Review of Tripod Collars for Sigma 1.8/14mm

Before coming to the tripod collar topic let me give you a short introduction of why I’ve chosen the Sigma 14mm F1,8 DG HSM Art lens for my Sony A7RII cameras.

I’m really happy with my normal wide-angle lenses: Zeiss Batis 18mm, Loxia 21mm, and Loxia 25mm. All 3 have good to excellent corner sharpness, great colors, and only a little bit of field curvature.

But I needed something wider.

My requirements for this UWA lens were:

  • focal length <= 15mm
  • fast lens for astro / milky way shots
  • flat field characteristic (low FC)
  • very good corner sharpness wide open
  • good colors
  • nice to have: EXIF info and no adapters necessary
  • if possible: small and light

During the last two years I’ve tried:

Voigtländer 15mm 4.5 Super Wide Heliar E aspherical III (5 samples)
All 5 had significant corner smearing, even stopped down. I know that samples of this lens with perfect corner sharpness wide open exist. But they are impossible to find, at least for me. In addition, this lens is probably not fast enough for milky way images with its maximum aperture of f/4.5

Sony FE 12-24 mm F4 G (3 samples)
All 3 were decentered, two on the right side, one on the left side. They were all useable stopped down to f/8 but not wide open. In addition, I didn’t like the colors of this lens. For astro images its a bit slow, but since its coma performance is already very good wide open, it could be acceptable if you find a perfectly centered sample. A really big strength of this lens is the flat field characteristic, probably one of the best of all UWA lenses.

Laowa 15mm (3 samples)
All 3 were either decentered on one side or completely soft wide open. In addition, this lens has no EXIF info. The colors were ok, but not great.

Samyang XP 2.4/14mm (3 samples)
I’ve tested the Canon EF mount version using the Sigma MC11 adapter. Two samples were decentered, one was completely soft on the right side, the other on the left side. One sample was perfectly centered but showed very strong FC if you focus at closer distances. In addition, it was extremely sensitive to the focus point. If you focus on an infinity object and have nothing close in the foreground this lens is extremely sharp even wide open in the corners. Therefore if you need a lens just for astro / milky way images it could be the perfect solution. But as a universal UWA lens its FC characteristic at close distances and medium apertures is just not acceptable.

ZEISS Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8 ZF.2 (1 sample, but adjusted and tested at Zeiss Oberkochen)
For the test, I’ve used the lens on a Novoflex adapter. Good corner sharpness slightly stopped down and very good colors. But similar to the Samyang XP this lens shows a very strong FC if focused at close distances and is therefore difficult to use.

And no, it’s not my camera, which causes all these problems. I’ve 3 bodies (2 A7RII and 1 A7R) and I see the same results on all 3.

Finally, I’ve tried the Sigma 14mm F1,8 DG HSM Art in the native Sony e-mount version.

At first, I wasn’t really interested in this lens because of its huge weight (1.2 kg) and size. But since all attempts to find a good alternative failed I gave it a try.

Centering looks very good and corner sharpness is already quite good wide open if you find the right focus point. It shares the sensitivity to slight deviations of the focus point with the Samyang XP and the Zeiss Distagon lenses. FC characteristic is also similar to the Samyang and Zeiss but not as extreme. The colors are not as good as the Zeiss, but better than the rest. All in all this option currently seems to be the best compromise as a UWA lens fulfilling most of my above requirements.

Here is a 100% corner crop showing the sharpness wide open of the Sigma (shot from a tripod at f/1.8).

Whole test image:

Lower left corner @100%:

Its main disadvantage is weight. This leads to another problem: the Sigma has no tripod mount or collar and I don’t like the idea of hanging 1.2kg mass (or more with a filter holder) with a long lever arm directly from my tripod-mounted camera. This could misalign the camera mount in the long term. In addition, if the center of gravity of the lens-camera-combination has a big offset from the tripod head it’s not good for the overall stability.

The only solution which Sigma offers to this problem is to buy the cine version of this lens which has an integrated tripod mount (but also costs 4 times as much as the standard ART version). There is no tripod collar from Sigma available for the ART version.

Therefore I started an analysis of what’s available on the market and could fit the Sigma 1.8/14mm lens. I’ve found the following options and tested them:

Novoflex ASTAT-NEX

Link to the product page:

Be careful if you buy this collar used: some older versions had only the thicker inner ring which doesn’t fit on the Sigma lens (the thinner ring is available as a spare part directly from Novoflex and my understanding is that all current ASTAT-NEX should be delivered with both inner rings).

++   small (9,5cm height)
++   light (71g)
++   integrated Arca plate, which can be mounted in both directions
+    mounting/unmounting of the ring on the lens is easy (good if you often shoot handheld)
+    good quality/finish
o    medium price (ca. 99€)
–    mounting the ring on the lens is only possible close to the lens mount which is not the CG
–    changing from landscape to portrait orientation is difficult
–    unlocking the lens when the collar is attached to the lens is difficult
–    stability is mediocre at best (I expect problems in strong wind and have seen this in the past)

The main reason for the above mentioned ergonomic problems is, that the unlocking lever of the collar is too close to the camera grip and the unlock knob of the camera mount:


Link to the product page:

This collar can be ordered to nearly any custom specification.

++    very good stability (should work even in strong wind)
++    mounting position directly at the CG
+     easy to change from landscape to portrait orientation
+     no disturbance of lens mounting / unmounting
o     mounting the tripod ring is not as easy as with other collars (due to the two loose inner parts)
o     medium price (ca. 66€)
o     no integrated Arca plate but 3 standard 1/4“ threads
–     the finish is not great (rough metal construction with slight scratches, one 1/4“ thread was defect)
–     since these collars are built to custom specification delivery takes about 2 months
–     heavy (203g with plate)
–     large (14,5cm height with plate)

iShoot IS-N840D

Produced in China, but often available on eBay and Amazon.

Links to product pages:

++    lowest price (ca. 40€)
++    mounting position directly at the CG
+      easy to change from landscape to portrait orientation
+      good stability (much better than the Novoflex but not as good as the SRB)
+      no disturbance of lens mounting / unmounting
o      good but not great finish (robust all-metal construction with some unnecessary sharp edges)
o      medium size (11,5cm height)
o      medium weight (139g)
–      mounting the collar on the lens could lead to scratches on the lens if you are not careful
–      delivery is often directly from China and normally takes a couple of weeks

Really Right Stuff LC-A11 + LCF-10

Links to product pages:

++    mounting position directly at the CG
++    by far the best finish
+      easy to change from landscape to portrait orientation
+      good stability (much better than the Novoflex but not as good as the SRB)
o      camera lens mount knob slightly more difficult to reach when the tripod collar is mounted
–      heavy (209g)
–      large (13cm height)
–      integrated Arca plate but mounting is only in one direction possible
–      very expensive (ca. 261€, 200$ in the USA)
–      the grip of the camera can’t be used anymore (since the tripod ring is too close to the grip)

Best price: iShoot IS-N840D
Best finish: RRS LC-A11+LCF-10
Best stability: SRB TRIPODMOUNT
Best size&weight: Novoflex ASTAT-NEX

2 thoughts

  1. Thank you for this excellent article. Great to learn that someone else shares my concern. After looking at the options, I decided to go with the RRS LC-A11+LCF-10. Although more expensive than the other choices, it is hinged, very well made and far less likely to scratch the lens. I was able to find one used.

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