Fstoppers First Look: Sigma's New 18-35 f/1.8

Fstoppers First Look: Sigma's New 18-35 f/1.8

When we announced the new 18-35mm f/1.8 lens from Sigma, the excited and joy-filled response from you all was nearly instantaneous (which was rather impressive since it was confirmed at just past 1 in the morning eastern time). I too was particularly excited because of what this lens means to the industry and the future of lens design. I want to share with you my first impressions of the lens, which arrived in my studio just a few minutes ago.

Let me start off by saying this lens is a pre-production model, so the optics have not yet been finalized and approved by Sigma. That means I can't show you any images taken with it. However, I can tell you what it is like to shoot with it and how it feels on the front of an APS-C camera.

sigma 18-35 f1.8 1

sigma 18-35 f1.8 2


Let's consider the weight: it's heavy at 28.6 ounces. You may recall I mentioned the 17-70mm lens Sigma recently produced has a lot of plastic exterior parts, likely chosen to keep cost and weight low. The 18-35mm makes no such compromises. It's a solidly built metal behemoth just shy of five inches long, three inches wide. Much like with the 35mm f/1.4, it has heft. It feels strong, solid and reliable. For an APS-C only lens, it's built unexpectedly like pro-only gear. So let dismiss the argument that APS-C can't be professional, because this lens screams high end and top of the line.

Below you can see the 18-35mm right next to the 17-70mm. It dwarfs the 17-70mm, which puts the size of this lens into perspective:

sigma 18-35 f1.8 5


The entire focusing and zooming of the lens is housed inside the body, which is something I personally love and wish existed in the Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L II.

To be honest, this lens almost overwhelms the Canon 60D body on which I placed it. It craves a bit more beef in order to be what I would call "well balanced." Because of the optics and the weight of the lens body, it can throw off the delicate balance of hand, camera and lens. It will weigh more than many APS-C camera bodies and if it doesn't, the front weight can feel a little off-kilter. I think it would be just right for a 7D, but most certainly would feel odd or even awkward on a Rebel camera.

sigma 18-35 f1.8 3


Though I can't show you images, I can briefly tell you about how the AF functions: really well. It keeps up with the other lenses Sigma has released as part of its Global Vision and is very accurate and pleasingly snappy.

From what I can tell, even the pre-production model handles ghosting and flaring well. That's about all I'm comfortable judging on this lens since it's not the final version. For all those who love optical stabilization, I'm sorry but this guy doesn't have any. It does open wide to f/1.8 though, so that will probably help.

sigma 18-35 f1.8 4


I have no idea how much this lens is going to cost, at least not officially. If you made me guess, based on the build quality and prior lenses released by Sigma, I am going to guess right around $1000. This is a total shot in the dark so don't expect me to be right or even remotely close to right. So for whatever that's worth, there's my straight up guess.

So what you can take away from this is that the build quality is completely un-compromised. It's built like an Abrams Tank but looks like a Maserati. At this point many of you won't be surprised by how good this lens looks and feels because of how much Sigma has changed in the past eight months. For those of you who still doubt, well hopefully this lens is just one more giant step in the right direction. We will have our full review in the coming weeks. Until then, keep it tuned here to Fstoppers.com to satisfy your lens lust.

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seems like a shame that they'd make such a high tech lens for the APS-C yuppies. This should be a PRO lens, in the 24-70 range. People would be jumping over each other to sell their 24-70 MKII's and buy this ZOOM/PRIME lens. I know I would..

Self entitled full frame douchebags get all the good lenses. I'm glad Sigma thought of making something good for the APS-C yuppies such as myself. Also, I see plenty of 'pros' using crop bodies.

Nothing wrong with crops, and good for Sigma that they are making lenses for the APS-C crowd, but I think a lot of people that own crop bodies won't spend huge money on lenses, so hopefully they price this one right. And larger sensors will always be better.

-signed Full Frame Douche.

"Self entitled full frame douchebags"? I think you mean pros, honey. You know, the people they make the good stuff for, cos yuppies won't pay those prices?

Do you realize that a 24-70 f1.8 lens would be HUGE because of the way optics work? Go look at the difference between the Canon 200mm f2.8 Prime and Canon 200mm f2 and realize the size difference would be even greater between a 24-70 2.8 and 1.8...

It would be so impractical and annoying to hold all day. People would not jump over each other. Not to mention, on FF it would be extremely difficult to make the optical quality good at 1.8 across the range. There are reasons why nobody's made a 24-70 faster than 2.8... Doing it for APS-C is more viable because they can keep the lens small, and the format is more forgiving to the lack of lens resolution.

yes! someone who thinks alike. If we all want large apertures so bad we should just collect primes...

Or be even "more pro" and use medium format... Since it's the most expensive option and has even more shallow DoF, it must be most pro, right? Heh. FF vs Crop is so silly. If you want FF to get the results you want, then do it. I use FF, but I don't need to use it in order to consider myself pro or good at photography...

Pfft! Medium Format?! 9x18 or you're not pro enough.

This 9x18 vs 8x10 war has GOT TO STOP!!

Alex Pena's picture

Lol we should all go get this and be ''überpros'' : http://petapixel.com/2012/04/03/wet-plate-photography-with-a-giant-forma...

Actually i dont see a distinction between this lense and the 24-70... the FX ISO advantage renders the f1.8 light advantage moot. FX bokeh advantage also moots any bokeh advantage from a larger aperture. Get over it... its all good for DX but there's no reason to sulk.

Jerrit Pruyn's picture

There has to be a manufacturing difference between 18-35 and 24-70. They did what they could on this one, I am sure it will be some crazy glass.

There's no such thing as a zoom/prime lens. Those are opposites.

Do you know how much a constant f/1.8 FF zoom would be? Look up pictures of cine zooms. We're talking four-pound lens.

Release a full frame version and I'll buy.

Jerrit Pruyn's picture

I have to think they ran into some issues pumping out a full frame.

Green Life's picture

No problem at all. Fork out a hefty $5000 and prepare to carry a 2kg lens (at least). Would you ? I guess not.

Bryon Black's picture

Abrams tank.... unless I missed the reference to Abraham's tank in the Bible...

If we're getting real technical, it should be "an Abrams." ;)

Thanks! Didn't think it had IS from the sounds of it but appreciated the confirmation.

Why is it that a wide angle lens needs Optical stabilisation? Its daft. Converted over its a 28-50mm lens. So the minimum shutter speeds are 1/30th to 1/50th. Anything slower than that and you'll get movement from your shot even if you are perfectly still.

OS on a long lens I get and support but on wide lenses its a gimmick to push prices up.

A lot of people use zooms for video work. It's really nice to have the IS/OS for video, especially at the APS-C budget level since those are probably the people who can't afford really nice stabilization rigs.

this is where sensor stabilization would be handy, I love it on my k5 and its great for video.. its just a shame the k5 video is lacking (quality is good, but has no manual controls).

The OM-5 has even better sensor stabilization that works in video too and both with the k5 and the om-5 sensor stabilization also compensates doe rotation.. something lens stabilization can't.

It would be great if more manufactures pick this up.

Agreed. I just do stills, and I can't wait to get an EM-5 (OM-D is the equivalent of the "D" on "D3s" or "5D" or it's like saying "NEX" without a number, fyi -- EM-5 is more accurate to the particular camera) in part because of the joys of having IS on EVERY LENS. Sony's high-end DSLR has sensor stabilization, right? Shouldn't be too hard for Canon/Nikon to follow suit.

I know I said om-d, and that was wrong as it is an om-5 but I feel it still fits as newer om-d camera's will probably share the same stabilization features as the pen series still uses the older shake reduction but will probably also see this update.

Sony use electronic stabilization in video (as do pentax's newer budget cameras k30 and k01) and some older olympus which isn't as good. Also sony use more of a rail system for there sensor shake so it dosn't compensate for rotation that I can see but I could be wrong.

Pentax and now Olympus both use floating magnetic sensor shift that can compensate for rotation too (although olympus claim there new magnetic 5 axis sensor stabilization is a world first). The Olympus version does seem more stable for video than pentax, could be to do with the smaller sensor or better magnets. I guess it would be harder to pull of that approach for the larger sensors but still possible as you could use stronger magnets.

It wouldn't be hard for canon/nikon to do something similar, hell Panasonic should add it to there m4/3 camera's as stabilized fast primes are great for video and also low light shooting... and I bet there could be some way to have both sensor and lens shift to work in tandem to offer even greater sensor shift as each would only have to work half as hard, but I guess getting both lens/body to talk to each other could be the tricky part.
Even so having the option of both would be nice as longer lens can be better with OIS and wide lens it would be easier with sensor based.. I love having a stabilized fisheye.

Sensor based stabilization also offer's some other nice features too, Pentax let you do manual sensor shift. Giving every lens mounted a shift function, sure its not even close to a proper shift lens in how far it can move but its still a fair amount and a feature I use quite a bit a times.

If you take a look at Nikon's literature for the D800 (and other high-resolution sensor bodies), the old "reciprocal rule" doesn't hold true any longer. They recommend doubling the focal length:shutter speed ratio. So on a 50, you are still talking about 1/100th.

Also; video, my man, video.

Good to know! I thought I was getting shaky... 1/80 does seem to be manageable tho on the D800 with a 50mm, just can't be dancing. ;)

It's funny,with my D800 I can handhold my 70-200 VRII at 1/125 @ 200mm and get cleaner images than my 24-70 at 1/125 @70. It could just be that the 70-200 is that much sharper, but I think it's the VR.

Someone doesn't shoot in low light. :P

Because the T3i/4i/5i is one of Canon's best for video.

you did not anounce. you reported about an announcement