The annual Camera Magazine Imaging Awards recognise excellence in the design and execution of imaging products. This year there are ten categories and to be eligible, products had to go on sale around Australia from 1 October 2018 to 30 September 2019. Given how many new zoom lenses we’ve seen over the last 12 months, picking a winner here was a challenge, but one ticked all the boxes.
Zoom Lens Winner: Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 DG DN Art
Arguably one of the biggest assets of the L Mount Alliance has to be Sigma’s membership which, pretty well immediately, has given the owners of Leica SL and Panasonic Lumix S cameras access to the multi award-winning Art line of premium lenses. Would you put a Sigma Art lens on a Leica SL2? Well, we think so, and so probably does Leica given they’re all happily co-operating in the L Mount club.
The first Sigma Art lenses for the L mount (as for Sony FE) were essentially adaptations of models originally designed for D-SLRs, but now comes the ‘DG DN’ series which make the most of what the mirrorless configuration enables… namely combining very wide-angle focal lengths with a fast constant aperture of f2.8. There are technical challenges here which Sigma has solved with a bunch of special elements – in fact, half of the optical construction’s total of 18. These include three with super low-dispersion characteristics, one of Sigma’s own ‘FLD’ types – which mimic the correction characteristics of a fluorite element without costing nearly as much – and three aspherical elements. This little lot collectively – and effectively – deals with distortion, chromatic aberrations, spherical aberrations and coma… all otherwise potentially problematic with a large-diameter ultra-wide zoom. Sigma’s new ‘Nano Porous Coating’ – which employs a porous silica as the multi-coating material – minimises ghosting and flare (essentially, incidentally, via millions of nano-size holes). Sharpness and resolution subsequently benefit to the point where Sigma describes the 14-24mm as “the definitive lens for astrophotography”.
There’s the typical Sigma thoroughness in the external design too – metal alloy battery tubes, weather sealing, a moisture repellent coating on the front element, a lens mount hewn from a solid chunk of brass and, most welcome on an ultra-wide lens, a rear filter holder. An 11-blade diaphragm, a super-fast stepping motor for AF and Made-In-Japan precision complete what is truly a masterpiece as far as optical design and engineering are concerned.