brings with its massive 810g a decent package. The smooth surface finish is of very high quality and still provides the right hold. The focus ring of the lens is extremely large and runs very well and evenly. The auto and manual focus switch has a good counterpressure, but that’s not a problem.

With a considerable overall length of 121mm and a diameter of 78mm, the lens is no longer a small one. However, there is room for it in every photo bag and in our opinion it also belongs there. The filter diameter is not too big to our delight and is with its 72mm absolutely in the frame. In this range, filters are still in a pleasant, affordable range.
Sigma has once again shown that a lens can be a source of happiness when it comes to processing – thanks to the Sigma ART series.

The lens is part of Sigma’s “Art” series, for which the company promises not only high image quality and luminous intensity, but also processing quality that meets high demands. Zoom and focusing rings therefore run absolutely backlash-free and with clear but not unpleasant resistance. The approximately 2.5 cm wide focusing ring can be rotated around 135 degrees from close-up (28 cm) to infinity – a multiple of the 30 to 40 degrees of the simple standard zoom. This makes precise manual focusing much easier. Thanks to the internal focusing and internal zoom, the length of the lens remains
constant during both focusing and zooming.

Although the zoom range – compared to a 2.8/24-70 mm lens on a DSLR with 35 mm sensor – is lower, it still covers a quite wide range of applications and in everyday landscape photography I sometimes missed a little more “wide angle”. All in all, however, the lens represents a good compromise between light intensity, focal length range and weight.

Practical Utilization

The ultrasound-based autofocus is virtually silent and fast – even in low light. The viewfinder image is – corresponding to the large aperture – very bright. In a direct comparison to simple standard zooms, the view through the viewfinder of many a photographer should literally be a light. Of course, manual focusing, but also the precise composition of the image is already greatly simplified.

Thanks to the close-up limit of only 28 cm from the sensor plane, which results in a distance of 9.5 cm between the front lens and the subject, the lens is also
well suited for small details such as flowers or even butterflies, and the large aperture and thus minimal depth of field in the close-up range ensure interesting image effects.

The lens does not have an image stabilizer. This would certainly extend the range of applications a little, but in the end it would also increase the weight and volume of the lens.

Picture Quality

And this is where the 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM comes in. The lens will amaze you if the autofocus is set correctly or if you focus manually. Even with the open aperture of f/1.8, the Sigma is convincing. The maximum sharpness is obtained between f/2.8 and f/5.6, although the differences are marginal. The lens can keep up with the sharpness of our Canon EF 100mm 2.8 L macro lens, which is quite praiseworthy. In our opinion, the imaging performance plays in the top league and does not need to hide from any other lens. The Sigma 18-35 mm can also be used as a macro lens due to the low close-up limit of just 28cm and the excellent sharpness.

The chromatic aberrations are rather small and are not necessarily worth mentioning. The vignetting (edge shading) is virtually non-existent and due to the large viewing angle of max. 76.5° it is a lot of fun to screw the lens to the camera. Due to the imaging performance mentioned above, the Sigma can replace three fixed focal lengths. A 24mm, a 30mm and a 35mm fixed focal length.

With 17 lenses in 12 groups, the use of several glasses with a particularly low refractive index and an aspherical lens, considerable effort was put into the design of the lens. It seems to have paid off. The SigmaZoom achieves the level of a good fixed focal length in almost all areas and can be used without hesitation over the entire zoom range, even with the aperture open. The distortion ranges from slightly barrel-shaped at 18 mm to quite slightly cushion-shaped at 35 mm and is practically invisible between 24 and 28 mm. Chromatic aberration – recognizable as color fringes on edges – is not relevant in practice and the vignetting of at most one f-stop at f/1.8 has almost completely disappeared by f/2.8 at the latest.

With the appropriate lens profile, the minimal imaging errors in Lightroom can be virtually eliminated. When the aperture is open, the sharpness decreases slightly towards the corners – at 35 mm it is slightly stronger than at 18 mm, but this does not really affect
the possible applications.

However, even a slight dimming to f/2.8 to f/4 ensures consistently high sharpness. For good reason, the lens offers only f/16 as the smallest aperture. A stronger dimming
would impair the image quality due to the massive diffraction blur. Up to f/11, on the other hand, it hardly plays a role at this zoom, but at f/16 it already provides for a quite noticeable decrease in sharpness.

Bottom line

The Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC is a real super alternative in the APS-C photo backpack and should be tried by every fan of bright fixed focal lengths or wide angle zoom. It impresses with its outstanding imaging performance and high-quality workmanship. The pictures of the Sigma can already be seen from the open aperture and due to the fact that this lens can easily replace 3 fixed focal lengths it fits in any photo bag. It’s just fun to walk around and take pictures from the most unusual perspectives. The already mentioned street price of about 749,-€ (for Canon) makes it very interesting and should be considered by everyone.

The 1.8/18-35 mm fully meets the high expectations. Excellent imaging performance and very careful processing make the lens a recommendation for everyone who prefers image quality to weight savings.

Technical data (Source: www.sigma-foto.com)

Manufacturer Sigma
Model 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM | Type
Focal length range [KB] 18-35mm (on APS-C 29-56mm)
Largest aperture WW/Tele 1.8
Smallest aperture 16
Lens construction 12 groups / 17 elements
Autofocus area near/far 0,28m – ∞
Filter size 72 mm
Focus drive Ultrasonic motor (HSM)
Image stabilizer no
Sensor size APS-C
Splash water resistant
Dimensions (length/diameter) 121 / 78 mm
Weight Approx. 810 g
Connections for Sony A-Mount, Pentax K-Mount, SIGMA SA-Mount, Nikon F-Mount, Canon EF-Mount

Sigma 18-35 mm F1.8 DC HSM Type Datasheet

Manufacturer Sigma
Model 18-35 mm F1.8 DC HSM Type
Variants Bayonet: Canon EF-S, Nikon F, Sigma AF, Sony AF, Pentax K
EAN 0085126210540, 0085126210557, 0085126210564, 0085126210618, 0085126210625
Unverb. Recommended price 999,00 €
Focal length range 18-35 mm
Canon EF-S
Nikon F
Sigma SA
Luminous intensity F1.8 (continuous)
Smallest aperture opening F22
Number of orifice plates 9
Autofocus Focus motor in lens (ultrasonic motor)
Internal focusing yes
Lens system 17 lenses in 12 group incl.
ED and aspherical lenses
KB full format no
Zoom motor no
Image stabilizer no
Closest focusing distance 28 cm
Largest image scale 1:4,3
Filter threads 72 mm
Dimensions (Ø x length) 78 x 121 mm
Weight 810 g
Tripod clamp no


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