A while ago I ended up selling my Fuji 16-55 f/2.8 red-badge lens because while I thought it was a really good lens… it was also big and heavy and I had all the focal lengths covered in primes.
A year or so later, here comes along the Sigma 18-50 f/2.8 Contemporary lens, and I’ve got to admit, this thing makes me totally miss having a zoom in this focal range.
Thanks, Sigma, for sending me the 18-50, but I do want to say that even though I’m sending the lens back to Sigma later today, I ended up ordering my own copy because this lens is.. pretty legit!
Let’s look at why:
Let’s start with the build quality and feel to the lens.
This is REALLY light for a f/2.8 lens, and when I first got it, I thought it was going to be one of those silly lenses that sounds great on paper, but does’t give us great real-world results.
I was totally wrong.
Because while it’s not built like a tank like the 16-55, the Sigma seems to punch way above its weight class.
In operation, the focus is fast, silent, and accurate. Through a few thousand shots with it in the past month, I can say I’m happy with the operation in all my shooting, which has been mostly casual photo walks and family photographs. The lens just seems confident to find the focus, making the experience of using it a joy. The only thing that gave me pause for just a moment was the direction we move the barrel to zoom – it’s opposite of what we normally have in Fuji zooms. But… that was easy to get used to.
The full frame focal range of 24-75 is a classic one. This means you have a lot of versatility in one body.
I love lenses like these that give us the ability to tell stories. We can do a range of wide, medium and close focal lengths, all without moving our feet. It’s one of the reasons these medium zooms have been so popular for decades.
One of the standout features for me is this lens’ minimum focus distance. It’s AMAZING. If we’re going to talk about storytelling, check this sequence out. I’m standing farther away and get a shot at 18mm, 30 mm and 50 mm. With the Sigma 18-50, however, a totally unexpected bonus is wide-angle macro ability. I just got close to this detail on the tree and took these few photographs. I even had to take off the lens hood to get the last one, and I was so close I was blocking out light!
Here’s another shot of a leaf I found, just to show you how impressive it is to be able to get this close.
I also wanted to add in that manually focusing with this lens is a lot of fun. Fuji has kind of crappy manual focus with some of their best lenses, where the focusing seems a little jittery – but with the Sigma, the manual focus is smooth and accurate and really just fun to use.
And as for image quality, the photos look great. I spent almost all my time using the Sigma 18-50 with Fuji’s newest 40-megapixel sensor, and I think the photos look very good.
It’s been extremely cold, cloudy, and rainy here in Omaha, Nebraska, so a lot of the photos were taken in darker conditions. In the winter months, I move to a little darker photography than usual, where I welcome some blur and don’t mind bumping up the grain. The Sigma totally keeps up with me, focusing in difficult conditions, and giving me as much image quality as I could hope for when ISO settings go to 6400 and beyond.
This example, for instance, is one of my favorites. It shows how beautifully the camera renders out-of-focus areas, and even though I’m at ISO 6400, the detail is all there on the stem.
Here are a few more in extremely dark conditions. I’m shooting with ISO 6400 and f/2.8, trying to keep my shutter speed high as a storm moves in. The autofocus did an incredible job in these difficult conditions.
In good light though, the photos look great. Here is a shot of a motel sign, and the color, contrast and detail look fantastic.
Another shot of the Omaha Skyline, in fading light at ISO 400 looks very impressive. Even at f/2.8 I can see a lot of detail, and when you zoom in you can see birds flying way in the background.
And finally, I’ve been using the lens as my main product lens. It renders details well, and the minimum focus distance helps me do all I need without switching lenses.
When you match the impressive image quality that comes out of the lens with the versatility you get with the focal range and the ability to do macro photographs… you’ve got a pretty awesome, affordable lens. THIS is why competition is so important.
The Sigma 16-50 f/2.8 Contemporary lens surprised me. I wasn’t expecting to like it this much, and I can’t wait for my own copy to arrive AND to get it out when the weather gets a little better here.
Interested in purchasing the 18-50 for Fuji X mount? You can do so here, on my affiliate link. You pay no more, but I get a small commision. It’s a small way to support the channel: https://amzn.to/3W1VCQV
Here are a few more from the 18-50 f/2.8 Contemporary lens from Sigma: