Ultra Wide Zooms for Nikon DSLRs by Sigma and Tokina Tested and Reviewed Sigma 8-16mm, Sigma 12-24mm Version II and Tokina 11-16mm on Nikon D800

Review, Versus, Compared, Performance, Image, Picture,  Case, Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 EX DG IF HSM Aspherical Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens for Nikon SLR Cameras (Top) and   Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 AF II DG HSM Lens for Nikon Digital SLRs (Bottom)

Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 EX DG IF HSM Aspherical Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens for Nikon SLR Cameras (Top) and Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 AF II DG HSM Lens for Nikon Digital SLRs and their cases(Bottom).

I have been and have not given up on being a crop sensor (DX) shooter.  However, I recently acquired a Nikon D800 full sized (FX) sensor body and have been experimenting with it.

Being a shooter who likes to go wide, I am experimenting with wide angle options.  Not having given up on DX … I’m trying out DX vs FX ultra wide angle options before committing in any direction.  These lenses can be pricey and can be sharp or not so sharp…

Why did I, a DX guy,  buy the FX D800?

It was in perfect condition with only a few thousand clicks for $2,300 due to new product introductions by Nikon and huge rebates.  Also, my Nikon D7000‘s had dropped in price from $1,000 or so used in the fall to about $750 used… I also expected that there would be some new bodies coming into the market in DX format soon, and would further crush the price of the D7000.  Nikon is pumping out Nikon D600‘s for well under $2000 after rebates… This is putting huge price pressures on the fine DX bodies out there.  Great opportunity to pick them up cheap used…  The Nikon D7000 and D300s are great bodies avail now for under $800 used on Amazon…

About 6-9 months ago, the D800’s were in short supply and people were standing in line to buy them at $3,000 plus. Today, on looking on Amazon, they are under $2,800 new and there were used bodies avail for $2,400, click here to see what’s currently available on Amazon, new or used.

If I know I’m going to keep something, I may prefer to buy on Amazon, if the price is substantially below Adorama.  If I’m going to maybe return it, or if pricing is similar, I usually prefer to buy from Adorama, as they have knowledgeable staff and are great with 30 day returns on most items returned in like new condition.

In fact, the Nikon D800   Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 II DG HSM Autofocus Super Wide-Angle Zoom Lens  reviewed in this article came from, and is going back to Adorama.  Their customer service is that good.

This is not an exhaustive lens test…  What I need to know is are my images sharp?

Does the lens focus, and the like.  I can tell by looking if I like the corners or not.

I have been shooting the Sigma 12-24mm for a couple of weeks now.  I was concerned with what appears to be softness in the corners  in my early shots.

Shooting wide is something I do a lot in my art nudes and figure work.

My style involves putting subjects and items which must be sharp in the corners.  So, I might have a face, a hand or toe in the corner of the image.  If its not sharp you will know it.

For lens testing, I preferred to use more or less static objects with varying degrees of sharp texture and line, so I could see the sharpness or blur.  As wide as these lenses are, it is difficult to make a direct apples to apples comparison.  Still I could make some observations and add pluses and minuses to each lens.

Also, I used an easily portable Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 4 Section Carbon Fiber Tripod with Manfrotto 324RC2 Joystick Head quick release head to help me keep camera shake out of my equations.

Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 II DG HSM Autofocus Super Wide-Angle Zoom Lens, for Nikon AF Cameras - USA Warranty,   Nikon D800, Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 Carbon Fiber Tripod, Still Life

Sigma 12-16 @12mm f/20 0.8 Sec ISO 100 Nikon D800 Tripod

Some objects may look fine unsharp in corners.  Others do not.  I need sharp in corners generally.  So a lens soft in the corners is usually a no no for me.

For example, the image of the parking ramp at right was taken with the Sigma 12-24 at 12mm.  Corners look fine.

On a concrete texture, unless the blur is extreme, it’s hard to discern concrete texture from any edge softness.  So this image works.

By the way, the lens tested here is the new Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 II DG HSM Lens , not to be confused with the earlier Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX DG IF HSM Aspherical Lens, which earlier lens got some pretty horrible reviews.  If you click the two links to Amazon here, you can read some further reviews of these two lenses and can see the visual differences.  The older lens sells used for about 1/2 the price of the new lens…

The 3rd lens considered here was the Tokina 11-16mm F2.8 Zoom click here to see photos of the lens on Amazon.  I love the Tokina 11-16 and have taken great images with it,  click here to see an article with an image taken with this lens.

Review, Versus, Compared, Performance, Boxes for Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 EX DG IF HSM Aspherical Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens for Nikon SLR Cameras (Bottom) and   Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 AF II DG HSM Lens for Nikon Digital SLRs (Top)

Boxes for Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 EX DG IF HSM Aspherical Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens for Nikon SLR Cameras (Bottom) and Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 AF II DG HSM Lens for Nikon Digital SLRs (Top)

The two new lenses tested are the Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 II DG HSM and the Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM FLD AF Ultra Wide Zoom Lens for APS-C sized Nikon Digital DSLR Camera.

Again, except for the II or no II and the difference in the focal lengths, the names for these lenses and the packaging are very very similar.

The D800 recognized that Sigma 8-16 was a DX format lens.  With the Tokina 11-16, the camera had to be told that the lens was DX format.

The two DX lenses Sigma v. Tokina:

Both the Tokina 11-16 and the Sigma 8-16 vignette on the D800.  The Sigma produces a rectangular vignette, due to its attached flower leaf lens shade perhaps?  The Tokina produces a round vignette.  Both of these can shoot on the D800 full frame at 16mm, and vignette after that.  So, shoot them using crop mode if using a D800.

On a D7000, both these lenses shoot normally.

The Sigma is significantly wider than the Tokina… When shooting wide angle, I find myself always cranking to the widest a lens will go… So, that extra bit of wideness for the Sigma is a big plus…  Also, I blow up images from crop sensor cameras to 4 or 6 feet on a side… So, if the image is sharp thanks to the lens, the sensors are good enough on crop sensor camera to blow up larger than most of us go, most of the time…

The Tokina is sharp.  Just not as wide as the Sigma 8-16…

Click any of these images to view larger.

 

Tokina 11-16mm @ f/16,  ultra wide angle text, ultra wide angle review  D800

Tokina 11-16mm @ f/16 1/25 Sec ISO 100, D800

Tokina 11-16mm @ f/16, D800, review, 100% crop, pixel picking, pixel peeking

Pixel Peek: Tokina 11-16mm @ f/16 1/25 Sec ISO 100, D800 100% Crop of upper right corner. Note sharpness detail in bench piercings.  Click image to view larger.

Sigma 8-16mm @ f/16, @ 10.5mm,  D800, review, 100% crop, pixel peeking

Pixel Peek: Sigma 8-10.5mm @ f/16 1/25 Sec ISO 100, D800 100% Crop of upper right corner. Note sharpness detail in bench piercings are pretty good.

 

To make it a fair test with the Tokina 11-16 we have to look at the Sigma 8-16 at 11mm. At 8mm, it is doing a lot more than the Tokina.  As can be seen, with the Tokina 11-16 as the benchmark, the Sigma 8-16 at 10.5mm is doing pretty good in the corners…

What happens at 8mm on the Sigma?

Sigma 8mm, Sigma 8-16mm at 8mm, Nikon D800, Pixel peeking

Sigma 8-16mm @ 8mm f22 on D800.

Tokina 11-16mm @ f/16, D800, review, 100% crop, pixel picking, pixel peeking

Pixel Peek: Tokina 11-16mm @ f/16 1/25 Sec ISO 100, D800 100% Crop of lower left corner. Note sharpness detail in steel piercings.

Sigma 8-16mm at 8mm 100% crop of corner detail on Nikon D800

Sigma 8-16 Pixel Peek, lower right detail @ 100%, f22 @ 8mm. Pretty darn sharp, and quite a bit wider than the Tokina…

Recap, Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 v Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

Pro Sigma

  • Signficantly wider lens – BIG PLUS
  • Wider soom range – NICE FEATURE
  • Manual focus over ride, Tokina has aukward push pull AF/Manual Focus gear which must be engaged/disengaged – NICE FEATURE
  • LR4 has lens profile – VERY CONVENIENT
  • D800 reads automatically that Sigma is DX format, Tokina requires manual settings to D800 – CONVENIENT
  • HSM Hypersonic motor, will focus on Nikon Bodies w/o focus motors… Tokina will not focus on bodies like D5200 – NICE FEATURE

Pro Tokina

  • Sharper by a touch – NICE FEATURE
  • Accepts standard 77mm filters, but may vignette if filter isn’t ultra thin at 11mm. Sigma has bulb like front element, no filter can be placed in front of lens, nor does it have place for a rear lens filter.  – VERY NICE FEATURE
    •  In wide angle shooting, we often place subjects very close to the front element. Perspective is distorted, so we do not really know how close these subjectss are to the lens… They can be very very close… often just a few inches. Sometimes these subjects move, like for instance with a dog, child or camel. Ever try getting camel drool off an expensive front lens element?  Protective filters can be very nice indeed.
  • 10-20% less coin – NICE FEATURE
  • f/2.8 … Main advantage of this isn’t bokeh, DOF (Depth of Field is deep in ultra wide angles, but it does give us more sharpness at say f/8 if we shoot so slow… and it makes for a brighter view finder and faster focusing – NICE FEATURE

All in all, if I have to have only one of these, I’d take the Sigma, unless I have to have ultimate sharpness, need the best in focus speed, or if I’m shooting children, pets or other subjects which move a great deal, then I’d go with the Tokina.

Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 vs Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 II

Sigma 12-24 HSM II DG, Sigma 8-16 f/4.5-5.6, ultra wide zoom, review, versus

Sigma 8-16mm on left, Sigma 12-24mm II on right. Note the larger overall size of the 12-24mm.

The focal lengths and feature sets of the two Sigma lenses are identical, if one accounts for the difference of DX vs FX, crop sensor vs full frame sensors.

Feature per feature, they perform identically except for the fact that one (the DX version) is made in a way that will vignette on an FX body.

The Sigma 12-24 is bigger, weights more, and costs more.

Each have a build in lens shade which is immovable.

Each have a manual focus override.

Each have a two piece lens shade/lens cap assembly.

Really, you take the whole lens cap assembly off by a slight affirmative and silky smooth pull forward.  Put it back on with a gentle push.

Sigma 12-24mm, for, Architectural Photography, Interior Photography, Commercial Photography

Interior Photography using Sigma 12-24mm hand held. Very usable image. Lines straightened w LR4.

The larger size of the 12-24 gives the bulb like lens a more protruding look, more better take good care of it feel, than the more diminutive size of the 8-16 allows.

Still, it will pay you well to take good care with both, as neither can take a lens filter to protect them.

While you can get usable images with the 12-24, I feel the 8-16 is sharper in the corners.  All those extra megapixels in the corners just slow down my camera, my post processing and if they add blur, I can’t use them in images where I need sharpness.

Sigma 12-24mm II, corners not sharp

Sigma 12-24mm @12mm. Note fuzziness in lower right corner. Click image to view larger.

I first noticed the softness in this image to the right.  The image above is very usable.  But, it lacks a detail in corners requiring sharpness.

While I love the image and perspective, I am annoyed with the soft edges on the round holes in the sheet metal at lower right.  The holes lower left are also a bit soft, but harder to view the softness there.

Lets look head to head, the 8-16mm vs the 12-24mm.  I’m interested at the widest setting, so we will just look at shots taken at widest focal length.

Sigma 8mm, Sigma 8-16mm at 8mm, Nikon D800, Pixel peeking

Sigma 8-16mm @ 8mm f22 on D800 DX mode. Same image as seen above.

 

Sigma 12-24mm Reviewed

Sigma 12-24mm @ 12mm & f/22.0 D800 FX mode.

Now lets look at the lower left corners of these two images at 100% in the corner.

Sigma 8-16mm at 8mm ISO 100, 100% crop of corner detail on Nikon D800 versus Sigma 12-24mm lens

Sigma 8-16 Pixel Peek, lower right detail @ 100%, f22 @ 8mm. Pretty darn sharp, and a touch sharper than the 12-24…

Sigma 12-24mm, 100% crop, pixel peek, review versus, Sigma 8-16mm, Tokina 11-16mm

Sigma 12-24mm f22 on Nkion D800 full frame, lower left corner 100% Pixel Peek. Usable image perhaps, not as sharp as the 8-16 in the corner.  Though nice contrast on writing, bit out of corner.

I have looked a few of these, and am not finding cases where the Sigma 12-24 is outperforming the Sigma 8-16.  Until I see what is coming out in a Nikon DX line, I do not see increasing commitment to the FX platform as prudent.

As proved by these two very nearly similar Sigma ultra wide angle lenses, if a company puts the will into lens design, DX lenses are as good as, or better than FX lenses, for less money.

It is about will to design fine glass for DX.  Perhaps the second tier will drive Nikon into this gaping market niche… It has to be the future…

Recap, Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 v Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 II

Pro Sigma 8-16mm

  • Seems a touch shaper in the corners – BIG PLUS
  • D800 reads automatically that 8-16 is DX format – CONVENIENT
  • Lighter –  CONVENIENT
  • Smaller –  CONVENIENT & MORE ROBUST
  • 33% less coin – BIG PLUS
  • DX Lens, wave of the future – NICE FEATURE
  • Smaller file sizes on DX vs FX with just as much or more usable detail – BIG PLUS

Pro Sigma 12-24mm II

  • FX format – NICE FEATURE ENHANCED FLEXIBILITY FOR FX SHOOTERS ONLY

DxOMark also seems to feel that the Sigma 12-24 II on a FX body is less sharp than a Sigma 8-16 on a DX body, from what I can determin on their not exactly apples to apples tests.

Between these two, my clear choice is the Sigma 8-16mm over the Sigma 12-24mm, unless I’m a died in the wool FX shooter, perhaps with a lower mega pixel FX camera.  Because, I think  I have more detail on my D800 shooting the 8-16 than on my D800 shooting the 12-24… JMHO.

More details or purchase for items mentioned or used in this review can be found at Adorama or Amazon by clicking the links below:

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