It’s fast but it’s also a zoom lens! For a long time now, zoom lenses have been firmly in the world of compromise. They are practical in terms of saving lots of time on low budget productions but that advantage comes at a cost.
Zooms allow you to change your framing really quickly without moving the camera and also allow you to change focal length without mounting a new lens but traditionally you had to pay the price, both in sharpness and in speed.
Well, now all that is coming to an end, as modern zoom lenses bring some of the qualities that were previously only in the realm of Prime lenses.
Exciting new zoom
As Neil Roberts reports, Sigma have produced an exciting new zoom lens which is at f1.8 through the entire 18-35mm zoom range! This is of course incredibly fast for a zoom lens. In fact it is faster than many prime lenses out there! It features a 9 blade design on the aperture for more circular bokeh and being able to open as far as f1.8 should allow for shallower depth of field too. Of course we are still to find out how sharp it will be wide open, but it’s nice to have the options that the extra speed brings with it.
The lens is APS-C compatible (so not DSLR “full frame”) but that should mean it will cover the image area of digital cinema cameras with Super 35mm sized sensors. Initially the lens will be available in Nikon, Canon EF and Sigma mounts. I would obviously love to see this made available in PL mount, and if Sigma themselves aren’t up for it, maybe someone else will get creative.
Having said that the Canon EF mount will be very handy not just for use with Canon DSLR’s but also with the EF mount cinema cameras and the new 4k Production camera from Blackmagic. With a suitable adaptor it should also be a nice option for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera where the 18mm wide end might be especially handy due to the fact that cameras smaller sensor results in lenses being more telephoto than they would be on a Super 35mm sized sensor.
The front element of the zoom does not rotate as it zooms, so it should be possible to use this lens with anamorphic adaptors and the like. Focus is also internal, so the physical length of the lens remains static. It takes 72mm screw in lens filters.
Zoom lenses are really starting to change getting both faster and sharper, perhaps we will soon reach a point where prime lenses are more used exclusively for the character they bring to the images rather than them being the pinnacle of sharpness and speed in the lens world.