Sigma has introduced the first ultra high-speed 14mm. Kevin Carter gives his verdict
Kevin Carter tests two more lens options this issue
Sigma is one of the most pioneering makers of ultra-wides, so it comes as little surprise to see this lens introduced in the Art series line. As the fastest of any competing models in this focal length, it’s a prime candidate for short-exposure, wide-field astrophotography, interiors and lowlight landscape work. It’s not short on exotic glass and aspherical elements, which includes that bulbous 80mm diameter front element.
On paper then, it’s an attractive option. In the flesh it’s big and heavy, but seemingly wellmade, like all the Art series. Although sizable it’s not too ungainly, in part due to its short, stubby design. A large focus collar behind the built-in hood allows relatively precise focusing on good viewfinders. As an AF lens it’s so quiet it’s often hard to tell if it has focused, but then that’s part way due to the high-gearing.
But what about the image quality? Can it match slower rivals and some of the excellent zooms? Wide open it performs well and stopped down it has tremendously sharp central core. It’s also pretty well corrected for coma, and barrel distortion is very low. It does have some weak areas, the bulbous front is susceptible to flare and vignetting is heavy. At around £1,700 it’s a serious investment, especially when up against more versatile zoom rivals such as Nikon’s 14-24mm f2.8 and to a lesser extent the slower f4 zooms, such as Sigma’s own 12-24mm f4 and the Canon EF 11-24mm f4L zoom.
Left VIGNETTINGAlthough the 14mm has a very large front element, vignetting is quite heavy at f1.8Below
DEFINITIONThe detail in this image is very sharp centrally, but there’s some falloff in sharpness at the edges