Wide-angle zoom lenses are a fairly niche genre in the rich library that is contemporary camera lenses. Nonetheless, these scene swallowers have a role to play across a variety of photographic disciplines. We turned over one of the newer wide-angle zooms, the Sigma 12-24mm f/4 Art lens, to our own multi-disciplinarian, N.J. photographer and director David Patiño to see how it fared in the real world.
The full frame 12-24mm Art lens maintains a constant f/4 aperture throughout its entire zoom range. Its nine rounded aperture blades stop down to f/22. The lens is capable of focusing on objects as close as 9.4 inches (when zoomed out to 24mm) with a maximum magnification of 1:4.9.
The 12-24mm uses FLD elements, which Sigma claims offers similar imaging characteristics to fluorite. It also packs a large aspherical element to minimize flare and ghosting. Autofocus is driven by a Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) with 1.3x the torque of the previous model, for a faster, more responsive performance.
It’s sold in Canon, Nikon and Sigma mounts.
While the 12-24mm isn’t fully weather-sealed, it is dust- and splash-proof. It’s also fairly hefty. At 40 ounces, it weighs more than a few closely comparable wide-angle zooms, like Tamron’s 15-30mm f/2.8 and Nikon’s 14-24mm f/2.8G ED. On the plus side, it’s a bit lighter than Canon’s EF 11-24mm f/4 lens. We found the focus ring a bit narrow, but it turns smoothly enough.
This lens doesn’t have a slot for filters and can’t accept screw-on filters due to its bulbous front element, so landscape shooters will need to opt for an accessory filter mount. It lacks an internal zooming mechanism, so the lens size will shift as you zoom in and out.
Image Quality & Performance
Patiño used the lens to shoot residential interiors plus a few large corporate group portraits on a Canon 5DS. He tells us that the image quality was “beautiful.” The lens was up to the challenge of delivering sharp images and plenty of contrast from the 5DS’s 50-megapixel sensor.
You do get some inevitable and, for this focal length, unavoidable distortion out at the edge of the frame. In one large group portrait, it turned a relatively stocky man into a broad-shouldered linebacker—but the distortion was easy enough to pull back in post, Patiño says.
“It pulls at the edges, but there was very little pincushion distortion,” he says. Both vignetting and chromatic aberration were rarely to be found on his sample images, Patiño adds.
On balance, Patiño tells us the lens is a solid alternative to his current wide-angle zoom of choice, the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8.
The universe of wide-angle zoom lenses is populated by a few prominent, and pricey, competitors, among them Canon’s $2,699 EF 11-24mm f/4 and Nikon’s $1,900 14-24mm f/2.8. Against these options, the new Art lens is an attractive alternative. Tamron’s 15-30mm f/2.8 is another worthy competitor. At $1,200, it is less expensive than the Sigma lens while also delivering a wider aperture and image stabilization. Still, Patiño tells us he found the image quality of the Art lens to be worth the premium you’ll pay over the 15-30mm.
Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art
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