Options Are Always Good: We Review the Sigma 10-18mm f/2.8 DC DN Contemporary Lens for Fujifilm X

Options Are Always Good: We Review the Sigma 10-18mm f/2.8 DC DN Contemporary Lens for Fujifilm X

Fujifilm users have had their options rather limited when it came to wide angle fast-aperture zooms. Well, the only option has been the fan-favorite but bulky XF 8-16mm f2/.8 R LM WR, but now, there’s a new kid on the block. How does it compete? Is it worth considering? 

Yet Another Point Of View

My colleagues Pete Coco and Gary McIntyre both reviewed the Sigma 10-18mm f/2.8 DC DN Contemporary not long ago. You can find Pete’s video review about it here and Gary’s article here. However, I managed to get my hands on a unit as well, and you know what they say about opinions, right? Everyone’s got one. So, why not give you another point of view? I’ve decided to try to use the lens for street photography mostly. Although, I have to say 10mm (or 15mm if you want to be crop about it) is pretty wide for casual candid moments. You must sometimes get uncomfortably close to your subjects to get enough in the frame. Luckily, I live in Prague, and I tried the lens during Christmas time. If you’ve ever been to the center of the city to enjoy the Christmas markets, you know getting uncomfortably close to people is not only necessary but downright unavoidable. During the advent weekends, it feels like of all the 8 billion people living on our beautiful planet, around 99% of them have decided to see the Old Town Square at the same time. A street photographer should thrive in such an environment.

Tiny for its focal range and aperture.

Tiny, Truly

I genuinely do not understand how the engineers at Sigma managed to make a lens with a focal range between 10 and 18 millimeters with a constant aperture of f/2.8 this compact and lightweight. The only option up until now was the aforementioned XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR. Yes, it does offer two extra millimeters at the wide end, but the difference in size and weight is straight-up incredible. The difference in weight is over half a kilogram, and the length is effectively halved. This alone could be a deciding factor for a traveling landscape photographer. For my use as a street photographer, it was equally as welcome. I blended in more easily, as the camera setup was noticeably smaller. An added bonus is the fact that there was no bulky protruding front element that at best attracts attention and at worst cannot be hidden behind a protective filter. 

Even the lens hood is removable. I often do not use lens hoods to make my lenses even smaller and less obvious. This one isn’t huge, but it is nice to have the option to take it off. Its mechanism to attach it to the lens is unusual. Sigma has dropped the years-proven method of a quarter twist mount for a hard-to-describe attachment point that took me a while to figure out. Once it was on, it felt solid, but to take it off, you just need to rotate it a couple of millimeters, which does not seem all that secure to me. One wrong bump of the lens against a bag or a jacket, and I was afraid of losing the hood. 

As I mentioned before, the lens is incredibly light. Weighing only 250 grams, you honestly do not know about it in your bag. I’d say the main culprit behind the weight savings is the body or, to be more precise, the materials used. The outer body of the Sigma is made of plastic, as opposed to the metal design of its Fujifilm counterpart. Sigma does not specify if the material is their TSC (Thermally Stable Composite), but it feels neither cheap nor fragile. 

The last welcome feature of the lens is its dust- and splash-resistant structure. No need to worry about the weather around you. Just focus on the photography, and the lens will live. 

The lens extends a bit when zoomed out to 10 millimeters.

Works Well, Nothing to Complain About

The front element does extend when you change your focal length from 18 to 10 millimeters, but not by much. The zoom ring is easy to rotate — not too long, not too short. With a rubberized grip, you’d expect the operation to be pretty fluid, but there was a slight issue I came across, but not something many would struggle with. The lens hood is mounted very closely to the zoom ring, and it is a good bit wider than the ring. I had to get used to holding the ring at the back end, as I was constantly getting stuck on the lens hood when it got closer and sort of pinched my fingers. As I’ve said, it is nothing major, but if you’ve got bigger hands or thicker fingers, best try it out and see for yourself. A few minutes with the lens, though, and I was already unconsciously gripping it the right way with no friction against the hood.

The autofocus element group is driven by a fast and silent stepping motor. I cannot think of a moment when the lens would fail me or ruin a shot for me by not focusing fast enough. Granted, at 10 millimeters, the room for error is fairly large, but all of the images I took using the lens were focused exactly where the camera indicated and most importantly, where I wanted. Even tracking of moving subjects was more than satisfactory. I used the lens on an X-T5 body with the latest firmware, and it kept up nicely.

As a Fujifilm user, I did miss the aperture ring. Its absence means you have to use one of the rollers on the body of your camera. You know, the “digital way” of doing things. Fujifilm rollers are luckily pretty good to use, and the roller on the X-T5 offers plenty of travel for a fast aperture change. I just had to get used to the inability to change my aperture while the camera was off at my side when the light suddenly shifted. Come on, Sigma, you put aperture rings on your newest DG DN lenses as well as your lovely I Series metal ones. Don’t leave Fujifilm users without our beloved aperture rings.

Close focusing distance of 11.6 centimeters.

Optically Well Worth the Money

You’ve read it many times, so I’ll just get it over with. The lens consists of 13 elements in 10 groups and the aperture is made of 7 rounded blades. The aperture is a downgrade from Fujifilm’s XF 8-16mm, which has a 9-bladed one. However, the bokeh still does look fairly pleasing. One large upside over the Fujifilm is the minimal focus distance and the magnification. The Sigma can focus at less than half the distance at under 12 centimeters, which gives you incredible options for detail shots, blurry backgrounds, and subjects that stand out significantly more. On top of that, the magnification is 0.25x compared to Fujifilm’s 0.1x. Thanks to these specs, we get a macro ratio of 1:4, which isn’t half-bad for an autofocusing wide angle zoom lens.

During my time with the lens, I found no barrel distortion to speak of. I can’t with 100% certainty say whether this was thanks to software corrections, but the files coming out of the lens are all straight as an arrow with no bending on the edges. Yes, the corners are stretched out, but that is to be expected with a rectilinear wide angle design.

As mentioned above, I’ve tested the lens using my Fujifilm X-T5 with its 40-megapixel X-Trans 5 HR sensor. This gave the lens no wiggle room for imperfections, chromatic aberrations, or lack of sharpness. I was pleasantly surprised with the images produced. Granted, December is a pretty dark month, so my ISO values had to often be in the thousands, which hid many details behind the camera’s grain, but when the ISO stayed in the lower hundreds, the details were clear, sharp, and plenty.

Threaded front element for filters. A big plus over the original Fujifilm offering.

Chromatic aberrations were present, often even in the center of the frame. Nothing too distracting, but they do appear occasionally. I did spot a case of ghosting once or twice, but that was only when I shot wide open in an aggressively lit scene full of Christmas lights, reflections, and candles. A street or documentary photographer usually does not care about these issues, as the moment is more important, but many of you might find those issues deal-breaking. There’s a reason the Fujifilm offering is that much bigger and more expensive. 

What I Liked

  • Small and lightweight build
  • Weather resistance
  • Fast AF
  • Constant f/2.8 aperture
  • Metal mount
  • Threaded front
  • Small lens hood
  • More than decent image quality
  • Close focus distance

What I Disliked

  • The hood attachment mechanism
  • Fingers getting pinched between the zoom ring and the hood
  • Absence of an aperture ring

Worth Considering? Most Definitely

I was expecting a much worse offering when I saw the release, read the specs, saw the size, and knew how good the Fujifilm XF 8-16mm f/2.8 is. However, I was more than pleasantly surprised once I used the Sigma 10-18mm f/2.8 DC DN Contemporary. The weight and size alone are an instant benefit, but considering the performance packed into such a small lens, I was more than impressed. My widest focal length of choice is 23mm on an APS-C sensor. Occasionally I use 18mm on my Fujifilm X70, but if I was ever in the market for an ultra-wide, I think this would be a winner for me. Sigma nearly has the f/2.8 lineup complete. Currently covering a range from 10 to 50 millimeters with two lenses, all we now need is a 50-140mm f/2.8, and the set will be complete. I’m just happy we get more and more great options each year. Have you got the 10-18mm? What do you think about it? Or are you considering getting one?


Ondřej Vachek's picture

Ondřej Vachek is a Prague based independent documentary photographer and photojournalist with multiple journeys to war-torn Ukraine where he covered everything from the frontline in the Donbass to the civilian life adapting to the new normal. Avid street photographer with love for writing and storytelling.

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Only one glaring error in this, it mentions that the Fuji 8-16mm f2.8 is the only other fast wide-angle lens option, but this overlooks the Tamron 11-20mm f2.8 lens option. The Tamron is another great wide-angle option for Fuji

Funnily enough, I actually reviewed the Tamron back in May 2023 and wasn't entirely happy with it. The resolving capabilities seemed subpar and the chromatic aberrations were a bit too prevalent for my taste. Maybe that is why I even forgot to mention it in this piece. But still, thanks for the reminder! You're right, it is a third option.

Ugh, I returned mine, the autofocus didn’t work very well with my xt3.
Cute lens though.

That's a shame. It seems like it could be a great combo. Was it a faulty unit?

No, I think it was just not tuned right for the xt3. The autofocus seems responsive enough on a single spot, but in practice it is quite laggy. Lots of oof images…

Some seem to suggest it's showing up Fuji, but I really don't see it that way. I find 10-24 has above average IQ but not excellent throughout the range - which makes the price questionable and for me it's use as a general purpose travel lens. Oh how I missed my 23 1.4 LM when I did travel with it.

But as seems to be the trend with third parties, sigma trades on one spec only, that it's constant f2.8 - the price and size being the support acts.

So it depends why f2.8 is important for you. For better depth of field with an ultra wide landscape and street lens? Really? Let's be honest with ourselves... Or for low light purposes. The latter is far more useful. The thing is the OIS of the Fuji 10-24 covers that one-stop advantage and then some.

So you can go small, light, optically OK but compromised particular with the 40MP sensor (see Dustin Abbots own review).

Or you can go bigger, but not huge, get an aperture ring, full weather sealing, longer, and OIS that is more help in low light with f4 than 2.8 alone and is a boon for video. Yes many cameras have ibis, but OIS is still better for video and pics and ibis working together better still.

I'm actually more into small ultrawides. I don't care so much about fast wides like the Viltrox 13mm either. The Samyang 12mm AF was very good. But aperture rings are also something I like.

I'd be very curious to know how it compares to the Fuji 14 f2.8 and 16 f2.8. The 16 in particular is tiny, has the best aperture ring I've used on a Fuji, sharp and can focus close. It also seems to be the sweet spot of the Sigma 10-24. I could certainly be tempted to switch if it could match the 16mm, as really the 14mm is a luxury option for me that doesn't get used much and for optimal IQ I go for the 18 1.4 not the 16 2.8.

This is really where I see the Sigma competing - not with wide zooms, but the small primes.

I agree their f/1.4 small primes are well worth the money for what they offer. If I wasn't using the Fujifilm XF lenses already and was just getting into the system the Sigma 16, 23, 30, and 56 might be my choice.