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Sigma 20mm f/1.8 EX DG Aspherical RF

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Reviews Views Date of last review
70 202481 Jul 21, 2012
Recommended By Average Price
87% of reviewers $326.75
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
8.37
8.67
7.8
20_f1_8_1_

Specifications:
Sigma 20mm f1.8 EX DG Aspherical RF is one of several EX Series lenses. It is the first 20mm Super wide-angle lens in the world with a large aperture of F1.8 and angle of view 94.5. It has Macro focusing capability with a minimum focusing distance of 20cm/7.9inches (reproduction ratio 1:4). The iris diaphragm has 9 diaphragm blades to obtain beautiful out of focus image. It incorporates an aspherical lens element in the front as well as rear lens groups, to minimize distortion, spherical aberration and astigmatism. The lens has non-vignetting optical construction, in order to obtain adequate peripheral brightness with open aperture. This is especially desirable for digital cameras. The lens incorporates a rear focus system eliminating front lens rotation, thus allowing the use of a Perfect Hood and easy use of polarizing filters. The lens also incorporates dual-focus mechanism. It is easy to hold the lens, since the focusing ring does not rotate during auto-focus, yet it provides adequate focusing torque of the focusing ring during manual focusing of the lens. The lens materials used in this new lens are lead and arsenic free ecological glass.


 


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teglis
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Registered: Aug 31, 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 1094
Review Date: Nov 29, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Aperture, price, build quality
Cons:
Hit-and-miss optical quality, cumbersome manual focusing mechanism

I really wanted to rate this lens higher than a 7 but just can't. I have a trio of Sigma EX lenses (20, 15-30, 24-70) that just don't produce sharp enough results on the Canon 20D. This lens and the 15-30 had largely been relegated to "shelfware".

Then came the Canon 5D. I'm very pleased with these Sigma EX lenses on the 5D. Sharpness is noticably improved and contrast is better. Makes me wonder whether the 20D has a focus issue with Sigma lenses. Yet the 70-200EX I used to own produced outstanding results on the 20D. So perhaps the resolution of the 20/1.8 isn't quite up to the smaller pixel size on the 20D.

Generally, the Sigma dual focus system has not been a problem for me. However, with this lens, the focusing ring occupies so much real-estate that simply pulling the lens out of the bag often switches its mode.

Another petty annoyance: In spite of the shallow hood, it's next to impossible to attach the lens cap with the hood on.

Now that I have the 5D, this lens is a keeper. But be wary with a reduced sensor camera, especially one with a high pixel count.


Nov 29, 2005
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Thang
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Registered: Jan 25, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 8662
Review Date: Oct 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $325.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharpess wide angle prime I have used. Built quality is top notch. At f/1.8 with my 20d and 1DII, it's as sharp as my 50 f/1.4 prime at f/2.0.
Cons:
AF is slightly noisy. Not sure if it will work with future Canon DSLRs.

If you can get your hand on a good copy, this lens will blow you away! I bought mine used over at the Buy and Sell forum from Drip01. He tried 3 copies before he settled on this one. Knowing Drip01, I jumped on this the minute I saw his post. Even though I don't use this lens that often, but I will keep it for a long while since it's such a good copy. It's sharper than Canon 20 and 24 2.8 primes. I used to own both of these but sold them while back. Looking forward in using it more often this fall.



Oct 19, 2005
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quantim0
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Registered: Apr 30, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 194
Review Date: Oct 18, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $409.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very strong build, Can't beat it price, Good optical performace
Cons:
Not great wide open, focus isn't HSM

I might be lucky that I got a good copy the first time through, but I am very satisfied. There is nothing that can combine the qualities of this lens, so if you need it, get it. The motor isn't HSM quality, but I find that it focuses plenty fast enough. This isn't a sports lens. Focus ring is super smooth and feels fantastic. I would certainly call this lens usable after sharpening wide open, and very good from that point on. The lens is made out of some weird textured plastic that feels odd to the touch, but that's probably just me. I would buy this again without hesitation.

Oct 18, 2005
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jazzy17
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Registered: Apr 3, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 102
Review Date: Sep 30, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Unique in terms of focal length and aperture. I haven't found a lens with this combo. Versatile (so far used for landscapes, street, documentary and macro)
Cons:
Focus motor noise, f1.8 not so usuable for larger print sizes, Sigma yellow colour cast

Was in desperate need of low light lens that I could use for some commissioned documentary shoot. Shoot near enough 1000 frames with this lens on my Canon 20D and I am very happy.

It is sharper than my EF-S 10-22. f1.8 is not so usable at larger print sizes but still usable to a degree (with a lot of care as DOF is so narrow).

Lens gives nice 32mm field of view on my 20D. Wide enough for tight spaces and some landscapes I have tried. Brilliant in say, a cathedral.

I did not find the double clutch AF/MF system a problem at all.

Focus motor is very noisy (even compared to the EF 35 f2 I used to have). Noisier than a wasp in a matchbox, more like a Queen bumble bee flying round your head. Noise is not really a major issue for me but a quieter motor still would be preferred.

Has the Sigma yellow colour cast but something I can live with and work around. Colour and contrast not as great compared to my EFS 10-22 but not far off. Again, can manage with it.

I have given this lens a relatively high score as it is excellent value for money brand new or used.


Sep 30, 2005
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smaniscalco
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Registered: Dec 11, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 748
Review Date: Sep 22, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Solid feel. Fast prime.
Cons:
Not a FL I find very useful on a crop camera.

I used a borrowed copy of this lens for a few hundred shots.
I was pleased with the results of my landscape shots.
I found the close focusing capability to be the most interesting aspect of this lens. Stopped down, you can do a lot with the foreground. Wide open and up close, it can be used for a very pleasing narrow dof near macro.



Sep 22, 2005
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miles mute
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Registered: Dec 11, 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 120
Review Date: Aug 28, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: it's cheap, it's fast, it's wide, it's solid, it's big but it balances nicely on my 20d
Cons:
AF motor whines if you like to work silently and the 82mm filter size is restricting

I bought this lens on ebay as a wide fast prime to use for street photography so I'm not bothered by the noise or the filter size, the AF is accurate, it hunts more than my canon lenses but is a solid performer.

Aug 28, 2005
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Sulaco
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Registered: Jan 4, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 132
Review Date: Jul 27, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: $409.00 | Rating: 1 

Pros: None
Cons:
Soft

I bought this lens expecting to get a good 20mm prime fast enough for indoor use. I own two other Sigma EX lenses, both of which work fine and have given me no problems so I expected the same. Wrong. No matter what I did, I couldn't get it to focus properly. I sent it back. I may try another one sometime soon, but not right now. I might get the same one back!

Jul 27, 2005
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kandoro
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Registered: Oct 22, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 14
Review Date: Jun 9, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $329.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Price--speed--sharpness
Cons:
A little soft wide open

After trying two I finally obtained a superb copy. While soft at f/1.8 it becomes somewhat useable at f/2 and quite sharp by f/2.2. A sharp 20mm f/2.2 lens for $329 is a true bargain...At f/8 it's usually sharper than my 17-40L. Don't be hesitant to try a second copy is the first is sub-par.

I rarely use MF so the two step AF/MF conversion is not a problem for me.

The lens handles and balances real well on the 20D, so I can get crisp handheld shots at 1/10 sec with a concentrated effort...This makes nightime city landscape shots are true pleasure to shoot...Along with the occasional indoor low light shots without flash of the pets and kids.

On or off a crop camera this 20mm lens is also a fine overall daytime landscape lens as well...

As a result of the above I highly recommend this lens.

kd.


Jun 9, 2005
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Bitty
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Registered: Apr 1, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 3
Review Date: Apr 27, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 4 

Pros: Very sharp in areas. Great macro for closeup work. Colour was slightly warm which I like.
Cons:
Sadly the two I tried, direct Sigma UK, were terrible with decentred elements.

I had read so much about this lens over time that I finally decided to go for one. Mine was sent direct from Sigma UK. First one was right-side soft - top to bottom - and the centre was not in the centre but towards the bottom left. A lemon.

Second one again from Sigma UK was slightly better but still had the same basic issues as the first. It was though much sharper - indeed, the sharpest lens I have ever seen. But the sharpness was ruined by a decentred element(s).

I hate these lens ping pong games. I just want what I pay for and if Sigma cannot be bothered to provide enough QC to supply a usable lens to me, then I cannot be bothered trying anymore. They really need to do something about this kind of thing.

So potentially a great lens let down by poor QC.


Apr 27, 2005
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jimyd
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Registered: Mar 23, 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 7
Review Date: Apr 19, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 4 

Pros: wide enough, 1.8 aperature, relatively compact for aprature size
Cons:
flare, not sharp until f4, not full time manual focus

you get what you pay for, at least it would have been good to use this @ f1.8 or even 2.0 but not sharp at all.
Also soft corners at all aperatures up to f11.


Apr 19, 2005
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joele
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Registered: Apr 2, 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Apr 2, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharp, bright, feels well built, wide focus ring
Cons:
82mm makes for limited range and expensive filters..

This is a great lens, nice and wide, still 30mm on my Pentax ist DS, and bright.... Focuses well in low light, nice wide focus ring which is nice to use if using manual focus...

It is (or at least my sample is) much sharper than people give it credit for... OK it is not as sharp as a tack at f1.8 but most lenses are not perfect wide open, it is defintely stil usable IMO... and it is better than my pentax 28mm f2.8 prime at 2.8 and even if a little soft at 1.8 isn't that better than not getting the shot at all?

Only problem is being 82mm, filter choice is limited and expensive...

I am more than pleased with this lens and have no buyers remorse, would gladly recommend to others...


Apr 2, 2005
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NL003498
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Registered: Mar 16, 2005
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 29, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Good solid optics. This lens is capable of taking sharp images even at closeup (6-20 cm).
Cons:
AF is noisy.



Mar 29, 2005
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tinyblob
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Registered: Mar 20, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 476
Review Date: Mar 20, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Cheap, fast (F1.8), large focus ring, petal hood and case included, looks great
Cons:
Not the sharpest lens in the world, pretty noisy, slow autofocus

I bought this lens primarily for gig photography. Previously i had been using the Canon 50mm F1.8, but this wasn't really suitable when used with a DSLR (specifically my Canon EOS 10d) as it effectively became an 80mm lens.

Obviously i was in the market for a fast and wide lens, and i didn't want to spend too much money. This lens can be found in the UK for around 220-270, though it's difficult to find somewhere with it in stock. I initially tried to purchase one from a well known photography store in Jersey, but they told me not to expect to receive it for six weeks. I ended up buying a virtually unused one on ebay for 150. Perfect condition, still in the original packaging, and i love it.

I can be mostly found in Edinburgh taking high street candids, and this is always the lens i'm using. It spends more time on my camera than any other. I'm very happy with it, so i'll address some of the negative points others made..


Noisy/slow AF
----------------
As i understand it, this is a fairly old lens which uses a DC motor instead of the new HSM models. Sigma have not released a new and updated version of this lens, probably because they'd probably prefer the people who care about the noise and speed to go out and buy a better (and more expensive) Sigma lens.
The lens IS very noisy, like an electric toothbrush or screwdriver. Expect to turn heads. It's also not the quickest of AF motors. However, i won't really fault the lens because of these factors, and this is why. If you focus on something say... less than a foot in front of you, then look up and try to focus on a mountain in the distance, sure it's going to be slow. It's going from two extremes, and the noise will come with it. However, if you're sitting at a gig taking photographs, your AF is only going to be moving tiny amounts, you wont notice the speed or the noise. If the noise is really ruining things for you, put it on manual focus, we rely on AF too much these days Wink.
As for the speed.. It's fast enough for me to hipshoot candids as i walk past people on the street, so i really can't fault it.

Large size
-----------
Perhaps it's because i'm 6'4 with large hands, but i like big lenses. The wide focus ring is an absolute dream for me. No fiddling around, i can just grab the entire ring and twist. Great for gigs.
I use an EOS 10d with battery grip, this lens is pretty much the perfect size, the camera balances well and totally looks the part. I feel much more professional holding this lens, than the Canon 50mm F1.8 i was using for the same jobs.
The bad thing is, 82mm filters are expensive.

Double clutch
---------------
This is a strange one.. When i first saw this lens i thought the double clutch was actually an AF override. I thought you could set the lens to AF, but still be able to pull back and engage manual focusing. I thought this was a great feature. However, it's not that at all, it's just like a two stage AF/MF switch. But you get used to it.

Build quality
--------------
The focus ring wobbles slightly when pulled/pushed between MF and AF, but we're talking a very small amount, and it doesn't bother me in the slightest. Apart from that the lens is rock solid. I have no problems with it at all.

AF hunting
------------
I haven't encountered this problem at all. In fact i've taken a lot of great quality night time shots.


Conclusion
------------
This is a great lens, well worth the money. But if you don't have the specific need for an "ultra wide angle" F1.8 lens, don't buy it, otherwise the flaws that it does have will annoy you far more. If you do have a good use for it, go for it, it's not expensive and you'll get used to it's eccentricities. Personally i love it!


Mar 20, 2005
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jhom
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Registered: Dec 31, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 3423
Review Date: Mar 13, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $360.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, compact, well built, excellent service
Cons:
Odd AF/MF configuration, however, I have been able to adapt

I now have an excellent copy. It is very slightly soft at 1.8. By 2.0~2.22, it is sharp. My first copy was extremely soft. The second copy was much better and similar to other reviewer's performance. It was soft from 1.8~2.8 but cleaned up nicely afterwards. However, I was not satisfied with an average copy. So, I sent the second copy to Sigma for calibration. Surprisingly, they replaced it instead of repairing it. This copy performs as a prime should, it is fast, clear and sharp. It is a definite keeper. My only reservations with this lens is that it took several copies to get a good one.

Mar 13, 2005
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jkantor
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Registered: Mar 1, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 4
Review Date: Mar 8, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: Sharp
Cons:
Won't focus consistently even in moderately low-light on my 10D and 20D.

This is a sharp lens - if you can get it to focus. I don't know whether it's a compatibility problem or just the crappy autofocus that Canon uses in it's 10D and 20D, but in anything other than bright light, this lens will not focus consistently. I can have 10 shots in a row in focus and then 10 out or 1 in and 1 out. (And that's with stationary subjects. I have tried to use this lens to back up my formals at weddings, but half of the shots are useless.)





Mar 8, 2005
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justruss
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Registered: Jul 5, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 4533
Review Date: Mar 7, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $339.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: 20mm and fast, solid feel, "dreamy" at f1.8, price, sharp, color
Cons:
AF-noise, dual-clutch AF, pretty sharp by f1.8, super sharp by f2.8

If you want a fast 20, you don't really have choices.

At 1.8 this lens can have a "dreamy," soft-focus feel to it that can really be annoying if you want a super sharp, low light shot, but can really be beautiful if used with intention.

I'm lucky to have a copy that is very sharp... perhaps just a great copy (Thanks to Tom aka Intero), buy I've seen samples that are unuseable at 1.8.

My main complaint is the dual-clutch AF and the AF noise. Without HSM, this thing can really sing if it searches and AF performs well, but not quickly.

Flair hasn't been a problem, colors are wonderful and overall well worth the price.

I use this alongside some good L glass, and it's no slouch.


Mar 7, 2005
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Sigma 20mm f/1.8 EX DG Aspherical RF

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
70 202481 Jul 21, 2012
Recommended By Average Price
87% of reviewers $326.75
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
8.37
8.67
7.8
20_f1_8_1_


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