Sigma 20mm F1.Four Artwork overview: Greater than a panorama lens

“Not everybody loves wide-angle lenses, however Sigma’s 20mm Artwork made me a fan.”

  • Uncommon focal size/aperture mixture
  • Impressively sharp at f/1.4
  • Skilled construct high quality
  • Nice value
  • Extreme vignetting
  • No filter assist

Large-angle lenses don’t get sufficient credit score for his or her versatility. In the event you suppose they’re only for landscapes, permit me this chance to vary your thoughts. Although billed as a panorama and astrophotography lens, I loved utilizing the Sigma 20mm F1.Four Artwork for portraits and product images, and it was the right lens for taking pictures dancing at a marriage reception (don’t fear, that was a few months in the past, earlier than social distancing).

This isn’t a brand new product — Sigma launched it in 2015 — however once I was loaned one for my Nikon D780 overview, I favored it a lot I figured I ought to write it up. Happening 5 years previous, this $900 lens remains to be the present champion of quick, wide-angle primes for Nikon and Canon DSLRs. It’s additionally accessible for mirrorless in both Leica L mount or Sony E mount, though it’s a bit tougher to suggest for such cameras.

The design of the 20mm Artwork does elevate some usability issues that I’ll get to, but when it’s final low-light efficiency you’re after, no different 20mm lens compares to it. Contemplating it’s priced to compete with the couple of first-party 20mm f/1.Eight lenses which might be on the market, this is a superb purchase.

Design

Any photographic lens is an train in compromise. Worth, measurement, picture high quality, and options all need to be balanced to hit a purpose. For the Sigma Artwork sequence, that has all the time been to ship the highest quality at a value that beats, or a minimum of doesn’t exceed, that of equal first-party lenses — with little regard paid to measurement.

Weighing in at a hair over 2 kilos, the 20mm Artwork is definitely no light-weight, however that’s the worth you pay for a vibrant f/1.Four aperture and a very good optical method. The 15 parts in 11 teams, together with two aspherical parts, two of Sigma’s “F” Low Dispersion parts, and 5 Particular Low Dispersion parts, guarantee sharp, aberration-free pictures with minimal distortion.

The lens physique measures 3.6 inches in diameter by 5.1 inches lengthy, together with a built-in, petal-style lens hood. I discovered it to be an excellent match for the Nikon D780, however I’m unsure how I’d really feel about utilizing it on a mirrorless digital camera.

It is a DSLR-first lens; the mirrorless model consists of an built-in “adapter” to make up for the distinction in flange-back distance, which makes the lens longer. Maybe on a hefty Panasonic S-series digital camera this wouldn’t really feel too misplaced, however I don’t understand how snug it could be on a smaller, lighter Sony Alpha-series digital camera. Provided that Sony not too long ago launched the wonderful FE 20mm f/1.Eight G, there’s a strong different for E-mount shooters.

The Sigma serves up a minimalist exterior with a large, knurled focus ring and windowed distance scale that lend it a premium feel and look. The AF/MF change is the one different level of management. There is no such thing as a stabilizer to activate or off — not that I’d count on one on such a large, quick lens — neither is there an aperture de-click change as we’ve seen on Sony’s 20mm f/1.Eight and Sigma’s personal 35mm F1.2 Artwork.

The Sigma’s bulbous entrance ingredient means you received’t have the ability to match a normal screw-on filter, which could possibly be an issue for landscapes while you need a polarizer or impartial density filter. Professionals and different skilled shooters may not thoughts utilizing a filter adapter with giant, drop-in filters, however for the remainder of us, the shortage of native filter assist could possibly be a motive to contemplate an alternate lens.

Autofocus

Utilizing Sigma’s Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM), the 20mm F1.Four Artwork is fast to focus in each viewfinder and live-view taking pictures. When racking from foreground to background, you may really feel the torque of the motor because it kicks in. Regardless of this, it makes little or no noise.

Steady autofocus efficiency was additionally superb — helped, little doubt, by the good focusing algorithm used within the D780 — and saved tempo with a bike owner driving towards me. It additionally carried out decently in a dimly lit reception corridor, though that is the place the digital camera’s focusing sensor was seemingly the larger limiter (the D780 is nice to -Three EV utilizing the viewfinder).

Nevertheless, there may be one main problem on the subject of autofocus, a minimum of when taking pictures by an optical viewfinder. Out of the field, my copy of the lens front-focused fairly dramatically. Clients have reported comparable points in consumer critiques. This isn’t precisely new for Sigma — I additionally famous the problem once I reviewed the 105mm F1.Four Artwork — however it’s one thing the corporate appears to have underneath management with newer lenses, just like the 40mm Artwork, which I’ve now shot on each Canon and Nikon with out problem.

Luckily, most fashionable DSLRs provide the possibility to regulate the main target conduct of a lens (the Nikon D780 can do that mechanically utilizing the AF Superb Tune perform, which makes use of focus data from stay view to right viewfinder efficiency). You may as well buy Sigma’s USB lens dock to program focus changes proper into the lens’s firmware.

Whereas this downside is well corrected, it’s nonetheless one thing the client must know the best way to acknowledge. I can think about somebody shopping for this lens and returning it as a result of they merely thought it wasn’t sharp. That couldn’t be farther from the reality.

Picture high quality

As soon as I spotted what was occurring with the autofocus and found out the best way to repair it, the Sigma 20mm Artwork wowed me with extremely detailed pictures and surprisingly wealthy bokeh (not one thing usually related to lenses this huge). There seems to be little to no sacrifice in sharpness when taking pictures huge open at f/1.4.

Distortion is definitely current, however it’s fairly gentle, and simply correctable in submit with out incurring a lot of a crop.

Vignetting could possibly be the true downside right here, nonetheless, particularly in the event you do intend to make use of this lens for astrophotography. Night time sky images usually requires a vibrant aperture and constant sharpness and publicity throughout the complete body. At f/1.4, the 20mm Artwork vignettes precisely such as you’d count on a 20mm f/1.Four lens to vignette. It’s extreme.

I don’t thoughts that for different kinds of images, however in astrophotography, while you’re already taking pictures at excessive ISOs, correcting the vignette in submit by brightening the corners is simply going to introduce extra noise. Perhaps it’s not an enormous deal — I’ve seen superior astro pictures from different photographers utilizing this lens — but it surely’s one thing to concentrate on.

Our Take

The 20mm focal size might have restricted use for many photographers, however the Sigma 20mm F1.Four Artwork has made me a fan. I actually loved taking pictures with it, rather more than I believed I’d, particularly for topics for which such a large lens is just not anticipated, like portraits and merchandise. Typically, all it takes to refresh your creativity is a brand new perspective. Actually.

Being an older mannequin, taking pictures the 20mm Artwork illustrated the development Sigma has made to the autofocus accuracy in newer lenses. I’d like to see a mirrorless-specific redesign of this lens, as Sigma did for the 14-24mm f/2.Eight Artwork. Nevertheless, for Canon and Nikon DSLR shooters, that is nonetheless the wide-angle prime to beat.

Is there a greater different?

Actually not for Canon DSLRs. Nikon does make a 20mm f/1.Eight that’s considerably lighter (12 ounces) and accepts 77mm filters. It’s also fairly a bit cheaper on the time of this writing due to prompt rebates, which put it just below $720. Nevertheless, the Sigma is sharper and brighter, and I count on the additional $180 is price it.

For Sony shooters, the FE 20mm f/1.Eight G is price a glance. It weighs simply over 13 ounces, makes use of 67mm filters, and options an aperture ring with de-click management. It’s additionally optically wonderful. At $900, nonetheless, you received’t save any cash and can sacrifice the additional 2/3-stop of sunshine gathering that the Sigma’s f/1.Four aperture offers you. Nonetheless, for most individuals, that’s a worthy commerce for a lens that matches higher with Sony’s smaller cameras.

How lengthy will it final?

Launched in late 2015, the 20mm Artwork is occurring 5 years previous and stays among the finest huge angles in the marketplace. I wouldn’t be shocked if Sigma introduces a mirrorless model within the not-too-distant future, however anybody shopping for this lens for a DSLR in the present day shouldn’t have any bother getting a few years of use out of it.

Must you purchase it?

In the event you shoot a Canon or Nikon DSLR, completely. In the event you shoot a mirrorless L-mount digital camera, possibly. In the event you shoot a Sony E-mount digital camera, in all probability not — go along with Sony’s FE 20mm f/1.8.

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