by Jack Howard
The re-engineered Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 DG HSM II is a fantastic rectilinear full-frame ultawide zoom lens with edge to edge sharpness. One SLD and four FLD lens elements yields the excellent image quality pro photographers expect from their lenses.
Ultrawides zooms are an amazing tool for tight squeezes and also taking in sweeping angles of view. I packed this lens in my bag for a few recent adventures, and it is rapidly becoming one of my favorite tools on the full-frame Canon EOS 5D. This lens saves on bulk by going with a slightly slow maximum aperture F4.5-5.6 that loses a bit of a stop over the 2x focal range, but when it comes to ultrawides, I am totally okay with that.
This is a super-sharp ultrawide zoom that isn’t jumbo-sized due to a very fast constant aperture: it’s just about five inches long and weighs just shy of one and half pound. When you think about the very short focal range of ultrawides, and the very deep depth of field even at very wide apertures, that’s some bulk that can very easily be spared in exchange for portability and ease of use for adventures both indoors and out.
For more great advice on working with rectilinear ultrawide zoom lenses, check out this blog posting, which offers tons of advice for this breed of lens.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve climbed my local lighthouse, and brought this lens along on a muddy biking adventure in my photo backpack. We’re just now approaching peak foliage here in New Jersey, and I can’t wait to take it out for some fall landscapes in the next week or so!
One of the most interesting things about the Sandy Hook lighthouse is its distance from shore. In the years since it was built in the 1700s, the shoreline of the Hook has experienced steady accretion–a buildup of the shoreline–so it is now almost a half a mile from the tip of the Hook, framed nicely by grass and trees. I tried to illustrate this unique-to-Lighthouses feature of the Sandy Hook light with two exteriors from two different angles. And because of the very wide field of view at 12mm on a fullframe camera, I was able to take in all of the tall structure and its surroundings from close enough to avoid power lines and other distracting elements in the frame.
After my lighthouse adventure, I tossed the Sigma 12-24mm and my 5D in my backpack, along with a very flexible tripod and headed out on my mountain bike to get some very low-angle action shots along a muddy leaf-strewn trail. My intent was to shoot very wide, but once I got there, and took some test shots, I decided to zoom all the way in and again take advantage of that very close focusing at all focal lengths.
I set my camera up on Manfrotto tripod just inches above the muddy trail and used a remote cable to fire the shutter continuously as I biked the trail right on the focal plane. I had a lot of empty and mis-framed shots in my folder after a few passes, but I was able to get the timing of my pass just right for one of the shots.
I’ve only spent a little time with the Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 DG HSM II so far, but I’ve now got big plans for this lens in the near future for all sorts of time lapse and still photography shoots that I’m even more excited about after seeing just how sharp and crisp this new lens is. From what I’ve seen so far, this full-frame ultrawide zoom is a real keeper!