Sigma is considered by most to be one of the most reputable third party lens manufacturers on the market. They produce lenses for all of the major brands on the market. Most of their lenses are very comparable (and sometimes better) in both performance and price.
In this article we’re going to discuss the 5 best Sigma lens for Nikon. What makes them so great, and why these lenses in particular should be on your list for your next purchase.
By the end of this article you’ll have a better understanding of what sigma offers; and which lens would best suit your needs!
Before we dive into the lenses themselves, let’s take a minute and talk about full frame and APS-C camera bodies.
The difference between APS-C (DX) and Full Frame (FX) camera bodies
In most basic terms, APS-C is a cropped sensor. There is a native 1.5x crop while using this sensor. This would mean if you placed a 50mm lens on a APS-C camera body, you would then have a 75mm focal length. This calulation is achieved by multiplying the focal length of the lens by the crop factor amount. 50 * 1.5 = 75.
Full frame, on the other hand, does not have a crop. When you place a 50mm lens on this sensor/camera body, you will have a 50mm focal length. Simple, right?
Should I get an APS-C or Full Frame camera?
Well, that depends on what you enjoy shooting. Or at least what you will be shooting the most. Both types of bodies will produce amazing images.
There are subjects that an APS-C camera is better at photographing. There are also aspects of the sensor that become more appealing to others versus full frame. Wildlife photographers generally stick with APS-C sensors because of the extended reach of their lens. When you factor in that crop, your telephoto lenses become that much more telephoto. For instance, a 200-400mm lens, when placed on a APS-C body becomes a 300-600mm. Even photographers that need extra reach resort to this sensor as well.
As far as full frame goes, these are better for landscape photographers or interior/architecture photographers (real estate). Those using wide angle lenses tend to use a full frame camera to give them the extra width that the sensor offers. Dark environments are better photographed on a full frame sensor as well. It captures more light because the sensor itself is larger.
Astrophotography is a tossup, in my opinion. You want a long focal length when shooting deep space, but you also want a sensor that allows in as much light as possible. This is a choice that an astrophotographer has to make on their own. For me, I stick with an APS-C camera body when shooting the stars or deep space.
Now that you have a better understanding of the difference between the two camera bodies, lets move onto the lenses themselves!
If you’ve done any amount of research on sigma lenses for Nikon, I’m sure you’ve stumbled across the 18-35mm f/1.8. This is one of the most common sigma lenses placed on any camera body (Sony, Canon, etc.). There’s a reason for this. Let me explain.
For starters, this is an APS-C lens. It’s made for APS-C camera bodies. You would not want to put this lens on a full frame camera. So, if you own an APS-C camera body, keep reading!
18-35mm is an amazing focal length. You’ll be able to get wide establishing shots, along with medium/closer shots of your subject. Many event photographers use these focal lengths to grab their establishing and performance shots. You will not notice much distortion out of this lens or focal length when getting close to your subject.
Speaking of getting close to your subject, your focal distance is very short as well. This allows you to get close to your subject and still be able to keep them in focus. You’ll notice with other lenses, you would need to stay a ways away to maintain focus. Not with this lens. You’re able to get in really tight for detailed shots.
The biggest advantage to this lens is the aperture. That’s specifically, f/1.8. This aperture allows you to shoot in dark environments quite well. You’ll also get amazing bokeh. What makes it really amazing is that the aperture opens so wide, and doesn’t variate, through the entire zoom range. This zoom lens has one of the widest apertures on the market.
All of this comes in at a very respectable price!
The 24-70mm focal length is one of the most widely used and versatile focal lengths out there. There are photographers (and videographers) who put this on their camera and never take it off. Now, the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 that was mentioned earlier, is not offered by Nikon. This focal length on the other hand, is. We recommend this version over the Nikon. Here’s why.
When looking at the focal lengths themselves, you’re getting a pretty wide range of iconic lengths to work with. The 24mm is a perfect wide angle/landscape/establishing shot focal length. Then the 35mm for slightly closer/ focused shots. You then hit 50mm, one that could be regarded as the best focal length in photo history. Then you hit 70mm - which is an incredible portrait length (along with the 50mm).
Image quality is very comparable. As you can tell from some of the images provided in this article, the images don’t look much different from each other. Sharpness, vignetting, aperture, etc… it’s all pretty much the same.
The big difference between the two is cost. The Sigma is, on average, about $400 less than the native Nikon version. Mind you, the Sigma does come with optical image stabilization and a quick and quiet autofocusing motor. Pretty much everything the Nikon version does, but less expensive.
I know that the decision to purchase a lens shouldn’t come down to just cost. But this is what it comes down to. Image quality is equal. The aperture is the same fantastic f/2.8. It has image stabilization and great autofocus. So, in my opinion, Sigma wins this. If you’re not a die-hard Nikon fan and only shoot with Nikon, there is no reason you shouldn’t own this focal length and this brand specifically.
I had to include this in the list for best Sigma lens for Nikon. This focal length is incredible and this lens is equally fantastic.
First, as you probably know already, this is a prime lens. Prime means only one focal length. It’s 35mm. It doesn’t zoom in any way. You physically have to move closer or further away from your subject to frame them the way you want them. There are so many perks to prime lenses. Most notibly, sharpness, aperture, autofocus speed.
This focal range is great for those wanting somewhat of an establishing shot along with your subject. The lens sits in the sweet spot between 24mm and 50mm. This is great for those shots where you want to frame your subject in such a way where there’s not too much of the surroundings (like you would get with a 24mm) - and not too narrow to where you get a nice piece of the background (the 50mm). This is quite a great balance of the two.
As far as the lens goes, Nikon does offer their own version. But, again, it comes down to cost. Get this, the Nikon version is over double the price of the Sigma version. Sharpness and image quality are just about equal. Aperture stops down to the beautiful f1.4. You also see the same amount of vignetting between the two. There is one drawback compared to the Nikon version though. Image stabilization.
No image stabilization
Nope, there is no image stabilization on the Sigma 35mm f/1.8. This could be a deal breaker for you. This means you may have blurrier and less sharp photos from this lens compared to the Nikon because of the stabilization. Stabilization keeps the image stable and sharp when shooting handheld. I, myself, shoot 80% handheld. Image stabilization across all platforms has helped me out quite a bit.
You need to ask yourself if image stabilization is worth over double the cost of a lens. If you ask me, that answer is no. You can get great shots out of a non stabilized lens versus a stabilized one. Trust me. All it takes is a little more attention in the handheld area and before you know it you’ll be taking impressive photos without it.
Let me tell you, this is a wide angle lens. Period. If you haven’t seen 14mm (wider than a Gopro) - taking photographs with a lens this wide will most likely blow your mind. Not only that, but this lens zooms from 14 to 24mm. Let’s discuss the perks to that.
14mm is great for a few things. You capture that much more in a landscape photo. In my opinion, this qualifies as an ultra-wide (focal length wider than 16mm). It’s also an incredible focal length for real estate photography. If you want to make someone look much larger than it really is… shoot it at this focal length.
On the other hand, 24mm is a little tighter. While it’s still wide, you’ll get more of an iconic establishing shot kind of focal length. A shot capturing a bride and groom along with the church is an example of this focal length.
The lens is very comparable to the Nikon version. Sharpness, autofocus, vignetting… all very similar. Much like the last lens, you won’t get image stabilization with this lens. You also won’t be able to put on a traditional ND filter. There are no threads on this lens because the lens pops out too far to thread one to it.
But all of this comes about $400 less than the Nikon version. Like state in the intro, Sigma is a very comparable version of many lens manufacturers. Not only that, they are much less expensive, as seen with this lens.
There are so many great things about this focal length. Not only that, but if you have (or plan to have) the 24-70mm, your focal lengths are complete up to 200mm. Let’s talk about the focal length, then we will discuss the lens itself.
To be honest, I shoot 70-200mm 80% of the time. If you don’t know already - I shoot portraits for the most part. This is an incredible focal range for portraits. You start with 70 and quickly reach 85mm (which is considered the best focal length by most). But it’s what happens after 85mm that makes this lens so great…
...that would be compression. Lenses will compress the foreground and background into the midground (your subject). This is apparent when looking at the photos provided above. This is great for not only isolating a subject, but pulling the background into the subject. Distortion is pretty much eliminated at this focal length as well. Your creative possibilities are expanded that much more by having this range in your arsenal.
As far as the lens itself, this is a very affordable 70-200mm f/2.8. You’ll get very sharp photos, little vignetting (esp above 100mm) and a quick autofocus motor. You’ll also get great image stabilization. There really isn’t anything else you could ask for… well…
...price is a pretty big factor as well. You’ll save about $600 (sometimes more) if you go with the sigma over the Nikon version. Again, Sigma lenses are very comparable and much more affordable. This lens lives up to that and doesn’t disappoint.
That’s it...for now…
Well, I hope you have a better idea of which is the best Sigma lens for Nikon. Better yet, I hope you have a better idea of which one would be the best for you and your situation!
If you would like to check out my work, my wife and I run a photo and video service out here in San Diego. You can check us out on our website, JnRPhotoVideo.
If you aren’t sure which one you’re going to choose yet, be sure to bookmark this page and come back to it later. Thinking it over and coming back later to make a decision is sometimes the best plan of action if you aren’t too sure yet.
As always, thank you so much for reading. Keep shooting and creating!