Author: David Kilpatrick
Sigma 16-28mm f2.8 E and L mount
The companion for Sigma’s highly regarded 28-70mm f/2.8 compact zoom adds an unbroken range down to 16mm while retaining a small c. 77x100mm size, 72mm filter fit, and 450g weight. It is announced today and will be available to buy from June 17th for £749.99 (UK SRP) or $899 (US retail before tax).
The full-frame Sigma 16-28mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary offers a promise of exceptional optical quality with a faster constant maximum aperture in barrel size similar to existing f/4 16-35mm designs. Special attention has been given to field curvature correction for edge-to-edge sharpness, important in wide-angle views – this is enabled through the use of a built-in lens profile, correcting distortion and vignetting in-camera or during raw image processing.
It uses five FLD (fluorite-like glass) elements and four aspherics to minimise chromatic and off-axis aberrations. The lens has an inner zoom mechanism that keeps overall length and the centre of balance constant, improving performance when zooming during a gimbal take. The 72mm filter thread is larger than the 67mm of the similarly light and small 28-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary.. At just 100.6mm long (L-mount version) and 450g it’s appealing for outdoor, social, street and travel photographers who want a lightweight outfit for day-long use.
The lens is constructed using aluminium and thermally stable polycarbonate, performing well in temperatures from the arctic to the equator, and has a dust and splash resistant mount. AF uses a proven stepper motor compatible with high-speed AF, DMF and AF or MF modes with an MF switch on the side. It focuses down to 25cm with a maximum image scale of 1:5.6, 0.17X and has a nine-blade rounded aperture. On the L-mount version only, linear and non-linear focus ring behaviour can be set using the USB Dock UD-11.
The lens is supplied with front and rear caps and a bayonet mounted petal lens hood. Sigma WR or WR Ceramic,WR UV and WR Circular Polarising 72mm filters are optional extras.
Sigma UK – https://sigma-imaging-uk.com
Product information – https://sigma-global.com/jp/lenses/c022_16_28_28
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Tamron 35-150mm f/2.0-2.8 Di III VXD review
The first magazine test of the new Tamron reached Cameracraft readers in our March/April edition. Now that other magazines are reviewing the lens, it’s time to release David Kilpatrick’s practical user report on-line.
IT’S THE MIDDLE of a dark winter and the new Tamron super-fast ‘group to portrait’ zoom has been doing the rounds of dealers, and we get the chance to use the lens for a good test period starting in January just as the days are getting longer. It’s 3pm and it looks like 4pm with heavy cloud. A quick exposure check says why this lens will be a priority purchase, in a hurry, for wedding photographers. Fortunately the days get brighter and longer during the time trying out this versatile lens.
So many weddings have been postponed due to earlier Covid venue restrictions. To get 1/125s shutter speed, which is very much needed to ensure expressions and fairly small movements are not motion-blurred, it was ISO 2500 at f/2.8 on the day the lens arrived. Between this and the end of useful daylight that changes rapidly to ISO 6400 and beyond, and eventually to 1/30s. Any sensible wedding photographer would now be digging out the f/1.4 lenses, firing up the battery flash kit and hoping the indoor setting works well.
However, there’s a zoom now for Sony full frame users which can cover most weddings or outdoor portrait sessions on its own, replacing a fast 35mm and 50mm and most of the range of a 70-200mm f/2.8.
The new Tamron 35-150mm manages to hold its widest aperture of f/2 from 35mm to just short of 40mm, and doesn’t drop to f/2.8 until 80mm.
f/2 35 to 39mm
f/2.2 40 to 59mm
f/2.5 60 to 79mm
f/2.8 80 to 150mm
This is good, as so many zooms with a fast minimum focal length lose a third or half a stop with a mere nudge of the ring – those 17-35mm f/2.8-4 lenses made for SLRs were often f/3.2 at 18mm! With studio flash you might set f/2 and start work at the short end of the zoom, but with so many systems studio or location now being TTL and high-speed sync of one kind of another this probably doesn’t matter. Set the lens to f/2.8 or any smaller aperture, and it acts as a constant aperture zoom
How about the chosen focal length range? I’d argue that 28-135mm, with similar aperture benefits, is more useful because there’s a chance of never needing to change lenses. There’s a quick way to check what matches 35mm for groups, using just the long side of a landscape frame. It’s almost the same as the 36mm dimension of the sensor, with an angle of 55° covered horizontally. If you’ve got an APS-C sensor it matches 23mm, on MFT 17mm, on Fujifilm GF and other popular 50MP medium format models it’s 44mm, on the biggest like Hasselblad HD6-100C it’s 53mm.
This angle of view works well because many rooms have Golden Ratio dimensions, not unlike an A4 page. Stand near one end of a 5 x 7m room, put a group at a comfortable distance away from the opposite wall, and you’ll cover it well with some of the side walls visible. In a square room, you can just take in the opposite wall with no sides visible. The working distance gives scope for bounced flash, there’s no distortion of body or face width towards the ends of a group even if it’s tightly composed.
In fact having the wide-angle end limited to 35mm may improve your group photography and weddings in particular by making you keep that little bit of extra distance.
However, the real world sometimes throws difficult spaces and camera distances at you. This new Tamron is not an all-in-one outfit. It’s almost essential to have a 24mm, or a zoom such as Tamron’s 17-28mm or Sony’s 16-35mm.
Tamron 35-150mm performance
The optical performance of the 35-150mm is well above expectations for an f/2-2.8 design. It’s better than any past attempt at ƒ2.8 on a similar range, and this is down to mirrorless versus SLR body thickness. You can use it wide open at any focal length and be sure of sharpness in the plane of focus, and that is pretty flat corner to corner despite considerable pincushion distortion growing from 50mm to 150mm. The built-in and Adobe lens profiles are essential but not identical – while in-camera JPEGs are very well balanced across the frame, the default Adobe vignetting correction is much too strong.
Without correction this lens loses between one and two stops of light in the outer field when used wide open, with a central zone of around 20mm diameter representing the nominal aperture. The lens profiles boost the gain to compensate and if you set the Sony A7RIV to its ISO invariant optimum of 400, faces at the extreme ends of a group may be recorded as if ISO 1600 was used. For the best results, shoot raw and don’t underexpose (no need to follow the expose to the right mythology though). If you use the Adobe Lens Profile, adjust the vignetting to minus 60 for full aperture shots if you want to remove the effect. If you stop down to ƒ5.6 it’s pretty much gone anyway.
There’s a strong case for just letting the wide aperture vignetting be – don’t correct it at all. Many pictures will look better, including landscapes, portraits and most street shots. The distortion correction, on the other hand, is worth leaving turned on. Because the lens has pincushion rather than barrel distortion over most of its range, the corners don’t get stretched, it’s the centre of the image which is expanded slightly. As this is the sharpest area the correction tends, if anything, to even out the finest detail rendering over the frame unlike barrel distortion correction which degrades the corners visibly in many cases.
When Sony’s 90mm G macro was constantly being called the best lens ever, I tried three examples and all fell short of the standard expected. Just for interest I set the Tamron 35-150mm to 90mm (actually reported 91…) and shot a series from wide open to smaller apertures, on the same architectural distance subject I’d used for the Sony. Despite being on 60MP not 42MP the Tamron zoom was clearly much sharper across the frame than the Sony.
But – it’s a fast superzoom. Plenty of expert voices on Facebook will assure you it can not possibly be as good as a modest range zoom or an acclaimed macro prime. Don’t take their word for it, try the lens. And now we need to look at the downside of such an ambitious superzoom – it’s a large and heavy lens, it uses an unusual internal and extending hybrid zoom design, and it doesn’t focus into the semi-macro range like most other Tamron and competing lenses now do.
My first step was to replace my slim camera strap with an extra wide heavy duty neoprene Optek – the springy shock-damping handled almost 1.9kg of combined camera and lens round my neck well enough. Often I hold my camera in my right hand ready to lift to the eye and shoot, and don’t let the weight hang on a strap. It was like having a 70-200mm f/2.8 to handle and many users are happy with that all day. I’m not that keen on the 82mm filter thread, but that’s what it has to be.
The lens hood has a single bayonet release button set in its rim, and you need to get it the right way up to fit. It’s very secure once on.
Then you come to the advanced aspects – this is a very fast focusing near-silent voice coil drive (VXD) design, and has three control buttons plus zoom lock, AF/MF and a three-position Custom function switch. With the aid of USB connected software (no dock needed) the lens can be customised for aspects like focus barrel direction/speed and even function (change to control ƒ-stop), and two preset focus points via the buttons.
The zoom ring is placed near the body with the focus ring being the main much deeper front barrel. This is the opposite to existing Tamron zooms and takes some getting used to, but it’s practical with the size and weight of the lens.
With minimum focusing of 85cm at 150mm to 33cm at 35mm, the subject scale is 1:5.9 and 1:5.7 respectively – that’s a field around 9.5 x 14cm, so not in the wedding ring shot class but fine for flowers, hands and many other close-ups. The 9-blade aperture creates a very attractive smooth defocus and if there are lights or candles in the background this lens gives full aperture bokeh discs, not clipped ellipses, at focal lengths from 35 (f/2) to 60mm (f/2.5) and with only a hint of cat’s eye shape at the extremes of the shot at 80mm (ƒ2.8). Longer than this and you’ll see some degree of this effect though using an APS-C or smaller crop cuts out the more visibly ellipsoid highlight bubbles. Depending on the light source you’ll see some ‘orange peel’ texture which is typical of zooms using moulded aspherical elements – there are many ways to remove this from finished edits. There are no ‘onion ring’ effects which are much harder to remove and occur with lenses using older aspherical moulding methods.
As for real cat’s eyes, the lens behaves perfectly with Sony’s animal and human face detection and eye AF and even managed to keep up with the most impossible close range movement of chickens – fine for eye sharp focus if not for the shutter speed.
This lens has a USB-C connection (no cover, it’s a waterproof port) and the Tamron Lens Utility, on 64-bit PC or Mac, can customise functions. After thinking the utility was not working (on three different systems) because it said Lens Not Connected when it was, I found you ignore this and click on the Start button for the functions you want to modify – like changing the 1, 2 and 3 positions of the Custom switch to alter the behaviour of the focus ring (direction, linearity, use as aperture ring) or lens buttons (AF/MF, A-B Focus, Preset Focus, Assign Function from Camera, or Clear Settings).
All three lens buttons do the same, which might be missing some useful tricks such as two focus points assigned to different buttons. A-B focus and Preset distance have selectable focus speeds, and are strictly Movie functions (you have to press the Record button in Movie mode to program the distances, then use the lens buttons to activate the focus change during filming). The lens is fairly silent in focusing but an external microphone is desirable. It has almost no focus breathing regardless of the focal length set, though use at full aperture will produce some shifts as the bokeh expands and contracts – the real angle of view remains very constant from close-up to infinity.
This lens costs £1,599 so you need to know you need it to invest. It hardly came off the camera in six weeks partly because of the convenience of not having to change lenses, and just carrying the camera and this one lens.
– David Kilpatrick
For further information, visit:
Compact metal 20mm f/2 from Sigma
The new 20mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary lens for full frame E and L mounts from Sigma will sell for under £650 in the UK from February 25th. It extends their compact, metal barrel prime ‘I’ series range which includes f/2 models in 24mm, 35mm and 65mm focal lengths.
It also offers a filter-friendly alternative to the very large and heavy 20mm f/1.4 Art lens. It uses 62mm filters, weighs 370g and is just 72.4mm long (much the same as the 24mm f/2). It has a magnetic lens cap and all metal construction, including the bayonet lens hood. A second plastic clip-in lens cap is also supplied. The design with a physical aperture ring is similar to Sigma’s high-end ciné lenses.
It uses three high-precision glass-molded aspherical lens elements, one SLD element, and one FLD element. Suppression of sagittal coma flare makes the 20mm f/2 ideal for night sky with stars near the extreme corners of the field.
Other specifications include:
- Lens construction: 11 groups, 13 elements
- Angle of view: 94.5
- 9 rounded diaphragm blades
- Minimum aperture: f/22
- Minimum focusing distance: 22cm
- Maximum magnification ratio: 1:6.7
- Inner focus system
- Compatible with high-speed autofocus
- Stepping Motor
- Compatible with Lens Aberration Correction
- Support DMF and AF+MF
- Nano Porous Coating
- Super Multi-Layer Coating
- Aperture ring
- Focus Mode Switch
- Petal-type lens hood (LH656-03)
- Magnetic metal lens cap (LCF62-01M)
- Mount with dust and splash resistant structure
- Support for switching between linear and non-linear focus ring settings (for L-Mount only)
- Compatible with SIGMA USB DOCK UD-11 (sold separately / for L-Mount only)
- Designed to minimise flare and ghosting
- Every lens checked using proprietary MTF measuring system
- High-precision, durable brass bayonet mount
- Made in Japan
For further information:
- SIGMA UK | sigma-imaging-uk.com
- Product information | sigma-global.com/en/lenses/c022_20_2
- SIGMA I series special page | sigma-global.com/en/special/i-series
- SIGMA craftsmanship | sigma-global.com/en/about/craftsmanship
#SIGMA #SIGMA20mmF2Contemporary #SIGMAContemporary #SIGMAContemporaryPrime #SIGMADGDN #Iseries #SIGMAIseries
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Sigma I-series 90mm f/2.8 and 24mm f/2
With the introduction of a super-compact 90mm f/2.8, Sigma has made the I-series of high performance full frame mirrorless system lenses match the very best classic kits of the rangefinder era.
The I-series lenses are all fixed focal length (primes) and feature aperture control rings as well as fast autofocus with MF/DMF via the lens focusing barrel. The construction is solid metal, not a thin skin of metal over plastics as found in some earlier primes from makers like Zeiss, Samyang, Tamron and the Sony and Panasonic camera brands themselves. Every component in the lens is metal down to the stepper motor focusing carriage and the mounting of the glass elements.
It’s a return to the standard of Leica rangefinder – or Contax G autofocus – lenses updated for users of the Sony E (FE) and Sigma, Leica and Panasonic L mounts.
We’ve only tried the 60mm f/2 in this series so far, but the performance supported the company’s claim to be delivering very high resolution suitable for 60 megapixel or higher sensors. The 90mm f/2.8 has special attention to chromatic aberration in its design which uses no fewer than five SLD (super low dispersion) elements. We expect to see foreground and background blur unaffected by colour-bokeh shifts, made very smooth by a nine-bladed aperture and aided by third-stop f-stop setting on the lens or via the camera. The closest focus of 50cm compares with a typical figure around 85cm for most 90mm lenses, and yields a 0.2X (1:5) close-up.
This lens accepts 55mm filters and weighs only 295g – you can see the size ‘in hand’. It can be teamed up with the 24mm f/3.5 and 45mm f/2.8 in the same range weighing in at less than 750g overall. Combined with a lightweight smaller body like the Sony A7C it’s the closest a digital shooter can get to have a Leica with autofocus.
Alongside the 90mm, also available from September 24th will be a faster version of the 24mm at f/2. It’s sure to attract buyers at the same £549.99 RRP UK ($669 USA) as the 90mm and although it takes 62mm filters and is a little bigger, weighing in at 365g, but it’s really part of the f/2 I-series which now includes the 35mm and 65mm so well matched there. Focus is down to 24.5cm, 1:6.7 scale, which is not exceptional when some 24mms achieve 1:2 but entirely practical.
As for cost, it’s less than Sony’s 24mm f/2.8 G as well as a stop faster and much less than the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 or the APS-C only Sony Zeiss 24mm f/1.8.
Both these lenses, and the whole I-series, are compatible with Sony’s high-speed autofocus and they’re all made in Japan. The standard now set by Sigma are well-known and they seem to be the only maker left producing new lenses with dust and splash resistant all-metal barrel and mechanical design, brass mounts, and resolution to match the most demanding sensors.
To see Sigma lenses available at WEX: https://tidd.ly/3z0F00u
To see Sigma lenses available at Park Cameras: https://tidd.ly/3BUWf5f
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