Sigma 12-24mm v Sigma 15-30mm v Canon 17-40mm L
v Contax Zeiss 21mm Distagon f2.8

ISO 100 / Full frame Canon 1Ds Mark I with mirror lock up, f8 / 1 second / AWB on a Manfrotto 155 with view camera
head, legs locked. All were shot RAW and processed in 8 bit via Capture One to TIFFs and converted for web
with BoxTop Pro JPEG. Lighting: single 500W head.

 

Centre Frame - hanging POS (mid ground) resampled from 270px to 350px

Sigma 15-30mm @ 21mm Canon 17-40mm @ 21mm Zeiss 21mm Sigma 12-24 @ 21mm

 

Foreground

Sigma 15-30mm @ 21mm Canon 17-40mm @ 21mm Zeiss 21mm Sigma 12-24 @ 21mm

 

Edge Frame 1

Sigma 15-30mm @ 21mm Canon 17-40mm @ 21mm Zeiss 21mm Sigma 12-24 @ 21mm

 

Edge Frame 2

Sigma 15-30mm @ 21mm Canon 17-40mm @ 21mm Zeiss 21mm Sigma 12-24 @ 21mm

 

Corner 1

Sigma 15-30mm @ 21mm Canon 17-40mm @ 21mm Zeiss 21mm Sigma 12-24 @ 21mm

 

Corner 2

Sigma 15-30mm @ 21mm Canon 17-40mm @ 21mm Zeiss 21mm Sigma 12-24 @ 21mm

 

What to make of this?

The outstanding result is confirmation of the overwhelming supremacy of the Zeiss 21mm
- especially in the corners.

The Sigma 12-24mm is clearly the poor relation of the bunch, though it is very consistent
in its centre/corner performance (unlike the Canon) - just uniformly softer across the
frame. None of the lenses tested showed significant CA.

The Sigma 15-30mm matches or maybe even outresolves the Zeiss 21mm in the frame centre,
though it can't compare to the Zeiss' edge performance.

I suspect that the Sigma 15-30mm was focused slightly further away than the Canon 17-40mm
- which explains the Sigma's poor foreground showing - and reveals just how terrible the
Canon is at the frame edges and corners. I'm frankly at a loss to see how the Canon can
match the Sigma at the right mid-ground edge, but be so awful at the left foreground edge
when the Canon's focus is closer to the camera? I can only surmise microvariation in the
optics themselves that simply aren't present in the Zeiss design.

In conclusion, I am hugely disappointed by the second 17-40mm L I have tested in this way,
and hugely impressed by the Sigma 15-30mm - just see how sharp it is at 15mm here. As long
as you don't compare the 12-24mm to a Zeiss prime, I think many people are going to be very
happy with the world's first full frame 12mm lens - the image it produced wasn't
conspicuously soft even at A3 / 300dpi. It's just that the Distagon 21mm is in a class of
its own, and the Sigma 15-30mm goes wider, costs less, and performs much better than the
17-40L - at least this one did....

To see how the same Sigma 15-30mm tested against the same Sigma 12-24mm at 15mm, click here

To see different samples of these lenses tested, click here

To see how my first Canon 17-40mm tested against the Zeiss 21mm, click here


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