Customer Reviews: Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM Lens for Canon Mount Digital SLR Cameras
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Style: For Canon Mount DSLR Cameras|Change
Price:$538.59+ Free shipping
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on December 15, 2010
I have no brand loyalty so after spending many hours debating and comparing the sigma 17-70, nikon 16-85, and the tamron 18-50 2.8 I settled on this one due to the features and my past experience with some great sigma lenses. After selling my 18-55 kit lens from my old d5000, I wanted a good all around lens for my d7000.

I am comparing it to my $200 35mm prime, a 10-20mm sigma HSM, and the 18-55 kit vr lens. The first thing I noticed after a day of shooting in overcast skies is how bad the purple fringing/chromatic aberration is. While I did expect some as per the reviews, particularly at wide open at 17mm, this was quite significant. Even after lightroom adjustments it was still noticeable. Then there is the sharpness. The center is good, but the corner sharpness is not. I'm not talking about just the distant corners, but about 40% of the actual image. Basically anything not on center. The sigma 10-20mm is far better. The 35mm nikon f1.8 trumps both. I could not find it acceptable to have this degradation of quality on a $1200 camera.

The fit and finish are a bit of a let down as well. The Sigma 10-20 EX HSM that I use feels much better. So does the Sigma EX 150mm APO f 2.8 macro (EXCELLENT). This non-ex 17-70 feels flimsier and more plastic. The fact that the focus ring does not override would not be such a big deal, except that it is so big that there's not much else solid to grab onto on this lens. For this price range I would think it ought to be more inline with the EX line of lenses.

I suppose if you must have the big aperture at 17mm its a good buy, but if it was my only lens I would spend more or buy used (which I did). I really tried to like it because it seemed just so perfect with the zoom range, OS, semi-macro capability...but if its not sharp what's the point?

Maybe I just have a bad copy who knows...I regret taking the chance though, now I'm out $25 for shipping. Nikon 16-85 it is...I'll just stick to my 35mm f/1.8 when I need low light.

UPDATE: My Nikon 16-85 came in and I had a chance to compare the test shots. The 16-85 is significantly sharper then the sigma copy I tested. The nikon is 98% as sharp as my 35mm prime, and the sigma would rate maybe 80% as sharp. (Tested at 35mm f/5 for all in same indoor light) I'm not sure if you would notice this on a less megapixel camera such as the d40 or maybe even the d90/d5000/d300. But on the d7000 at 16mgpx you can clearly see the difference. The chromatic aberration is also better with the 16-85, though still not perfect. While wide open it does have it, lightroom was able to eliminated nearly entirely whereas on the sigma wide open it could not be eliminated due to the higher amount of purple fringing.

UPDATE 2: I went ahead and gave the sigma 17-50 f/2.8 OS HSM a shot. WOW what a nice lens. Give that one a shot if you want the f/2.8. Even sharper than the nikon!
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on March 16, 2010
I recently bought this lens to be used on a D80 Nikon body. It is a replacement for a Nikon 18-70 lens. In the time that I have had this lens I have been real pleased with the performance of the lens. I have had no problems with the auto-focus system. It is fast and locks solidly. I have had no problems even in low light conditions.
The os works good but it doesn't always release right away. If I shut off the camera it releases right away but if left on it takes approx.30 seconds to turn off.
This lens is quite sharp when stopped down to F5.6 and destroys the Nikon 18-70 lens across the entire focal range. It has a fair amount of distortion at wide angle but not as much as the 18-70.
One thing that I'm going to have to get used to is the focus ring rotates when zooming in or out and I tend to have my hand touching the focus ring accidentally. Hopefully I can adjust to this.
I think for this price range lens it is built very solidly.
Unless the durability is less than I expect I will be quite happy with my purchase. I would have given this lens a 4.5 stars if it had been offered but I think there are other lenses that are faster and better so I couldn't give it a 5 star rating.
Since this lens was bought as a replacement for my Nikon 18-70 I am happy with the results. It has less distortion,a little more wide angle, a stabilized lens, and better picture quality. Life is good!!!

April 1, 2010
After spending a lot more time with this lens I have upgraded my rating from a 4 to a 5 star. This lens is able to take some incredible images. I am really impressed with the sharp images from this lens. It appears to me to be a real gem!!
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on January 27, 2010
I own a great deal of glass... lenses litter my office. Most of the lenses I'm glad I purchased and a few, well, those go to the Land of Ebay. This one, however, will never be far from my camera(s). I owned the predecessor, the 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 HSM, an excellent lens and a supreme value. Effectively, a 25-105mm, perfect walkabout lens with Macro capability - equally adept at the candid portrait as well as the quick nature shot. Images post process quite well. So, it was a bit of trepidation that I purchased the updated lens... would it perform as well? Would the OS (Image stabilization built into the lens) be effective? Is it still a great value Nikon lens? Fortunately, the answer to all three questions is a resounding yes. If anything, images are a bit sharper out of camera. OS is effective from 2-3 stops. And absolutely, this lens is a phenomenal value especially compared to the fantastic 17-55mm f/2.8 NIKON lens priced at a healthy four figures. So unless you're loaded and/or totally convinced that only Nikon glass can work effectively on Nikon bodies, consider this lens for your arsenal. It's a strong step up from the kit lenses and a healthy competitor to the venerable 17-55mm.
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on January 9, 2010
I received the Sigma 17-70 2.8-4 OS HSM from Amazon five days ago. I have taken about 400 shots with this lens, including landscapes, indoor family gatherings with flash, and a sporting event in a large, well-lit indoor arena. It seems to me that this lens works as advertised. I don't see focus problems with this lens in either the AI Servo to AI Focus modes on my Canon XSi. The XSi exposure metering seems to work fine with the Sigma 17-70, and I cannot see anything wrong with color accuracy. The finish, appearance, and feel of the lens are pleasing. I like it, and it certainly seems to be a good value given its relatively low cost vs. function. I have awarded four stars in my rating only because of my limited experience with this lens. If this lens continues to work as it has so far, I would award a fifth star.

Photography is my hobby, not my profession, but I carry my camera to work and shoot nearly every day. I cannot afford high-end camera equipment, so I make do with what I can afford. Even so, I have had rewarding successes and lots of fun with my hobby. My photos have been published in magazines, textbooks, brochures, large-format calendars, and web sites. They have been framed and hung on walls in office suites, sports arenas, and homes.

I have used Sigma lens for the past ten years, and currently own four Sigma lens for my Canon XSi. Sigma lens are cheap, they are most often lightweight as compared to Canon lens, and they work acceptably well. I am familiar with the "you get what you pay for" concept, and I understand that sometimes there are issues with Sigma lens. I can see why professionals need sturdy equipment, but overall Sigma has provided me with a successful and cost-effective way to observe, record, and enjoy my surroundings.
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on April 28, 2010
I read several reviews of the Canon version of this lens that said it was common to get a copy that focuses inaccurately. I'm here to say I took the chance and got a good copy! Mine focuses perfectly, right where the camera's focus points light up. I'm using the lens on a T2i, which doesn't have focus microadjust, and they worked together right out of the box.

Image quality is great. It is a touch soft at the wide aperture at longer focal lengths, but definitely still print worthy. Stopping down a bit sharpens it up nicely. f/2.8 at 17mm is really good, and the middle apertures are always excellent. Colors and contrast look fine to me, and flare seems well controlled. It has GREAT bokeh.

HSM focuses quickly and pretty quietly. It does NOT have full-time manual. I think all of the audible noise comes from the sliding of the focus ring rather than the motor. Sometimes if the lens needs to drastically change the focus distance, it will hunt and there is some quiet chatter from the ring starting and stopping repeatedly. I wasn't sure how quiet it was supposed to be, but it's fantastic compared to the loud buzzing of the Canon 35mm f/2. The only absolute comparisons I can give are, it's much quieter than the shutter click, but still loud enough to hear in videos. Oh, and it's quieter than a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 I tried, which was quiet but sounded squeaky and rough.

Macro is really fun. It can auto focus about 3 inches from the front of the lens at the wide end, and about 1 inch zoomed in. Manual focus can get just a little closer. It makes the lens very valuable as a walk-around lens to be able to take a landscape and then crouch down and fill the sensor with a flower.

OS (optical stabilization) is a small benefit. It doesn't feel as useful as the IS on a little Canon a570IS that I have. I'd say it gives about 2 stops of benefit consistently. It's also not dependable with longer shutter speeds, like slower than 1/10. It helps but it won't make the image perfectly sharp. It seems more like it smoothens the image motion instead of locking it down. If you move the lens while half-pressed, then you have to wait a second for the OS to come to a stop. This is actually good for video though, as the lens motion stays smooth while panning instead of jumping from one stable position to another. The OS is barely audible in silence, quieter than the HSM, but it might get recorded by the built in mic.

Build quality is great for the price. It's substantial but not uncomfortable, and a little front heavy on a Rebel. The rings are smooth enough for photography. Zooming is unusable with video because it takes some force to zoom and it will cause your camera to tilt unless you have it on a tripod. It's smooth and you can be precise with it, but it requires force. The benefit to that is that the zoom doesn't creep at all. It has a zoom lock but I never use it. The focus ring is light and easy to move, but not buttery smooth. It's sticky enough that it won't accidentally move. It doesn't have much travel though so it takes some finesse to get precise focus.

All things considered, this lens performs above and beyond its price. It has so many features, I'm having trouble choosing my next lens. And to all Canon users: good copies exist!
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on October 21, 2010
I just got this lens yesterday and tested it a number of different ways.
I bought this lens primarily for the faster 2.8 aperture and the close focus of 8 inches plus OS. The close focus delivered as promised with no need to refocus after zooming in ou out (it held focus and sharpness). Color rendition was natural and pleasing and the OS seems to be doing the job promised. Images are sharp at all focal lengths (I have not noticed any serious image degradaton based on focal length. I uploade a photo showing two shots at close focus changing the zoom and maintianing the close distance. The shots were hand held. using daylight/ambient through a window and no flash. The shutter speeds were 1/60 and 1/30 sec, single point focus and center weighted exposure using auto focus. My camera is a Nikon D300s.
* Close focus is great.
* The lens holds focus through the zoom range without having to refocus.
* color rendition including saturation is natural with and without flash.
* having a max aperture is a definate plus.
another review mentioned that you loose that quickly after leaving the shortest focal length (well of course) but that one stop gain is progresive through the zoom range.
* the OS is a little noisy but you know that it's working.
* focus is as fast as my Nikon 18 to 105 but you can get a lot closer to the subject.
I have purchased a lot of glass for my camera and was really wondering if i needed to take this step. I'm glad I did.
I have lensed that claim close focus and or macro.... this one is better.
AFTER THOUGHT.... One review menioned that it was to easy to accidently grab the focus ring and accidently turn it while zooming. This has been a problem for me in the past.
Note that I do this more with my Nikon lenses that with my Sigma's. Nikon has there focus ring closer to the camera body (your face). Sigma has there's in front of the zoom ring. I prefer this (it's not as easy to accidently grab). It also has a stiffer action so you notice it sooner. I like this design better. THANX for listening.
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on August 10, 2011
I feel this lens turned out pretty good. After using it day and night for about two months these are my observations:

Sharpness: Pretty good. IQ is best on average a couple stops down from wide open. Once you hit its sweet spots, the resolution is outstanding. Its sharpest setting is a close match to photos from my Tamron 90mm Di macro lens, although the Tamron is sharp across more of the frame and more apertures.

Focus: Mine came with a very slight front focus bias, around 1mm. But its not that field relevant for me. Speed is quick and quiet. Seems to be consistent.

Bokeh: Very Pleasing. I'm satisfied with the quality of out-of-focus blur, as it is smooth and renders highlights with nice round circles. Since the sharpest setting is a couple stops down from wide open, and the fact that its a multi-varying aperture, bokeh is not as "blurry" as I want it to be. I did notice a small amount of lateral chroma in the bokeh, slight purple and green fringing in front and back out-of-focus planes, but it did just as well as the Tamron macro lens. Overall, good but subtle results from the rounded 7 blades.

Color: Good results. A little on the cool side. Contrast is good a couple stops from wide open.

Focal Length: Outstanding. 27.2mm-112mm 35mm equavalent is nice for walk-around travel and portrait. Its 1:2.7 magnification ratio is nice for closeup photography like food shots.

Optical Stablization: Works as inteded but I feel the image "pops" into stable position more abruptly than Canon OS. Both work well to about 3 stops.

CA: Great results here. I find it handles this one well beyond 17mm. I think the 3x aspherical lens do help.

Vignetting: About par with any good lens. Although there, its not a field issue for me on 17mm focal length.

Flare: Great results. Handles sun shots well. I think the improved ELD glass helps. Comes with a feathered petal hood too.

Distortion: About average. I think the kit lens was a tad more distorted. Geometry is easily corrected in Lightroom.

Cosmetics: Awesome. This lens looks fierce on a small body. Gold accents and soft rubber-like texture give it class.

Handling: Zoome creep is ok. Keeps its own when walking, but if I jump it will creep a little. Only time will tell if it gets worse. The zoom lock is in an easy to reach location.

Overall, I would recommend this lens if you can't afford the Canon 15-85mm lens. But if I could save up the money, I would definity shoot for the latter.
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on November 14, 2011
Have shot many shots over the last few weeks with this lens mounted on a D7000. I have some mixed feelings, but overall, i will say that it is a very good where near perfect, but still pretty good. Let me explain by listing my complaints first:

1)The lens lacks sharpness on about 15% of both sides of the frame at 17mm. Both sides of the image show CA, coupled with a fair amount of distortion. Speaking of distortion, if you shoot something with straight lines (in my case, the siding on my house) the distortion is wicked...straight lines are wavy and oscillate up and down across the frame (however, see below about Lightroom 3 distortion correction). Softness, CA and distortion, improve as you zoom in, but do not improve that much on stopping down. 2)My copy back-focused. I have to set AF fine tune to -7 to get in-focus shots. Unfortunately, when I shoot macro shots, it front focuses unless I set AF fine tune back to 0 or +1, so I have to keep it set at -7 for most shots, and use live view to focus on very close shots, where contrast-detect AF takes over and gives a perfectly focused image. That's OK I guess, but I do not typically like to use live view for shooting. I have not had to set AF fine tuning for any of my other lenses so far (4 Nikons: 24-70 F2.8, 70-200 f2.8 VRI, 70-200 f2.8 VRII, 50 f1.8D, and 1 Tamron: 70-300 f4-5.6 Di VC USD) so this is the first lens that has not been dead-on right out of the box. 3)The OS stays on for a long time after you release the shutter button. Not a huge issue, but it likely reduces the charge in your camera's battery for no good reason. 4)I have, on a few occasions, held the lens in such a way that when the AF motor starts, the focus ring is bound by my hand and makes a squealing sound as it tries to move - the focus ring rotates when the motor is running. This has not been that big of an issue either, but it is a bit unnerving to hear that sound when it happens. I will have to be careful not to do that anymore, since it is certainly not good on the motor to stall like that (few motors last very long when stalled frequently).

Now to the good things: From 35mm to 70mm, the images sharpen up across more of the frame, better the more you zoom in. At 70mm, only the most extreme left and right sides show softness. The distortion improves in much the same way. Lightroom 3 has a lens profile for this lens that corrects the distortion almost perfectly, so I am able to fix this otherwise very big flaw of wide-angle distortion, without much effort - thanks Lightroom!! I would say that at 70mm, even wide open at f4, the lens is very, very good. There is good news from 17mm to 35mm, too - the center 2/3 or so of the image is really, really sharp at f4 and up, and even wide open it is quite impressive. If you can live with noticeably softer sides and corners, 17-35mm looks fantastic otherwise. Vignetting is not a problem. Contrast is one of this lenses' strong suits. Very close to my 24-70 and 70-200 VRII lenses, and they are known to be excellent. Color is good...not as good as the above mentioned Nikon lenses, a little less vibrant, but good nevertheless. Focus is fairly fast and quiet and the OS is also quiet and effective. I like Sigma's stabilization (I used to own a 70-300 OS lens that was as good as my VRII Nikon at image stabilization). Sigma does a better job than Tamron, in my opinion. My Tammy 70-300's VC is more like my older VRI Nikon; kind of jerky and erratic at times. Sigma OS is steady and "floats" the image in a smooth way, like the VRII Nikon. I love the compactness of the 17-70, light weight, and it looks great coupled with a Nikon body. The hood seems to be adequate and locks into place firmly and easily. I like the zoom lock - it makes the lens easy to remove from the body without zooming the lens. There is no lens creep, so the lock is really only useful for lens removal, but I'm glad it is there. It is nice to be able to shoot at f2.8 if you need to shoot in lower light. That was my biggest complaint with the 18-105VR lens on my old D90. It was pretty consistent, optically, but was not well suited for lower light since you were into the f4 and up range very quickly upon zooming. The Sigma is only up to f3 at 24mm, f3.3 at 35mm and doesn't hit f4 until about 60mm. This is more significant than many assume. The extra light makes indoor/twilight shooting without flash, easier and better. I will say that this Sigma lens is significantly sharper than the 18-105VR, with the only exception being very wide focal lengths and below f3.5 (where the 18-105 starts anyway). Otherwise, the Sigma outperforms it. The Nikon does control distortion better at wide-angle, however (a non-issue if you use Lightroom). The macro capability is nice - magnification is less than I expected at 70mm, but it is not bad. Bokeh is nicely rendered, also. Overall, the lens performs quite well, despite the above mentioned items.

I figured that 4 stars was probably about right for this lens. It does have some issues, but does most things pretty well. I think it is a good value overall. Having a faster and (mostly) sharper lens than a standard kit zoom, with better contrast, is important to me, and certainly trumps most of the smaller issues I have with it. No lens is perfect in every way (some are close, for a lot of cash), but for about $450 or so, this one is above average in many regards. If it were any more expensive, I might need to rethink the value issue, but as it stands, I am enjoying using it and feel like I got my money's worth. This Sigma 17-70 does enough things right to forgive it of the things it could improve on...a satisfactory compromise to me. I look forward to using this lens in the future. It will be the one attached to my D7000 most often, I'm sure. This relatively light weight combo will be nice for carrying, and will be appreciated when carrying for extended periods. Thanks, Sigma, for a great lens to add to my arsenal:)

UPDATE: April, 2012 - I am really liking this lens more and more since I continue to get awesome results...the weaknesses are still there, but I have learned to work around them for the most part. And I have not had a problem with holding onto and binding the focus ring since writing the original review. I just quickly learned to not hold it there, and it has not been an issue since. I would not go back to the 18-105VR after using this one. It is superior in too many categories, only being edged out by the Nikon in a couple of areas (distortion and edge sharpness at wide angle). I do not miss the extra reach of the Nikon, either, as I have other lenses that cover this, if needed. Macro is better than I first gave it credit for - sharp and clear, and good magnification. I am shooting my D7000 more than my D700 lately, too. It's just too good with this lens and a newly acquired Tokina 11-16 (this one's a keeper, too), that I will only use the D700 for indoor sports and most portrait work. Almost all of my outdoor and general shooting (family photography, etc.) will be handled nicely by the D7000. I must say that 4.5 stars is probably closer to what I would rate it now, with a few more clicks on the camera...I am glad I own it and find it a pleasure to use!!
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on January 31, 2010
All of the my experience with this lens has been with it mounted to a D80 body. I have had this lens for about a week now.

The autofocus on the Sigma seems to be quite good in low light situations although not quite as good the AF on my Nikon 18-200mm. Subject acquisition with the Sigma is fast and precise, even in low light. Low-light tracking on the other hand is very mediocre. I wasn't ever able to get the Sigma to refocus on a moving subject once the focus locked on the target. This was with the D80 set to AF-A mode. When I switched to AF-C, the lens tracked just fine. The strange thing to me is that most (or all) of my other lenses will refocus on moving subjects in the AF-A mode. Also, the Sigma could not seem to guess my intended target when I tried to photograph a chickadee in a bramble. Miraculously, my Nikon 18-200mm would often be able to lock onto these small, low contrast targets in the middle of messy scenes. The autofocus is quiet but not silent. My only real gripe with the focus system so far with this lens is that you cannot override or fine tune the lens's AF by turning the focus ring. You have to turn the lens mounted AF switch to the off position in order to manually focus.

At 17mm, the lens displays a fair amount of distortion. On par with the Nikon 18-200mm at its minimum focal length. From 24mm through 70mm the distortion is very well controlled, to the point of being unnoticeable.

The optical stabilization on this lens seems to be excellent. I have some success (less than 50%) using the lens around 1/10 second at 70mm and very close to the subject. 1/20 second at 70mm seemed to be usable although not 100% reliable .

With regards to the zoom creep issue, this lens will not creep when pointed straight down at any focal length. I couldn't even get it to creep when I jostled the camera. So the zoom lock on this lens is unnecessary in my opinion.

The image quality produced by this lens is perhaps its strongest suit. Wide open at all focal lengths this lens produces sufficiently sharp images. Sharpness begins to degrade slightly at f/11 (you'll have to view at 100% and then it's not obvious). Also, out-of-focus details are rendered very nicely. Chromatic aberration is extremely well controlled. I haven't yet needed to tweak the CA on any of my pictures taken with this lens.
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on July 4, 2011
We bought this lens for portraits and wedding photos. It worked great for the first wedding we shot, about 1300 photos, but then some of the family and senior pictures (shot a week later) were blurry in the foreground. The background was clear but the foreground was blurry. We switched camera bodies thinking that our primary D90 lost focus. That was not the case. We tried it on (2) other D90 bodies a D300 and a D700, all of which had the same foreground blur.
I searched all over the web trying to find an answer as Sigma was useless on answering any questions. I finally found a forum where other customers of this lens had the same problem. Turns out, the lens can morph into a background focus lens making the subject of your photos blurry and the background crystal clear. I've not been a photographer for 30 years like some, but I've no idea what purpose a background lens would serve.
So, we have to leave the aperature at f 5.6 or smaller (higher on the f stop scale, smaller in aperature size) in order to aleviate the background focus issue. This makes shooting indoors with standard to low light levels almost impossible without a speed flash.
UPDATE: Sigma finally responded to my questions and concerns by stating that they are aware of the problems the forground blur can cause, but that they stand fully behind their product. Since Sigma cannot prove that it is the lens and not the camera body that is causing the issue, there is nothing they can do but to improve on their next product line. We are sorry for any inconvenience and we hope that you'll purchase our Sigma photgraphy products in the future.
Yeah, right.
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