Sigma has just announced their all-new 16-28mm f/2.8 DG DN wide-angle lens, and I’m happy to introduce it to you. After using it for less than a week, I’m already trying to figure out how I’m going to buy this lens. And it won’t be too difficult because it’s relatively inexpensive.
Fast wide-angle zooms have been dominated by the 14-24mm and the 16-35mm, both available in f/2.8. In fact, I even have a 7-14mm f/2.8 for my Micro Four Thirds cameras, which is equivalent to the 14-24mm. These lenses have been great, but they are universally large and heavy — and costly. And using filters with the 14-24mms will cost you another arm and a leg to get adapters over their bulbous front elements.
Traveling, these lenses offer a unique view of the world. The powerful foreshortening achieved at 14mm or 16mm impacts the way viewers interact with images. It’s like grabbing someone and shoving them into the frame and saying, “Check this out!” It can’t be ignored. Plus, when you actually need to get it all in the frame, an ultra-wide-angle is the only way to go.
16-28mm is the new black
Sigma has addressed all of the pain points of the ultra-wide-angle zooms. I love the 14-24mm and have owned three different versions, but I’m not missing those two millimeters of width in this lens because everything else about it is so overwhelmingly nice.
It’s not as wide as the 14mm and it’s not as long as the 35mm, but the 16-28 is going to take the market by storm. It’s super light, compact, sharp, fast-focussing, and ultra-handy.
Under a pound & under a pop
Sigma’s spec sheet says this lens weighs in at 15.9oz — and I bet they did backflips to make sure it came in under one pound (16oz). This is a huge saving in weight compared to other lenses and will make it easier to use with a gimble for video work. Sigma’s own 14-24mm for L-mount weighs 28.4oz, and Canon’s venerable 16-35mm weighs 27.8oz.
Amazingly, you could take the 16-28mm with the fp L, Sigma’s excellent full-frame camera, and it would only weigh 29.1oz. You’d have a great camera with a great lens and little burden. Its body is crafted (in Japan) from a thermally-stable composite that expands and contracts at rates similar to the metals inside the lens. That means even in extreme temperatures you’ll get consistent performance. I’ve seen this technology used in military-grade rifle scopes and it’s pretty cool — and makes things very light.
What’s more, at just 4″ long, it’s shorter than a can of soda. And it’s always that length because all the zoom and focus movement happens internally. It’s surprising to get such a range of zoom and such a bright aperture (constant f/2.8) without any movement on the outside in a package less than 3″ in diameter.
Plus, if you spill your pop, it may not be a problem since the lens is weather and dust sealed.
Sharper than me
I’m not much for pixel-peeping, but I can spot a soft or off-focus picture from a mile away. The 16-28mm is remarkably sharp and contrasty with excellent color. I have no complaints about sharpness, and the bokeh is nice. I have no complaints in the quality department and it makes pictures sharper than I do. All the pictures here were made with the 16-28mm on a Lumix S1 (24 megapixels), but it’s rated to perform well with the fp L, which boasts 61 megapixels.
Its stepping motor also makes it focus quickly and quietly. I’ve been impressed with how well it tracks on autofocus and how accurate it has been. The 16-28mm kept up with Zoomer, a Labrador pup who works as a bomb-sniffing K9. I kept the lens very close to his face as he followed a tennis ball around and in and out. The stepping motor zipped back and forth as fast as Zoomer did and kept his eyes in focus.
Also, I’m surprised at how little distortion there is — I don’t see any, but my camera maybe correcting for it. Lines are straight top and bottom and on both sides. Check out the lines in this photo of a storage unit full of Native American art.
You can’t not bring it
I have found lots of reasons why I don’t need to bring my 14-24mm on shoots, and they all end in “ounces.” It’s just a heavy lens and can become burdensome in your bag, and even on the body. The wide front element is also troublesome because it doesn’t fit in the slots in camera bags as well as narrower lenses.
But the 16-28mm f/2.8 DG DN is a skinny thing for a fast ultrawide. The specs say it’s 3″ across, but that must be including the lens hood because it feels small in your hands. It’s got a short throw for the zoom and you can easily track its full range with a thumb and finger.
And did I mention that it’s lightweight? It fits in my bag easily, and it’s a joy to carry in hand on the camera.
The filter thread is just 72mm. If you buy a dedicated polarizer or neutral density filters, they will cost less than the larger 77mm or even 86mms required by other lenses. And I’ve never sprung for a 14mm filter kit, so this has been a joy to polarize.
Tip for filters
My largest diameter lens is the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 at a whopping 86mm. So, I buy filters that fit that and then stack step-up rings to fit the filters to my 82mm and 77mm lenses. Well, with the 16-28mm, you should buy a single step-up ring and don’t stack rings. In my case, I should get a 72-86mm ring instead of using a 72-77mm, a 77-82mm, and an 82-86mm. The trouble is that when you stack rings, you increase the chances of seeing the edges of the filter in the pictures because you’ve added so much thickness.
Who’s the Sigma 16-28mm f/2.8 DG DN for?
I suspect his lens would be good in your bag. I’ve used it for portraits, landscapes, and architecture. The quality is second to none and it’s so compact that I will always have it along. It picks up where the 28-70mm or 24-105mm zooms leave you wanting more. It focuses accurately, quietly, and quickly. I’m having a hard time finding anything I don’t love about this lens. It’s two millimeters tighter than 14mm and seven millimeters shy of 35mm. Yes, it’s different, but generation so Canon users will tell you they don’t miss the two millimeters, and generations of Nikon shooters will tell you they don’t miss the seven millimeters. I tend to agree with both of them that 16-28mm is ample on both ends. I don’t think this will replace the 35mm in my bag, but it might just sit my designer for the 20mm f/2.
If you’re any kind of photographer, I think you’ll have a use for Sigma’s all-new 16-28mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary lens.
The Sigma 16-28mm f/2.8 DG DN is Highly recommended.