Gear Review: Sigma 24-35 f2 Art Lens

First, full disclosure: I'm sponsored by Sigma Canada. They give me free lenses (like my Sigma 120-300mm f2.8) and let me test out new lenses when they come out on the market.

Second, a disclaimer for the disclosure: I only review lenses I like. So if you see a review for a lens (or anything) on here, it means I like it...usually a lot.

So that brings me to my quick-and-dirty review of the Sigma 24-35mm f2.0 Art Lens, which I took for a test drive in southern Nunavut with me last week to test out on the northern lights, as well as into Kananaskis Country to test on some Rocky Mountain scenery.

As many of you already know, my reviews do not get overly technical. All I care about when I test a new lens is whether or not it's a) sharp, b) produces accurate colours and good bokeh, and c) performs well (good AF, easy-to-use, etc.).

And for a-c, the Sigma 24-35 is a stunning entry into the wide angle lens market for the price (it's $1199 Cdn). In fact, it's a stunning entry regardless of the price, as it produces equivalent sharpness to my Zeiss 21mm f2.8 at f2.8, which up until now was my sharpest wide angle lens. That the Sigma 24-35 is even in this ballpark for sharpness wide open is truly remarkable for a zoom lens.

Buller Pond in Kananaskis Country with the Sigma 24-35mm set at 32mm, f5.6 -- razor sharp from corner to corner

At f5.6-f8, where one would expect the Sigma to be at its sharpest, it's spectacularly sharp. But where it really shines in my opinion is in astrophotography at apertures from f2.0 to f2.8. I was really pleasantly surprised to see how sharp it was in the corners at f2.0 in the dark, and by the time I opened up the lens to f2.8, the lens was almost as sharp as it was at f8 in full daylight (click on the following photos to see them at a slightly larger size)!

5 sec exposure at 24mm, f2.0, ISO 2500 (see following two photos for 100% views at full resolution)

100% view of the center of the frame at full resolution, noise reduction and jpg sharpening applied

100% view of the top right corner of the frame at full resolution, noise reduction and jpg sharpening applied

Northern lights over Ennadai Lake, Nunavut -- Canon 5DIII, Sigma 24-35 at 24mm, 5 sec, f2.0, ISO 2500

Northern lights over Ennadai Lake, Nunavut -- Canon 5DIII, Sigma 24-35 at 24mm, 2.5 sec, f2.5, ISO 2500

My only issue with the lens for astrophotography is that, like many of its competitors, it doesn't include an easy way to dial in/set the focus to infinity. So I had to spend a bit of time figuring exactly where the sharpest infinity mark was on the lens during daylight hours, and then dial that in manually each night and do several back-of-camera checks to ensure I truly was on the infinity mark.

Buller Pond, Kananaskis Country -- Sigma 24-35 at 35mm, f8

For general daytime scenics, the lens is wonderfully sharp and produces excellent colours. While it's not as wide as some of the zoom entries from Nikon or Canon, it's considerably sharper than both the Nikon 14-24 f2.8 and the Canon 16-35 f4 (which I consider to be quite a bit sharper than the 16-35 f2.8) when wide open.

Spillway Lake and the Opal Range, Kananaskis Country -- Sigma 24-35 at 24mm, f8

The Sigma 24-35mm f2.0 Art Lens is small and compact; similar in size to the Canon 16-35 f4 lens. This was the first of the new Art Lens line that I've gotten my hands on, and I came away extremely impressed with both the build quality and the sharpness.

I would highly recommend this lens as a regular wide angle lens, and I would recommend it even more highly to anyone looking for an excellent wide angle astrophotography zoom lens.

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