The Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 DC DN Contemporary lens is a small, light, and fast zoom lens suitable for a wide range of subjects. I spent a week testing the 18-50mm, and I was very impressed with this tiny powerhouse of a lens, which is now available for Fujifilm X Mount cameras.
- 10 groups, 13 elements (1 SLD and 3 aspherical lenses)
- 7 rounded diaphragm blades
- Maximum magnification: 1:2.8
- Filter size: 55 mm
Bigger On The Inside
When I first unboxed the 18-50mm, I was surprised by its compact size and weight, especially considering that it boasts a constant f/2.8 aperture. Not only is it small, but it is also light, and it paired nicely with my Fujifilm X-T4. In fact, it’s so compact that I was initially skeptical as to whether the lens would be robust enough for professional use, which I’m glad to report was not the case.
I first put the 18-50mm (35mm equivalent of 27-75mm) through its paces while taking office candids at a software firm. I thought that the focal length and fast aperture would make a perfect pairing for candids in natural light, and since I had not tried the lens before, I was ready to switch it out if I didn’t think it was getting the job done. I liked the results so much that I used the lens for the majority of the shoot. It is nicely sized and has a large rubberized zoom ring, and the zoom range made group shots, portraits, and finding interesting angles to shoot from, easy and enjoyable. More importantly, the image quality and color rendition under fluorescent lighting was superb, but more on the quality later.
After a few minutes shooting with the 18-50mm, it dawned on me that this tiny lens was allowing me to shoot indoors without a flash, while providing brilliant results. Since I’m used to a lens with similar specs to be much larger and heavier, the small size and discreetness of the 18-50mm truly impressed me. This is why I jest that the 18-50 is bigger on the inside. Don’t be fooled by the size, because it functions like a much bigger and heavier lens.
Build Quality and Handling
Although the lens is quite light, it feels robust and solid. The zoom ring has a rubberized finish, which makes it easy to grip and use. Street photographers and other outdoor shooters will also appreciate the rubber-sealed mount, which makes it perfect for less than ideal shooting environments. It has a metal lens mount and a zoom ring that is smooth with just the right amount of resistance to stay in place. My only critique about the build has to do with the manual focus ring, which I found slightly too narrow. Although it is smooth and works well, it was a bit hard to find the ring while my eye was up to the viewfinder. It should also be noted that the lens does not have a physical aperture ring, which most Fujifilm users prefer over dialing in the settings via a command dial. Obviously, the lack of an aperture ring is not a criticism of the design, but should be noted for Fujifilm users.
I was very impressed with the image quality, color rendition, and sharpness of the lens. I tested it at a variety of apertures and focal lengths, and used it in both raw and JPEG format on my X-T4. In addition to my corporate shoot, I tested the 18-50mm with my most difficult subjects, my two small children! I also took some closeups at a nature preserve because the lens has excellent close focus capabilities. Finally, I had an impromptu photo shoot featuring my bandmates in order to test the lens in a studio setting. In each situation, the lens performed beyond my expectations, and although I generally use prime lenses, I loved the ability to take portraits, group shots, and landscapes without changing lenses and without sacrificing image quality.
One of the highlights of the lens is its sharpness. On my nature walk, I took some flower photos, all handheld, and the detail is quite impressive. Additionally, the 18-50mm's excellent close focus ability is a nice touch.As a diehard Fujifilm user, I tested a variety of Fuji’s native film simulations to see how they looked with a third-party lens. Again, I was very happy with the color rendition, quality, and overall look of the simulations when paired with the 18-50mm. A highlight for me was using Velvia, which is Fuji’s vivid simulation. Although I generally do not like this simulation for portraits, as the skin tones look oversaturated, I found the saturation and color to be excellent for some of the fall photos I took of my kids. The images have rich blacks, punchy colors, and quite a bit of depth to them.
At the studio, I was once again pleased with the quality of the lens. The images are very pleasing, with rich blacks and good contrast. Overall, I was very happy with the photos I produced in each situation.
The autofocus is silent and fast. Anecdotally, I found the autofocus speed and accuracy to be on par with my Fujifilm 16-55mm f/2.8. Additionally, the lens is very quiet, which makes it suitable for both still and video shooting. Regarding focus accuracy and stickiness in continuous AF mode, again the lens performed similarly to my Fujifilm 18-55mm, and gave consistently sharp images without a lot of misses.
The Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 DC DN Contemporary lens surprised me in many ways. It is so small and light that I initially forgot I was using a zoom lens with a constant f/2.8 aperture. Since one would expect those specs to be in a much larger package, it took a minute for me to appreciate how extraordinary the design really is. This, in my opinion, is the best part of the 18-50mm, since I was able to shoot in low-light situations without having to lug around a large lens that throws off the balance of my relatively small camera. As I mentioned previously, it pairs excellently with the X-T4 in size and weight, and I did not take it off of my camera at all in the time I had it for testing. The sharpness, contrast, color rendition, and build quality make this lens quite appealing for anyone using an APS-C size camera.
What I Liked
- Compact design
- Robust build quality
- Excellent sharpness, contrast, and color
- Fast autofocus
What Can Be Improved
- Manual focus ring is slightly narrow