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Sigma 20mm f/1.8 EX DG Aspherical RF

20_f1_8_1_
Review Date: Sep 16, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Currently the only 20mm lens with a fast f/1.8 aperture - images are very usable at f/1.8, especially for small prints. It is full-frame compatible. Lens is well built and solid. Lens length does not change during focusing. The minimum focus distance is very close! That allows for some very dramatic shots. Wide aperture + close focusing = thin DOF! Amazing to get background blur with a wide angle lens!
Cons:
The lens is a bit soft at f/1.8, though not too bad (but that should be expected, considering the focal length and price). The focusing motor is quite loud. Too bad it doesn't have HSM (and hence no manual focus override). The 'clutch/switch' system for focus selection is clumsy (to switch between AF/MF there are two steps needed - very inconvenient). The lens also uses 82mm filters, so not too common.

I picked up this lens after reading various things about it. There are many complaints about it being soft at f/1.8, etc. However, considering that it is a full-frame wide angle lens with a large f/1.8 aperture, I think it's hard to complain about it, given it's price point. At wide open aperture, I found the images to be acceptable for smaller sized prints.

The lens had a nice solid and weighty feel to it. It has a nice large focus ring, but the AF/MF switching mechanism is very dumb: you need to shift the ring position AND set the focus switch before being able to change focus modes - how annoying! (This lens would be much better with HSM). The focus motor is also a bit buzzy.

Surprisingly, I found this lens to be a lot of fun to use. Unusually, I ended up using this lens for close-up shots more than wide-angle shooting. The minimum focusing distance on this lens is crazy! You can literally get right into-the-face of the subject you're shooting. With a wide angle focal length and a wide aperture, you can get some cool looking close-up shots - and you get dramatic background blur too!

Sharpness isn't everything - this lens lets you get certain shots that you can't get otherwise. E.g. low light wide angle shots, close-up wide angle shots, etc. Maybe not the best for landscape, but otherwise it's still a very unique lens.