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LENS PORN: Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)
Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)



First introduced in 2003, Sigma really strived for perfection as you can see it in their catalogue -- I counted 10 versions of the 18-50mm. My version is the one that has HSM. This lens is unquestionably a GREAT piece of glass, as you will learn later. There is only one reason I'm not able to use it often...









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SPECS

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM

Introduced: July 2007

Filter Thread Size: Ø 72mm

Focal Range:
18 - 50mm (Equivalent to 28-70mm on FX)

Minimum Focusing Distance:
0.2 meters (Macro = 1:3 at 50mm)

Focus Throw: 45°

Aperture Run: f/2.8 - f/22

# Aperture Blades: 7

Made in Japan


DC = Digital Crop, lenses made for crop sensor/APS-C cameras

EX = Sigma's top of the line lenses; use of this is discontinued

HSM = Hyper Silent Motor for quiet AF



Versions of the 18-50mm

2003, October - f/3.5-5.6 for Sigma, Canon, Nikon and Pentax

2004, Macrh - f/3.5-5.6 for Olympus 4/3 Mount (not the Micro 4/3!)

2004, July - f/2.8 EX (for Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Pentax)

2006, February - f/2.8 EX (for 4/3)

2006, September - f/2.8 EX Macro (Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony)

2006 - f/2.8 EX Macro (for 4/3)

2007, June - f/3.5-5.6 HSM version for Nikon

2007, July - f/2.8 HSM version for Nikon

2009, March - f/2.8-4 OS HSM

2010, February - 17-50mm f/2.8 EX OS HSM
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SUMMARY



FOR

It uses low dispersion glass to control incoming light. Glass coating is very good at controlling light. Shooting f/2.8 on a bright sunny afternoon? Everything in the frame has vivid colors, highlights are not bleeding, dark areas retain their superb contrast.

Uniform sharpness and clarity across the whole image.

Constant maximum aperture of f/2.8. I can get a decently blurry background with this lens, especially at 50mm.

Flare was never an issue, even without the hood.

No bigger than your average kit lens, but about twice the weight.

Ø=72mm filter thread is fortunately common and easy to find filters/hood for.

Ultra smooth and silent zooming mechanism. Nice for shooting videos.

Internal focusing. No more rotating polarizing filters while focusing/zooming.

Did you know? You can actually remove the front group of glass. What's left of it, you can use as a fisheye lens!

Focus throw is comfortable for quick action use. Not to long, not too short.



NEUTRAL

My copy did not have a working AF when I bought it, so there's no way to test the Sigma HSM. (I have a Sigma 18-200mm OS HSM, which I can say is exquisitely silent and smooth!). But who cares! I like manual focusing.

I noticed one thing: the lens seems to be one stop darker compared to my other lenses when at the same f-stop value. Example, this lens at f/2.8 looks like f/4.5 sometimes f/5.6. My hypothesis is maybe because this is due to the glass controlling the incoming light too efficiently. (Please do comment below if you want to correct me.)

Nowadays, we're spoiled with lenses that need to have VR or OS to reduce blur and shake. At this focal range, the lack of it is not really a big issue. (For example, I can still shoot 200mm at 1/60" without any blur.)

Of course, this is an 18-50mm lens. 18mm is not wide enough and 50mm is not long enough for me. I can easily find an all around 18-200mm lens for longer reach, or a 12-24mm for ultra wide angle.



AGAINST

The rear glass element of this lens is protruding outward, like a bulging goldfish eye dangling while it's swimming. There's nothing around it to protect the glass. It might be scary if you have a habit of placing your lens on the table without the cap, with the rear glass down.

Like most modern lenses, it does not have an aperture ring. It makes alot of difference when shooting videos, such as the ability to change f-stops while filming, without having to stop shooting, exit Live View, change the f-stop, go back to Live View, then start recording again.

I'm not a fan of this lens' macro focusing feature. Actually, I measured that 0.5 meters is the optimal distance for closeups. Closer than that, images become severely distorted. So I really can't use the 0.2m MFD. Which is why I'd prefer a 200mm for closeups, you just get a bigger magnification sans the distortion, plus longer working distance.



CONCLUSION

I always see uniform sharpness across the whole image. No diffraction/blur/softness/CA's. But that can be a problem too. In fact, the images are so razor-sharp clear that I wanted to buy a soft filter for a vintage dreamy effect (which still has not arrived when this lens was already sold).

The minimum focusing distance of 0.2 meters is not necessarily useful. This lens is excellent for events, portrait, landscape, indoor, low light, and general purpose use EXCEPT macros. 50mm was always too short to do closeups, if I do get closer than 0.5 meters, the distortion becomes VERY ugly.

I feel absolutely bad having to give it up for funds, but I did notice that it's not used very often. I even resorted to an old Nikkor AF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro (1998), which has become my favorite lens for product shots and macros.

While this lens has a wide maximum constant aperture of f/2.8 across the whole focal range, I think nothing can replace the black magic of prime lenses, if you really want to achieve those dreamy backgrounds. But having this feature is a great convenience for the user.

Take note that I am not one to pixel-peep. Of the few times that I did, there was never a single fault. The image quality that one gets from this lens is unquestionably of high quality. This lens is a great piece of glass. Please do grab one immediately if you do see one selling at a bargain price -- with fungus or not, working AF or not. The glass matters most.

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SAMPLES

Nikon D5200
Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM
All samples were unedited except for one jewelry shot, where indicated.


Product Shots / Closeups

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)
This is the only edited photo in all the samples here.
Edited to lighten the shadows/reduce contrast.

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)



Natural Things

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)
Shot at f/5.6

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)



Outdoor

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)



Fisheye Effect

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)

Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 EX Macro HSM (Macro = 1:3)
Farewell, dear friend.

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