Sigma 8-16mm Super-Wide Zoom Lens Review

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Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM Super-Wide Zoom Lens ReviewThe Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM wide-angle zoom lens was announced early this year and Sigma sent me one for review as soon as they had one available. It’s currently the widest non-fisheye lens on the market for APS-C digital SLRs like the Canon Digital Rebels, the EOS 7D, Nikon D7000, etc. I’ve been using it for a few months now and I absolutely love it. That’s right – no big build-up or talk about features and specs. I’m just getting straight to the point with this one – I love it.

Read on to learn more – I’ve included a video demo, too!

Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM Super-Wide Zoom Lens

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

  • Crazy wide
  • Wonderfully corrected – distortion nearly undetectable
  • Small and light
  • Build quality feels solid
  • Comes with case
    Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM Cons

  • Can’t use filters
  • Bulbous front element can easily be damaged
  • Slow, variable f/4.5-5.6 aperture

Chinatown - Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM zoom lens sample photo

There was a time when crop-sensor digital SLR owners were out of luck if they wanted super-wide photos. That time is long gone. Loving wide-angle photos is no longer a valid reason to choose a full-frame camera over a crop-sensor camera. Until this year, the widest you could go with crop-sensor camera was 10mm. That’s really wide – comparable to a 16mm lens on a Canon APS-C digital SLR and 15mm on most other cameras. But at the wide end of the scale, each sequential millimeter of focal length makes a bigger difference. In other words, the difference between a 10 and 11-millimeter focal length is bigger than that between 15 and 16 millimeters. And that’s one of the reasons the new Sigma lens is such a big deal. Zoomed all the way out, the Sigma 8-16mm has the angle-of-view of a 12-13mm lens on crop-sensor cameras. That’s ridiculously wide. The widest full-frame lens Canon makes is a 14mm.

Salt Lake City Storm - Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM Zoom Lens Sample Photo

I love how wide it is, but the most impressive thing about the new Sigma super-wide zoom lens is how little distortion it produces. That means you can confidently use it for architectural photography, interior photos, or any other kind of wide-angle photography where you need lines to remain straight. It’s not completely distortion-free but I had to look hard to actually find the distortion. In photos of and including buildings I never noticed any obvious curvature. It wasn’t until I shot some brick wall tests (scroll down) that the distortion became visible – and even then it was mostly noticeable toward the edges of the photos.

Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM Zoom Lens Video Demo & Review:

Enough talking about the lens, though, I’m just gonna let my Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM photos tell the rest of the story:

Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM - Jenni Rides Snowbasin Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM - San Francisco Skyscrapers Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM - Bike Shop
Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM - Cheers! Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM - Columbia River Gorge Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM - Jenni and Shane

Click on thumbnails to view sample photos.

Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM Brick Wall Tests

Brick wall tests shot with the Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM zoom lens from about a foot-and-a-half away. Clockwise, starting upper left: 8mm, 10mm, 12mm, 16mm.
Brick wall test - Sigma 8-16mm at 8mm Brick wall test - Sigma 8-16mm at 10mm
Brick wall test - Sigma 8-16mm at 16mm Brick wall test - Sigma 8-16mm at 12mm

Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM Zoom Lens Portrait Comparison

My friend Jake was kind enough to pose for these wide-angle portrait comparison sample photos. Clockwise, starting upper left: Sigma 8-16mm, Canon 15mm fisheye, Canon EF-S 18-200mm IS at 18mm and Tokina 12-24mm f/4. I have to admit, the Sigma image is the goofiest – possibly because he had to lean in so close to fill the frame…
Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM zoom lens portrait sample Canon 15mm f/2.8 Fish-Eye lens portrait sample
Tokina AT-X 12-24mm f/4.0 zoom lens portrait sample Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens wide-angle portrait sample

Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM Zoom Lens Interior Comparison

Interior photo samples taken in the executive offices, a.ka. The Sweat Shop. Clockwise, starting upper left: Sigma 8-16mm, Tokina 12-24mm f/4, Canon EF-S 18-200mm IS at 18mm and the Canon 15mm fisheye. Note just how much wider the Sigma is than anything else. And see how straight the lines are!
Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM zoom lens interior sample Tokina AT-X 12-24mm f/4.0 zoom lens interior sample
Canon 15mm f/2.8 Fish-Eye lens interior sample Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens wide-angle interior sample


Related Content:
All Sigma Lens User Reviews
Discuss Sigma Lenses (DSLR forum)
All Sigma News And Articles
Sigma Web Site

About the author: Photo-John

Photo-John, a.k.a. John Shafer, is the managing editor of and has been since the site launched back in 1999. He's an avid outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time as possible on his mountain bike, hiking or skiing in the mountains. He's been taking pictures for ever and ever, and never goes anywhere without a camera.

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  • Shady Ramadan says:

    I’m so confused between this lens and the tokina 11-16 and canon 10-22
    I have a canon 60d with canon lens 24-70 f2.8 and i love it but it is very frustrating when it comes to wide angles.
    I just started photography couple of months ago and i love doing street photography.
    Also i’lm expecting a baby so I need to be ready with all the right gears to capture every oment.
    Long story short, which lens should i get ? :)

  • Photo-John says:

    Great question, Shady! The 24-70mm f/2.8L lens was designed for full frame cameras like the Canon 5D Mark II. The 24m short end of the zoom is pretty wide on a full-frame camera but not very wide at all on a crop sensor camera like your EOS 60D. The two super-wide lenses you mentioned and the Sigma 8-16mm are designed to give APS-C sensor DSLRs like yours a true super-wide angle-of-view. I actually just bought the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS to use with my EOS 7D. It’s essentially an crop-sensor version of the 24-70mm f/2.8L that you have. One option is for you to replace your 24-70mm with the 17-55mm. As far as super-wide lenses go, I’d choose the Sigma or the Tokina over the Canon 10-22mm. The Canon 10-22mm is a good lens – I’ve used it a bunch. But the Sigma 8-16mm is the widest option available and the Tokina 11-16mm is the only super-wide designed for APS-C sensor cameras with a fixed f/2.8 aperture. I haven’t used the Tokina 11-16mm but I own the Tokina 12-24mm f/4 zoom and it’s an excellent lens.

    Did I answer your question? If not, please post again. I’m here to help :-)

  • Rory says:

    Hi John,

    Firstly while this is an old posted review it is one of the most concise and practical reviews I have found of this lens, hence why I would really appreciate your help to choose my next lens.
    I have a canon 1000D with 3 lenses Canon EF 50mm 1:1.8 II, Canon Zoom Lens EF 75-300mm 1:4-5.6 III and Canon EF 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 II… Standard flash onboard (no external)
    I have taken some great shots over the last few years but I’m no expert. I love the 50mm indoors but it’s very tight to get people in it, however the light effect and glow on people’s faces is beautiful.
    To cut to the chase I’m looking for a lens that will take great SUPER WIDE shots like this Sigma lens reviewed as on a recent trip to Nepal I could not capture the mountain ranges very well at all….. but a lens versatile enough to take indoors at night or day and produce wonderful portrait shots as well. Do you think this lens will do the job??
    If not could you recommend a lens as carrying multiple lenses is bulky and impractical on holidays and when going out on special occasions like weddings, birthdays etc. I’ve seen the Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens but $2000 is way out of my budget.
    Sorry for the long question but want to arm you with what I got and I’m quite stuck, local camera shops here in Sydney have very conflicting advice and more towards selling me stuff I don’t really need!!!
    Very much appreciate your expertise on this.
    Kind Regards

  • Photo-John says:

    Thanks for the comment, Rory. I’m glad you liked this review. I really like this lens and felt that I needed to make the video and give a bunch of comparison sample photos to put it in perspective. The Sigma 8-16mm zoom is currently the widest available lens for APS-C sensor cameras like yours. So if you need the widest, it’s your number one choice. However, you also mentioned shooting indoors and at night. The Canon 14mm f/2.8L is definitely a great option. But it won’t be that wide on your camera and yes, it costs a fortune. Your best option if low light is a priority is the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 zoom (review page: You really need to decide what’s most important to you – the low light capability or the lens angle-of-view. The Tokina is also significantly larger than the Sigma. Personally, I would go with the Sigma. Buying a newer camera with better low light performance will make a bigger differenc ein low light than getting the Tokina.

    Hope that helps. Let me know if you have more questions :-)

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