Review: Sam Photography on SIGMA 24-35mm F2 | A

Ever since Sigma announced their new direction with reorganizing new lenses into three different “Contemporary”, “Art” and “Sports” product lines, the company has been successfully rolling out a number of truly groundbreaking lenses. Sigma has expanded their ever growing Global Vision line with the world’s first constant f/2 aperture on a full-frame zoom lens, the 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art Lens, available here with the Nikon F lens mount.

Along with the rest of the Art series, the 24-35mm offers high quality optics with the use of one “F” Low Dispersion and seven Special Low Dispersion glass elements in addition to two aspherical lenses. This system minimizes the appearance of spherical aberration, axial chromatic aberration and field curvature. A Super Multi-Layer Coating is present to reduce flare and ghosting for sharp, high-contrast images and it can focus as close as 11 inches. It comes with a rounded 9-blade diaphragm.  This rounded nine-blade diaphragm helps to produce an attractive out-of-focus quality.

The Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art Lens can stop action in 1/2 as much light as any previously available full frame zoom lens and can also create a stronger background blur than the next-best option at an equivalent focal length. While prime lenses in the contained focal lengths are available in 1-stop wider apertures (f/1.4), this lens covers the range of three of the most-standard prime focal lengths.

The first step in selecting a lens should be to insure that the focal length is optimal for the desired uses. The 24-35mm range covers the extreme upper end of what has long been considered “ultra-wide” (or 1mm over it depending on your definition) through simply-wide angles. While 24-35mm is a short range of focal lengths, those it has are very useful and very popular. The current lenses covering this focal length range, or a single focal length contained in that range, is huge.

This lens ships with a zippered padded nylon case. The case is nice – it provides good protection to the lens inside.  The included lens hood is fitted with a rubber connection for a secure fit. This lens is compatible with the optional Sigma USB Dock for fine-tuning different lens characteristics and updating its firmware.

Landscape photography is an especially great use for a 24mm lens. This focal length is quite wide and allows an entire scene to remain in focus, but 24mm is not so wide that it complicates landscape composition. A very high percentage of my landscape images have been captured at 24mm. Here is an example from the Sigma 24-35mm f/2 Art Lens behind my Nikon D750

Wedding and event photographers can often utilize these wide angles for capturing the overall scene, for environmental-type portraits and for even large-sized group portraits in tight spaces. At the 35mm end of the range, loosely framed individual portraits will have a nice perspective. Photojournalist’s needs are often similar to those of a wedding photographer and can also make use of this range.

The Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM is built very well, just like all other Art-series lenses – it has a very nice all-metal barrel and a metal mount. The lens feels very solid in hands and it has a better feel to it than Nikon’s plastic primes, which feel rather cheap in comparison. To be able to make such a wide aperture possible throughout the focal length range, Sigma had to make the front element of the lens rather big, which certainly impacted the overall size and weight of the lens. As a result, the lens features a large 82mm filter thread, which can be rather painful for some photographers, since 82mm filters are usually quite expensive when compared to smaller 77mm filters.  Also at 940 grams, the Sigma 24-35mm f/2 is a bit heavy when compared to lightweight primes.  It feels expensive – lots of glass, shiny black metal and rubber.

Focusing with the Sigma 24-35mm f/2 is a breeze – the focus ring is located on the front of the lens barrel and it is very smooth and easy to rotate, making the lens a great candidate for manual focusing. Be warned though, if you have been shooting with Nikon lenses, keep in mind that all Sigma lenses rotate in the opposite direction like Canon lenses do. Not an issue for most people, but can take some time to get used to, especially with Nikon viewfinders showing rotation in the opposite direction when looking at the focus assist indicators.

There is little to complain about in terms of the lens build except one area – weather sealing. While the lens itself probably can take plenty of abuse, the lens mount is not sealed with a rubber gasket like the new Nikon lenses. This means that you have to watch out for dust between the lens and the camera mount or it will easily make it into the camera and potentially even into the lens. It is quite normal for lenses to suck air in and out when focusing or zooming in/out, so I recommend to try to keep the rear metal mount area clean at all times.

Our Impression:  Sigma’s 24-35mm f/2 Art is Like a Prime Lens that Zooms.  Bingo!! 🙂

Specifications as on Sigma Official Site:
Lens construction:     18 elements in 13 groups
Angle of view (35mm format):     84.1 – 63.4 degrees
Number of blades in diaphragm:     9 Blades (Rounded diaphragm)
Minimum aperture (W):     F16
Minimum focusing distance:     28cm / 11.0in.
Maximum magnification:     1:4.4
Diameter x length:     87.6mm x 122.7mm / 3.4in. x 4.8in.
Weight:     940g / 33.2oz.

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