Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Review

5.0
July 9, 2013 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM is the first ever zoom lens to offer a fast constant aperture of F1.8 throughout its range. Retailing for £799 / $799, read our in-depth Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DG HSM review to find out if it's the best standard zoom lens for your APS-C DSLR camera...

The Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM is the first ever zoom lens to offer a maximum aperture of f1.8 throughout its focal range. It offers the equivalent angle of view as a 27-52.5mm lens on an APS-C DSLR (depending on the crop factor). The Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM features a rounded 9 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out of focus areas of the image. It has a minimum focusing distance of 28cm /11.0in and a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:4.3, while the HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) ensures a silent, high-speed AF function. The Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM lens is currently available for £799.99 / $799.99 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

Weighing in at 810 grams and measuring 12cm in length, the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM is a big lens given its modest focal length. As seen in the photos below, it complements a camera like the Canon EOS 700D / Rebel T5i very well.

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSMThe Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM lens mounted on a Canon EOS 700D

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSMThe Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM lens mounted on a Canon EOS 700D

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSMThe Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM lens mounted on a Canon EOS 700D

Build quality is excellent given the relatively affordable price tag. The lens has a plastic shell with a mixture of metallic parts and a new compound material, TSC (Thermally Stable Composite), used inside. It also incorporates a brass bayonet mount that's supposed to be more durable. The optical elements are made of high-grade glass. The focus ring is pleasingly wide and ridged for easier grip.

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSMSide of the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM lens

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSMSide of the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM lens

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSMTop of the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM lens

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSMBottom of the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM lens

In terms of features, the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM offers all the basics that you need from a standard zoom lens. The main exception is the lack of built-in Vibration Reduction, although the very fast maximum aperture of f/1.8 makes up for this.

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSMSide of the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM lens

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSMSide of the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM lens

Focusing is usefully internal and manual focusing is possible when set via the Focus switch on the lens barrel. Full-time manual focus override is also available at any time simply by rotating the focus ring. The lens doesn't change in length when zooming from 18mm to 35mm.

A clear distance scale in both feet and meters runs from the closest focusing distance of 0.28m / 0.92 ft to infinity.

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSMFront of the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM lens

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSMRear of the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM lens

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSMFront of the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM lens

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSMRear of the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM lens

Surprisingly given its price, the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM ships with a good quality soft case and also a plastic petal-shaped lens hood. It accepts 72mm filters.

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSMThe Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM lens in-hand

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSMFront of the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM lens, with the supplied LH780-06 lens hood fitted

Focal Range

At the 18mm focal length the angle of view is 76.5 degrees.

 Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSMField of view at 18mm

At the 35mm focal length the angle of view is 44.2 degrees.

 Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSMField of view at 35mm

Focusing

The Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM lens has a wide focus ring. There are hard stops at both ends of the range, making it easier to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the 72mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM zoom is a quick performer, taking about 0.15 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Canon EOS 700D that we tested it with.

We didn't experience much "hunting", either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time. It's also a very quiet performer, thanks to the built-in HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor), which makes this lens well-suited to video recording.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, can be detected in some shots, but they are not very prominent at all.

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM

Vignetting / Light Fall-off

With the lens set to its maximum aperture of F1.8, there is significant light fall-off in the corners at both ends of the zoom range. Stopping-down to F4 virtually eliminates this. There is also some modest barrel distortion at the 18mm focal length.

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Vignetting at 18mm

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Vignetting at 35mm

Macro

The Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM isn't claimed to be a macro lens, but it delivers good performance nonetheless. It has a minimum focusing distance of 28cm/11.0in and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:4.3. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to your subject, in this case a Compact Flash memory card.

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Close-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. In the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM lens, Sigma employed an iris diaphragm with nine rounded blades, which has resulted in very nice bokeh in our view. We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several 100% crops for your perusal.

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM
   
Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.

Entry Tags

review, lens, nikon, sony, canon, pentax, full frame, sigma, f1.8, aps-c, fx, dx, f 1.8, 18-35mm, sigma 18-35mm, 1.9x, Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Review

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