Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 DC HSM Art lens Review with sample photos

Today, I want to make a review of the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 DC HSM Art lens for Canon mount. If you haven't read my "Why I wanted Sigma 18-35 f1.8 DC HSM Art Lens for my Canon 70D", I did mentioned a bit that I wanted it because of this lens is the zoom lens with f1.8 constant aperture. And so, I decided to purchase it with my own money in June and I was super excited to use it! 

Disclaimer: All the photos that I had below are from the Sigma lens and all are not edited, straight out of camera. Although all photos are raw files, they were exported into JPEGS for file size purposes. 
Happy Reyar!! Right after I got the lens, I decided to make use of it in National Gallery Singapore. 
I immediately noticed after I bought it was it had trouble focusing properly. It kept hunting whenever I use the screen instead of viewfinder. When in viewfinder, it shoots immediately but sometimes you don't get sharp images as it promised.
1/100, f1.8, ISO 400
This photo is one of those unsharp images. I was confused on why it is not as sharp as I would like. I was thinking that maybe it is because I used f1.8 and it is quite difficult to find the place where is sharp.
1/60 sec, f1.8, ISO 320
After trying out confused for half an hour, getting shots like this, I decided to go home and research on how to fix it. After researching on forums and some articles, it seemed that auto focus issues are a common thing that happens with the Canon cameras and you could potentially fix it if you get the Sigma calibration dock. TBH, I don't want to spend another SGD200 on this dock that may or may not fix this issue and I decided to take another approach.

Another day, I decided to try till I get sharp images and I was planning to take lots of photos for the day. I knew there will be some sharp images to get by and since I already got it, I really wanted to get some images that I really like and it would be nice to take.
1/800 sec, f1.8, ISO 400
Still trying to get sharp images and these are totally failing on me. I was sad, frustrated and confused why the lens is failing on me. Especially when everybody loves this lens and I paid more than SGD 1000 for it. I still haven't give up on this lens yet since I didn't have the option of returning it like in US. Singapore don't have the return system on most of the things so I either have to sell it or have to just keep it somewhere. At that time, I didn't know where to sell it so the thought of just letting it collect dust that costs me 1k is unacceptable for me.
1/1600, f1.8, ISO 400
Still getting unsharp images. As for reference, I use mainly my viewfinder and I rarely use my screen to take photos. I kept the camera settings manual, with single shooting, at one shot focus and with manual selection for focus. The metering is at evaluative metering. It's for those who are wondering. I was frustrated that I still didn't get a single decent shot!
1/800 sec, f1.8, ISO 400
I knew it was coming! I had my very first sharp image. It was still at f1.8 so it is not the aperture issue. So what was the issue?

It is still hit or miss with everything about this lens. Sometimes, they are super sharp and sometimes they are not focusing at all. In some of the photos that I took, you might think that they are pretty sharp but I usually zoom into my eyes. I believe, if the rim of the eyes are sharp, then pretty much the face is sharp. Usually, I tend to focus on my face or other people's faces so, it is my logic. I know it's pretty illogical to most of the people (haha). 
1/1250 sec, f1.8, ISO 400
Another crisp sharp of the boyfriend. Even if it is at f1.8, I love the way it looks. 

So back to the question of what's causing the focusing issues? 

Tbh, I have no idea. The most closest experience I have with my lens and my camera is that whenever I use the back screen instead of viewfinder and have my focus tapped on the face of the person, it's a tad sharper than using the viewfinder and take a snap. Although there is no certain that this way is what making the lens not focusing properly. Since in some cases, even the back screen focus is not focusing properly and some of the photos that I took with the viewfinder is sharp. 
1/1000 sec, f1.8, ISO 400
I went to Gardens by the Bay after the National Gallery Singapore and I decided to do macro shots with what I have. And I love the bokeh so much. It is so amazing if you do macro shots and the bokeh will be out of the world. But for normal head shots, I am not sure how I feel about the photos that I got since it's not as creamy as the ones that I got from my Canon 50mm f`1.8 lens.

Of course, the distance of the lens plays a huge role in making the shots buttery smooth and creamy af. But of course, I love the fact that it is zoom lens with a constant aperture of f1.8.
1/1000 sec, f1.8, ISO 400
Overall, on that day, I was kinda satisfied that I got a few shots that I liked from the photo shoot but it's still not the standard that I would like this lens to perform since I paid too much money for it. I wanted this lens to work for me most of the time I use it without failure and it is because my SGD 50mm f1.8 performed so well that it wouldn't make it justice for me to spend 1k on one lens.

Another day, I went for taking photos on Tuas side of the country, I brought this lens to test out again. On this day, I actually got a few shots that I really loved and here's the Instagram post of it.
A post shared by レイ | R E Y A R (@sheisreyar) on

However, I tried using this lens for headshots and they are always somewhat blurry. I never get somewhat decent photos of me.

As usual, I tried with an aperture of f1.8 since I was that nice creamy bokeh. But it still won't focus properly whenever I tried to use viewfinder and this photo below is somewhat of a result that I get every single time.
1/500 sec, f1.8, ISO 400
Another shot that I really enjoyed using the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 lens. At that time, I put at 35mm with back screen turned on and tapped on my face to track my face. It was at f1.8 and around 1/400 sec since it was quite bright in the afternoon.

Then I used it on and off but the lens didn't make a chance to come out since I got assignments and my MBA stuff going on and I hated the fact that it was super bulky and heavy to bring my camera out. I could not fit the camera to my bag unless I bring my backpack and it was really heavy on my bag. Moreover, the lens was not weather resistant so whenever it rained, I didn't want to bring outside my 1k camera.

I did shot a short film with this lens but there were no colour correction, no stabilization and shot hand held. It came out decent but I would like to make it a bit more cinematic in the future if I have the time to do short films again. 

And here comes the AFA 2017. I was really pumped to take lots of photos from the cosplayers and guess who's back?! The focusing issue! It was really annoying and make my photos not focused properly. 
Around november of 2017, my boyfriend said he wanted to get a camera for his own use and asked me which camera brands or camera is good for him. His requirements were that it has to be small and lightweight, somewhat of a new model (at most 1-2 years from release date) and he wants it sharp. 

Since he was the one behind the camera whenever he takes a photo of me so he knew how difficult it is to get a sharp image from the 18-35 lens from Sigma. So when he decided to purchase the Fujifilm X-T20 as I recommended him, we went and tried it in stores. 
Shot on Fujifilm X-T20 at 1/60 sec, f2.8, ISO 500
The photo above was the one Marcus (my bf) took inside the store and he was sold. There were no delay at all and he fell in love with the electronic shutter and the sharpness of the Fujifilm lenses. He bought it on spot and we decided that we should go and use the camera the next day. 

And the photo below is at Gardens by the Bay (again!) where I was testing out the camera and amazed on how well the camera handles and how light and small the camera is. (Well, this is not a camera review of the Fuji but if you want to hear from me, let me know!) 
1/160 sec, f1.8, ISO 100
In the above photo, the lens handle well and gave me a sharp image even though Marcus used the viewfinder and took a shot of me. It was at f1.8. I still use it nonetheless and this time round, I use it more often since I knew the success rate of getting very sharp images are low so I take more.

Then again, my final results came. Life got easier and I didn't had a chance to go out and shoot. But, in January 2018, after my finals, we decided that we will be travelling to Japan. I decided that I will only bring 2 lens. My 50mm f1.8 and the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8. I knew the success rate is quite low but I am willing to give a chance.

The catch is that I let my boyfriend handle the canon with the sigma lens on while I take mainly with the Fujifilm. To my surprise, the photos that the bf took were really good and really sharp. The photo below is the sample image of me taking photo.
1/250 sec, f1.8, ISO 100
January 2018 in Tokyo
After I came back from Japan, I went several trips by myself so I asked my boyfriend whether I could bring his camera to shoot with it. So, after that, I rarely use canon.

Around my birthday, my boyfriend gave me a Fujifilm camera as my birthday gift since I was too impressed by the system and the quality it gave. I only use Canon for my YouTube filming since the video capabilities of the Canon is still much better than that of Fuji.

Today, while I was writing this blogpost, I wanted some affirmation whether the lens still has the focusing problem or whether it has been fixed by itself. So, I tried taking from the dark to my room to see a big contrast and lines to see the sharpness clearly.
1/30 sec, f1.8, ISO 3200
The results were that it still has the issues. The door is out of focus and not sharp at all. Although you will say I had the ISO of 3200 and the 1/30 of a second so it might be from unsteady hands. To my defence, I used a tripod and I used the timer so that my hands won't affect the sharpness of the lens.

The two photos below is a comparison that I made with the Fujifilm lens the Sigma lens. Bare in mind that I got my Canon taking raw files and now I mainly shoot in JPGs for smaller photo size.
So, let's do a pro and cons for this lens. 
- When in focus, super sharp
- 18mm f1.8
- zoomable range that is constant at f1.8
- nice and heavy for steady video movements
- super durable build quality
- nice smooth zoom ring and manual focus ring

- size and weight
- focusing issues
- not weather sealed
- no optical stabilization 
- ugly chromatic aberrations (although can be fixed in post)

Whether I would buy again - if the focusing issues have been fixed, I don't mind getting the lens used. Paying for full price will be the death of me and my wallet. 

The reason why I said whether I would buy again is that I will be selling this lens soon. I love this lens even though it's annoyingly frustrating to shoot. I love the feel of it, the weight of it and it's super sharp when it is in focus. 

So, I will be making another post about why I am selling the lens soon. Stay tuned!!

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