Review The Sigma 15-30mm EX DG Lens - Revisiting modern vintage glass!

Joined
Mar 4, 2005
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* I posted about this lens in the Lens Lust and Lens Sample Image Showcase, but I've decided to compile all my thoughts and sample images in a single review! :D


Lately I've been researching all the various wide angle lenses you can get for a modern DSLR. After shooting mirrorless for awhile and witnessing the smallness and simplicity of compact M-mount wide angle glass, especially the Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 Heliar lens, I've been searching for a DSLR equivalent. The problem with DSLR wide angle lenses is they all come with certain compromises. Either they're too big, not wide enough or use bulbous front glass negating filters. There's no such thing as small, wide and takes filters with DSLR wide angle lenses, no matter what you choose, you're going to have accept one of the compromises.

Brief History:
Awhile back, I used to own a Sigma 15-30mm EX DG lens and I eventually sold it chasing better and greener lens pastures! Originally this lens didn't get too much love because when it was released in 2001, it was too big, not wide enough, had slow AF and had generally sucky flare performance. On Nikon APS-C bodies it had a very limited a 22.5-45mm FOV. Nikon and other lens makers eventually released APS-C optimized wide angle lenses and then FF lenses for bigger sensors. The Sigma 15-30mm was forgotten and discontinued.

Fortunately Sigma had the foresight to make this lens full frame, gave it an aperture ring for Nikon bodies and it was actually designed to take advantage of the digital sensor. In fact this lens was one of the first attempts at making a digital optimized lens and also was the predecessor to the modern ultra wide angle zoom predating the Nikon 14-24mm, Tamron 15-30mm, Tokina 16-28mm and even the various Sigma 12-24mm lenses.

Today:
Fast forward today and I've been getting that wide angle zoom itch, but I didn't really want to spend that much money and I totally remembered the Sigma 15-30mm I owned years ago! What people didn't realize back in the early 2000s is that the Sigma 15-30mm was big due to being full frame 15mm ultra wide, yet compared to the modern wide angle zooms of today, it is actually quite small. Also I didn't want to deal with AF motor failures since Sigma stopped servicing some of their early HSM lenses and Tokina also having some motor failure reports with their Tokina 16-28mm ATX lens. What's nice about having an aperture ring lens is that this lens is backwards compatible with Nikon film SLRs and can also be adapted to modern mirrorless cameras using an adapter. In fact on mirrorless auto focus with this lens can be achieved on something like the Sony A7III + Techart Pro AF adapter! So what's old is new again!

Coming back full circle:
I found a clean used copy of the Sigma 15-30mm lens in F-mount for about $180 USD and tested it out on my D750. On a modern digital FF DSLR it's now the smallest ultra wide angle zoom beyond 17mm, 15mm is actually quite wide for most applications (landscape, architecture, interiors), and AF is much faster on Nikon's more advanced AF systems. Also corner performance is not bad for it's 2001 vintage and better than wide angle lenses designed for film. Unfortunately flare is still an issue creating odd purple blotches, so one has to be mindful of pointing the lens directly at the sun or strong light source.

Anyways I'm quite happy about my purchase due to the bang-for-buck ratio, so check out some samples! ;)

Images of the lens mounted on Nikon D750 + utilizing a custom stitched neoprene coat:

A.

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190510_SIGMA_15_30__LENS_FRIOLO_001 by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr


B.

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190510_SIGMA_15_30__LENS_FRIOLO_003 by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr


C.

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190510_SIGMA_15_30__LENS_FRIOLO_002 by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr




All shot with the Nikon D750 + Sigma 15-30mm EX DG Lens:


1.

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190512_AMERICANA_PHOTOS_FRIOLO_013 by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr



2.

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190512_AMERICANA_PHOTOS_FRIOLO_003 by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr


3.

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190509_SIGMA_15_30__PHOTOS_FRIOLO_014 by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr


4.

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190509_SIGMA_15_30__PHOTOS_FRIOLO_010 by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr


5.

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190512_AMERICANA_PHOTOS_FRIOLO_004 by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr


6.

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190512_AMERICANA_PHOTOS_FRIOLO_017 by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr


7.

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190512_AMERICANA_PHOTOS_FRIOLO_005 by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr


8.

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190512_AMERICANA_PHOTOS_FRIOLO_007 by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr


9.

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190512_AMERICANA_PHOTOS_FRIOLO_006 by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr


10.

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190509_SIGMA_15_30__PHOTOS_FRIOLO_015 by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr​
 
Last edited:
Joined
May 15, 2005
Messages
1,827
Location
Israel
Real Name
Heiko
Thanks for sharing. I just bought a Tamron 15-30/F2.8 G2 for my new D850. Nice lens too, but I think you got more bang for the buck.
 
Joined
Mar 4, 2005
Messages
15,076
Location
Los Angeles, USA
Thanks for sharing. I just bought a Tamron 15-30/F2.8 G2 for my new D850. Nice lens too, but I think you got more bang for the buck.
My main motivation for getting the Sigma 15-30mm DG was due to cost, reliability and the wide focal length. It's almost a no-brainer at under $200 USD. The Sigma lens is screw driven so I don't have to worry about replacing the lens motor and 15mm is plenty wide. The only real fault of this lens is it's weak flare control, but I also have the 16-35mm f/4 for my Sony kit when I need something better corrected. The Sigma's main purpose is to cover that range with my Nikon DSLRs without breaking the bank. ;)
 
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