CHANGING S PACES
New to the wide-angle scene is the Sigma 14–24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art lens. Leon Rose takes it indoors and tries it out on some arty interiors
Just when I thought I had reviewed every wide-angle lens Sigma had to offer in its Art range, up pops the 14–24mm DG HSM Art ultra-wide zoom lens. You could be forgiven for confusing it with the Sigma 12–24mm f/4.5–5.6 DG II HSM Lens, as it looks almost identical. However, it has much more to offer: to begin with, it’s a stop brighter and features a splash-proof design. To test it out, I decided to shoot some interiors. My stylist, Megan, organized a morning at artist Nicky Foreman’s house. Nicky’s works are made by using everyday mundane objects and placing them in a setting where they can be viewed as precious and beautiful (you can see Nicky’s work at artisgallery.co.nz). This means that her modest home is filled with not only interesting furniture from years gone by but also her beautiful art. This, along with the fact that it is a relatively tight space, made it a great place to test the Sigma 12–24mm f/4.5–5.6. When first unpacking the lens, I noticed that it is yet another well-crafted example from this range, with the trademark black coating and butterfly-shaped hood. It weighs in at 1150 grams, which is a pretty heavy lens to carry around, but it feels right at home on my Canon EOS 5D Mk III with grip. On the APSC system, this lens equates to 21–36mm compared to full-frame 35mm sensors, but it leaves you wondering how balanced it would feel on those smaller bodies. This lens has a minimum focusing distance of 26cm, which is useful when shooting interiors in very tight spaces. It also features silent high-speed autofocus performance and full-time manual focusing. You can override the autofocus at any time with the ring or by using the AF/MF switch on the lens barrel. The lens is made up of 17 elements in 11 groups and features a rounded nine-blade diaphragm, which creates a nice bokeh effect. Having the ability to open up to f/2.8 helps to keep your background soft, and allows for better use of available light in those darker areas, as shown in the still life on Nicky’s table.
This lens would be a great addition to the landscape photographer’s kit, but it really comes into its own when shooting interiors and architecture. Having a lens with this range can really make a smaller space look bigger. Although, what you will find with lenses of this wide an angle is that barrel distortion and converging verticals will be your main concern. The trick is to set up your camera to be as level as possible, getting your vertical lines straight. If you do this first, you considerably reduce your retouching time. However, sometimes you just have to point your lens down a little to avoid half your frame being filled with white ceiling. There really is no way around it when using ultra-wide lenses, but you can correct a lot of this distortion using Photoshop ‘Transform’ tools. As an example, here I used Transform in perspective mode with a slight nudge in skew mode. As you can see, the green couch on the right is still looking distorted, but that can only be repaired by zooming in tighter. The next examples show the same setting from a lower angle on three points through the range. Notice that the edge distortion seen on the couch is much improved at 18mm, and gone at 22mm.
Shot from a second angle with a larger piece of furniture at the right edge of frame, the edge distortion is less obvious but still present. It does allow for the whole room, including the large piece of floral art, to be highlighted, giving you a better idea of the living space.
The focus and zoom rings were a big positive for me; they’re very sure, and turn firmly and precisely. The most exciting new feature of this lens is the enhanced weather-proof construction, with special sealing at the mount connection, manual focus ring, zoom ring, and cover connection. This is the only thing missing from the other less expensive lenses in the range. It also uses Sigma’s ‘Super Multi-Layer Coating’ to reduce flare, which has impressed me throughout the Art range. Other factors worth mentioning are that vignetting is minimal at f/2.8 and non-existent past f/5.6. The autofocus is very quiet and quick to respond; if video is part of your skill set, then this would be a good option. The one negative for me is the lack of IS (image stabilization) but this is a heavy lens, and would be easy to hold still — otherwise, a tripod would be a must. I’m not sure that I would be comfortable putting something of this weight on an APSC or mirrorless body, especially on an adaptor if you are running two systems (I run both Canon and Sony systems in my daily kit). At approximately $2000, this lens is good value, considering the exceptional build quality and added weather sealing. The lens is comparable to the Canon 16–35 f2.8 III USM and the Nikon AF-S 14–24mm f/2.8G ED at around $3000 and $2300 respectively, so if you are looking for a lens in this range, it is a great option.
CANON EOS 5D MK III, SIGMA 14–24MM F/2.8 DG HSM ART LENS, 14MM, 1/60S, F/2.8, ISO 800 CANON EOS 5D MK III, SIGMA 14–24MM F/2.8 DG HSM ART LENS, 14MM, 1/60S, F/11, ISO 800
CANON EOS 5D MK III, SIGMA 14–24MM F/2.8 DG HSM ART LENS, 14MM, 1/50S, F/11, ISO 800 CANON EOS 5D MK III, SIGMA 14–24MM F/2.8 DG HSM ART LENS, 18MM, 1/50S, F/11, ISO 800 CANON EOS 5D MK III, SIGMA 14–24MM F/2.8 DG HSM ART LENS, 22MM, 1/50S, F/11, ISO 800
CANON EOS 5D MK III, SIGMA 14–24MM F/2.8 DG HSM ART LENS, 14MM, 1/30S, F/11, ISO 800 (BEFORE)CANON EOS 5D MK III, SIGMA 14–24MM F/2.8 DG HSM ART LENS, 14MM, 1/30S, F/11, ISO 800 (AFTER)
CANON EOS 5D MK III, SIGMA 14–24MM F/2.8 DG HSM ART LENS, 24MM, 1/50S, F/11, ISO 800 CANON EOS 5D MK III, SIGMA 14–24MM F/2.8 DG HSM ART LENS, 18MM, 1/50S, F/11, ISO 800 CANON EOS 5D MK III, SIGMA 14–24MM F/2.8 DG HSM ART LENS, 14MM, 1/40S, F/11, ISO 800