Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM Fairbanks AK
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Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM Review
In March of this year Sigma announced all new lenses including one in particular that caught my eye, a new 8-16mm non-fisheye lens designed for DSLR's with smaller APS-C-sized sensors. What's remarkable about this focal length is that, for the first time, it provides users of APS-C cameras a true ultra wide-angle option that was previously unavailable to them. Sigma has had a 10-20mm lens in their lineup for a couple of years, but this new lens gets another 20% wider, which is a first that I know of for small sensor cameras. That's a huge difference for those shooting real estate or who want to exaggerate the depth in a scene. The actual focal range of the Sigma 8-16mm is 12-24mm for cameras with a 1.5x crop factor (Nikon, Sony) or 12.8 to 25.6mm for cameras with a 1.6x crop factor (Canon).
Since I shoot both stills and video my interest in this Sigma 8-16mm lens was for use within both mediums. In the right situations this type of lens provides nearly infinite depth-of-field, a valuable tool to have when filming on a Steadicam rig or for shooting up close and personal. Since today's DSLR's do not auto focus in video mode (a couple do, but not well), the ability for the lens to make everything look in focus is incredibly important when shooting on a Steadicam style rig. If you're a realtor this lens will help show off rooms that would normally be too small to get into one photo, though the exaggerated size of a room may disappoint people once they visit the property.
The Sigma 8-16mm lens is not a fish-eye meaning the lens keeps straight lines straight, whereas a fish-eye lens purposely bends lines. The fact that the 8-16mm is not a fish eyes means that you won't get the purposeful distorted fish-eye effect that, while creative, isn't ideal in many situations. At the ultra-wide 8mm focal length of the Sigma lens, objects will get stretched near the sides of the frame as the lens distorts reality by making objects near the lens appear even closer and things away from the lens seem even further than they really are.
While the lens is specifically designed for smaller APS-C sensors, it is worth noting that for Canon users, the lens has a standard EF mount (vs. EF-S), which means it will physically fit on a full frame DSLR (Canon 5D, 5D Mark II). Despite this you should know that because the image circle of the lens was designed for smaller sensors, a larger full-frame sensor will record a circle of black around the image when used at virtually all focal lengths, except for one. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I could use the lens at 16mm on the full-frame EOS 5D Mark II without problem. In theory, if you owned both a Canon EOS 7D (or other APS-C camera) as well as a full-frame model like the 5D Mark II you could use it with both models. On the full-frame it will act as a true 16mm lens and on the APS-C model it will act as a 12.8-25.6mm zoom lens. Not a bad deal.
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