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08-17-2013, 04:03 AM - 8 Likes   #1
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My Hands-on with the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 (10 images)

I stopped by the local camera store a few days ago just to poke around, and to my surprise they had the 18-35! I returned this morning with my camera bag with the hopes of being able to do a comparison (physically only, since it was a Canon mount). In no way shape or form is this meant to be a review, however for those on the fence of pre-ordering (I still haven't made the plunge but I am *VERY* seriously considering it right now), here are my first impressions:
  • AUTOFOCUS: Super quick on the Canon 700D (which the store owner let me play with, and I must say - wow...the Chinese plastic is strong with that one), although with such a short focus throw (it's 18-35mm), it isn't expected to be too slow. The DA*16-50 was only a bit slower although the 18-35 was obviously the winner. No focus accuracy issues I saw, but I only played with it for maybe 10 minutes.
  • AF/MF SWITCH: Without any question the toughest switch to activate of any lens I've ever tried. The sound is a very *sharp* click. Very sharp. I like it, and there is NEVER any chance of it accidentally being switched to MF or AF without you consciously doing so.
  • WEIGHT: This baby is heavy. Made the 700D a bit front heavy, but I think with the Pentax K-5 it would be a perfect balance. Heavier than the 16-50, although when I picked them up one in each hand, it didn't seem to be too far off. According to B&H the difference is quite a bit - 565g vs 811g, but in the hand the difference appeared much closer. Must be because I've been working out, though, huh?
  • SIZE: It's not small. It is taller than the DA* 16-50 and even taller than the Sigma 8-16. Below are photos for reference. But it isn't fat, which I was expecting for an f/1.8 zoom lens. Granted "fat" is relative, but I expected it to have a bit more girth.
  • BUILD: The build quality is beautiful. Super tight tolerances and a beautiful finish. Yes it's mostly plastic and rubber, but there's nothing cheap about it, except maybe the rear lens cap (I hate Sigma's caps - the epitome of cheap).
  • ZOOM AND FOCUS RINGS: The tightest rings I've ever felt on a lens, but in no way in a bad way. Beautifully damped and again, the super tight tolerances are apparent here. Makes me think if you put a rubber o-ring on the mount it might be weather sealed. Honestly... Also, I noticed that the zoom ring "zooms" in the same direction as Pentax lenses, however the focus ring is in the opposite direction. I didn't notice it until today, but my Sigma 8-16 is the same way, so I guess it would be safe to say that you won't find that a hindrance
  • FRONT LENS OBJECTIVE/GLASS: It is bulbous, but not much. No where near as much as a fisheye or the Sigma 8-16, but it is far more bulbous than any standard rectilinear I've ever seen. Not an issue, but I did notice it.
  • LENS HOOD: A super tight to screw on for both regular and reversed on the lens. I liked the grip along the edge of the hood's widest part - nice touch. Still no CPL window that is standard among Pentax's lens hoods though! I also liked that it was narrower to the body when reversed, something the DA 12-24 and the DA* 16-50 could learn a lot from...
Here are photos I took. From left to right, also with their focusing windows so you can see what I meant by the direction of travel. The store owner was very nice to let me use a DA 16-45 he had on the shelf because I didn't have anything wide enough to get all of them in the same shot from so close

DA* 55, Sigma 8-16, Sigma 18-35, DA* 16-50, FA 77 LTD, K-30
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A top down look with the Sigma 8-16 to show its size when mounted. I lined up the Sigma 8-16 and its cap to mimick the exact placement of when mounted as well.
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Each of these are different shots, all at f/1.8 with their 100% crops included, no sharpening applied - the only processing was RAW into Lightroom with slight exposure fixes - nothing more. Canon 700D. Keep in mind that glare also is a bit of an issue with reducing sharpness because they are through glass windows with a lot of overhead store lights. Also there is a bit of noise because I didn't get a chance to change the ISO. I had a hard enough time changing settings. I settled for Av mode and RAW (which was another pain to try to change - whomever claims Canon's menus are superior to Pentax's is out of their damn minds).
Focus about 2.5m away
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Focus about 10m away
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Close focus, about .5m away.
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Super shallow DOF at close distance.
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My biggest gripe - I would have preferred if they made it 16-30 f/1.8, but that won't change the fact I will most likely get it sometime around Christmas time after seeing some comparisons against the FA 31 and maybe even the Sigma 30 f/1.4 ART (not the old version) should Sigma decide to release it for Pentax. If the lens were weather sealed, though, I'd have one on pre-order to replace the DA* 16-50.

Like I said - this is *not* a review at all, just a hands on for a lens that most haven't seen in person yet. With that in mind, I hope this was beneficial to you


Last edited by Heie; 08-17-2013 at 04:30 AM.
08-17-2013, 04:35 AM   #2
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Thanks Alex. I'm interested too and appreciate any new information.
08-17-2013, 04:42 AM   #3
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Very informative, thanks Heie.
08-17-2013, 04:48 AM   #4
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Super helpful write up! Thanks, I am looking forward to owning this lens someday...

08-17-2013, 05:06 AM   #5
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Golly it is sharp!
08-17-2013, 05:36 AM   #6
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Thanks Alex!
08-17-2013, 06:08 AM   #7
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The big question after viewing these images is.... do all camera stores look the same? The next big question is.... do I need ƒ1.8. I barely use my 50 ƒ1.7, or even my Tammy 17-50 ƒ2.8. Low light just doesn't seem to be a thing I appreciate.
08-17-2013, 06:33 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
The big question after viewing these images is.... do all camera stores look the same? The next big question is.... do I need 1.8. I barely use my 50 1.7, or even my Tammy 17-50 2.8. Low light just doesn't seem to be a thing I appreciate.
If all your photography is outdoors and in good sunlight, or even not so good sunlight, then the only reason for a lens with f1.8 would be separation and isolation of a subject. I'm finding that my shots of sports with the 85/1.4 (even though its MF) result in completely different images than the 70-200/2.8 set at around 85mm. The bokeh and separation can make for more dramatic images in my experience - even it is can be blasted hard to focus well at that f-stop.

08-17-2013, 06:58 AM   #9
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Subject isolation aside, I'll sure appreciate that extra stop and a half for some of my concert work.
08-17-2013, 07:17 AM   #10
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Thx for the hands-on.
Somehow i recognize the shop. The image with the Bamberg on just made it sure
I visited it about half year ago

08-17-2013, 07:23 AM   #11
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Thanks for sharing. I guess the big question to me is flare resistance. That is my big issue with my 16-50 and honestly, from what I have seen, doesn't seem like the Sigma does any better.
08-17-2013, 07:30 AM   #12
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I need this lens for my anime conventions.
08-17-2013, 09:56 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
Subject isolation aside, I'll sure appreciate that extra stop and a half for some of my concert work.
Low light work is really going to be the acid test for that lens IMHO. If it does particularly well then it ought to be a big hit.
08-17-2013, 11:22 AM   #14
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Thanks for sharing. Looks really good this lens. I like the range, even though I agree that 16-30 would have been even better.

But it seems I'm gravitating towards small and light so I guess it won't be for me.
08-17-2013, 01:31 PM   #15
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Thanks for sharing.

Kudo for the stone-and-brick chop owner who was willing to let you play with his 'babies'... It is refreshing to see that there are still some real stores around the corner.

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