Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM £550, $700
This Sigma offers the widest viewing angle of any DX-format lens, without resorting to fisheye optics
Straight out of the box, the Sigma 8-16mm looks physically longer than most competing DX lenses. However, the main reason for this is that the petal-shaped lens hood is built into the front of the lens – the slip-over lens cap fits on top of it. The lens hood helps to give full-time protection to the very bulbous front element, but the downside is that there’s no attachment thread for adding filters. Having said that, the two-part lens cap can act as a 72mm filter holder, but you can only use this at the long end of the zoom range, otherwise severe vignetting will occur.
Build quality, handling and the speedy, near-silent ultrasonic autofocus system are refined and a close match to other Sigma lenses in the group. While it loses out at the long end of the zoom range, the 8mm zoom setting gives an incredible viewing angle of 115 degrees, outstripping the competition by quite a margin. The difference is very noticeable when shooting.
There’s a slight drop-off in sharpness towards the corners of the image frame, and barrel distortion is quite extreme at the 8mm zoom setting, but that’s only to be expected given the astonishing viewing angle being delivered. Overall performance is very good indeed.