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04-09-2016, 01:28 PM   #1
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Sigma 10-20 f/3.5 vs f/4-5.6

I am interested in getting an UWA zoom lens in the foreseeable future to expand beyond the 17 mm that is my widest focal length currently. The uses would be mostly landscapes, but also some architecture and general outdoor and sport shots. Looking at everything there is available for Pentax, the DA 12-24 is too expensive, the Sigma 8-16 doesn't take filters and the otherwise perfect Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 is not available for Pentax.

This leaves the Sigma 10-20 f/3.5 and the older f/4-5.6, and I am conflicted about which of these to get. Usually the f/4-5.6 is recommended as it is cheaper, however here in the UK curiously I can get the f/3.5 for 329 and the f/4-5.6 for 370. Considering my filters are 77 mm and the f/3.5 requires 82 mm, with at least one new ND filter I'd pretty much spend the same amount of money for either. So price is not a concern in this specific comparison. On paper, the f/3.5 is larger and heavier, but also offers HSM and manual focus override, which the Pentax version of the f/4-5.6 does not.

The problem is finding out about image quality. Browsing through different forums opinions range from 'both are about equally good' to 'the old f/4-5.6 is clearly better'. The latter sentiment about the f/3.5 being worse rather than an improvement seems to be pretty common. On the other hand, published reviews seem very conflicted:

On Photozone the f/4-5.6 gets higher sharpness marks, the f/3.5 charts show a terrible edge performance at 10 mm that only gets a bit better upon stopping down.

Lenstip declares the f/3.5 to be sharper, but notes higher CA and vignetting.

The Digital Picture asserts that the f/3.5 is slightly sharper and handles flare better than the f/4-5.6.

ePhotozine rates both as pretty much the same sharpness wise.

Finally, our very own Pentaxforums did a comparison review and found the f/3.5 to be 'clearly sharper', whereas in terms of other aspects the lenses perform very similar.

So it's a weird situation - if reviews differed in their judgement of which is sharper but would at least agree that the differences are relatively minor, I'd just flip a coin. But instead we get everything from the f/3.5 being declared 'clearly sharper' in one review to showing terrible edge performance in another review.

So what do people on this forum think? I'd be especially interested to hear from Pentaxians who have owned both lenses and can draw a comparison, but welcome everyone's opinion in general.

04-09-2016, 01:53 PM   #2
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I have used these two and the Tamron.
3.5 better than 4 and both better than Tamron. The difference between 3.5 and 4 is not big.
04-09-2016, 01:54 PM   #3
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If I were you I'd get the 3.5 for the faster and constant aperture.
04-09-2016, 02:48 PM   #4
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I had the original version of the SIgma 10~20 and liked it very well (went to another Pentaxian after it lay idle because I got the 8~16). A minor point: The F4-5.6 has a removable hood, the 3.5 has, I believe, a fixed hood. IF you were anticipating going to a K1, and IF you wanted to experiment using either of these on the FF sensor without cropping then cropping in LR or PS afterward, the ability to remove the lens hood on the f4-5.6 would have a slight advantage. You'd get a full circle image to crop in PP rather than one that was slightly "nipped" especially at top & bottom.

04-09-2016, 02:52 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by FantasticMrFox Quote
This leaves the Sigma 10-20 f/3.5 and the older f/4-5.6, and I am conflicted about which of these to get. Usually the f/4-5.6 is recommended as it is cheaper, however here in the UK curiously I can get the f/3.5 for 329 and the f/4-5.6 for 370. Considering my filters are 77 mm and the f/3.5 requires 82 mm, with at least one new ND filter I'd pretty much spend the same amount of money for either. So price is not a concern in this specific comparison. On paper, the f/3.5 is larger and heavier, but also offers HSM and manual focus override, which the Pentax version of the f/4-5.6 does not.
I have the 4.5-5.6 version. I am kind of spoiled with the quality of my Pentax lenses so nothing else is good enough. I do use the Sigma because it is the only lens of this focal length I have. It is not as sharp as my other lenses but it get the job done. I do use the lens for paid work and non of my clients have ever complained about quality of the images.

I have heard that the 3.5 version is sharper. However, I doubt it is significantly sharper. It is a toss up if you ask me. If I had a chance to buy again, I would probably go for the 3.5 version.

Last edited by btnapa; 04-09-2016 at 02:52 PM. Reason: typo
04-09-2016, 02:52 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
I had the original version of the SIgma 10~20 and liked it very well (went to another Pentaxian after it lay idle because I got the 8~16). A minor point: The F4-5.6 has a removable hood, the 3.5 has, I believe, a fixed hood.
The f/3.5 definitely has a removable lens hood
04-09-2016, 03:53 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by sergysergy Quote
I have used these two and the Tamron. 3.5 better than 4 and both better than Tamron. The difference between 3.5 and 4 is not big.
QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
I had the original version of the SIgma 10~20 and liked it very well ...
QuoteOriginally posted by btnapa Quote
I have the 4.5-5.6 version.
Do any of you, by any chance, also happen to own the Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 and can compare the centre and edge sharpness of the two Sigma 10-20s and the 17-50s? I have the 17-50, which I am very satisfied with, and it would be useful to compare against to know what I could expect from the 10-20s.
04-09-2016, 04:01 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
The F4-5.6 has a removable hood, the 3.5 has, I believe, a fixed hood.
This is incorrect. The 3.5 has a removable hood.
I know whereof I speak because I am a 3.5 owner.

04-09-2016, 04:04 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by WildBikerBill Quote
I know whereof I speak because I am a 3.5 owner.
And how are you finding it?
04-09-2016, 04:13 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by FantasticMrFox Quote
Do any of you, by any chance, also happen to own the Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 and can compare the centre and edge sharpness of the two Sigma 10-20s and the 17-50s? I have the 17-50, which I am very satisfied with, and it would be useful to compare against to know what I could expect from the 10-20s.
I did have a 17~70 and 10~20 Sigma simultaneously (latter gone after purchasing a 16~85). I never did formal tests or comparisons, but my general impression was that the two lenses were fairly close in performance. with perhaps a slight edge to the 17~70 which was/is a very good lens across the moderate wide to telephoto range, although I think the 16~85 is better.
04-09-2016, 04:22 PM   #11
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I did have the Sigma too (yes, I have a problem). I would say the 10-20s shows more distortion and CA. Similar shaprness.


QuoteOriginally posted by FantasticMrFox Quote
Do any of you, by any chance, also happen to own the Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 and can compare the centre and edge sharpness of the two Sigma 10-20s and the 17-50s? I have the 17-50, which I am very satisfied with, and it would be useful to compare against to know what I could expect from the 10-20s.
04-09-2016, 04:24 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by sergysergy Quote
I did have the Sigma too (yes, I have a problem). I would say the 10-20s shows more distortion and CA. Similar shaprness.
Well, distortion is to be expected from an UWA lens. Stronger CA, on the other hand, sounds a bit worrying, considering the 17-50 already shows a good amount

And take it from a (soon to be) psychology graduate that you don't have problems, you're fiiine ...
04-09-2016, 04:33 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by FantasticMrFox Quote
Do any of you, by any chance, also happen to own the Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 and can compare the centre and edge sharpness of the two Sigma 10-20s and the 17-50s? I have the 17-50, which I am very satisfied with, and it would be useful to compare against to know what I could expect from the 10-20s.
I do not have the Sigma 17-50. I have shot with it at trade shows and I think it is a very sharp lens. I do however had (sold it) the Tamron 17-50. The Tamron is a much sharper lens compared to the Sigma 10-20 f4.5-5.6. For the money, Sigma 10-20 is a good deal. I am going to sell mine soon as I am moving to the K1 and need a full frame wide zoom.
04-09-2016, 04:44 PM   #14
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I have the vari ap version of the 10-20. My copy is much better at 20 than it is at 10. But at 10mm it is still fine stopped down. Don't have the 17-50 though so cannot help there.

I like that my 10-20 and my 16-50 share the same filters (77mm). I'm not a massive fan of screwdrive due to awful noise. Otherwise it works well.

82mm filters are nice but expensiver. That said, if you ever go FF, the Pentax 24-70 f/2.8 uses 82mm filters. So you'd already be set there.
04-09-2016, 05:29 PM - 1 Like   #15
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I have the f 4 version and have been very pleased with its performance on my K 5. I've made 16 x 24 prints from files shot with it and the edge performance is excellent, as is the overall sharpness. And yes, the filters are expensive! although I'd pass (perhaps) on a circular polarizer since the lens' wide coverage (beware your feet in the frame!) may well give you strange sky effects. All in all, one of my favorite lenses, for such duty. My usual kit is the 10 - 20, the kit lens 18 - 55 WR, and the 50-200 WR. Covers most needs.
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