Wide Angles, Wide Apertures

My fiancée just got me the Sigma 24–35mm f/2 as a wedding gift. The joke is that I got her a diamond ring and she got me a focus ring. I shoot both film and digital, but have been focusing on film these past couple years. I've been using the Tokina 11–16 f/2.8 on digital bodies for a long time but didn't have anything wide that I could use on a film body or full-frame sensor.

I'm really excited about it! I love the field of view of this focal length on 35mm, and it fills a gap in the range I had on APS-C bodies. It's also got a delightfully large f/2 aperture throughout the range.

This lens allows me to take photos like this one, which contextualize a subject using a wide field of view, while also isolating it with a shallow depth of field.

This lens allows me to take photos like this one, which contextualize a subject using a wide field of view, while also isolating it with a shallow depth of field.

It's fun!

After playing with it for a few days, I've got to say I really like it. One of the main critiques I see online is that the zoom range doesn't justify purchasing a zoom. That doesn't feel quite right to me, but that might be because I've already previously found value in my Tokina 11-16mm, which is almost exactly the same ratio (16mm is ~45% longer than 11mm, same as 35mm vs 24mm). The critique is generally that if you need to zoom in, you could just take a few steps closer to a subject, but that doesn't take into account the change in field of view, which I think is one of the more interesting things about lenses in these wide-angle ranges.

Some bees working hard in Vancouver.

Some bees working hard in Vancouver.

As you can see in the photo above, one of the most fun things about the lens is the combination of the wide field of view with the shallow depth of field. This becomes particularly interesting when you get up close to a smaller subject. And the lens does let you get quite close at 28cm (11in) according to DXO Mark. I love that I was able to capture the bees above as well as the a nice spread of flowers behind them, rather than just a completely blurred yellow and green background, like I might have with a longer lens.

It's a lil chonker

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It's definitely worth noting that, at just under 1kg, it's a pretty heavy lens. It's not big enough to bother me, but then again I have happily shot my 70-200 f/2.8 handheld for hours. I'm fortunate to have the ability to do that, but I know that not everyone does, so it's an important factor to keep in mind.

Speaking of size, you should probably keep in mind that the filter thread is 82mm, which I found a little bit annoying, because most of my filters are 77mm, which seems to the standard for most lenses I own of this calibre. I'm not a frequent user of filters, though, so that doesn't bug me too much.

Shooting Film

It's not the last section on the page, but this is the last section I wrote in this post. I don't think there's a whole lot of additional information to add re: shooting analog with this lens, but I do want to address it, since it's mainly how I've been using the lens so far. 

I've been using the lens with a Nikon F90. When in aperture priority mode, the F90 expects the lens to have an aperture ring. This lens, like most modern lenses that I know of, does not have one. That being said, you can still control the aperture in an odd workaround. The way it works is that you need to use Program mode, which will then let you adjust the aperture using the command dial. It's a little awkward in that it's still Program mode, so if you point somewhere else, or let the camera go to "sleep" it will go back to figuring out its own combination of shutter speed and aperture. However, if you keep an eye on it, and you make sure to adjust your aperture right before you take the shot, it works fine!

Check out some of my film shots with it below!

Sharpness etc.

I hesitate to get into "pixel-peeping" because I don't think that digging into how sharp a lens gets at every aperture, focal length, sensor size etc. is what's really important when you're trying to best capture a moment. That being said, I know some people find that useful for a few different reasons (large prints for commercial purposes, for example). 

So here is a shot of a bench in Vancouver, shot at f/4, 35mm with 100% crops of a corner and the center. This was shot on a Nikon D7200, which means the crops are taken from the 24MP sensor. You'll see a bit of softness and fringing at the corner, but the center is looking nice and crisp.

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100% crop from the top left corner at 35mm f/4

100% crop from the top left corner at 35mm f/4

100% crop from the center at 35mm f/4

100% crop from the center at 35mm f/4

Conclusion

I love it. Pretty much that simple. I'm a sucker for a wide aperture and a wide angle. It's one of the reasons I love my Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 so much. This is an additional wide-angle range, with more versatility, both from the perspective of shooting analog and digital, and a bit more aperture to play with. Optical quality is spot on, and user experience has been great for me so far! 

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