Review Sigma 8-16mm


Sigma 8-16 mm, perfect for Nikon DX camera’s:

The Sigma 8-16 mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM is an extreme wide-angle zoom lens for camera with an APS-C sensor and has a field of view of 114.5-75.7 degrees. That is comparable with that of a 12-24 mm lens on a full-frame camera.
This is certainly no everyday lens because the field of view is larger than what the human eye can see. Therefore, you can, for example in landscape photography, achieve unusual effects. With the right preparation, the lens is also suitable for architectural shots, as we demonstrate below.

The photo above proves that the 8-16 mm is very usable for interior and architectural shots. Watch out for vertical lines; the camera camera has to be held perfectly straight then. A limited amount of barrel-shaped distortion is corrected in Photoshop: Focal distance 8 mm, full aperture, 1/50 second. This photo also says something in general about the high dynamic range of the body used (Nikon D7100).


Build and auto focus

The lens is not excessively heavy (555 g), and it has a large, ball-shaped front lens that extends beyond the housing. The tulip-shaped sun cap is therefore permanently attached. In order to protect the lens against the elements, you first have to mount a cylinder-shaped sleeve, and the “click-in” lens cap fits inside that. When you take a picture without the lens cap but with the cylinder, then you get a perfectly round exposure. You only make such a mistake one time (see photo above right). You cannot use filters on this lens.

The lens has an internal focusing system with which it remains compact and focuses quickly. The focusing is generally not terribly critical at such short focal distances; set the aperture to f/8, set the distance to 1 meter, and everything will be sharp from 50cm to infinity. The minimum focal distance is 24 cm (measured from the sensor) over the whole zoom range.

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garage-2Shot at 1/50 second at f/8 .We were too lazy to set up the tripod, so by hand at ISO 3200. Even so, it’s a nice shot that wouldn’t be out of place in the ad campaign of this French automaker.

Distortion Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM

Distortion is the rule and not the exception with zoom lenses, and this extreme zoom is no exception either. The distortion runs from visible barrel-shaped distortion at 8 mm to visible pincushion distortion at 16 mm. Something like that is simple to correct with software; there were no correction profiles available in the camera for this third-party lens. You’ll have to do that yourself on the computer.

Move your mouse over the image for the Imatest results.


Sharpness Sigma 8-16 mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM

For a lens in this range, the optical performance is better than expected in every sense. The sharpness in the middle is very good at all apertures; the corners lag behind a bit at the larger apertures. With 1 to 2 stops stopping down, the highest center sharpness will be reached. The Sigma 8-16 mm scores the highest at the shortest focal distance. That’s nice, because for many photographers, that will be the most-used focal distance. A hybrid aspherical lens element and two glass mold elements correct for dispersion and astigmatism. The Multi-Layer coating reduces flare and ghosting and ensures bright and contrast-rich images in the entire zoom range. Resolutie
SampleImageFollowing a famous Parisian bridge, the bridge at Katendrecht is the Dutch backdrop for loving couples who leave their padlocks behind. 8 mm, 1/400, f/5.6. We would have liked the background a bit more blurry, but that won’t work with this focal distance.

Chromatic aberration

When you see how obliquely the rays of light are striking, you understand that lenses with such extreme wide-angle range are sensitive for chromatic aberration. Sigma has tackled this problem with the use of special FLD (“F” Low Dispersion) glass elements. The CA is visible, but not very disruptive. Chromatic aberration is simple to correct with software. CA


This is naturally not a lens for studio work, and thus the bokeh will be of little interest. In addition, the focal depth is so large that we had to work hard to find any bokeh anywhere in the test shots. We didn’t find the bokeh to be bad in any case, for an extreme wide-angle lens.

Move your mouse over the image for a further enlargement.

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The Fun Factor

A lens like this is certainly not an all-around documentary lens, even though you can also make nice portraits with it, such as the picture shown here of a friendly barmaid proves. (It has been a bit cropped to remove the ugly shadow cast by the sun cap.) But that only becomes interesting in extreme situations. We took this setup along to the Kop van Zuid in Rotterdam where, near the photography museum, the largest building in the Netherlands waited for us.  barmeisje-voor-web
If you want to get that in frame with a standard lens, you’ll have to do that from the other side of the Maas; otherwise, it won’t entirely fit. But with the 8-16, you can capture it well from across the street. The building does lean back quite a bit. The great thing is that you can straighten it up later with software. (In Photoshop: edit>transform>distortion, and then use the scales to repair the vertical and horizontal proportions.) No tilt-shift lens can handle such a task, and that at a fraction of the cost!

In the beginning, you generally won’t be able to get enough of the most extreme wide-angle setting (8 mm), but after a while you’ll figure out that a bit less wide-angle often delivers much better results.

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The photos above were made in the 8 mm setting in the street directly across from the Rem Koolhaas’s “De Rotterdam” building (150 meters high). The lens is then elevated by some 45 degrees. With some smart editing, you can set the building completely straight. The quality of course isn’t going to improve when you apply that kind of extreme editing, but, for example, for pictures on the web, that’s no problem at all. On the right, you see a shot before and after straightening. 

Conclusion Sigma 8-16 mm f/4.5-5.6 on Nikon D7100

Use the Lens Comparison or look in our list of reviewed lenses to compare this lens with other lenses.

WYSIWYG score: More and more often when designing a lens, distortion, color separation and vignetting are consciously not optimally corrected. As a result, fewer expensive lens elements or exotic glass types need to be used, which ultimately results in a more attractive selling price. The lens manufacturer relies on automatic correction of these characteristics in the camera or in photo editing software. The “jpg-score” gives you for a lens/test camera combination, “What you see is what you get” when all available lens corrections are applied in the camera. 

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Pure RAW score: With more expensive lenses, a manufacturer often goes to great lengths in the lens design to prevent lens errors. Neither costs nor effort are spared, which can be recognized by the use of exotic types of glass and many lens elements. The “RAW score” approximates the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera, with CameraStuffReview attempting to bypass any automatic lens corrections of RAW files. If you use lens correction profiles in Photoshop or Lightroom to convert RAW files, the RAW scores for distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration will be higher or equal to the corresponding jpg scores.

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  • Compact and not too heavy
  • Fantastic creative possibilities
  • Image quality more than sufficient to good
  • A lot of focal depth


  • No filters possible
  • Built-in flash will be screened off by the addition of the sun cap
  • A lot of focal depth
There are very few lenses for sale that simultaneously offer good image quality and an 8 mm focal point for cameras with a DX sensor. The Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM is a fantastic toy for creative photographers, and at the same time a useful tool for those who do interior or architectural photography. With a list price of about 800 euros, the lens is not really cheap, but still reasonably priced. The Sigma 8-16 mm is available for bodies from all the big brands.

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