Ahead of the CP+ Camera Show in Japan, on February 21, Sigma unveiled four new full-frame lenses, including three models in the high-end Art series and one in the more consumer-focused Contemporary line. The Art lenses run the gamut from ultra-wide angle to medium telephoto, starting with a world-first 14mm f/1.8, a 24-70mm f/2.8 with optical stabilization, and a 135mm f/1.8. The new Contemporary lens is a 100-400mm f/5-6.3 telephoto zoom. The lenses will be available in mounts for Canon, Nikon, and Sigma cameras and are all compatible with Sigma’s E-Mount adapter for use on Sony cameras. Here’s a look at each lens.
14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art
Perhaps the most niche-oriented lens among those announced, the 14mm f/1.8 is also the most intriguing. It is the first ultra-wide angle lens to incorporate a fast f/1.8 aperture, a feat made possible thanks to an 80mm aspherical glass mold — the largest in the industry. The huge front element is also engineered to keep distortion down and maximize peripheral illumination to combat vignetting, often a problem with fast aperture lenses. Low dispersion glass elements are used throughout to minimize chromatic aberration.
While we typically think of wide angle lenses for landscape photography, the fast aperture of the 14mm f/1.8 Art makes it uniquely suited to indoor and low-light use. Combined with the minimum focusing distance of 10.6 inches, the lens should also be able to achieve a relatively shallow depth of field, useful for wedding and event photographers who want to be able to focus on a single subject while still capturing all of the activity in a room. The lens will also likely prove useful to night sky photographers.
Wide-angle lenses often require more complex designs than other focal lengths which tend to lead to high costs. This is true even with much slower apertures. The 14mm Art lens will retail for $1,599, which shipping beginning in July.
24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art
A common workhorse lens for a variety of professional shooters, Sigma’s updated 24-70mm midrange zoom gains a new optical formula and the company’s latest optical stabilization tech. The lens features three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) elements and four aspherical elements. Physically, the lens body also features improved durability and resistance to contraction and expansion that can happen in high and low temperatures.
While a very popular focal length, this lens will need to be very good to stand out from the crowd, as Canon, Nikon, Sony, and multiple other third-party brands also make very capable 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses. Given Sigma’s previous success with Art-series zooms, we have high hopes the company will deliver another excellent lens, but only time will tell.
The 24-70mm lens is slated to list for $1,299, with shipping beginning in June.
135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art
With music, wedding, and event photographers in mind, the 135mm f/1.8 Art combines telephoto reach with low-light performance and the ability to achieve a very shallow depth of field. Sigma claims the lens will deliver edge-to-edge sharpness and is designed to take advantage of modern sensors in the 50-megapixel range. Beyond optics, the company is equally proud of its new focusing system. A high-torque HSM motor powers the main focusing group while an acceleration sensor registers the orientation of the lens to control “compensation focus groups” to counter the effects of gravity. The result should be more predictable and responsive autofocus in a variety of shooting situations.
100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary
This powerful telephoto zoom will likely make a good choice for amateur birders and sports photographers. The variable maximum aperture of f/5-6.3 is a bit slower than some competing lenses, such as Canon’s 100-400mm f/4-5.6, but this contributes to an overall more compact and lightweight design. Sigma claims the latest generation OS tech also means the lens can be used with slower shutter speeds, although the company does not state how many stops of shake reduction the new OS provides.
One fairly unique aspect of the 100-400mm is that it is dust and splash-proof, an important factor to any outdoor photographer. It can also achieve a maximum magnification ratio of 1:3.8 for detailed close-ups.
We expect the new Art models, in particular, to carry on Sigma’s tradition of providing incredible performance for the money. Sigma is in the midst of a renaissance, of sorts, after introducing its first Art lens some four years ago. Since then, the company has gone on to produce award-winning optics, with the recent 85mm f/1.4 Art posting scores that meet or exceed those of first-party lenses from Canon, Nikon, and Sony while costing hundreds of dollars less.