Sigma 18-35 T2 & 50-100mm T2 Cine High-Speed Zooms

Sigma has been making photo lenses for a long time now. They offer a wide array of focal lengths for a plethora of camera mounts. However, until late, they haven’t focused on video shooters. They are so new to the video space that 2017 was Sigma’s first year at the National Association of Broadcasters show, or NAB.  We’re happy to see they’re beginning to add offerings specifically for video shooters.

Announced in September of 2016, both the 18-35 T2 and 50-100mm T2 Cine High-Speed Zooms started shipping in December. They cost 4,000 dollars each and share most of their specs. They cover a Super 35mm sensor with their 28.4mm image circle. They have an internal focus design and 180 degrees of focus barrel rotation. Their clickless nine-bladed iris has a maximum aperture of T2. Lastly, they both offer a 95mm front lens diameter and a removable lens support foot.

The lenses obviously differ in focal length, but also have a different weight and overall length. It’s a good thing we reviewed these lenses with the new FS7 II (with its upgraded lens mount locking system) because these lenses are heavy. The 18-35mm weighs 3.19 pounds, and the 50-100mm weighs a whopping 4.16 pounds. They are two inches different in length, so if you have a matte box, you’ll need to adjust when changing between these two lenses.

With My Own Eyes and in My Hands

One of the big criticisms out there for these lenses is that they are just Sigma’s Art lenses in a cine housing. And if that is true, then we need to account for the added cost of these cine versions. The Sigma 18-35mm Art Lens is just 800 dollars and the 50-100 art lens is 1,100 dollars. That's a whopping 3,200 dollars to 2,900 dollars of value to account for. Let’s take a look at what you gain for the added cost. First, they're marked like you’d expect on a cine lens. The focus and zoom markings are readable no matter what side of the lens you're on. Additionally, they are laser etched and the main markings are in luminous paint, so they glow in the dark. They have an all-metal body construction, so they’re tough and heavy — a bit too heavy. Be careful, as some cameras’ lens mounts won't be able to handle the lenses’ weight well. A big change, outside of the physical appearance, is hard stops on the focus ring with distance markers for pulling focus. The focus, aperture and zoom rings are all geared and ready to go. You get measurable control with the cine zooms that isn’t offered by the Art lenses.

In the Field

From first use, the thing that stuck out the most is that the lenses are heavy. We shot the EF versions on a Canon 1D-X II and with the MC-11 adapter to an Sony FS7 II. We then were able to use the E-mount versions on the same FS7 II. With or without the adapter, we didn’t see any performance difference. We reviewed the 18-35mm Art lens, and these lenses offer the same visual feel. They get nice looking flairs, glints and blooms.

One problem we have with these lenses could have been avoided. The pair together don’t cover the full range of focal lengths. If you need any field of view from 35mm to 50mm, you’re out of luck. This gap in focal lengths is a strange problem. We hope Sigma remedies this with further releases of cine zooms to cover that gap.

The last issue we want to address is that they have a physical length difference. When changing between the two lenses, you will need to change your matte box and other controls — a potentially time consuming inconvenience.

Tests

We took the lenses into our studio where we could control the light to test how well the lenses match each other. Shooting at a DSC labs color chart at T5.6, both lenses offer color that is indistinguishable from the other. If you are going to use them together, don’t hesitate; they match perfectly.

To lower costs of cine lenses, lens companies cut corners. Sigma is no different. These lenses have significant focus breathing. It is most extreme at 100mm, but is still quite noticeable through both lenses all the way down to 18mm. Doing rack focuses from close to far away adjusts the field of view significantly.

Doing rack focuses from close to far away adjusts the field of view significantly.

Cine zooms should be parfocal. Their focus should not shift when zooming the lens. While Sigma states that they are near parfocal, when we tested it, the focus held for both lenses. While Sigma might not be willing to say they are perfectly parfocal, we’d call them parfocal for all intents and purposes.  

These lenses are quite sharp. We tested their sharpness at 100mm, 85mm, 50mm, 35mm and 18mm. They are sharpest at 100mm and become less sharp as you go wider. We wouldn’t say they are the sharpest we’ve seen, but they are sharp enough that we wouldn't expect anyone to complain about their sharpness. 

Marketpla?ce

Because we tested both the E and EF versions of these lenses, we are going to expand what lens mount lenses we are going to look, just to see the value these lenses have in the marketplace. Let’s look at lenses from Canon, Tokina and Sony.

The first lense is the Canon CN-E 18-80mm T4.4 COMPACT-SERVO EF. It costs 5,225 dollars and covers Super 35 and APS-C sensors. It has an EF Mount and a T4.4 constant maximum aperture. It offers a nine-blade Iris and is parfocal. It has a servo controlled zoom and is compatible with servo lens controllers. It gives you both image stabilization and autofocus. It also has 180 degrees of rotation for focus and weighs 2.65 pounds.

Next, let’s look at the Tokina Cinema 50-135mm T3.0 EF. It costs 3,500 dollars and covers Super 35mm sensors. It is parfocal and has a constant T3.0 aperture across the throw of the lens with geared focus, aperture and zoom rings and a click-less aperture ring. It’s made up of two aspherical lens elements and it has a 114mm front diameter with a 39.4-inch minimum focus distance.

Lastly, let’s look at the FS7 II’s kit lens, the Sony E PZ 18-110mm f/4 G OSS. At 3,500 dollars, it’s the nicest kit lens out there. It has a wonderful focal length and covers an APS-C or Super 35 sensor. It is a E-mount lens and has an aperture range of f/4 to f/22. Although they don’t offer a T-stop measurement, Sony offers other cine lens features such as no focus shifting or lens breathing. The lens switches between manual and servo-controlled zoom and has internal focusing. Also included is optical SteadyShot Image stabilization. This lens is extremely affordable considering both its focal range and servo controlled zoom.

Final Thoughts and Recommendation

We are very glad that Sigma is in the video world with these lenses.  They were able to make a fast lens with supreme control and accuracy. They are heavy and are different sizes, and that's too bad. They also have significant focus breathing. They do look super nice and are available in Sony E mount, Canon EF mount and Arri PL mount.

Sigma
www.sigma-global.com

STRENGTHS:

  • Large Aperture
  • All-metal Construction

WEAKNESSES:

  • Significant focus breathing
  • Heavy
  • Focal range gap from 35mm-50mm

SUMMARY:

These lenses have a full metal construction and are fast at T2. They are heavy but solid. They are easy to flare and offer a nice looking glint. We wish they offered less focus breathing and a lens that filled the 35mm-50mm gap between these two lenses.

RECOMMENDED USERS:

  • Enthusiasts, Indie and Corporate filmmakers
  • Event Videographers & Documentarians
  • Commercial producers
  • Travel videographers & Journalists

PRICE: $4,000

TECH SPECS:

18-35mm T2
Lens Mount: E-Mount
Focal Length: 18 to 35mm
Aperture: T2.0 to T16
Iris Blades: 9
Minimum Focus Distance: 11" / 27.94 cm
Image Circle: 28.4 mm diagonal (Super 35mm)
Front Filter Thread Size: 82 mm
Focus Rotation: 180°
Zoom Rotation: 160°
Iris Rotation: 60°
Length: 5.1" / 12.95 cm (front to flange)
Weight: 3.19 lb / 1.45 kg

50-100mm T2
Lens Mount: E-Mount
Focal Length: 50 to 100mm
Aperture: T2.0 to T16
Iris Blades: 9
Minimum Focus Distance: 3'2" / 96.52 cm
Image Circle: 28.4 mm diagonal (Super 35mm)
Front Filter Thread Size: 82 mm
Focus Rotation: 180°
Zoom Rotation: 160°
Iris Rotation: 60°
Length: 6.90" / 17.52 cm (front to flange)
Weight: 4.16 lb / 1.89 kg

Chris Monlux wears a hat. He is also Videomaker’s Multimedia Editor.

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