Word around the web when this lens was announced spread like a California Wildfire. It was a momentous occasion if I do say so myself. The lens (as the title states) is the NEW Sigma 24-35F2 lens, and the pomp and circumstance about its announcement was not because of it’s super bright F2 aperture. No, lots of lenses can do F2 but this lens is more than a F2 lens. Not a single one of those OTHER lenses is a zoom. To my knowledge there isn’t even a Variable Aperture zoom lens that has the F2 option at just one end. With this lens Sigma has announced, and at the time of this writing is preparing to deliver, the worlds first Full Frame Constant Aperture F2 Zoom lens. And what a Lens it is.
(Photo Courtesy of Robert’s Camera’s Website)
As per usual, this is where I very plainly state that neither Roberts Camera nor Sigma are paying me to write about this lens. Roberts Camera put me in touch with Sigma about getting the sample of this lens, but no money is changing hands here (unless of course I decide to buy one of these beauties, but then I’m still not getting paid, but am paying everybody else…). Also I have been asked if I’m one of the Sigma Pro’s as I’ve done several reviews for Sigma now. The answer is NO, I am not a “Sigma Pro”. I am just a regular photographer like anybody reading this and I only use what I trust and believe in to get the job done. If you ever wonder what that is, check out my GEAR page; there are a few things on there that might surprise you. Also I did borrow a 5D Mark III from Robert’s Camera for this review. I do not own one, nor do I own any canon equipment anymore; Roberts was very gracious in allowing me to borrow the camera for the week I had the Sigma 24-35F2. The use of the Canon 5D3 was for the sole purpose of this review as the Nikon mount 24-35F2 was unavailable. (In fact at the time of this writing there were rumored to be only 6 24-35F2 lenses in the country). Now that that disclaimer ugliness is out of the way; lets get started.
(Canon 5D Mark III, 250ISO, NEW Sigma 24-35F2@35mm. 1/2500th@F2)
First off I must say I was a bit skeptical about this lens. Not because it seemed too good to be true though. Lets face it we live in science fiction; I can call my grandma face to face via facetime, and my D4s can shoot at 400k ISO. This IS the future and anything is possible! Frankly though, I already own a 35mm F1.4 and a 24mm F1.4. Why do I want a 24-35F2? To answer that question, let me begin by saying who I think this lens is for. Event shooters, and photo journalists. Folks that need to move quickly that can not carry more than one bag worth of gear with them. When I’m shooting on assignment for a newspaper or news agency I generally have as light of a kit as possible so I can move where I need to move, when I need to move and how I need to move. The Think Tank bags stay in the car, but the Belt Pack goes and if it doesn’t fit in the belt it stays behind (except the 200-400 or 400F2.8 of course). This lens is for that purpose. Why carry 3 lenses when I can carry one? AND that ONE is less than a thousand dollars! As perspective my My Sigma 35F1.4 cost around $900 and my Nikon 24F1.4 cost in the ballpark of $2200! (The Sigma 24F1.4 which I’ve never used runs $850). So a 24mm, 28mm and 35mm F2? All in one lens? YES PLEASE!
(Canon 5D Mark III, 6400ISO, NEW Sigma 24-35F2 @24mm. 1/40th@F2)
Sometimes you want that F1.4, but a majority of the time sacrificing a little bit of light for the ability to carry only one lens instead of three is a pretty reasonable exchange in today’s age of camera’s. My D4s as mentioned above can go somewhere along the lines of 400,000ISO and that’s absolutely insane. That also means that 6400ISO or 12,800ISO at F2 is pretty reasonable today. Of course the goal is to keep your ISO as low as possible, but with today’s cameras you can still make it work pretty easily. That said in low light the Sigma 24-35F2 performed very admirably. I did have a few frames out of focus, but a majority of those were in the lowest of light. Also keep in mind I shot this review using a Canon 5D Mark III instead of my Nikon equipment that I use almost daily. Not owning canon equipment anymore It’s hard to tell whether any focus issue I had was with the Sigma lens, or the 5D3 (I feel like they were more 5D3 than 24-35F2). The shot above, and below were at dusk, and while the camera lens combo did mis-focus a few frames that evening, it was only a very few and the ones that it did get were absolutely Spot On.
(Canon 5D Mark III, 6400ISO, NEW Sigma 24-35F2@35mm. 1/40th@F2)
The lens focused fast and accurately overall. There really isn’t any wait time for the lens to go from infinity to close focus, which is great as there is nothing worse than seeing a shot you want and then having to wait for your lens to catch up to your creativity. I didn’t do a ton of shooting action with the Sigma 24-35F2 as that’s not really what the lens is for but the little bit of action that I did shoot with the lens came out predictably sharp. Again I feel like anything that was out of focus was either a 5D3 error, or somewhere between the camera body and operator…
(Canon 5D Mark III, 100ISO, NEW Sigma 24-35F2@35mm, 1/1000th@F2)
The lens itself is incredibly well built; lot like my Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art or my Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art lenses. There was never a thought in my mind that while walking around with the lens it was going to get bumped and just not work. This thing feels like it is built to take a beating; not that you would want to beat on it intentionally of course, but it gave me no indication that it would fail me in the field as a full time pro. Also the thing is HUGE. Not just huge as in insanely popular, but physically huge. In fact it’s almost as large and heavy as my Nikon 24-70F2.8! Something that makes it truly worth carrying in the field though is the look that it provides while not adding a ton of weight to the kit. I know personally as mentioned above I don’t carry my F1.4 lenses on some assignments just because of the extra weight, but this lens would be worth carrying because it provides a slightly different perspective on things and in the game of photography making photos that look different than the other shooters out there with you makes a better chance for you to secure jobs. No client wants the same thing everybody gets, they want something unique and the New Sigma 24-35F2 can easily help provide that while simultaneously making your gear load a little lighter.
(Canon 5D Mark III, 400ISO, NEW Sigma 24-35F2@24mm. 1/50th@F2. Light provided by the open garage door and the light in the garage)
I think by now you have all realized that I was and am exceptionally impressed by this lens. While it is very true that there were a few occasions where a 24-70 would have been a much better choice where I was walking around shooting, this gave ma a nice range of three lenses all in one to walk around with. All at F2! I should also mention that I did try quite a few different apertures with this lens, but a majority of the shooting I did was at F2. Why you ask? Because you don’t buy a F1.4 or F2 lens to shoot them at F10; any regular lens can shoot at F10 just fine. You buy them to shoot at F2; you know that place where no other zoom lens can go?. That doesn’t mean everything NEEDS to be shot at F2, I just feel that this being the only Full Frame F2 zoom lens in existence warrants the F2 be put through it’s paces.
Canon 5D Mark III, 100ISO, NEW Sigma 24-35F2@ 35mm 1/3200@F2)
So this lens is incredibly sharp. So sharp in fact that you wonder if it’s a prime on your camera instead of a Zoom which is fantastic because as you can see below the sharpness on this lens is incredible. In my opinion Zooms have always been about a half a step behind the sharpness of Prime’s, and for a long time it was a bigger gap than that but technology has done wonders for photography. Some of them out there are exceptionally sharp but I feel like this NEW Sigma 24-35F2 has set a new standard on sharpness for zooms. While I think my Nikon 24-70F2.8 is incredibly sharp even at F2.8, there is a certain sharpness about this 24-35F2 wide open at F2 that I just can’t put my finger on. I would have loved to have seen this lens perform on a Nikon D810, or the new Canon 5Ds body vs a 5D Mark III but in no way was the 5D3 detrimental to my evaluation.
As an overall I found this lens incredibly impressive, and frankly it needed to be considering it’s the worlds first full frame F2 zoom lens. I figure nobody has done this for a reason, but Sigma has stepped up to the plate and said lets go. Sigma has really stepped up their game in the last couple years and I never thought I’d be seeking out Sigma Glass to add to my kit over the Nikon Counterparts, but I have. Their sharpness and build quality has come light years recently and it’s something that both Canon and Nikon should not be ignoring as both Canon and Nikon glass is usually significantly more expensive than any of the Sigma counterparts. Did I find the focal range lacking? yes and no. Like I said above, there were occasions that my 24-70 would have been a better choice, but at the same time this lens was a find blend of Prime Lens and Zoom. With a prime you zoom with your feet, and with the NEW Sigma 24-35F2 you should still do that. This lens wasn’t meant to be a replacement lens for everything in your bag, but an alternative for carrying all of your wide fast primes at one time. Would I consider taking this lens on more road trips vs the 24-70? Absolutely.
(Canon 5D Mark III, 320ISO, NEW Sigma 24-35F2@24mm. 1/60th@F2)
In conclusion this lens Rocks. Yes it’s big, but it’s also fast and really it’s 3 fast Prime lenses in one zoom lens. It’s not an all out replacement for a 24-70 as a workhorse lens by any stretch, nor is it a replacement for my Nikon 14-24F2.8, but if you are out shooting and want that fast prime look without carrying multiple prime lenses this is definitely the lens for you. In my opinion Sigma has once again knocked one out of the park with this lens and I can’t wait to see what they surprise the market with next. I’ve been eagerly awaiting an 85F1.4 Art, and rumor has it that it’s in the plan somewhere over the next three years so I’m going to keep my eyes open for that. Until then though there is not a single reason not to reap the benefits of Sigma’s labor with glass like their NEW 24-35F2. Whether you are someone just looking to get started in Fast Primes, Or you own all the fast primes already and just want one lens to carry in your bag for a light kit instead of all three; I think this is a great lens for almost any shooter You’ll still have to zoom with your feet to get the most out of it like any of your primes, but that’s also a small price to pay for such a great aperture, sharpness and focal length options in such a one stop shop.
(Canon 5D Mark III, 2500ISO, NEW Sigma 24-35F2@28mm. 1/400th@F2)
If you’re interested in looking at one of these lenses, or even buying one check them out at Roberts Camera here in Indianapolis. They are supposed to be available starting July 30th of 2015 for a retail price of $999. Sigma also has Educational Discounts on a lot of their stuff, so if you are a student make sure you log into Robert’s website to see the educational Pricing info to save yourself a few bucks. When I first started in photography I had a few Sigma lenses, and my goal was always to get to a point where I would get rid of them all and have nothing but Nikon glass. Last year I sold my Nikon 50mm F1.4 for a Sigma 50mm F1.4 and would never look back. Sigma has impressed me so much that when people tell me they want to buy a lens but aren’t sure they can afford the expense of Canon or Nikon, I always recommend Sigma without any hesitation. Their new Contemporary, Sport and Art lenses are tough to beat at any price point. I greatly look forward to seeing how they shake up the industry next. Happy Shooting. More soon.
Also, if you have any questions (or just want to see one of the many cat photos I took with this lens) email me via my contact page.