For 2012, Sigma was primarily known as a manufacturer of a very wide range of attractively priced, but not state-of-the-art lenses for various camera brands. In 2012, Sigma announced a new design philosophy for Sigma lenses at PhotoKina. Then Sigma’s image changed, thanks to the Sigma Global Vision, from price fighter to” State of the Art “.
What makes a brand unique?
Every brand has its own character. Sometimes that leads to unique products, with a DNA characteristic of that brand. Because the scores of our tests are based on measurement results, non-measurable properties are underexposed in the final scores. That is why, based on our practical tests, we attempt to describe the DNA of a few brands.
Sigma Corporation was founded in 1961 by Michihiro Yamaki, the father of the current CEO, Kazuto Yamaki. It is a real family business and that is reflected in the way Sigma organized its production. Sigma’s head office is located in Asao, near Tokyo. However, production takes place in Bandai, more to the north. Sigma, unlike almost all other Japanese manufacturers, only has factories in Japan. Sigma not only feels a strong responsibility for its own employees, but also for all local suppliers, and that makes the company unique.
In 2012, Sigma announced a complete restructuring of the objective range. All new lenses would from now on fit into three categories: Contemporary, Sports and Art. Each category represents a specific user group. From demanding studio, landscape and portrait photographers to sports and nature photographers and travel and reportage photographers.
The Art lenses are made to meet the wishes of photographers who are looking for a special image quality. The lenses are intended for high-end photography, both in the studio and on location. In this series we find the brightest short telephoto lenses for portrait photography with little depth of field and bright wide angles for astrophotography with fast shutter speeds and high image quality.
Sigma Art: World champion fast prime and zoom lenses
Almost all lenses in the ART series can compete with the best from other manufacturers. But some lenses go one step further and offer possibilities that you will not find with other lenses. For APS-C DSLR cameras, for example, SIGMA makes 2 unique zoom lenses: the SIGMA 18-35 mm f / 1.8 DC HSM Art and the 50-100 mm f / 1.8 DC HSM Art. Both lenses have a brightness that nobody else offers. The image quality of these lenses is excellent and the fixed aperture value over the entire range also makes them very popular with film makers. A special wide-angle zoom for full-frame DSLRs is the 24-35 mm f / 2 DG HSM Art. Those who prefer to work with fixed focal points or are looking for even more light intensity can pick up their har at unique lenses such as the 14 mm f / 1.8 DG HSM Art and the 20 mm f / 1.4 DG HSM Art. For portrait photographers there is a 105 mm f / 1.4 DG HSM Art that is not only extremely bright, but also particularly good at full aperture and that can give a beautiful blur in the background.
Sigma Contemporary lenses
The objectives in the Contemporary series are made for portability. They are lightweight and compact, without compromising on high optical quality. In this series you will mainly find standard zooms, telephoto zooms and zooms with a high zoom range. These lenses are ideal for travel and land photography, for example.
Sigma Sports lenses
In the Sports series we find lenses with a high image quality and often also a high brightness. Almost all of them are longer telephoto zoom lenses. These are ideally suited for sports photography, but also for other special applications such as photographing birds or wildlife in nature and airplanes at air shows. The lenses are weather resistant so that they can be used under all circumstances. In addition, they also have Focus Limiters for limiting the focusing range and the ability to adjust the autofocus speed.
Sigma Mount Conversion
Since 2013, Sigma has been offering users of lenses that fall under the Global Vision a unique service: the Sigma Mount Conversion. This allows you to have your Sigma lens fitted with a different setting if you change systems. Of course, it must be a mount that was originally available for the lens. For example, users of SLR lenses can have their mount switched to Sigma, Sony (A mount), Pentax, Nikon or Canon. Mirrorless lenses can be converted from Sony E to Micro Four Thirds, or vice versa of course. Presumably conversions to Canon RF and Nikon Z will also be added in the near future. The service does not apply to teleconverters and USB docks.
Sigma USB dock
A special accessory that you will not find for lenses from the manufacturers is the SIGMA USB Dock. With this you can adjust and optimize multiple functions of the SIGMA lenses. The autofocus can also be adjusted very precisely to correct small deviations in the focus. This is also possible on many cameras, but often only for a focal point and at a focusing distance. That is very limited, and certainly with zoom lenses, it is of little use to you. With the SIGMA USB Dock you can adjust the focus at multiple distances per focal point and for multiple focal points per lens.
In addition to lenses, SIGMA also makes cameras and for that they use a very special sensor: the Foveon sensor. The current models, the SD Quattro and the SD Quattro H both have their own SIGMA SA mount. The difference between the two models is the size of the sensor. The standard SD has an APS-C sensor with 19.6 megapixels. The H model has a slightly larger APS-H sensor with 25.5 megapixels. The special feature of the Foveon sensors is that they do not use a Bayer pattern, where a single pixel can only register one color (red, green or blue) and the other colors must be calculated with information from surrounding pixels. With the Foveon sensors, every pixel consists of several layers and every pixel registers red, green and blue. As a result, the sharpness per pixel is higher than with conventional sensors with a Bayer pattern. According to Sigma, the sharpness is twice as high and you can compare Foveon sensors with Bayer sensors with a twice as high pixel number.
The collaboration with Leica and Panasonic is a whole new chapter in the history of Sigma. Together they form the L-Alliance, a name they derive from the L-mount that Leica has been using for years for their mirrorless SL and TL system cameras. Panasonic is going to make its own mirrorless full-frame system cameras with L mount and Sigma will primarily make lenses with an L bayonet. What the future will bring is still uncertain. But at photokina 2018, Sigma’s CEO, Kazuto Yamaki, said when introducing the L-alliance, that at least it ensured that Sigma did not continue to develop cameras with its own SA mount. Perhaps that means that in the future we can also expect a Sigma with an L-bayonet and perhaps a (full frame) Foveon sensor. It is not that far yet, but you can of course dream about it. In any case, the L-system quickly becomes a complete and mature system thanks to the lenses of Leica, Panasonic and – of course – Sigma.