The Sigma 8-16mm F/4.5-5.6 DC HSM ultra-wide zoom is a specialty lens, meaning it will probably appeal to a rather small segment of people that really want wide, and I mean shoes-in-the-picture wide! This lens (at the widest focal lengths) begs to be jammed in the middle of an interesting plant or work of art, or taking non-traditional views of urban environments. Folks wanting this type of lens should not be too concerned about the technical image quality, and instead focus their interests and efforts on effective composition. My first outing with a lens like this produced a whole memory card full of awful images because I didn’t know how to use it.
If you just want an ultra-wide lens for fun, check this one out.
For those of you that are concerned about the image quality of the lens, here’s my take: it’s very sharp over most of the frame at F/5.6 between 8-10mm; around 12-16mm the mid-sections and corners don’t quite match the centers, but the performance is still very acceptable. Light fall-off is very low, ghosting control is slightly above average in most cases, color fringing control is average for this type of lens, and overall handling is quite good. The distortion pattern is typical for this ultra-wide zoom class, and is mostly correctable in post processing. I found the auto-focusing to be very accurate, which is unusual for an ultra-wide zoom lens.
This is not a very good interior/Real estate photography lens because it’s simple too wide over
most of the zoom range. Try properly lighting a room when using 8mm, it’s basically impossible. Plus, the exaggerated view just doesn’t look believable. If you want to sell your photography to an architect, interior designer, homebuilder or Real Estate agent etc, your work needs to be believable, not funny or artsy. For good looking Interiors, start in the 14mm (20mm full frame) range, but try to stay at 16mm (24mm FF) or longer. A more useful focal range for interiors would be; Sigma 10-20mm F/4-5.6 EX DC, or the Sigma 10-20mm F/3.5 EX DC HSM.
The Sigma 8-16mm doesn’t have quite the same expansive coverage as the full frame Sigma 12-24mm when both are at their widest setting, but the 8-16mm performed better overall, and of course is much wider on an APS-C camera.
I would highly recommend the Sigma 8-16mm F/4.5-5.6 DC HSM for landscapes and artistic photography, especially when using 8-10mm!
Note: Sigma HSM lenses have focusing problems with the new A/65/77, you have to send those lenses back to Sigma for work. See Sigma’s website in your country for more info.