Lens Review: The Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM


Since I love taking pictures under hazy light conditions and due to a lack of shades and soft contrasts, I decided to borrow a SIGMA 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM lens for one day and test it along with my Canon EOS 80D camera.

The location for my review was Vienna’s Karlsplatz. As I’m pretty much interested in architecture photography, my hometown Vienna is really perfect for this field.

As I was holding the lens in my hands for the first time, I immediately took notice of its high build quality. However, I doubt that my addiction for a small zoom area of 10mm would be satisfied at Saint Charles Church because I also like to capture the details of a building and not the entire building itself. I actually noticed now that I could shoot an area or a square in a completely different way with a 10mm lens.

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As is the case with almost every lens of this kind, this lens also doesn’t have integrated image stabilization. This isn’t really a bad thing for me because I mostly shoot with a very fast shutter speed and I’m rarely on a photo tour with a tripod. Mobility is what really counts for me. SIGMA refers to a close focus limit of 24cm above the entire focal length area. However, I won’t need this anyway even if it’s good to know. Those of you who won’t venture out without a filter should know that the filter thread measures 82mm. For today’s test and with this light, however, I don’t need any filter at all.

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The thing you need to pay attention to with ultra-wide-angle lenses with a 10mm focal length is the perspective you use for shooting: Because if it is a bit too “creative”, false image scales can be detected, especially with converging lines. Of course, this factor may also be used on purpose to create stunning images. Image distortions can also occur the closer a subject is located to the lens. Unfortunately, such an effect cannot be avoided, however, reducing it is possible with high-quality lenses.

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With an aperture value of 3.5 the lens does a decent and satisfying job when shooting outdoors or taking pictures with an acceptable light intensity. But if you try to shoot in hazy light in an apartment, you’ll reach your limits very soon and you’ll either have to use flashlight or leave it right away.

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The advantages of this focal length are quite obvious: Standing only few meters off a building I can still capture the entire façade in a picture. However, everyone should keep in mind that this can once again lead to extreme distortions at the top and bottom of an image.

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As I shoot at Karlsplatz, I begin to realize the perfect field for this particular lens: city trips. For this particular field I really can’t imagine a better focal length. Over the past few years I’ve been shooting with a 35mm fixed focal length and often became mad about not getting the right position just because I was simply too close to the lens.

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By and large, I’m quite satisfied with this lens and really consider taking it along as a faithful companion on my trips in the near future. SIGMA currently offers the SIGMA 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM for 899 Euros. That’s quite a lot of money but definitely worth it! I think I’ll really go for it. 🙂

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