While the big two (Canon & Nikon) successfully pursue the image of boring traditional companies, others like Sigma try to be inventive and gain a piece of market for themselves. Today, Sigma announced a new extraordinary lens: the 18-35mm F/1.8 DC HSM for APS-C sized sensors. Yes, this is not a typo; this zoom lens has constant F/1.8 aperture. As far as I know, no other photography lens has such aperture, the closest being Olympus with the two of their F/2 zoom lenses. Update: price is announced and it is only $799!
- Format size: APS-C
- Focal length: 18-35mm (27-52mm in 35mm eq.)
- Image stabilization: No
- Aperture: F/1.8 – F/16
- Number of blades: 9
- Elements/groups: 17/12
- Full time manual focus: Yes
- Motor type: ultrasonic
- Weight: 810g
- Dimensions: 79 x 122 mm
- Filter thread: 72mm
Since full frame cameras got quite more affordable lately (6D and D600) I was almost sure this is the first nail in “pro-level” APS-C camera coffin, but Sigma proved me wrong. The new 18-35 has an equivalent of 27-52mm FOV and F/2.7 depth of field, making it a bit better than full-frame constant F/2.8 zooms. This will most certainly breathe a new life into APS-C cameras and probably stop some users from switching to full-frame. Sigma has realized there are a lot of Nikon D300/D7000 and Canon EOS 7D users who want to buy top quality native APS-C glass for their cameras. Canon and Nikon won’t produce such lenses on purpose in order differentiate pro-level products from consumer ones, and make you pay premium for full frame bodies. Others like Sigma, Olympus or Fuji do not have such issues and are willing to offer top quality glass for cropped sensors.
You might tend to think there’s no point with this lens: it’s big and heavy, so you might as well buy FF body and corresponding 24-70 lens. Well, not exactly. Top level APS-C bodies (D300, D7100, 7D) have vastly superior AF systems than cheap full frame bodies like Nikon D600 and Canon EOS 6D and are therefore not appropriate for sport, wildlife or any action shooters. To get really good AF with wide frame coverage you’ll need to buy 5D mark III or D800 which are way more expensive than APS-C body + Sigma F/1.8 combination.
The lens is compatible with the Sigma’s USB Dock, which will be available soon and will enable photographers to update lens firmware and adjust focus using their PC’s.
In 35mm equivalent, this lens gives you the 27-52mm field of view, and my guess is if it proves to be successful, Sigma might make a complimentary F/1.8 telephoto lens, probably in the 35-80 or 35-100mm range (what would be 50-150 in full frame terms).
The recommended price is not yet announced, as is the case of available mounts (probably standard Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax).
UPDATE: A Korean photo site has published first preview with samples… it looks splendid to me. Good job Sigma!
UPDATE NO.2: Price announced, it is only $799! Wow! Read more here.