Sigma’s 18-35 Lens Proves Ideal for the Blackmagic Pocket Camera

Speedbooster brings another stop to an already fast lens

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

Sigma’s 18-35 f 1.8 has gotten a “speed boost,” making it an awesome third party lens that will certainly turn cameras like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera “up to 11.”

Maintaining a constant F1.8 all up and down the focal length is certainly an accomplishment, but when you add onto it the Metabones Micro Four-Thirds Speed Booster that takes advantage of the micro four-thirds 3x crop factor you can get it down to f1.2.  And as the video below shows, it gives a ton detail and color. Could this be the poor man’s cinema prime?  You better believe it.

The video was shot entirely handheld during the day, with nighttime scenes shot at ISO 1600 on tripod in ProRes.  But the amount of detail is notable… from strands of feathers to the intricate work of architecture on the walls.  And with a bright exterior back ground and deep shadows, almost no detail is lost.  And then there’s the rain. WOW.

I gotta say, I’ve been impressed by Sigma for awhile now.  I’ve noticed over the last few years that their quality of glass has improved exponentially to the point where I don’t think you can even call it a third party lens anymore, except in the stricture sense of the term.

It used to be a budget lens maker… the lens camera salesmen sold in order to get a higher “spiff,” but now, I’d have to say that they can go head to head with major lens manufacturers and come out on top.

“The Global Vision lenses have a sleek new design with the manufacturing year stamped on the barrel, and are categorized by use into one of three groups: Art, Contemporary and Sports. The Art category delivers high-level artistic expression through sophisticated and abundant expressive power.” – Sigma Website

As part of Sigma’s new Art lens line, the 18-35 F1.8 can provide similar depth of field as that of a full frame camera gunning at F2.8, but with more speed and ability to capture even more light.

Twice as much light into a sensor that’s less than half the area of a full frame, so it’s essentially a wash, with no additional noise.  And though primarily designed for APS-C sensors, when you toss in the Speed Booster, it can really take advantage of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera’s best features, and do so with minimal vignetting.

It used to be that a speed booster would soften things a bit on the periphery, but with the micro four thirds version, the results are sharp, bold images that can take advantage of the BMPCC sensor.

And although it does turn that 18-35 into a 38-75 f1.2 thanks to the 2.1 cop of the BMPCC sensor, that’s actually a good thing because it makes the lens faster by a full stop on the 35mm edge.  That’s huge.

And since the lens doesn’t completely shut, you get some rather tasty bokeh and constant light emitting all along the focal length.  “I suspect Sigma have actually created a F1.2-F1.8 zoom here,” writes Andrew Reid, of EOSHD. “An extraordinary technical achievement.”  And at under $1,000, the Sigma 18-35 can hold its own, even against some very expensive cinema prime lenses.

And if you’re using the BMPCC as a secondary camera, you can pop off that Speed Booster and use it on your Blackmagic Cinema Camera with little issues (except maybe a bit of vignetting).   So for those of us who haven’t reached the level of shooting on a RED or Alexa just yet, but want to develop our skills to be able to reach that apex, this lens can surely help us to get there.

Hat Tip – EOSHD

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.


  1. SeanCC says:

    Given that this is a motion picture camera and the article is motion picture oriented it’s not helpful or accurate to be using the stills-centric “crop factor” which is based on a 36mm effective sensor size. That’s a format that has very little relevance to shooting motion pictures. It would be misleading if someone were to, for instance, read about a lens package used on a particular film.

    In motion picture terms the SpeedBooster + BMPCC sees this lens as a 25-50mm f/1.2 zoom because that’s the effective performance relative to a motion picture camera shooting Super-35mm. If you’re talking moving pictures the metric for comparison is 24.89mm across, not 36mm across. When shooting motion pictures I, for one, don’t care what lens a stills shooter would pick. I want to know what a motion picture DP would pick.

  2. Michael says:

    Can someone please tell me the components I will need for the Pocket Cinema Camera in order to use this lens?

    • Heath McKnight says:

      Hi Michael,

      You’ll need the BMPCC, the Metabones Speed Booster to Micro Four-Thirds adapter and the lens. James, does he need anything else (aside from the Art lens)?


      • Michael says:

        Thanks Heath!

        So for clarification for myself and others that may see this I would need the following:

        1. BMPCC
        2. Nikon G to Micro Four Thirds Speed Booster
        3. Sigma AF 18-35MM F/1.8 DC HSM Lens for Nikon

        I am coming off using 5DMKII’s and have decided to go this route and will be acquiring 3 of these setups so I don’t want to buy the wrong adapters and lenses

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