Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 DG HSM II Lens Review

sigma 12-24mm

Using wide angle lenses, we can get an interesting angle of view which makes the photos look different. It is very rare that we see photos clicked at a focal length of 12mm, that too on a full-frame camera. Clicking photos at this angle of view can attract many eyes as the photos would provide them with something which is not very common (as of now).

Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 DG HSM II lens lets you capture photos at a focal length ranging from 12mm to 24mm and that too on a full-frame camera body. At the time of its launch, this lens provided the widest focal length until canon came up with the EF 11-24mm F4L USM lens which costs a whopping $2900. I took this lens out for the field test and thought of sharing my experience with you all.

Let’s have a quick look at the key features of the Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 DG HSM II lens:

  • Built-in HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) for fast and quiet autofocusing
  • Ultra wide angle zoom lens with superb optical performance
  • FLD glass with performance equal to fluorite
  • SLD element to ensure premium image quality from edge to edge
  • Inner focusing system
  • Petal-type hood

sigma 12-24mm

Did the lens live up to my expectations? Let’s find out.

Build Quality and Handling

The Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 DG HSM II lens weighs 670g which is comparatively very light to the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED lens which weighs 1000g and the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens which weighs 1180g. If you love travelling and shoot wide angle photos, this is a perfect match for your camera.

The built quality of this lens is good and looks strong physically. You will be impressed by the quality of built-in lens hood which is made up of aluminium but can not be detached from the lens. Both the zoom ring and the focus ring are well placed and easy to find, with a rubber coating raised above to adjust the rings. The zoom ring of the Sigma 12-24mm II rotates 50 degrees to cover the focal length from 12mm to 24mm.

This Sigma lens also comes with an aluminium lens cap adaptor which can be mounted in order to attach the lens cap and can be detached in required. But the issue with the lens cap adaptor is that while using this lens on a full frame camera body, you will get vignetting on all focal lengths except for 24mm. So if you wish to use a lens filter on this lens, you will only be able to capture vignetting-free images at 24mm focal length on a full frame camera. In case you want to use this lens on a crop sensor camera, you would not get the vignetting issue at any focal length and the filter can work at any focal length between 12mm and 24mm. The filter thread size of this lens is 82mm.

What I loved about this lens is its closest focusing distance which is 27cm, whereas both the Canon and Nikon lenses mentioned above have 28cm as the closest focusing distance.

Focusing

The Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 DG HSM II lens comes with the Hyper Sonic Motor installed, which lets you focus on subjects using this lens faster and by produces negligible noise. This is an added advantage for those of you who would be getting this lens for videography purpose. The focusing speed and accuracy on this lens was spot-on while I was testing it in different situations and time of the day. I didn’t face any issues while focusing on subjects placed nearby as well as far away. What

I didn’t face any issues while focusing on subjects placed nearby as well as far away. What I noticed was that the focusing is much better between 20-24mm, as I went wider the focus accuracy also went weaker. Though during the evening time, there was a bit of focus accuracy issue but was manageable. Would rate the accuracy of focusing on this lens 8.5/10.

This lens by Sigma has inner focusing system which eliminates the rotation of the front lens, thus reducing the shake and possible noise produced.

sigma 12-24mm

Sharpness

If you are used to operating prime lenses and suddenly switch to this lens, you might be disappointed by the sharpness of this lens. Well, that would be the case with any zoom lens. Talking about the center-to-edge sharpness, the photos clicked at 12mm are really sharp in the center and as we move towards the edges the sharpness gets softer. To get photos evenly sharp, you will have to increase the f-stop (narrow the aperture) by at least 2 stops, i.e. between f/8 – f/9.

As you enter the focal length range  of 18mm – 24mm, the sharpness decreases in the center. This can be an issue if you wish to use a filter over the lens using a full frame camera, as you will have to use the lens at 24mm focal length.

Overall I found the sharpness produced in photos using this lens to be of good quality, considering the mid-price range.

Low-light Performance

As the Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 DG HSM II lens has the minimum f-stop value of f/4.5, you will have to compromise on the shutter speed or the ISO in order to click handheld photos in low light conditions. If your sole purpose is to click photos during sunset or in low light conditions, then this is not the lens to go for. But if you are using a good camera and can boost the ISO by 2-3 stops, this lens can give you sharp results as the focusing is really good even in low light situations (with minor accuracy issue as mentioned above).

If you want a wide zoom lens to shoot landscapes, light trails or star trails, you can grab this lens. But if shooting in low light conditions is your main reason for buying this lens, then you should look towards Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED or Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens.

long exposure

Vignetting

Vignetting is quite visible in the photos when clicked at the widest aperture f-stop. It means that while shooting with Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 DG HSM II lens, you will get vignetting at minimum f-stop. As you close the aperture opening (increase f-stop), Vignetting will reduce after 2-3 stops. So if you are clicking at 12mm using f/4.5, then in order to avoid vignetting in your photos you can step up the f-stop to f/11.

It is your personal choice if you wish to retain the vignetting effect to draw viewers attention towards the center of the frame.

Alternatives

The Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 DG HSM II lens comes at a price of INR 94,500 which is the cheapest amongst its competitors – Canon and Nikon. But the limitation with this lens is that the aperture does not go wider than f/4.5, whereas the Nikon 14-24mm comes with a constant f/2.8 and the Canon 11-24mm with f/4. The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED comes with a price tag of INR 125,650 and the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens at INR 209,995.

In case you are interested in astrophotography, the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens out beats any of the lenses mentioned above. You can get this Rokinon lens at somewhere around INR 25,000, though this is a manual lens.

Sigma 12-24mm

Image courtesy: Alka Sharma

Conclusion

If you want to carry a lightweight wide-angle lens with you while you are travelling places, the Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 DG HSM II is the lens you should go for as it weighs only 670g. The angle of view that you get at 12mm on a full frame is simply magical and different from what the viewers are used to. If you like to click landscapes and cityscapes during the day time, this is an awesome piece of lens, as it allows you to click photos without going far away from the subject. This is also a great lens for street photography as you get to click totally different perspective which makes the photos more interesting.

Talking about the minus points of this lens, you might struggle to click better photos in low light conditions as the minimum f-stop on this lens is f/4.5. The distortion on this lens is on a higher side, but if you use the lens between 16-24mm you can reduce the distortion.

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About Author

Kunal Malhotra
Kunal Malhotra, a photography enthusiast whose passion for photography started 6 years back during his college days. Kunal is also a photography blogger, based out of Delhi. He loves sharing his knowledge about photography with fellow aspiring photographers by writing regular posts on his blog: The Photography Blogger. Some of his favourite genres of photography are Product, Street, Fitness and Architecture.