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Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM

16.5oz 77mm Filters

  When introduced, the Sigma 10-20mm was the widest lens in production for APS-C sized dSLR cameras. This review is specifically about my copy of the lens, others experience may differ because Sigma is notorious for poor quality control. When it comes to action sports, or anything involving people, a lens this wide is hard to use well. While technically non-distorting, as is the nature of ultra-wide angels, anything at the edge of the frame is distorted. The unique view can give a great perspective, if you can get close enough to your subject. Out of the box the lens comes with caps, a lens hood and a soft padded bag. Sigma's rear caps are ok, but the front cap on this lens is antiquated. It is not of the center pinch variety, you can't attach or remove the cap with the lens hood on. Build quality is good, better than Nikon's consumer range including the more expensive 18-200mm VR. Many don't like Sigma's matte black finish, personally I have no issues with it, finding that like the rest of the build quality it falls somewhere between Nikon's pro offerings and kit lenses. This lens zooms in the same direction as a Nikon, which is nice because not all Sigmas do.

Garrett Brown on Upper Cherry Creek. Note how long and skinny the Jefe is due to distortion.

Nikon D200, Sigma 10-20mm @ 10mm 1/750 f/8 ISO 200

Let's take that distortion a bit further. Ugh. To me this type of distortion is just unpleasant.

Nikon D200, Sigma 10-20mm @ 10mm 1/750 f/8 ISO 200

On select occasions, ultra-wide fits the scene. Garrett Brown runs Cherry Bomb.

Nikon D200, Sigma 10-20mm @ 10mm 1/750 f/8 ISO 200

How sharp? Decent but not stunning, 100% crop with no sharpening.

However just the slightest change in angels can cause too much distortion. Jared Johnson runs Cherry Bomb. The only difference between the two shots is that I was crouched down for this one, and standing for the image of Garrett.
Nikon D200, Sigma 10-20mm @ 10mm 1/750 f/8 ISO 200

How about at the longer end of things?

Nikon D200, Sigma 10-20mm @ 14mm 1/750 f/8 ISO 200

100% crop: something isn't right here.

   Any time I use the Sigma 10-20mm zoomed in, it looks terrible at infinity focus. I have never been able to figure out why, perhaps it is a focusing error, but my copy is useless above 10mm.

  Build: 7/10                  -  Somewhere in the middle of what Nikon has to offer.
  Handling: 7/10            -  Zoom is tight but not too tight, instant AF override is nice.
  Performance: 4/10      -  Decent at 10mm and terrible everywhere else.
  Value: 5/10                  -  Not cheap at $480
  Overall: 6/10                - Essentially a heavy, 10mm prime lens.

Practicality for kayaking: 5/10  

   For kayaking I just don't find an ultra-wide focal length as useful as one might imagine. Perhaps if I had a good copy, my ratings would be higher. Such is the life of poor quality control. I sold mine while still shooting DX, and had no regrets. For landscapes this lens has a lot more interest, but unfortunately at f/4 it's too slow for high quality shots of night skies, unless of course you are going for star trails. If you get a good copy you are likely to have a whole different experience.

   Other Reviews:
Kurt Munger
Thom Hogan