When it comes to third-party zoom lenses, Fujifilm photographers do not have many options. If I remember correctly, Sigma 18-50mm f2.8 DC DN Contemporary is the 3rd zoom lens (among the third-party lenses), and it is the first zoom lens from Sigma for Fuji available in the market.
Sigma 18-50mm f2.8 was announced way back in October 2021 but that was meant for L-mount and E-mount cameras. The X-mount version was only announced merely one year later.
When I think about a constant f2.8 zoom lens, my perception of the lens is that it should be a huge lens, a big filter size, and be heavy. Sigma did a wise choice by doing something different with this lens. It is totally the opposite of what I just mentioned. It is so compact and small. And I can’t help thinking this might be a perfect choice to bring for travel.
Before I share further, allow me to thank Mr. Lawson from Sigma Marketing (Singapore) for loaning me the Sigma 18-55mm f2.8 Contemporary DC DN lens for review. I appreciate his support to make this review a reality.
Design and Build Quality
The overall design language of this lens shares a lot of similarities with Sigma 16mm f1.4, Sigma 30mm f1.4, and Sigma 56mm f1.4. It does not come with an aperture ring and the lens body is polycarbonate (also known as Thermally Stable Composite TSC) constructed.
Having said that, this 285 grams lens (it is just 5 grams heavier than the Sigma 56mm f1.4 and 10 grams heavier than the Sigma 30mm f1.4) is genuinely great to hold with and the built quality is very sturdy and it does not give out a sense of cheap feeling.
The 28-75mm (in full-frame equivalent) also comes with dust and splash resistant. This compact lens comes with a filter size of 55mm which is very decent and photographers who buy filters are delighted to know about it.
I have to say… The image quality coming out of this glass is great. The sharpness and contrast are great. At f2.8, the image is totally usable. The details are tremendous and resolve very well with my X-T5’s 40 megapixels sensor. This shows there are some quality and engineering works done with Sigma’s engineering team.
Although I am more of a prime lens user, I get to use or test with some zoom lenses. To be fair, prime lenses are still on better image quality, much sharper, and have better contrast. So if I am to compare the Sigma 18-50mm with the other zoom lenses, I think I am really impressed with this lens’ optic quality.
At wide open, the bokeh is very good with a very decent and gentle fall-off between the subject and background/foreground. I do observe very mild chromatic aberration and vignetting and I think it is within my acceptable range.
As for the sunny star result, both 18mm and 50mm do produce acceptable results with some softness on the star.
This lens comes with a stepper motor but, to be frank, the focusing performance surprises me. In good lighting conditions, it is really fast in focus locks onto the subject. Almost instantly. And I do not hear any sound produced by the focusing motor. It is silent.
In case someone wondering, tracking human eyes, animal eyes, and bird eyes works well here.
However, I do occasionally experience slowing down and have the push-pull effect before it focuses on the subject. But it recovered quickly and the same behavior did not occur immediately.
As for challenging lighting conditions, I do see it struggle a little more before focusing on the subject. I think this is normal since most lenses have very similar behavior.
Minimum Focus Distance (MFD)
At 18mm, it has the shortest MFD of 12.1 cm. How close is that? You have to remove the lens hood to get that close. Otherwise, you will get the shadow of the lens hood in your shots.
At 50mm, it too has the shortest MFD for the same focal length. I haven’t come across any 50mm lens to have 30 cm MFD. With such a close MFD, it is very impressive to give me a new point of view.
At MFD, the shots retent their sharpness and contrast pretty well with a little bit of softness.
This is probably the most important part. It is selling at SRP 549 USD. It is probably the best price-to-performance and size ratio in the market. It is probably the most affordable constant f2.8 lens on the market.
Side By Side
I can’t help but to compare this little beast with my very first lens and also the first zoom lens from Fuji, XF 18-55 f2.8- 4.
Physically, they are very close to each other with XF18-55mm being a tad bigger but you cannot tell the difference if you are not comparing them side by side.
Putting image quality and performance aside, if I were to choose between them, I will choose Sigma 18-50mm. The reason is simple: constant aperture. As I have an IBIS camera, I do not need an Optional Image Stabilizer lens.
Unlike other third-party manufacturers, this lens does not come with a data-transfer port (i,e. USB-C) or docking station to update the firmware. It is simply downloading the lens firmware, transferring it to an SD card, and updating the firmware via the camera body. the same as how we do for Fuji lenses.
Who is this for
In general, if you want to use it for commercial works or shooting events, documentaries, etc, it is possible. The focal length is sufficient to cover most genres but I would like to suggest this lens to a specific group of photographers and that is travel photographers and budget photographers.
Travel photographers who want to travel lightweight (especially avoiding strain on your shoulder on long hours) or want to pack as compactly as possible but do not want to sacrifice too much on image quality. I think you can consider this lens for your next trip.
This lens also comes with a very attractive price point which I think is a good starter lens for the photographer who has a budget to work on.
Although this lens does not come with the widest possible focal length (like 16mm), this lens no doubt has great versatility which covers our most frequently used focal lengths. As a Fuji fanboy, I do miss the aperture ring. But let’s not forget that it does produce decent image quality, compact size, and reliable autofocus speed. And most importantly, it is priced very well for a constant aperture lens. What can I ask for? A better-built quality like the I series. I hope to see the X-mount variant someday.
Thank you for reading.
1. All the shots taken here are shot by me.
2. Sigma 18-50mm f2.8 is running on firmware 0.99. At the time of this blog release, firmware 1.10 was released, but I have not had the chance to upgrade and test it.
3. Most of the shots are straight out of the camera with some shots edited via In-Camera Raw Processing or Capture One.
4. The opinions are based on my experience. If there is any mistake, please kindly drop me a message and I will gladly make the amendment.
5. I reserve ownership of these images, if you wish to use my images, please notify me.
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