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

Jonathan F/2

Regular
Aug 21, 2011
69
Los Angeles, USA
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 a 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 a 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.

190510_SIGMA_15_30__LENS_FRIOLO_001
by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

B.

190510_SIGMA_15_30__LENS_FRIOLO_003
by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

C.

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.

190512_AMERICANA_PHOTOS_FRIOLO_013
by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr


2.

190512_AMERICANA_PHOTOS_FRIOLO_003
by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

3.

190509_SIGMA_15_30__PHOTOS_FRIOLO_014
by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

4.

190509_SIGMA_15_30__PHOTOS_FRIOLO_010
by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr
5.

190512_AMERICANA_PHOTOS_FRIOLO_004
by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

6.

190512_AMERICANA_PHOTOS_FRIOLO_017
by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

7.

190512_AMERICANA_PHOTOS_FRIOLO_005
by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

8.

190512_AMERICANA_PHOTOS_FRIOLO_007
by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

9.

190512_AMERICANA_PHOTOS_FRIOLO_006
by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

10.

190509_SIGMA_15_30__PHOTOS_FRIOLO_015
by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr
 
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rayvonn

All-Pro
Jan 19, 2015
124
I thought about that Tamron 15-30 as well which looked super but as you say, that size....

The biggest lens I have and not the biggest by dslr standards is a 100-400mm. I can accept that because of the long focal length but a heavy wide angle the size of a brick? A case of having to adjust mind over matter for me.
 
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Jonathan F/2

Regular
Aug 21, 2011
69
Los Angeles, USA
I thought about that Tamron 15-30 as well which looked super but as you say, that size....

The biggest lens I have and not the biggest by dslr standards is a 100-400mm. I can accept that because of the long focal length but a heavy wide angle the size of a brick? A case of having to adjust mind over matter for me.
I've been gravitating towards smaller, lightweight lenses. I used to chase around fast apertures and big glass, but now I'm more content with smaller lenses that still exhibit excellent sharpness, pleasant rendering characteristics and cheaper prices!

Also one thing I notice lugging around a DSLR is people take notice of you. Using a mirrorless camera, even if you shoot them right in front of their face, they just don't seem to care as much!
 

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