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Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 Ultra Wide For APS-C DSLRs

Published: 19/10/2010
By: larry

Thanks to Jonathan Dixon from the PFRE flickr group for pointing out that Sigma now has a another ultra wide lens in it's line up that is appropriate for real estate photographers that use cropped sensor DSLRs. It is the  Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM FLD AF Ultra Wide Zoom.

Probably the first thing that comes to mind when you see this lens is why does Sigma need another ultra wide lens when they already have the popular Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6? The answer is that this lens has higher image quality  and those 2 less millimeters of focal length give it almost 12.1 degrees wider maximum field of view than the Sigma 10-20mm. All for around $200 more. Sigma claims this is the widest field of view (114.5 degrees) lens for APS-C sensor DSLRs. For what it's worth, Slrgear.com rates the image quality of this lens the same as the Nikon 14-24mm but rates the build quality less. But Ken Rockwell is not that impressed with this lens because the autofocus is slow and you can use filters on it. He likes the Nikon 10-24mm better.

Before you get too worked up about this 114.5 degree field of view, this feature brings with it some really heavy geometric distortion. The eye doesn't notice geometric distortion so much when you are shooting landscapes because you typically don't have expectations about what the image is suppose to look like, but when shooting interiors the viewers brain/eye has a visual model of what interiors look like and when an image gets too different from that visual model viewers start to use terms like weird and wacky. I had one very polite home seller that characterized my photos shot with my 16-35mm set at 16mm as "cartoon like". The Sigma 8-16 can go down to 12mm effective focal length on Nikon APS-C bodies. All I can say is use restraint!

I've added the Sigma 8-16 to my list of suggested lenses for real estate photographers. By looking at this table of lenses it is interesting to note that the Sigma 8-16 may be more significant to Pentax and Sony DSLR owners because both Nikon and Canon has a lens that is very close in quality to the Sigma 8-16mm whereas the Sigma 8-16mm appears to be rated higher in image quality than any other ultra wide angle lenses available for Pentax and Sony DSLRs.

Here are some reviews of this lens:

Is anyone using the lens for real estate shooting? What do you think?

7 comments on “Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 Ultra Wide For APS-C DSLRs”

  1. @Kerrick- Thanks. Excellent point! I realized this same thing last night when I was updating my lens page I'm going to add the 10-20mm f/3.5 right now.

  2. I didn't even realize that a 10-20 3.5 existed until I noticed that photoshop CS5 has it included in their automatic distortion correction presets. Took a look at some reviews and it seems pretty nice, although since I shoot mostly at f6.3 I'm not sure I would ever notice a difference. 8mm - wow, that one would most certainly need some correcting, and I think it might be just a little too wide for my tastes, but I bet the shots would look pretty neat.

  3. I have the Sigma 10-20mm and absolutely LOVE it. The geometric distortion can be pretty bad at 10mm though, I could only imagine what it would be at 8mm. I was actually about to google the answer to this question but since we are taking about ultra-wide's here I'll just ask here: What range would you need to be in with a 10-22mm lens to have no geometric distortion? My camera isn't a full frame but rather a 95% frame. Does that change what range will cause distortion?

  4. @Phil- Geometric distortion is a relative thing. What it really means is how much an image looks like what our eyes see. The human eye has an effective focal length of around 24 mm so anytime you shoot much above or below that it starts to look strange tour our eye. There is also the factor that if you are shooting landscapes that don't have long straight lines a wide lens doesn't look as "strange" (geometric distortion) as it does when you are inside of a home and there are many visual references that your eye/brain knows what thinks are suppose to look like. My rule of thumb for real estate shooting is shoot between 16 and 24mm effective focal length and keep it as close to 24mm as practical. It's tough though... I've been reprimanded so many times for shooting too wide that I've lost count. Just listen to you customers if they have an opinion.

  5. I believe Phil is referring to barrel distortion. I also have a sigma 10-20mm and the barrel distortion is quite bad at 10mm. Ptlens can fix it or other tools but it would be preferable to not have to deal with it at all. I'm also using the canon 10-22mm and it has much less barrel distortion.

  6. I shoot with the Tamron 10-24. Looking at a potential upgrade for better shots, the first thing that came to mind was a 5DM2 with an L series lens. Will then I checked out the check book and that was out. So what would be a next step approach for my 40D 1.6 crop? This Lens gets high marks from many. What scares me off is the no filter option. One clumsy move and there goes the lens.

    Larry, My clients like how big the rooms look because I'm typically shooting wide at 10 mm (16mm effective). Occurs to me that at 24mm we are getting close to the 28mm area which is with in reach of many of the point and shoots and bridge cameras agents may use on there own. One of the reasons to hire me is that I make the rooms look larger..... Just an observation, no slam intended. Your clients have a different point of view than mine. Another reason for me to favor 10mm setting is it leaves me elbow room on crop, skew and warp in post edit. Of course I frame many shots, especially on the exterior.

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