Reviews

SIGMA 18-35mm / 1.8 ON THE BLACKMAGIC CINEMA CAMERA

Some important words first: 
I'm a cameraman. I'm not a scientist or image technician. I'm not affiliated with SIGMA or BLACKMAGIC DESIGN. This are just my personal thoughts. They are the most possible subjective and are based on feelings and impressions i had while shooting with the lens. If you're looking for a more accurate & technical review, check this out: LensTip Review

Ok, got that? Nice. Here we go.   

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THE MISSING LINK

I own the EF-Mount BMCC because of two reasons: First I own a lot EF-Lenses since 2009 (The big year of video DSLRs) and second because the MFT version simply wasn't available at the time i preordered the camera. 

I bought all my EF lenses for use with the Canon 5D Mark II and therefore with the full-frame sensor in mind. My widest EF lens and wide-angle workhorse is the Canon 17-40mm 4.0 - A nice and affordable wide-angle zoom. Sadly, the aperture on this lens doesn't work with the BMCC (Firmware 1.3.1). That in mind, my widest remaining EF zoom is the (old version) Canon 28-70 / 2.8 lens. But the 28mm at the BMCC are not wide anymore. Thinking in FF world its around 64mm and compared to S35 somewhere around 50mm.

I already bought a SIGMA 8-16mm wide-angle zoom for the BMCC (see my older blog post for details) which gave me a nice wide-angle zoom. So i had to fill a gap between the 16mm of the SIGMA and the 28mm of my lowest working CANON lens.    

I first heard about the new SIGMA in one of the NAB 2013 coverage videos and was immediately impressed by the continuous aperture 1.8. Since SIGMA had not given a price tag for the lens during the NAB I actually thought of a price range between 1200,- and 2000,- euros. Luckily, I was wrong.

Since Blackmagic introduced the new 4k Blackmagic Production Camera during the NAB 2013, it was also clear to me that I would stay with the BM RAW cameras for a while. Thus, the purchase was a done deal.

Introduction end. Camera roll.

Since last week, the lens is now available in Germany and since I had a pending BMCC production last weekend, I did not hesitate and ordered the SIGMA 18-35.

At first glance, the lens feels solid and good in the hand. The focus ring is running smoothly and without grinding or raking. Unfortunately, it also turns (with a brief resistance) beyond the end stops and is therefore a bit impractical for film work (like almost all autofocus lenses). But I got used to that behavior.

AND: The aperture buttons of the BMCC work properly with the lens. Thats very important ;)

Before i go on, some ungraded ProRes grabs of my first production with it:

 

SIGMA 18-35mm / BMCC / ungraded ProRes grab - Production: FALKEN MOTORSPORTS | click to enlarge

SIGMA 18-35mm / BMCC / ungraded ProRes grab - Production: FALKEN MOTORSPORTS | click to enlarge

SIGMA 18-35mm / BMCC / ungraded ProRes grab - Production: FALKEN MOTORSPORTS | click to enlarge

SIGMA 18-35mm / BMCC / ungraded ProRes grab - Production: FALKEN MOTORSPORTS | click to enlarge

The lens is incredibly sharp. Even at full open aperture it holds sharpness and produces a wonderful depth separation. As mentioned in the LensTip review, the lens tends to flare a bit - BUT I had no problems with that while using a ARRI MMB-1 mattebox. If you shoot against the sun, it will flare, but even this flares do look aesthetic to my personal taste. In fact, if I shoot in bright sunlight and against the sun, I often tend to force the lens to flare a bit to achieve some nice light effects. Some people even spend money on light leak collections and plugins to add Micheal Bay or J.J. Abrams style flares in post.

SIGMA 18-35mm / BMCC / ungraded ProRes grab - Production: FALKEN MOTORSPORTS | click to enlarge

To sum it up, i like the lens and the images it produces on the Blackmagic Camera. Its 1.8 stop is very stunning for a wide-angle zoom and it's sharp over the whole image area - even with open aperture. I didn't notice any bad aberrations or other unwanted behavior. 

SIGMA 18-35mm / BMCC / ungraded ProRes grab - Production: FALKEN MOTORSPORTS | click to enlarge

For me it's my new all purpose zoom on the BMCC. 

After finished, i will post the first videos here over the next weeks.