Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sigma DC 201940 10-20 mm F/4.0-5.6 HSM EX IF ASP Lens

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

When I first got a digital SLR, my brother gave me some great advice. He told me to wait a few months before buying any new lenses. At the time, I had a Sigma 28-90 and a Nikkor 35-135. Those should be enough for a while. Eventually, I’d figure out what, if anything, I needed to get. It didn’t take me long to realize that I wanted to get wide-angle shots. 28mm was pretty wide, but there were shots that I just couldn’t get.

The day I decided to buy something, I was in North Carolina. There was a bus station I wanted to photograph, but I had a building to one side and a building behind me, so I couldn’t get into a position where I could photograph the entire building. I knew it was time to buy something wider.

I knew that I wanted to get really wide shots and didn’t want to have to go out and buy yet another lens, so I decided to go all the way. I looked at several lenses, including the Nikon 12-24. I finally decided on the Sigma 10-20 for several reasons. (The most important was that the Nikon 12-24 was more than twice the price of this lens at the time.) I had looked at lenses that weren’t as wide, but I was afraid that it wouldn’t be enough.

When set to 10mm, I get an extremely wide shot with this lens. It ranges from 63.8 to 102.4°, which is pretty good. My mother wanted me to take pictures of various tents. I was standing so close to one that my mother wanted me to stand back. I actually moved a little closer so as not to include a fence in the picture. I’ve also found that it’s hard to take pictures without people because they often don’t realize they’re in the picture.

The lens is f/4-5.6, which means that it’s not letting in as much light as other lenses. Then again, I intend to use the lens mostly outdoors. If you’re indoors, you’ll have to get an SB-600. I have a Nikon D50 and the onboard flash isn’t enough. You can actually see where the on-board flash falls off.

I have tried using the lens on occasion for nighttime photography. It’s a little trickier because you need a tripod and no flash. You’re better off using a tripod and going for a long exposure. If you go to my Flickr account, I’ve actually tagged many of my Sigma 10-20 shots as such. Many came out good, but not as good as they could have been.

The lens works better with nature photography than with architecture, the reason being that it’s tending towards a fisheye lens. The distortion is somewhat noticeable at 20mm and very noticeable at 10mm. (The distortion can be compensated for in Photoshop.) When I had the lens at work the other day, a coworker was using the lens to take pictures of our faces. It looked almost like a funhouse mirror.


If you’re at 10mm and you’re taking pictures of a room, you have to have the lens aimed perpendicular to the wall. If you do point the lens perpendicular, you’ll notice that the room seems deeper than it really is. If you don’t, you may see some of the vertical lines tilting. This is true for any straight line, really. If you can go into a store and test out the lens, point the lens at a wall and move the camera left to right. You’ll see what I’m talking about.

One interesting aspect is that it’s a HSM lens, which is the Sigma designation for High Speed Motor. If anyone reading this has a D40, D40x or a D60, you’re thinking to yourself that the salesman may have said something about having to use Nikon DX lenses. This is because those cameras don’t have a lens motor. You have to buy lenses that have motors, such as the Nikon DX lenses or (drum roll, please) Sigma HSM lenses. Yes, this lens will work on the aforementioned cameras. (In retrospect, I should have tried it on one of those cameras the other day, as I work in a camera store.)

If you have a full-frame camera, like a Nikon D3, you’ll see cropping. The lens was intended for digital cameras. If you’re wondering if they make a VR version of this, it would really be pointless as you don’t need it with smaller distances. You have to really move a lens to get shake at 10mm. As for color fringing, I have noticed it on one or two photos, but the lens has been pretty good at not having it. This is especially important for outdoor shots.

Overall, the lens gets five stars. The lens is exactly what I want and, while expensive, was worth every penny.

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