Sigma has in­tro­duced the first ul­tra high-speed 14mm. Kevin Carter gives his ver­dict

Digital Photograper - - Contents -

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

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