Sigma 18mm F3.5 Zen A-mount lens review by moedius

reviewer#44192 date: Dec-12-2018
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 3
flare control: 4
overall: 3.8
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f2.8 XR Di II LD
Sony 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 SAM
Sony 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 DT
Sony DT 16-80mm f3.5-4.5 ZA
Sigma Super-Wide II 24mm 2.8
Tamron Adaptall-2 28mm 2.5
price paid:51.00 (used)
positive:Cheaper than other comparable options
Centrally sharp
'Vintage' look (rich and heavy yellow\oranges and blues)
FF compatible
Solid build, heavy metal and glass with rubberized outside. I found it to be a nice size and weight on the a77ii.
Less common wide angle prime
Flare control
AF seems decent

negative:Barrel distortion, especially on FF
Lowish contrast wide open
Slowish max aperture
On FF, and color shifting is bad towards edges and corner, as would expect on older WA
72mm filter ring
Vignette with hoods and filters
Rounded protruding front element

comment:* Updated after the purchase and testing on an a7ii w\laea4 adapter.

I can only rate the particular copies of the lens that I owned as they were purchased used. I've had two, the first had internal hazing that was unfixable, but it was cheap enough and I liked it enough that when I saw another copy for sale I picked it up.

The distortion is distinct but manageable on APSC, but bad on FF. Avoid straight lines, hard to fix completely in post. Central sharpness is quite acceptable (better stopped down at least to f4+) and focuses very close, but corner sharpness and corner\edge fringe\color shift is poor. I've not had particular problems with fringing in center though high contrast (trees against sky for ex.) will bring it out in spades. It's not a small lens, but it is fairly compact, feels weighty in the hand. Balances nicely on a DSLR, bit front heavy on a mirrorless with adapter. My first copy had the Zen coating removed by a prior owner so it was smooth and missing all markings. My second copy is pristine and the Zen coating is in fine shape, but something to watch out for. I would absolutely avoid purchasing if the coating has begun to degrade (on any of the Sigma Zen lenses). It's not worth the mess, and it may not be a coincidence that the first copy with coating issues also had a permanently hazed rear element.

A thin filter may work adequately, but at the moment all the filters and hoods I've tried have made the vignetteing terrible. It did not come with the stock hood so I do not know if that works better than the several aftermarket ones I've tried.

Its the widest prime I own below 24mm so I can't compare it to other similar primes. For my own uses on APSC, in most cases my zooms with a wide option are better choices, either because of better CA or more flexible use. I only pull this out when I either absolutely need the width, or am looking for the vintage colors. To that end, perhaps more than any of the other older lenses I have this has a distinct 'retro' look to the way it renders colors and contrast. It can be quite pleasing, particularly for things like autumn trees against blue sky - it has a distinct warm cast. If you can get it in good shape for a low cost, it can be a fun lens, but if you need wide for serious uses you're better off with a more modern, higher performing lens, but that will cost you quite a bit more than this one will.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 10
  • sharpness: 3.95
  • color: 4.40
  • build: 4.90
  • distortion: 3.70
  • flare control: 4.30
  • overall: 4.25 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania