Sigma 14-24 for Sony-E Real World Review
Last year Sigma released the their 14-24 ART lens for the Sony E-mount. I like lots of Sigma (ART) lenses and have occasionally used them on my Sony cameras with adapters, but lot’s of times I just preferred the native glass simply because the Sigma lenses were so much heavier. Times change and Sigma is now making lenses ‘designed for the e-mount’ meaning they’re smaller and lighter than their DSLR equivalents. So this is not just a DSLR mount with an adapter soldered onto it. No, it’s a lens designed for the Sony E-mount, meaning it’s not as ‘bulky’ and heavy as lots of their DSLR lenses are. And that’s great! I have been using this lens for a few months now and to my surprise I have not seen that much ‘hype’ around it online. Could be that I just missed it, but I think Sigma didn’t push it that much.
Sigma 14-24 for Sony-E Mounted on the Sony A7RIV
So I figured after around half a year of decent usage I’d write a review. There are some reviews of this lens out there so I am sure you’ll read them all if you’re interested in buying this lens. That’s why I am just going to give you my own real world experience with this lens and I won’t go too much into pixel peeping and technical details. After all, this is a late review and I am sure there are other pixel peeping reviews out there :) (no offence of course, I love checking sharpness on all apertures, but I won’t be doing that in this review).
I took the lens to a number of locations so I feel confident to tell you a little bit of good info about it. Also, I’m sure some of you will be interested in a comparison with the Sony 16-35 GM so I’ll be talking about that a little bit as well. But first things first: Let’s take a look at the outside of this lens:
Minimum focus distance: 28cm
18 elements in 13 groups
Doesn’t extend when zooming
The lens looks like a little bit big and heavy still, but if we look at the weight of 795gr , this compared to 1150gr for the Canon version. That’s a massive difference! It’s still about 100 grams heavier than the 16-35 Sony GM which comes at 680 grams, but then again it’s also 2mm wider on the wide end. So I would say that’s positive. I’m willing to sacrifice 100 grams for a 14mm compared to a 16mm f/2.8 in that regard. The lens features a dedicated af/mf switch and has an extra AEL button right on the housing.
Left: Sony 16-35 GM f/2.8 (without lens hood), right Sigma 14-24 f/2.8 for Sony FE
The lens hood is plastic and not detachable because the bulbous front element. So the hood protects the lens incase you bump your camera onto something. This also means that you can’t easily attach filters to this lens and that you can’t use 100mm filters. And I guess that’s one of the big disadvantages when using this lens compared to the 16-35GM. You need to use a dedicated filter holder for the Sigma and use 150mm filters, while you can use a 100mm filter system or even screw on filters with the 16-35GM. So keep that in mind if you’re interested in using filters.
But on the other hand: if you want to shoot wider AND want to use a fast lens, you’ll often need those 150mm filters anyway. It’s really a trade off. I personally often carry a dedicated filter holder with me in my bag when I am bringing the Sigma 14-24. It doesn’t take as much space as I initially thought. Combined with just a few filters (usually the 10 stop and 6 or 8 stop and a CPL filter) it’s really not that bad. But yes, it’s definitely something to keep in mind.
DO NOTE: This lens can use rear mount ND filters to 'solve' the filter issue. But you'll still have to buy them, and remove the lens each time you want to change the filter. Another drawback from this is that you still can't use a CPL. For a great overview and review of those filters, check Wild Places' Review.
Let’s continue. As I mentioned in the specifications, a nice detail is that this lens does not extend when zooming. It always stays the same size (the 16-35GM does extend when zooming).
Now let’s take a look at some images. I mainly used this lens on the Sony A7RIV which is very demanding with it’s 61 Megapixel sensor. I brought the lens to some locations in the Netherlands, Iceland and Madeira. So here are some thoughts about the lens when using it in the field:
Long exposure of the Canals in Amsterdam
100% crop. of the center of the image. Image taken at f/10, 25 seconds, ISO 100
The lens is generally sharp from corner to corner. It doesn’t really matter what aperture to use although it seems that the sweet spot is from about f/4 to f/11. However, I’m not scared to use this lens wide open. At f/2.8 the lens still performs very well. Center sharpness is great and it loses some on the edges, but it’s not extreme at all. It has quite some vignetting but this is easily fixed with the lens profile. So in general, sharpness is good across most apertures, even on the edges (again, for a detailed comparison on sharpness from different apertures, feel free to check out some other reviews online). And I guess you’re wondering how it compares to the Sony 16-35 GM? Well, I did my very best to put them side by side on a number of occasions. But I really had a hard time finding differences in sharpness. The 16-35GM was sometimes a little bit sharper in the center, but less sharp on the edges. But it was really close. I’d say that these lenses are very close to each other regarding sharpness.
Sony A7RIV, Sigma 14-24 @ 14mm, f/13, 0.8s, ISO 50
Sony A7RIV, Sigma 14-24 @ 14mm, f/13, 1.3s, ISO 50
Sony A7RIV, Sigma 14-24 @ 14mm, f/22, 1/3s, ISO 50
I would have loved to be blown away by sharpness on the 61MP Sony A7RIV. That did not happen. But that also does not happen with the 16-35 GM. They perform well, but not excellent on the huge megapixel count. If you compare that to a super sharp prime like the 135 GM (granted, that’s one of the sharpest primes available) then you’ll be disappointed. But I would still love to see a wide angle zoom in the future that really blows me away regarding sharpness. Technology is improving at a rapid pace, so I’m still waiting for THAT lens.
Sony A7RIV, Sigma 14-24 @ 24mm, f/11, 1.6s, ISO 50, with CPL filter
Sony A7RIV, Sigma 14-24 @ 14mm, f/11, 1s, ISO 100, with CPL filter
This lens focuses fast in general. It doesn’t really hunt and is usually spot on. I do have to say that I don’t use the autofocus THAT much as I often manually focus when photographing landscapes. But the speed of the autofocus focus did not disappoint for me. It’s quite snappy.
The Bokeh of this lens is okay. It’s not great, but also not bad. What can I say? This is a landscape lens and most people are not going to use the shallow depth of field a lot. Here are a few examples to show the bokeh:
used at 24mm wide open at f/2.8, the bokeh is decent.
shameless promotion of my new book Wowscapes (unfortunately only available in Dutch for now)
In this example the camera and lens were put on the ground, so you can see the foreground blur at 20mm f/2.8.
Now I am sure many of you are wondering how this lens performs for photographing at night. 14mm f/2.8 is Of course great for photographing the night sky, but that really depends on how the lens performs wide open on photographing stars. During the time I’ve used this lens I can say with confidence that this lens is great for photographing stars and the milky way. It does have some aberrations in the corners, but in general performs great.
In The Netherlands it's not easy to photograph the Milky Way because of extreme light pollution. But when it's a clear night and there's no moon, it's possible to some extend:
vertical panorama of 2 images: f/2.8, 20s, ISO 3200