It’s sometimes said that a zoom lens is like having a bag of primes in one lens. It’s a nice sentiment, and can be accurate in some situations, especially with mid-range telephoto zoom lenses like the high-end 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses that each manufacturer makes. However, ultra-wide zoom lenses have always had some level of compromise when compared with the very best prime lenses, and this has especially been true of those that push the envelope beyond 16mm. However, the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN is the first ultra-wide zoom lens I’ve used that is truly like a bag of the very best wide-angle prime lenses throughout the focal range.
I’ve been shooting with the Sigma 14-24mm for about three weeks now, and one word continually escapes my lips when looking at the images after offloading my memory card. “Wow.” I honestly have lost track of how many times “Wow!” has escaped my lips when reviewing images from this lens. I’m shooting on the A7R IV, a camera that pushes glass to its limits with its 60 megapixel resolution, and the 14-24mm is capable of producing sharp images to the very extreme corners, at all focal lengths in the zoom range.
Starting right from f/2.8, the lens is sharp over 90% of the frame, with only the very last part of the image softening slightly. Stop down just a stop or two and the lens sharpens to become extremely impressive into the very corners. While some of the very best primes can match the Sigma in the 18-24mm range, I don’t know if I’ve seen any lens resolve like the 14-24mm does between 14mm and 18mm.
Here are two examples at 14mm, though the lens is truly outstanding throughout the range. The first shot is at 14mm, f/10 with a circular polarizer and 1.3 second exposure:
And a 100% crop from the extreme upper right corner:
That kind of corner resolution would be impressive on a lens of any focal length, though not unprecedented for top-notch glass. But for 14mm? That’s simply remarkable. Another example shows how good it still does even wide open. The (rather mundane) image below was taken at 14mm at f/2.8, at a fairly close focus distance (where the lens isn’t quite as good as it is at further distances….but still very, very good.)
Now take a look at the 100% crop very near the corners. This is simply stunning sharpness, wide open at the extreme 14mm focal length, and close focus, on a 60 megapixel sensor. Wow.
There are only a handful of wide primes with this level of performance. In my use with this lens, I’m seeing quality generally on par with the Zeiss Loxia 21mm, throughout the zoom range. It’s worth noting that it bests the Loxia 21mm in one key way, though: the image plane for the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 is almost perfectly flat, with no perceptible field curvature when shooting near infinity.
Color and Contrast and Chromatic Aberration
It would be remarkable enough if the lens were simply extremely sharp, but the positives keep coming. The Sigma 14-24mm produces images with excellent contrast throughout the focal range, right from wide open. There’s a richness to the color and contrast profile that I only see on the best lenses. There’s a subtlety to the tonal rolloff, despite high overall contrast: a rare trait.
Like most Sigma lenses, the 14-24mm does tend to the warm side, which I like, though if you prefer more neutral colors, you’ll want to adjust the white balance in post.
The Sigma 14-24mm also shows remarkable resistance to chromatic aberration. Lateral chromatic aberration is negligible, and longitudinal CA and purple fringing are also essentially absent. This is especially amazing at the 14mm focal length, where many primes near that focal length struggle to correct color aberrations.
While bokeh is not typically a chief concern among wide-angle zoom lenses, the fast f/2.8 aperture and reasonable close-focus ability of the lens do allow for the ability to blur the background fairly sufficiently if desired. The quality of that blurred background is fairly good for an ultra-wide zoom, though in absolute terms it’s nothing special. Bokeh is somewhat high in contrast, but specular highlights are generally evenly lit, with a hint of a bright edge to them.
Distortion, Flare and Vignetting
Finally we come to a ‘weakness’ of the lens, and that’s with distortion at the wide end. The lens displays fairly strong barrel distortion at 14mm, which will not generally be noticed in landscape work, but is visible when shooting architecture. The distortion can be corrected via a lens profile with minimal impact to sharpness, given the outstanding starting point in that regard. Zoom in a bit, and the distortion eases significantly, such that by 24mm, the slight pincushion distortion that remains is barely field relevant.
The lens performs very well with regards to flare, however. The 14-24mm can produce small colored ghosts in certain circumstances, but they are rarely distracting, and the veiling flare performance is outstanding. Essentially zero loss of contrast occurs when shooting into the sun, regardless of where the sun falls in the frame.
Another weaker point is with regards to vignetting. Vignetting is fairly high at wide apertures and eases somewhat when stopping down, though never fully disappears. For me, this is a complete non-issue, but others may feel differently.
Coma and Sunstars
The Sigma 14-24mm continues its optical prowess with very low coma throughout the zoom range, making this a very competent lens for astrophotography. On the flip side, when shooting the bright star in the center of our solar system, you can create rather busy 22 point sunstars, that are fairly poorly defined until about f/16, where they become more structured and pleasing. This is one area where a lens like the Loxia 21mm or any of the Voigtlander wide primes easily surpass the Sigma zoom, if sunstars are important to you.
In all, the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN is simply remarkable optically. It’s exceptionally sharp throughout the zoom range, with very low chromatic aberration, great flare control and outstanding color and contrast. It’s not only the best ultra-wide zoom lens I’ve ever tested, it’s right up there with the absolute best wide-angle prime lenses I’ve ever used.
18 thoughts on “Review: Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art”
I contacted you yesterday regarding the Sigma 14-24 and the Tamron 17-35. Your review definitely makes clear which you find is best and I take that to mean, in particular, when they are challenged by a 60MP sensor! That still doesn’t totally answer my question from yesterday: Is the Tamron, in its own right, up to the 60MP demands. Seeing you use some images from it in your Sony A7R-IV review sort of says “YES”. But after reading the Sigma review, I almost read a “No”. Hope you are following.
45 to 55 years ago I was involved in the Redwood National Park creation and later its expansion. I donated over 5,000 images to them. They have just awarding me a very small contract to revisit a few places I can still access and show how the landscape has changed over a 50+ year time. It is unusual I think that the same photographer (now at 77) can once again photograph places within the park that only I and a few others saw before they were often compromised by logging, etc. before being protected. Can still hike 10-12 miles and 2-3,000 foot elevation elevation changes in a day hike, so still in decent shape.
I used a Hasselblad 500C, Nikon F and even a 4×5 briefly to do that early work. So I’m planning on acquiring the Sony A7R-IV for the camera and still deciding on lenses. (Current camera is aging Fujifilm X-Pro 1 and I believe a very good sample of the 18-55 F/2.8-4 lens). I’ve created numerous panorama shots in portrait orientation at 18mm that look quite good. I believe the Sigma could give me great “breathing” room in tight quarters!
You do not mention 2 other aspects of the 14-24 Sigma I’d love to hear about: using both camera & lens in wet conditions and using it in APS-C crop mode, where you could get 36mm at 26MP.
Thank you for taking time to guide me here.
For your first question, is the Tamron up to the 60 Megapixel demands? The answer is: Mostly. Over the majority of the image frame, it is definitely up to the task. Only at the edges and corners of the frame does it falter a bit on the A7R IV. It’s still ‘good’, it’s just not ‘great’ there. For most shots, it will make a pretty negligible difference, unless you’re printing huge and have detail at those edges. Even then, again, it’ll be fine, just not the biting sharpness at the edges that the Sigma gets you. I switched from my Tamron because the Sigma was able to basically quell my search for one of the ultimate landscape primes, since it performs as good or better than them anyway. It’s also wide enough that I was able to swap both my Tamron and my Voigtlander 12mm and 21mm f/3.5 and not really feel like I was losing anything at all, and was in fact gaining a image quality in the process (though I also added a Voigtlander 15mm, which I will use when I want to travel with three small primes….15, 40, 90…using APS-C mode when needed for 22., 60 and 135mm).
I haven’t used the lens in wet conditions (and I don’t generally shoot much in the rain.) The Sigma does have a rubber gasket on the mount and promises weather sealing, but I take all of those claims from any manufacturer with a grain of salt.
In APS-C mode, it works great. The lens can easily resolve the density of the A7R IV sensor, so it looks fantastic in APS-C mode. (I accidentally turned it on at one point in one of my shoots, such that one of the sample images is in APS-C mode).
What lenses are your other small primes ?
Yes, the 15mm Voigtlander (review coming at some point), Voigtlander 40mm f/1.2 and Contax G 90mm f/2.8.
Ahh I figured the 40 was a Voigtlander could not figure out the 90.
Thought it might be the macro lol
I like my 16-35 F4. Light, takes filters. Cheaper and I like the images that come out of it on my A73
The 16-35mm f/4 is a good lens, though it is only $50 cheaper. The 16-35 gives a nice range and is more convenient with use of filters, but it isn’t in the same league optically. I owned the 16-35mm f/4 for several years, and sold it for the Tamron 17-28mm, which was notably better than the 16-35mm at the edges of the frame, and the Sigma 14-24mm is yet another step up over the Tamron. The Sigma is sharper at f/2.8 at the edges throughout the shared focal range than the Sony 16-35/4 is even at f/8. These differences may not be majorly important when shooting on a 24MP body like the A73, though they would be noticeable (I could see a difference between the Tamron and Sony when I was shooting with the A73), and the Sony 16-35mm is definitely quite good at the wide end of the range when stopped down a little. On a higher megapixel body, however, the difference between the Sony and Sigma would be rather substantial.
With all that said, the Sony 16-35mm is a very nice lens and is certainly capable of creating great images. I used mine to great effect for about 4 years, and really liked it. Buying new now, I’d lean towards the Tamron if you want a smaller lens that takes screw in filters, or the Sigma for the wider field of view and the best optical quality.
Have you had any issues with the Kase rear filters breaking?
I have not as of yet, though I have seen several reports of people who have had it happen. To be fair, I also have only used them a handful of times so far. We shall see in the long term.
Thanks for the review.
Sigma has another UW lens 14mm f1.8. How would you compare both lenses for Leica SL?
Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to try out the 14mm f/1.8, though I’ve heard good things. This is just my impression from reading the reviews of others, but from what I have heard, the 14-24mm is sharper than the 14mm f/1.8 and has better chromatic aberration control. The f/1.8 is f/1.8, though. I think if your prime reason for buying a lens in this width is for astrophotography, the f/1.8 aperture of the prime may well serve you very well, but outside of that, I don’t see a lot of reasons to go that route. You really don’t gain anything outside of lens speed, and you lose the 15-24mm range, lose a little sharpness and gain a fairly hefty amount of weight, as the 14-24mm is significantly smaller and lighter.
Thanks a lot.
Thank you for the thorough review, Jordan. I just acquired the Sigma 14-24 from Guy on Fred Miranda. I have never used filter holder before. I am not interested in using the rear filter slot. So you have the NISI S5 holder and their CPL, which ND filters did you get?
I’m using the Kase rear filters right now for NDs. Mine haven’t broken yet, but from what I’ve seen, it’s likely only a matter of time. I do have the new Aurora magnetic rear filters coming soon, which should be super easy to swap on the rear, and more robust with the magnetic frame. I don’t plan on purchasing a front ND filter to us with my Nisi S5 system, as I like just having the threaded CPOL with the NISI cap on it, so I can shove it in my bag and not worry about the square filter holder.
I can’t believe Guy actually sold his 14-24…he was super high on it…but he doesn’t keep many lenses for that long.
This is an excellent review. Thank you for info on the Nisi filter holder. This is exactly the type of review that I was looking for. I have the rear attachable ND Filters, but the polarizing lens with the Nisi is what I’m after. I read some negative reviews about the Nisi and was very indimidated to buy. After seeing your review, I think Im going to give it a try. Thank you for an excellent thorough examination of the 14-24 DG DN Art for sony A7IV. I have the same setup, and am very excited that this has worked well for you.
I have been endlessly searching for the optimal lens for real estate photography/videography. $1300 was certainly way above what I could afford but I was willing to invest and sacrifice for the future. I went back and forth with Sony 16-35 f2.8 GM, Sony 16-35 f4, Tamron 17-28 f2.8 and I couldn’t make a decision which lens to get until I came across Sigma 14-24 f2.8 and read so many promising reviews that I jumped to conclusion quickly and purchased it. Now, I have been concerned after coming to the realization that although this lens has exceptional image quality, sharpness and all the rest, when it comes to real estate photography/videography, from what I have been reading, it is vital to have a polarizing filter to remove reflections off the floors etc.
What should I do? GM is very expensive but is able to attach polarizing filters, I don’t want to compromise image quality for going with a lesser quality lens. I guess my question is what is the best lens for real estate photography/videography when all things are considered?
Thank you for your time!
This is definitely a personal decision. The cheapest option is to pick up an external filter holder for your 14-24mm such that I discuss in this review (see first page discussion). I use the Nisi S5 filter holder with their 150mm circular polarizer, and it works very well. The filter is obviously very large and expensive, but it attaches quickly in the field and has been easier than expected. However, the 16-35mm GM is going to give you still very good image quality and the filter situation is definitely more convenient. You do lose 2mm of width, which may be important to you for real estate photography.
Hi there – Thanks for the review. Any way you can link to the filter adapter and holder? I have a 150mm ND already but need the adapter and 150m holder. Its crazy, but cant find them! Thanks