Lens review

Sigma 8-16 mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM

25 May 2010
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

Because of the reasons listed in the introduction, it would be difficult to compare the Sigma 8-16 with its competitors because, in fact, there are none. That’s why in our chart we collate it with lenses with similar angles of view but designed to cooperate with sensors of different sizes (the full frame Sigma 12–24 mm and the 4/3 format Olympus 7–14 mm). We added the Sigma 10–20 mm f/4.0–5.6 to this collection – an older model but with equally impressive angles of views.

It would be difficult to draw any binding conclusions from this chart, though. For example the Sigma 8-16 mm, having wider angles, is physically lighter than the Olympus. That latter is faster, being a fixed focal f/4.0 device. The two Sigmas, 8–16 mm and 12–24 mm, are easy to compare. Their angles of view are similar, their fastness – the same. The advantages of using smaller sensor are noticeable – the 8-16 mm model is by 70 grams lighter than the 12-24 mm instrument.

The photo below shows the Sigma 8-16 mm next to another ultra wide angle zoom lens – a Canon EF-S 10-22 mm f/3.5-4.5 - and the Nikon standard, a Nikkor 1.8/55.

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Sigma 8-16 mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM - Build quality

Let’s take a closer look at the build quality of the tested lens. It starts with a metal mount, already a standard feature in the case of Sigma lenses. The mount surrounds the rear element which is about 26 mm in diameter. That element collapses several millimeters inside the mount at 8 mm focal length and over 1 cm at 16 mm.

Sigma 8-16 mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM - Build quality

Immediately after the mount, already on the barrel and on the left, we find an autofocus mode switch (AF/MF). Then we meet a zoom ring. It is ribbed, 17 mm wide and very comfortable to operate – really difficult to flaw. After the ring there is a distance scale expressed in feet and meters behind a window. Behind it we encounter a 27 mm wide manual focus ring. It moves smoothly and is well-damped so it allows very precise settings. Running through the scale we must change its position by the angle of about 120 degrees.

After the ring there is a build-in, petal-type, metal lens hood. It encloses a big (5.5 cm in diameter) and convex element, which changes its position with the change of focal length – it is the most hidden inside the barrel at the maximum focal length and it is the most extended at 8 mm. Unfortunately the producer didn’t anticipate a possibility of using any filters here.

We find a 75 mm ring, 2.5 cm wide included in box; it can be put on the hood so you can fix the front cap on. Working at 16 mm focal length we don’t have to take it off at all because you simply won’t see it in the field of vision of the lens. However, at 14 mm it starts obscuring the frame corners distinctly and at the shortest focal lengths it already limits the field of vision very significantly.

The Sigma 8–16 mm is a very advanced optical construction. Overall it consists of 15 lenses in 11 groups. As many as 4 elements are made of a new kind of low dispersion FLD glass („F” Low Dispersion) – a truly impressive number. The performance of that glass is supposed to be similar to that of very expensive fluorite. Additionally, there is one hybrid aspherical element, two made in the „glass mold” technology and one element made of classic low dispersion SLD glass. Inside, we’ll also find an aperture with seven diaphragm blades, which can be closed down to f/22-29 depending on the focal length.

Sigma 8-16 mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM - Build quality

The buyer gets both caps, a ring for fixing the front cap on and a hard case included in box.

Sigma 8-16 mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM - Build quality