Home  Donate  New  Search  Gallery  Reviews  How-To  Books  Links  Workshops  About  Contact

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8
(only for APS-C, 2013-)
© 2013 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro   Specifications   Performance    Recommendations

Please help KenRockwell..com

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC, Nikon version (will not cover full frame; DX and APS-C coverage only, 72mm filters, 28.5 oz./809g, 0.92'/0.28m close focus, about $800. Also comes in Canon EOS, Sony Alpha, Pentax and Sigma mounts.) The biggest source of support for this free website is when you use these links, especially this link directly to this lens at Adorama and this link to it at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep adding to this free website when you get yours through these links — but I receive nothing for my efforts if you buy elsewhere. Thanks for your support! Ken.


December 2013   Sigma reviews   Nikon   Canon   LEICA   Pentax   Sony


Sample Image Files (more are in the review)

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 shaprpness

Canary Palm at f/1.8 at 18mm. 24MP DX Nikon D7100, f/1.8 at 1/800 at ISO 100. Full-resolution (5 MB; the palm isn't flat so much isn't in focus).


Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 shaprpness

Canary Palm at f/1.8 at 35mm. 24MP DX Nikon D7100, f/1.8 at 1/640 at ISO 100. Camera-original LARGE BASIC JPG (5 MB; the palm isn't flat so much isn't in focus).


Introduction       top

Intro   Specifications   Performance    Recommendations

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

This Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 is an optically superb lens, but it's also much bigger and heavier than similar fixed lenses like the superb Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX. The 18-35mm zoom range only works out to be equivalent to about 28-55mm on full-frame; not exactly more useful than a fixed lens.

Optically this lens is extraordinary — but it's too big and heavy, has a silly zoom range, and I have little confidence that this lens will work with whatever camera I'm using ten years from now. When I invest in pro lenses from Canon, LEICA and Nikon, I know they'll still be performing decades from now. All my Canon, LEICA and Nikon lenses from 25 years ago still work perfectly today, while I have older Sigma lenses that work on cameras of their vintage, but not on today's cameras. Likewise, my repairman has had too much experience with 7-year old Sigma lenses for which parts aren't available, making those expensive Sigma lenses into paperweights, while the pro brands are easy to service.

If you don't mind the weight and don't worry about the future, the Sigma 18-35mm works fantastically well today. This 18-35mm f/1.8 is ultrasharp at every setting, even wide-open.

Focus is silent, and you may grab the ring at any time for instant manual focus override. At least on the Nikon version I tried, Sigma finally has this figured out.


Specifications         top

Intro   Specifications   Performance    Recommendations


Name        top

Sigma calls this the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC A.

    DC: Won't work on full-frame; only works on APS-C format cameras.

    A: "Art" series, just marketing BS.


Optics        top

17 elements in 12 groups.

Aspherical. Look at the reflections from the front element and you'll see just how wildly aspherical it is.

Multicoated mostly in yellow-green.

Internal focusing. Nothing moves externally as focused.


Diaphragm        top

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DG HSM

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8.

9 rounded blades.

Stops down to f/16.

Very round at large apertures, while still giving great sunstars stopped down. Bravo!


Coverage        top

DX and APS-C, only.

Won't work well on 35mm film, Full-Frame or FX; the corners will be black at any setting wider than 28mm.


Focal Length        top


When used on a DX or APS-C camera, it sees an angle of view similar to what a 28-55mm lens sees when used on an FX or 35mm camera.


Angle of View        top

76.5 ~ 44.2° diagonally.


Close Focus        top

0.92 foot (0.28 meters) from the image plane.


Maximum Reproduction Ratio        top

1:4.3 (0.23x).


Hard Infinity Focus Stop?        top


You have to let the AF system focus at infinity.


Focus Scale        top

Yes, but pretty much illegible.


Depth-of-Field Scale        top



Infra-Red Focus Index        top



Aperture Ring        top



Filter Thread        top

72 mm, plastic.

Does not move.


Size        top

Sigma specifies 3.07" (77.9 mm) diameter by 4.76" (120.9 mm) extension from flange.


Weight        top

28.520 oz. (808.55g), actual measured.

Sigma specifies 28.2 oz. (800 g).


Hood        top

Hood, Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DG HSM

LH-780-06 Hood on Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC.


Plastic LH-780-06 bayonet hood, included.


Case        top

Case, Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DG HSM

Case, Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC.

Nice padded nylon case included.


Included        top

Lens, caps and hood.




Made in         top

Lens made in Japan.


Warranty         top

1 year.

Sigma USA's website implies 3 years for the USA.


Packaging        top

White cardboard box.

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DG HSM

Box, Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC.

In this box sits the lens inside a plastic bag which sits with the hood inside the case. The case is the padding - there is no foam.


Announced        top

Summer 2013.


Available        top

November 2013.


Price, USA        top

August-December 2013: $800.


Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DG HSM

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC. enlarge.


Performance       top

Intro   Specifications   Performance    Recommendations

Overall    Autofocus    Bokeh    Color   Coma    

Distortion   Ergonomics    Falloff    Filters   

Focus Breathing   Ghosts   Hood    Lateral Color Fringes    

Macro    Mechanics    Sharpness   Sunstars


Overall       performance     top

The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC has fantastic optics —  but its mechanics and potential camera incompatibility are why you pay less for Sigma than for professional Nikon or Canon lenses.


Autofocus       performance     top


AF works great on my Nikon D7100.

It's fast enough and super-accurate so that I can take advantage of this lens' great sharpness at f/1.8.


AF Speed

AF speed is plenty fast.


AF Accuracy

On my Nikon D7100, AF was dead-on for every frame, especially shot at f/1.8 where this is critical.


Manual Focus

Manual focus is swell, just grab the ring at any time.


Manual Focus Override

Manual focus override works great, at least on the Nikon version I tried.


Bokeh       performance     top

Bokeh, the character of out of focus backgrounds, is pretty good. Backgrounds go soft and never distract.


Color Rendition       performance     top

The color rendition seems about the same as my Nikkor AF lenses.


Coma       performance     top

Coma (saggital coma flare) often causes weird smeared blobs to appear around bright points of light in the corners of fast or wide lenses at large apertures. In lenses that have it, coma goes away as stopped down.

I saw no coma with this aspherical lens! Whoo hoo; coma has always been the weak point of fast wide zoom lenses, and Sigma made it go away. As you can see in this photo, points of light stay as points. Bravo!

Christmas Lights 01 Dec 2013

Christmas Lights at f/1.8. Nikon D7100, 18-35mm at 18mm, f/1.8 at 1/30 at ISO 1,400. Full-resolution file.


Distortion       performance     top

The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC has moderately strong barrel distortion at the wider end and moderately strong pincushion distortion at the longer end.

No Nikon or Canon camera will be able to correct this automatically, as many of these cameras can do for their own-brand lenses today. What you get is what you get unless you want to much with it in Photoshop.

Most of the distortion can be corrected by plugging these figures into Photoshop's lens distortion filter. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.

Correction Factor

3m (10')

© 2013 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

* slight waviness remains after correction.


Ergonomics (handling and ease-of-use)       performance     top

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DG HSM

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC.

Ergonomics are obvious: grab and go.

The ribbed rubber rings grip well, but have sharp ridges and are much less comfortable than pro lenses.

The zoom ring is too stiff. It is very heavily damped, demanding two strong fingers to wrench it back and forth well. One finger will do, but it will only move slowly.

The footage scale is illegible; it's tiny and in dark gray. It's also usually covered by the plastic window, so I hope you prefer the meters scale, which is a little better.

In the real world, this lens is too darn heavy for what it is — and it looks long enough to be a telephoto, marking you as a pervert in public. While you're making wide shots, others are going to presume you're using a telephoto lens for inappropriate purposes.


Falloff (darkened corners)       performance     top

I saw no falloff, even at f/1.8 at any zoom setting. Look at the f/1.8 sample images throughout the review.


Filters, use with       performance     top

There is no problem with vignetting, even with thick filters.

The filter ring never moves.


Focus Breathing       performance     top

Of interest mostly to cinematographers focusing back and forth between two subjects, the image from the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC gets slightly smaller as focused more closely.


Ghosts, Flare and Sunstars        performance     top

Ghost resistance isn't very good by modern standards due to the less efficient coatings used by Sigma compared to professional-grade brands, but most of the time these ghosts are artistically quite helpful to communicate an enveloping sense of light:

Katie swinging

Katie swinging, 01 December 2013. (Nikon D7100, Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 at 18mm, f/9 at 1/320 at ISO 100, Athentech Perfectly Clear.) bigger.

Even though the diaphragm is round at large apertures, sunstars are quite good at moderate to small apertures. Bravo!


Hood       performance     top

The hood is included.

Hoods are for sissies. Hoods haven't been needed since lenses became coated — in the 1950s!


Lateral Color Fringes       performance     top

There are no lateral color fringes as shot on my Nikon D7100, which corrects them automatically.

Nikons need no lens data to correct this; they can correct any random lens.

I have not tested this on Canon, which would not be able to correct it without a lens profile, which does not exist.

There is significant axial chromatic aberration at close distances as I cover next:


Macro       performance     top

Macro gets very close:

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DG HSM Macro performance 24 Apr 2013 noon

DX image at close-focus distance at 35mm at f/1.8.

At f/1.8 it isn't that sharp at macro distances:

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 macro performance

Crop from above 24 MP DX image at 100% at f/1.8.

Due to axial chromatic aberration, focus is critical at macro distances at f/1.8, otherwise you'll get all sorts of colored fringes:

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 macro performance

Same thing, slightly out of focus. Note yellow-blue fringes.


Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 macro performance

Same thing, slightly out of focus in the other direction. Note red-cyan fringes.

Stop down as you should do at macro distances, and it's super sharp:

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 macro performance

Same thing, but in focus at f/10. If this is 6" (15cm) wide on your monitor, the entire image printed at this same high magnification would be 60 x 40" (1.5 x 1 meters).


Mechanics and Construction       performance     top

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DG HSM

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC. enlarge.

The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC is an amateur lens with some metal on it.


Filter Threads




Plastic bayonet.


Hood Mount



Focus Ring

Metal; rubber covered.


Depth-of-Field Scale



Mid-Barrel Exterior



Zoom Ring

Metal; rubber covered.


Very back of barrel



Aperture Ring




Shiny chromed brass.





Mounting Index Dot

Small white plastic ball on the outside, and a red dot painted into an engraving in the lens mounting flange.


Identity Plate

None, simply painted on the lens barrel.


Serial Number

Laser engraved onto the lens barrel above and the right of the focus scale window.


Moisture seal at mount



Noises When Shaken

Clicking from the diaphragm and focus systems.


Made in




As an off-brand lens it has unproven (with me) service facilities, and unknown future parts availability. When the HSM motor dies, you're dead unless you can get a replacement part.

New cameras may or may not work with this lens, and off-brand lens makers only sometimes will update lenses to work on new model cameras.


Sharpness       performance     top

Warning 1: Image sharpness depends more on you than your lens.

Warning 2: Lens sharpness doesn't mean much to good photographers.

Amateurs waste too much time worrying about lens sharpness, and since this lens is designed for amateurs, it's super sharp.

I tested this randomly purchased sample on a 24MP DX Nikon D7100 on the test range at infinity.

It's super sharp at every setting clear out to the corners, although just a little less sharp in the corners at f/1.8 at 18mm. It's still sharp in the corners at f/1.8 at 18mm, just that everything else is so sharp that this is the only minor imperfection I can find.

The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 is astounding sharp at every setting. You just need to be sure it's in focus and nothing moves.

GL550 Xenon Headlight

GL550 Xenon Headlight. 24MP DX Nikon D7100 with built-in flash ON, 18-35mm at 35mm, f/10 at 1/250 at ISO 100. Camera-original © LARGE BASIC JPG (5 MB).


Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 shaprpness

Yellow. 24MP DX Nikon D7100, 18-35mm at 35mm, f/9 at 1/320 at ISO 100. Camera-original © LARGE BASIC JPG (5 MB).


Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 shaprpness

Islands. 24MP DX Nikon D7100, 18-35mm at 35mm, f/9 at 1/320 at ISO 100. Camera-original © LARGE BASIC JPG (5 MB).


Recommendations       top

Intro   Specifications   Performance    Recommendations

This is an optically great lens, but there is far more to a great photo than a sharp lens. I wouldn't buy this lens because it's not pro-grade (it has a plastic filter thread) and I don't see it as a long-term investment. Buy this lens to use today, but after the warranty expires, good luck.

This lens is too big and heavy for what it does, and its zoom range is foolish. 18-35mm is very useful for full-frame — but this lens can't handle full-frame; it only works from 28mm to 35mm on full-frame.

I'd much rather use an image stabilized 18-55mm lens which is smaller and lighter and has a broader zoom range and adds IS or VR for even better results in the dark, and if I'm snapping family photos in the dark, I much prefer my smaller and lighter Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX for a fraction of the price. On Canon, the classic professional Canon 35mm f/1.4 L is a steal today, and a much better long-term investment than this consumer zoom.

Specifically for APS-C, I'd also buy the thoroughly professional Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 or Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 IS long before I bought this Sigma lens - but that's just me. I'm the kind of guy who still takes my 12-year old used car to the original new-car dealer for service, because I like to keep everything original and authentic, not mixing off-brand parts on my nice car.

f/1.8 in a zoom would be a big deal for shooting 35mm film, but this is only a DX lens. DX and APS-C digital cameras today have such excellent high ISO performance that f/1.8 isn't needed for low-light, and this is a short focal-length lens so it's not going to throw backgrounds as far out of focus as a longer lens will. Heck, any 50mm f/1.8 lens from Nikon or Canon for $125 will do a far better job for throwing backgrounds out of focus. Depth of field has much more to do with focal length than f/stop.

Watch for shadows from your built-in flash at wider settings.

This said, the optics are fantastic. If you thing you want one of these, you'll love it.



Sigma uses crappy caps. Leave them in the box for resale, and buy the real Nikon or Canon caps to use with this lens instead.

I would also leave the hood in the box for resale time. I don't use them.

I'd leave either a 72mm Nikon Clear (NC - UV) filter, a 72mm Hoya Alpha MC UV or bulletproof 72mm Hoya HD2 UV on the lens at all times.

If I was working in nasty, dirty areas, I'd forget the cap, and use an uncoated 72mm Tiffen UV filter instead. Uncoated filters are much easier to clean, but more prone to ghosting.


Help me help you         top

I support my growing family through this website, as crazy as it might seem.

The biggest help is when you use any of these links when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It costs you nothing, and is this site's, and thus my family's, biggest source of support. These places have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.

If you find this page as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.

If you've gotten your gear through one of my links or helped otherwise, you're family. It's great people like you who allow me to keep adding to this site full-time. Thanks!

If you haven't helped yet, please do, and consider helping me with a gift of $5.00.

As this page is copyrighted and formally registered, it is unlawful to make copies, especially in the form of printouts for personal use. If you wish to make a printout for personal use, you are granted one-time permission only if you PayPal me $5.00 per printout or part thereof. Thank you!


Thanks for reading!



Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.


Home  Donate  New  Search  Gallery  Reviews  How-To  Books  Links  Workshops  About  Contact

December 2013