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  Reviews by: Ben Hunter  

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Sigma 14mm f2.8 EX Aspherical

Review Date: Oct 9, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $900.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great wide prime for 1.6x cameras, heavy and solid (definitely makes me feel like the cash was worth it), special 1.6x crop-cap, fast quiet AF, great image quality, super-close focusing distance
The auto-focus can be indecisive, you have a sense of paranoia due to the vulnerability of this lens' front element.

I bought this lens after doing some careful and extensive research online. The 14mm candidates were the Canon L-series lens, the Tamron, and the Sigma. The Canon 14mm was going for approximately 1800 dollars, which made it easy to narrow down to the Tamron and the Sigma. I searched forums all over the web looking for reviews and opinions, and the Sigma seemed to please much more than the Tamron. The 7.1" focusing distance was also a plus, so I went for it.

A lot of people on here are complaining about things like lens flare and the gelatin filters. These issues are both innevitable and come with the territory of a wide-angle prime. If you are shooting on a 1.6x crop, you'll be happy to learn that the lens cap comes in two pieces. The cap fits over the built-in lens hood snugly (at least mine does), and a typical style lens cap snaps onto the front of that piece. When only the typical style lens cap is removed, the lager portion of the cap covers the unused portion of the glass and therefore significantly reduces flare. It also is an added piece of protection for walking around (the large front glass element protrudes and is very vulnerable). I have not gotten into gelatin filters for this lens yet, but I am not bothered by it. I don't know who in their right mind would think that a 14mm prime like this could actually accept a normal screw-on filter. The lens came with a razors and a cookie-cutter type piece as a guide for cutting your own filters. If you're paying $900 for a lens, you either need the focal length and are serious and won't mind cutting filters and loading them in the back, or you're an equipment junkie and have little to no legitimate need for this focal length and will use it rarely and complain about it all the time. Don't be the second person.

The lens is solid, sturdy, and has weight to it. I personally like heavier glass. The lens is still a delicate piece of equipment though, and I have had it serviced once. While in the semi-padded soft case it came with, the lens tumbled out of a bag from about three feet up. Consequently, the focusing mechanism was damaged and was stuck on just under 5 feet. Fortunately, Sigma seems to have a very generous service department and they repaired the lens at no charge to me and I had it back only four days after I sent it.

The auto focus on this lens is fairly accurate, but I highly recommend you do not leave your camera on AI or Servo mode. I can only assume that the lens is just very indecisive and sensitive, and when in Servo mode, it will never stop adjusting focus on a still object unless it is on a tripod. It gets annoying after a while and makes me uncomfortable, thinking the focus motor will spaz out if i let it do it too much. Simply put: Use manual focus or one-shot.

Due to the extreme angle of this lens, even at f/2.8, there isn't a whole lot of background blur. When shooting something incredibly close, you can get some great background blur effects, but overall, this lens was made to see *everything*...

I am 100% happy with my decision, but this will probably be the only Sigma lens I ever purchase. Canon just couldn't justify the price of their 14mm.