In the beginning, crop-sensor DSLR owners didn’t have the option of real wide-angle shooting. That has changed and there are now plenty of very good super-wide lenses made for APS-C, crop-sensor digital SLRs. I chose this review as a Featured User Review because it’s very well written and because the Sigma 10-20mm EX DC HSM lens is one of the most popular lenses on the site.
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Featured Review: Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM Zoom Lens
by Ben_Morrissey (Expert)
|Price Paid: $375.00 from eBay|
Review Date: December 17, 2009
Used product for: 3 Months to 1 year
Overall Rating: 4 of 5
To clarify, I am not an expert, more of an advanced amateur, but there was no option for this, and I’m definitely above Intermediate. Also, I live in the UK so price given is in Pound Sterling.
I bought this on eBay from a reputable seller, even after hearing about Sigma’s quality control issues. I had considered getting the Canon EF-S 10-22mm, but it was too expensive for my taste, and the Sigma provided everything the same (well, except for 2mm at the long end, but it overlaps nicely with my kit lens). Anyway, being part of Sigma’s EX line, I decided to take the plunge and purchased it.
I received it about 3 days later, and, to be frank, I was astounded by it. The build quality is just fantastic. While it is made out of plastic, it is high quality and definitely doesn’t feel cheap. It is also reasonably heavy for it’s size. I prefer heavy lenses, as they feel more solid in my hand, and I seem to be able to hold them steadier for longer periods (I expect my arms try to compensate too much with the lighter lenses, by thinking the lens weighs more than it does, causing major shake).
I didn’t get much of a chance to use it on the first day, so I just took some quick snaps to analyse on my screen. While I wasn’t amazed at optical quality (to be fair, it was at 10mm at f/4) it was definitely sharp. The first time I really got to use this lens properly was on a trip to Cornwall. It definitely proved it’s worth there, and f/8 seemed to be it’s strong point. However, it does take a while to get used to composing images with such a wide field of view, and the fact that the viewfinder I was using was only 95% coverage meant I would continuously get things in the frame that shouldn’t have been there (for instance, an image I took of Spinnaker Tower from the base while I was lying down had to be redone about 8 times because I kept getting the top of the Lifeguard safety buoy that was hanging straight above me). That was most likely due to my inexperience at the time.
Autofocus is fast and accurate, just like it should be. Though, not as fast at the Canon 10-22mm I tried on my camera, it got the job done quickly and smoothly.
Build quality. With my copy, this was definitely the strong point of this lens. I just cannot fault it. It’s heavy enough to feel solid in the hand, and light enough to not be a chore to carry around. It feels like it could take a lot of beating, and also gives it an expensive feel.
Image Quality. Well, to an extent anyway. It’s not the sharpest lens I have ever used, but I definitely wouldn’t say it’s bad or even average. Very good centre sharpness, which deteriorates at the corners (though quite heavily at larger apertures).
Price. One of the main reasons I purchased this lens. It is very generously priced, considering it’s strengths.
Speed. Since it’s a third party lens, I would say it’s very good in terms of AF speed. However, in terms of aperture, It’s not that good, especially for low light. But, the recently released Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 lens is a good alternative to this if you want that aperture increase (and want to stick with Sigma. There are larger aperture wide angle lenses available).
‘What’s in the box’. It comes with a carrying case and lens hood, like many 3rd party lenses do. The lens hood is thick and solid, and case is nicely padded at the top and bottom.
Corner quality wide open. Corner quality at wide apertures is always a problem for lenses (for some it’s much less of a problems than for others, but corners are generally weaker than the center), but the distortion on this lens definitely doesn’t help much.
Distortion. Not the worst performer in terms of distortion, but it is quite high. In fact, any more and you could probably call it a fish-eye (ok, it’s not that bad, but I’m just trying to give an example), so it’s probably not the best choice for architectural photography.
Vignetting. At wide apertures, vignetting can be a problem.
Similar Products Used:
Canon EF-S 10-22mm
Didn’t have to use Customer service, and probably never will.