Sigma remains to be among the go-to third-party brands of photographers for lenses and camera accessories. Despite its demand and popularity, why are Sigma lenses cheaper, and will they withstand the various travel adventures you take them on? We’re going to look into factors why Sigma can produce quality lenses while being less expensive than its competitors.
Why Are Sigma Lenses Cheaper?
Sigma lenses are cheaper because they have fewer parts and simpler lens configuration. This results in efficient construction that minimizes manufacturing costs. Besides that, limited focal length ranges also avoid aspherical complexity to ensure lower prices yet quality optics.
As Sigma continues to level the playing field by developing top-notch lenses of various focal ranges, let’s look at how the Japanese photography manufacturing company offers lenses that suit the budget of photographers.
What Makes Sigma Lenses Cheaper
Third-party lenses are optimized for a lower price because Sigma lenses have less complex mechanisms and simpler craftsmanship. Even though these third-party lenses can be used on Nikon and Canon camera bodies, some lens models also lack optional features that became the selling point for premium lenses.
From the photography industry’s first teleconverter lens in 1961 up to its premium compact prime line last year, Sigma continues to find cost-efficient ways to elevate its status as a front-runner in the lens manufacturing market.
Manufacturing Process and Craftsmanship
The market expects a global shipment of 250 million lens units by 2027 due to the increased demand for high-performance camera lenses. However, complexity is one of the things that directly affects manufacturing costs. This determines the sophistication of a product, including its production processes for the final output.
With 6 decades of optical engineering experience, Sigma was able to develop a unique production system and manufacturing technology. Thanks to testing and quality control phases, Sigma keeps its lens designs simpler to reduce production expenses and make manufacturing faster.
- 3D measurement: Sigma’s processing technology ensures absolute precision in molding parts, especially the lens cells. The fast process enables the company to save time in production, consequently preventing additional costs to consumers.
- Thermally efficient plastic: Expensive lenses typically have metallic materials. In contrast, Sigma can create cheaper lenses using thermally stable composite plastic, which shares the similar thermal expansion of aluminum.
- Raw material selection: Sigma incorporates trivalent chromium in its lens production. It enables the company to create plating films that are only 0.5 micrometers thick. Unlike other lenses that use highly toxic hexavalent chromium, trivalent chromium is an environmentally friendly alternative for preventing corrosion of the lens barrel.
- Motor: Another major contributor to Sigma’s cheap lenses is its motor design. Its cheaper models don’t use Hyper Sonic Motor, which provides silent and highly responsive autofocus.
- Ruggedness: While this also applies to other brands, Sigma can reduce lens prices by excluding weather sealing. This feature isn’t required for lenses, although this is beneficial to outdoor photographers who are usually exposed to environmental elements like water, dirt, and dust.
Sigma starts by refining raw glass into lens shapes. Due to automation, robotic molding finetunes the optical components. This product assembly reduces the number of elements in the lens, reducing production costs.
While considered a generic third-party brand, not all Sigma lenses are compatible with the mounts of leading camera manufacturers, such as Canon, Nikon, Fuji, and Sony. These brands normally have property information about their camera mounts.
Furthermore, Sigma lenses with rounded glasses at the front make them incompatible with screw-on filters. While the design eliminates vignetting, it also prevents lenses from having the fastest apertures possible.
Lens Resolution and Magnification
Sigma has a 1.4m minimum focusing distance, whereas its competitors tend to have 1.2m. In addition, Sigma lenses have a 0.13x maximum magnification rate, while lenses of other brands usually work 0.21x.
However, that is not to say that Sigma lenses have poor lens resolution. It’s just that certain models aren’t on the same status as Zeiss or Leica lenses. This is the tradeoff for having compact and lightweight lenses that offer flexibility to photographers.
Cheaper Sigma Lenses Cater to Beginner Photographers
Sigma lenses are popular among photographers who use mirrorless cameras or are looking for a more budget friendly option for taking travel photos. For example, Sigma has a holy trinity of prime lenses: 16mm f/1.4, 30mm f/1.4, and 56mm f/1.4. All of these work on Sony APS-C E-mount cameras.
It’s not that entry-level photographers don’t deserve high-end equipment. Keep in mind that while lenses can improve your photography, the output still significantly depends on your creativity and techniques.
It would be easy to develop a shooting technique when you can practice on a cheap lens. In effect, it will also be easier for you to post-process images. On the other hand, even the most expensive and best-built lenses would produce blurry images if incorrectly used.
Despite its international reputation, Sigma offers cheaper lenses because of ergonomic construction processes, alternative materials, and simple lens configuration. However, make sure that you weigh in if the low price provides the focal length, features, and benefits necessary for your photography style.