Sigma Lenses 101: Why the Glass is So Popular with Filmmakers (and What it Has to Offer)
Here's a detailed guide to the Sigma lens lines, including the latest in its Art series—the full-frame 14mm prime and 24-70mm zoom.
We've been talking about Sigma glass for some time at No Film School due to its popularity among filmmakers as a low cost, high quality option. In particular, its Art line, launched in 2012, has become an increasingly favored choice among filmmakers thanks to compatibility with different-sized sensors like full-frame, APC-S and Micro Four Thirds (MFT) and mounting options for Sigma, Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras.
While the Art series is designed more for still photography due to its breathing, optical drift in zooms and no teeth for follow focus, it has more than 22 lens options, and continues to grow, making the line very user-friendly in terms of affordability, color matching and available focal lengths.
Sigma lenses are popular among filmmakers as a low-cost, high-quality option.
Besides Art, Sigma carries two other photography lens lines suitable for filmmaking, as well as three different cine lens lines. Since announcing this week it will start shipping its Art full-frame 14mm prime and 24-70mm zoom (NFS mentioned earlier here), we wanted to take the time out to clear up any "spec" confusion and provide a rundown of their photography and cine lenses for you in one post (please note the publishing date as things can change).
Also while reading, keep in mind, Sigma does offer different fisheye, marco and other multi-purpose lenses, but for this article, we're concentrating on the three photography lens lines: Art, Contemporary, and Sports. (Cine to follow.)
Each lens in Art, Contemporary, and Sports can cover a different-sized sensor. Sigma notes this using a DG, DC, or DN.
- DG: Covers full-frame sensors and is compatible with APS-C.
- DC: Matches the image circle of APS-C sensors.
- DN: Designed for Micro Four Thirds sensors.
Starting out with the smallest photography line, the Sports series currently offers only full-frame options (DG) and is available in Sigma SA, Canon EF or Nikon F mounts. Let's break down the available focal lengths:
- 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM S
- 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM S
- 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM S
The first set of numbers is the focal length, followed by the aperture. Then DG, which we noted above, covers full-frame sensors, which leaves the OS, HSM, and S. Let's dive deeper:
- OS: Means the lens has a optical stabilizer to reduce blur from camera shake.
- HSM: Denotes the lens uses a motor driven by ultrasonic waves to provide a quiet, high-speed auto-focus.
- S: Signifies the lens series. S for Sport, C for Contemporary, A for Art.
Contemporary has six different lenses with options for DG, DC and DN. These are also available in Sigma SA, Canon EF or Nikon F mounts. Let's take a look at those:
- 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C
- 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C
- 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM C
- 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM C
- 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM C
- 30mm f/1.4 DC C
- 30mm f/1.4 DN C
Once again, lenses denoting a OS or HSM tout an optical stabilizer and ultrasonic motor for auto-focus. You'll also see three macro options in APS-C, and both DC and DN have a 30mm lens.
Now let's take a look at Sigma's biggest lens line, which again, is available in Sigma SA, Canon EF or Nikon F mounts.
- 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM A
- 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM A
- 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM A
- 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM A
- 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM A
- 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM A
- 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM A
- 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM A
- 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM A
- 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM A
- 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM A
- 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A
- 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM A
- 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM A
- 19mm f/2.8 DN A (silver or black)
- 30mm f/2.8 DN A (silver or black)
- 60mm f/2.8 DN A (silver or black)
Sigma offers 20 different Art lenses when you count both silver and black colors in MFT. The 35mm and 50mm f/1.4 DG pair with the MC-11 adapter to convert to Sony E-mount, giving you 22 options total. The MC-11 adapter is available in Sigma SA or EF options to convert to Sony E-mount found on the Alpha series cameras. The adapter doesn't work for all lenses so be sure to check Sigma's compatibility chart. Also note, if you're a Sony a9 user, Sigma announced a focusing issue related to the MC-11 adapter and are currently working on a fix.
There are also three lines to Sigma's cine lenses: FF Zoom, FF High Speed Prime and High Speed Zoom, which we partially reviewed earlier this year. All three feature Sigma's CCI color standard, optical performance for 6-8K resolution, and a 100% metal body with a lightweight and compact design. Sigma also added a dust and splash-proof construction, a 95mm front diameter, standardized 0.8M gear pitch for follow focus, motor units and accessories, silent ring stoppers, a 180-degree focus rotational angle, T-stops, iris with full manual control, electronic contacts for lens communication and options for EF, PL and E mounts, among other pro-friendly specs. Let's look at each line separately.
- 24-35mm T2.2 FF
This FF Zoom lens line covers full-frame sensors, and currently there's only one lens available. As you can imagine, Sigma will most likely expand this line. For now, the 24-35mm T2.2 comes in EF or E mounting options and is compatible with image sensors larger than Super 35.
FF High-Speed Primes
- 14mm T2 FF
- 20mm T1.5 FF
- 24mm T1.5 FF
- 35mm T1.5 FF
- 50mm T1.5 FF
- 85mm T1.5 FF
- 135mm T2 FF
The lineup offers seven primes lenses ranging from 14mm to 135mm, covering T1.5 to T2. The lenses are compatible with full-frame sensors in a compact form factor. All the lenses are available in PL, EF, or E mount.
- 18-35mm T2
- 50-100mm T2
Unlike the FF Zoom and FF High-Speed Primes, the High Speed Zooms only covers Super 35 but do feature the same 82mm filter size and are available in PL, EF, or E mounts. You can easily differentiate the FF Zoom and High-Speed Zoom lines by seeing if the lens has an FF in its name.
Which is your favorite Sigma lens? Let us know in the comments.