Sigma 12-24 mm f/4.5-5.6 II DG HSM & Nikon D600 (N FF)
This Sigma 12-24 mm II DG review, we cross-examine a lens designed for use on a camera with an FX / full frame sensor. This Sigma 12-24 mm appears in 2011 as the successor to the famous Sigma AF 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX HSM DG. Of course, this lens also fits on a camera with an APS-C / DX sensor. Yet this is a unique lens especially for owners of a camera with a full frame sensor. The FX zoom lenses on offer with a focal length less than 15 mm is limited to the AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED for owners of a Nikon FX camera, with a smaller field of view, faster aperture and 50% more expensive than the Sigma 12-24 II DG.
We have tested the Sigma 12-24 mm II DC on a camera with a full frame sensor (Nikon D600). This appears to be a combination to die for. Especially at a 12 mm focal length, the Sigma 12-24 mm DG II provides a field of view that gives you a totally different view of the world. The Sigma 12-24 mm II is available for Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Sigma mount. The recommended retail price is € 995,-.
Field of view Sigma 12-24mm II DG @ 24 mm
Sigma 12-24mm II DG @ 12 mmYou, as an owner of a 24 mm wide-angle lens, might think that the difference in perspective with a 12 mm lens is not so great. However, you are mistaken. Taken from the same position, the difference between the field of view of a shot taken with a focal length of 24 mm (left) and a shot taken with a focal length of 12 mm (right), is significant.
Construction and autofocus
The Sigma 12-24 mm DG II comes with a case and a two-piece lens cap. More about the lens cap later. With a weight of 700 grams and a length of 12 cm, this lens lies comfortably in the hand with the Nikon D600. The Sigma 12-14 mm II DG looks a bit like the Panasonic 7-14 mm, which we have tested previously. The most striking aspect of this lens is the convex front lens and the fixed petal-type hood. This hood not only limits any ghosting, but also serves to protect the convex front lens.
The lens is made of a combination of high quality plastic and metal and has a beautiful matte black finish. The mount is made of metal. It is very compact and made of light material. Moreover, the Sigma 12-24 mm II is waterproof, making it suitable for use in extreme weather conditions too. The lens feels very solid. The zoom ring is a little heavy, but you get used to this quickly and you know for sure that this lens does not suffer from creeping, the unwanted changing of the focal length. The length of the lens remains unchanged when you zoom in or out. The drive of the HSM autofocus is very quiet and very quick. Since the lens uses internal AF, the front lens does not rotate. For filter use, it makes no difference, because the lens hood and the convex front lens make the use of filters impossible.
More and more lens manufacturers are offering wide-angle lenses with built-in image stabilization. Nevertheless, the Sigma 12-24 mm II has no built-in image stabilization. Should there ever be a successor to this lens, this is probably one of the few points on the wish list of the designers of Sigma.
Vignetting Sigma 12-24 mm II DG
Due to the convex front lens of the Sigma 12-24mm II DG, no traditional lens cap fits on the lens. Sigma solved this with an extra loose ring that you slide on the fixed lens hood, on which the lens cap does fit. If you have this lens in your hands for the first time and take off only the lens cap of the lens, you might be surprised by black edges in the image at a focal length of 12 mm (move your mouse over the Imatest results for a practice shot with mechanical vignetting). As soon as you take the ring off the fixed lens hood, this mechanical vignetting disappears. This happens to you only once.
The measurement results for vignetting look less rosy for a camera with an FX sensor than for a camera with an APS-C sensor. Yet vignetting is generally not recognizable in most practice shots.
The most familiar form of vignetting, optical vignetting, is inherent to each lens design. To keep a lens as compact and light as possible, lens manufacturers accept a slight degree of vignetting at the edges in the design of a lens. Optical vignetting is most clearly present when the aperture is fully open and disappears almost completely after stopping down 1 or 2 stops.
With this ultra-wide-angle lens, it is striking that vignetting has not even completely disappeared at aperture 11. This is caused by a natural phenomenon that cannot be prevented. This form of vignetting, which we encounter due to the large field of view of the Sigma 12-24 mm II DG, is called natural vignetting. For mathematicians and physicists amongst you, I refer to this article on natural vignetting. In short, it means that vignetting occurs with rectilinear lenses with an extremely wide field of view that you cannot reduce by stopping down.
Vignetting correction in Lightroom
There is a simple recipe, with which you eliminate both natural vignetting and optical vignetting with one touch:
- Import the files to Lightroom, select all images taken with the Sigma 12-24 mm DG II in the Library module.
- Go to “Lens Corrections” in the Develop module and click “Enable Profile Corrections.” The correct correction profile is loaded automatically. In Lightroom 4, there are individual Sigma / Adobe correction profiles for this lens with a Canon, Sigma, Nikon and Sony mount.
- Below, click the button “Sync Settings,” check the box “Lens Corrections” and finally click the button “Synchronize.”
Above, you see the Imatest results for vignetting of the Sigma 12-24 mm II DG on a Nikon D600, after automatic correction in Lightroom. Fantastic, Adobe and Sigma!
Distortion Sigma 12-24 mm II DG
Not unexpectedly, the Sigma 12-24 mm II DG exhibits clear distortion, which runs from clearly barrel shaped at 12 mm to clearly pincushion at 24 mm.
Who wants to have a nice bokeh, does not choose a wide-angle lens of course, but for a bright telephoto lens. As you can see in the figure, the subject in the foreground is not really isolated from the background, even at the longest focal length (24 mm) and the aperture fully open. If you magnify the image (click on the image), the bokeh is not too bad for a wide-angle lens.
Flare Sigma 12-24 mm II DG
In theory, a lens with a convex front lens, which also consists of 17 elements in 13 groups, is prone to flare and ghosting. To limit this as much as possible, Sigma has equipped the lens elements with Sigma’s SML (Super Multi Layer) lens coating that suppresses internal reflections and ghosting. There is remarkably little flare, the lowering of the contrast in the area around a bright light source. Ghosting is far less common with the Sigma 12-24 mm II DG than I expected for a wide-angle zoom lens on a camera with a full frame sensor.
In the image here, the sun shines right into the lens, through the leaves in the picture. Despite the presence of a very bright light source, which is not even out of the picture and shines straight into the lens, this image shows no ghosting.
Of course, the Sigma 12-24 mm II is not always completely free of ghosting, as you can see in the image here. Top left in the image is a kind of rainbow. In the middle of the picture are a few small green spots, due to internal reflections of the bright sun shining directly into the lens.
Resolution Sigma 12-24 mm II DG
Already from full aperture, the center resolution is very high. The resolution of the edges is high too and almost equal to the center resolution after stopping down 2 stops. Only the resolution in the extreme corners remains behind on the edges and corners, even if you stop down. This is not unusual for an ultra-wide-angle lens.
Chromatic aberration Sigma 12-24 mm II DG
Lateral chromatic aberration is typically a problem that many wide-angle lenses suffer from. To reduce color aberrations, this lens is equipped with four expensive “FLD” (“F” Low Dispersion) glass elements, which have the same characteristics as fluorite glass, and an SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass element. Both our Imatest results as the practice images show that Sigma has beautifully managed to minimize the amount of chromatic aberration with the design of the Sigma 12-24mm II.What does that mean in practice? Without software correction of chromatic aberration, you can recognize barely visible chromatic aberration in the extreme corners in very large magnifications. Click (twice) on the image above for a 24 megapixel (up to 8 MB compressed) sample image to get an impression of the image quality. In sharp contrast transitions in the picture above, you can see green and red edges along the branches in the upper left, if you show the image at 100%. Except for real pixel peepers, no one will probably notice it if you hang this image as a poster on the wall.
Conclusion Sigma 12-24 mm f/4.5-5.6 II DG HSM review
The Sigma 12-24 mm II DG is a lens with exceptional properties: on a camera with a full frame sensor, you get access to an exceptionally wide field of view. This leads to new creative ideas and invites you to take pictures! The finish of the Sigma 12-24 mm II DG lens is also very good, just like the image quality: this lens offers a high resolution in the center and at the edges, and both chromatic aberration and flare are highly minimized for a wide angle on full frame. In terms of price to quality, as evidenced by our Sigma 12-24 mm II DG review, this lens is highly recommended, especially in combination with advanced cameras with a high resolution as the Nikon D600 or Nikon D800E.