Sigma created quite a stir when it announced its new, groundbreaking 8-16mm lens. Why? The first digital SLRs had sub frame, crop sensors, which resulted in lenses giving different fields of view than their actual millimeter measurement, usually of a 1.5x factor. For example, a 100mm lens would have the equivalent field of view of a 150mm optic when mounted on a digital SLR. While the extra reach on the tele end was nice, headaches resulted on the wide end of the focal range.
With the crop factor, wide angle lenses lost their wideness. Standard 28mm lenses essentially became 42mm. Even ultrawide lenses such as Canon's 16-35L or Nikon's 17-35 morphed into standard lenses at the wide end. To make up for this problem, manufacturers started doing two things: making dSLRs with 35mm film-zised (full frame) sensors and pushing the focal lengths farther and farther back for crop cam only lenses.
The options: no perfect solution.
First option: the full frame dSLR. FF digital SLRs were expensive, first $8,000 with Canon's original EOS 1Ds, then $3,500 with Canon's EOS 5D. Even now, the cheapest FF dSLR, Sony's A850, still costs $2,000 for the body alone. Going FF digital is expensive even today.
Option two: crop specific lenses. Realizing that film lenses just wouldn't cut it at the wide end on digital, manufacturers started pulling back the focal length on digital only lenses. Why digital only? Simple, because on FF, the imaging circles of these lenses are so small that they will produce a tunnel effect (vignetting is too mild a term here). So back the focal lengths went. First came 12mm, then 10mm. Still, despite being wide, these new lenses still couldn't match the widest 35mm/full frame digital offering: Sigma's FF capable 12-24mm that came with a stunning 121 degree field of view. It appeared as though croppers were forever doomed to lack the ultra-ultra-wide capabilities film/FF digital users would experience.
Then came PMA 2010.
As a last minute announcement, Sigma rolled out 5 new lenses. While all promising in their own way, 4 of them were nothing revolutionary. However, the 5th more than made up for this fact because it was a 8-16mm model, which will offer the same, stunning 121 degree field as Sigma's own FF capable 12-24 (2003 release).
The Sigma 8-16 finally appeared on Sigma's website two weeks ago with an inflated $1,100 MSRP. With that, all the signs were pointing toward an imminent release. Now, just after surfing around the Web this weekend, I noticed that the Sigma 8-16 was available at Adorama in Canon, Sigma, and Sony/Minolta mounts and was expected in Nikon and Pentax shortly. It was also available as a preorder at Amazon, too. Price: $700. So now that the floodgate has been breached, expect it to swing open and the new lens to start showing up all over the web at different retailers.
By the way, Photozone was the first to get a hold of this lens for a review. Conclusion: highly recommended.
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