Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | C-exam

The Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | C sets out to beat Tamron at its own game. A while ago, Tamron brought something different to Sony’s full-frame mirrorless camera market. It launched a pair of relatively compact and lightweight f/2.8 wide-angle and standard zooms, in the form of the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD. (opens in a new tab) and Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD, the latter now being replaced by the G2 model (opens in a new tab). Sigma followed suit with a pair of “contemporary” lenses at the same affordable prices, namely the Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | C and Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8 DG DN | VS (opens in a new tab)which are available in Sony E and Leica L mount options. Let’s take a closer look at the 16-28mm wide-angle.

Features

To go up: Sony E, Leica L
Full frame: Yes
Autofocus: Yes
Stabilization: Nope
Lens construction: 16 elements in 11 groups
Angle of view: 107-75.4 degrees
Diaphragm blades: 9
Minimum opening: f/22
Minimum focus distance: 0.25m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.18x
Filter size: 72mm
Dimensions: 77x103mm
Lester: 450g

Main characteristics

A key feature of any wide angle lens is how wide it actually is. Being a millimeter shorter than the competing Tamron 17-28mm, the Sigma offers a slightly larger maximum viewing angle of 107 degrees, compared to the Tamron’s 103 degrees. The fast and consistent f/2.8 aperture is another key feature that sets the lens apart from ‘slower’ f/4 and variable aperture wide-angle zooms.

The impressive optical path comprises two large-diameter aspherical elements, two further aspherical elements and no less than five premium FLD (‘Fluorite’ Low Dispersion) elements, aimed at maximizing edge-to-edge sharpness and clarity , while keeping chromaticity aberrations to a minimum. Sigma’s Super Multi-Layer Coatings and Nanoporous Coatings are applied to minimize ghosting and flare.

A linear stepping motor delivers fast, precise autofocus for stills, and smooth, near-silent focus transitions for video capture. There’s no optical stabilizer, but that’s only an issue when using first-generation Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras that lack in-body stabilization.

Build and manipulate

Although compact and light for a wide-angle f/2.8 zoom, the lens is very well built. Typical of newer Sigma lenses, it features a coated brass mounting plate and a full set of gaskets.

The grip is refined, with a smooth and precise action of the zoom and focus rings. Handling is also enhanced by the lens featuring fully internal zoom and focus mechanisms, so it doesn’t physically stretch at any setting. The center of gravity therefore remains fixed, making the lens ideal for use with a gimbal. However, there are no extras like an aperture control ring or a customizable lens function button, in keeping with the compact nature of the design. At least there’s an easy-to-reach AF/MF focus mode switch on the barrel.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN |  VS

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Performance

Sharpness is uniformly excellent across the zoom and aperture ranges, except for a slight drop in edge sharpness at 20mm f/2.8. There are quite a few color fringing but the distortions are quite pronounced. It’s something we’re seeing more and more of in relatively compact lenses designed for mirrorless cameras, with a greater reliance on in-camera corrections. Resistance to ghosting and flare is very good.

Bokeh is pretty smooth for a wide-angle zoom, especially when shooting close-ups at the long end of the zoom range at f/2.8. You can get up close too, thanks to a minimum focusing distance of 0.25m that allows for a maximum magnification ratio of 0.18x. Overall overall performance and image quality are excellent.

Sample Images

EXIF: Sony A7R III + Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | C at 28mm (1/1250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200) (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

EXIF: Sony A7R III + Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | C at 16mm (1/1250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200) (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

EXIF: Sony A7R III + Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | C at 26mm (1/1250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200) (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

EXIF: Sony A7R III + Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | C at 16mm (1/250 sec, f/8, ISO 200) (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

EXIF: Sony A7R III + Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN | C at 28mm (1/250 sec, f/8, ISO 200) (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Laboratory results

We carry out a range of laboratory tests under controlled conditions, using the Imatest Master test suite. Pattern shots are taken over the full range of apertures and zooms (where applicable), then analyzed for sharpness, distortion, and chromatic aberrations.

We use Imatest SFR (Spatial Frequency Response) graphs and analysis software to plot lens resolution at the center of the image frame, corners and mid-distances, over the full range of aperture settings. and, with zooms, at four different focal lengths. The tests also measure distortion and color fringing (chromatic aberration).

Acuity:

(Image credit: future)

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(Image credit: future)

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Sharpness levels are excellent in the center of the frame, even when shooting wide aperture at f/2.8, throughout the zoom range. Sharpness also holds up very well towards the extreme edges and corners of the frame, save for a slight dip at 20mm f/2.8.

Fringe:

(Image credit: future)

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Axial chromatic aberration is very negligible even at wide aperture at f/2.8. Lateral chromatic aberration is minimal at the short end of the zoom range but climbs a bit in the 20-28mm sector. Even so, it’s fairly light and easily under the camera’s auto-correction.

Distortion:

(Image credit: future)

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There is pronounced barrel distortion at 16mm and noticeable padding in the 20-28mm range. Like many other recent lenses designed for mirrorless cameras, there is a dependency on in-camera auto-correction.

Verdict

Wide-angle zooms for full-frame cameras are notoriously big and heavy, especially if they have a fast and constant f/2.8 aperture. In the footsteps of the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD (opens in a new tab), this Sigma lens offers an extended field of view in a relatively compact and lightweight construction, while delivering excellent image quality and overall performance. It relies quite heavily on in-camera distortion correction, as many recent mirrorless lenses do, but it’s a great travel companion and very good value for money.

Read more:

• Best Camera Lenses (opens in a new tab) to get
• Best Canon Lenses (opens in a new tab)
• Best Nikon lenses (opens in a new tab)
• Best Sony lenses (opens in a new tab)

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