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Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 APO EX DG HSM OS FLD Large Aperture Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital DSLR Camera
|Price:||$1,299.00 & FREE Shipping|
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- 70-200mm focal length, Minimum Focusing Distance :140cm / 55.1inch, Maximum Magnification -1:8
- 105-300mm equivalent focal length on APS-C cameras, 112-320mm equivalent focal length on Canon APS-C cameras
- F2.8 constant maximum aperture; F22 minimum, Ring-type ultrasonic-type AF motor with full-time manual focusing
- Image stabilization, 4 stops claimed. Dual mode, normal and panning, 77mm filters
- Available in Canon EF, Nikon F (FX), Pentax KAF3, Sony Alpha, Sigma SA mounts. Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 3.4 x 7.8" (8.64 x 19.81 cm), Weight 3.15 lb (1.43 kg).
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|Aperture Control Design||Aperture controlled by camera|
|Compatible Mountings||Nikon F (FX)|
|Focus Type||Ring-type ultrasonic|
|Image Stabilization||4 stops claimed. Dual mode, normal and panning|
|Item Dimensions||3.39 x 3.39 x 7.76 inches|
|Item Display Weight||1,430 grams|
|Item Weight||3.2 pounds|
|Lens Type||Zoom lens|
|Macro Focus Range||1.40 m|
|Material Type||Metal mount|
|Maximum Aperture Range||F2.8|
|Maximum Focal Length||200 mm|
|Maximum Format Size||35mm full frame|
|Minimum Focal Length||70 mm|
|Minimum Focal Range||70 mm|
|Number of Diaphragm Blades||9|
|Number of Elements||22|
|Number of Groups||17|
|Photo Filter Thread Size||77 mm|
|Real Angle Of View||34.3 Degrees|
|Shipping Weight||4.89 pounds|
|Style Name||Nikon Digital DSLR Camera|
|Zoom Type||Motorized Zoom|
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This item Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 APO EX DG HSM OS FLD Large Aperture Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital DSLR Camera
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|Sold By||Cameta Camera||Unique Photo, Inc.||Amazon.com||Amazon.com||RitzCamera||Amazon.com|
|Compatible Camera Mount||Nikon F (FX)||Nikon F||Nikon F||Nikon F (FX), Nikon F (DX)||Nikon F (FX)||Nikon F (FX)|
|Focus Type||Ring-type ultrasonic||Ultrasonic||Micromotor||Screw drive from camera||auto-focus||Ring-type ultrasonic|
|Item Dimensions||3.39 x 7.76 x 3.39 in||3.39 x 7.76 x 3.39 in||3.54 x 7.64 x 3.54 in||3.43 x 7.36 x 3.43 in||3.46 x 7.5 x 3.46 in||3.07 x 7.05 x 3.07 in|
|Item Weight||3.2 lbs||3.24 lbs||2.93 lbs||2.87 lbs||3.28 lbs||1.87 lbs|
|Lens Type||Zoom lens||Telephoto||Zoom lens||Zoom lens||telephoto-zoom||Zoom lens|
|Maximum Focal Length||200 millimeters||200 millimeters||200 millimeters||200 millimeters||200||200 millimeters|
|Minimum Focal Length||70 millimeters||70 millimeters||70 millimeters||80 millimeters||70||70 millimeters|
|Photo Filter Thread Size||77 millimeters||77 millimeters||77 millimeters||77 millimeters||77 millimeters||67 millimeters|
Review summary from DPReview
Sigma's latest image-stabilized fast telezoom offers a fine option for budget-conscious buyers, with a unique combination of features for the price. It can't quite match its Canon and Nikon equivalents, but then again it's not as expensive either.
Scoring is relative only to the other products in the same category.
Sample images from DPReview
Sample images for Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM
Front & Rear Caps Lens Hood Lens Hood Adapter Soft Case with Strap Tripod Collar
From the Manufacturer
Large aperture telephoto zoom lens incorporating Sigma's original Optical Stabilizer function
This large aperture telephoto zoom lens, incorporating Sigma's original Optical Stabilizer function, covers focal lengths from 70mm to 200mm and offers a constant aperture of F2.8 over the entire zoom range. The OS function offers the use of shutter speeds approximately 4 stops slower than would otherwise be possible. It makes shooting easy for many types of photography such as portraits and sports. Two FLD ("F" Low Dispersion) glass elements, which have performance equal to fluorite glass, and three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass elements provide excellent correction of color aberration. Super Multi-Layer Coating reduces flare and ghosting. The lens incorporates HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor), ensuring a quiet and high speed AF as well as full-time manual focus capability. It is also possible to attach Sigma's optional APO Tele Converters.
Super Multi-Layer Coating
The lens is equipped with Sigma's own unique OS (Optical Stabilizer) function. This system offers the use of shutter speeds approximately 4 stops slower than would otherwise be possible, making telephoto shooting easy. Mode 1 is ideal for general photography and Mode 2 is designed for panning subjects such as racing cars. For Sony and Pentax mount, the built-in OS function of this lens can be used even if the camera body is equipped with an anti-shake function. As compensation for camera shake is visible in the view finder, the photographer can easily check for accurate focus and ensure there is no subject movement.
* For Pentax and Sony mounts, it is not possible to use the AF and the built-in OS function of this lens when attaching it to film SLR cameras as well as Pentax ist series and K100D.
* When using the OS function of a lens with a camera which incorporates a stabilizer unit, please turn the camera's stabilizer unit off.
* This lens cannot be used with film SLR cameras with the exception of the Nikon F6 and Canon EOS-1v.
This lens has a compact construction with a diameter of 3.4in, overall length of 7.8in. and weight of 50.4oz. This compact and lightweight construction makes it ideal for many types of photography such as portraits, landscapes and sports.
Excellent Optical Performance
This lens features two FLD ("F" Low Dispersion) glass elements, which have the performance equal to fluorite glass, and three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass elements providing excellent correction of color aberration. The Super Multi-Layer Coating reduces flare and ghosting and ensures high contrast images. High image quality is assured throughout the entire zoom range.
* FLD glass is the highest level low dispersion glass available with extremely high light transmission. This optical glass has a performance equal to fluorite glass which has a low refractive index and low dispersion compared to current optical glass. It also benefits from high anomalous dispersion.
These characteristics give excellent correction for residual chromatic aberration (secondary spectrum) which cannot be corrected by ordinary optical glass and ensures high definition and high contrast images.
High speed and quiet AF
HSM indicates lenses equipped with a Hyper Sonic Motor, driven by ultrasonic waves. Incorporation of HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) ensures quiet and high speed autofocus, while allowing full-time manual focus override.
* For Sony and Pentax mount, AF will not function with DSLR cameras that do not support HSM.
This lens has a rounded 9 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive bokeh to the out of focus area.
In a conventional lens, focusing requires an extension of the entire lens or the front lens group. However, to better accommodate autofocusing mechanisms and closeup photography, a need has arisen for lenses that do not change their length during focusing or suffer from focus-dependent variation in aberration. Therefore, Sigma has developed focusing systems that only move elements within the lens barrel. These incorporate smaller and lighter moving lens elements which help improve auto-focus speed. With their unchanging barrel length and small variation in the center of gravity, these lenses also enhance balance and stability for the photographer. Furthermore, since the front of the lens does not rotate, polarizing filters can be used with extra convenience.
|Lens Construction||22 Elements in 17 Groups|
|Angle of View||34.3 - 12.3 degrees|
|Number of Diaphragm Blades||9 Blades (Rounded diaphragm)|
|Minimum Focusing Distance||140cm / 55.1in.|
|Dimensions||Diameter 86.4mm x Length 197.6mm /3.4in. x 7.8in.|
|Weight||1430g / 50.4oz.|
MTF (Modular Transfer Function) is one of the measurements that evaluates a lens' performance, and it contrasts sensitivity at different spacial frequencies. The horizontal axis is in millimeters and shows the distance from the center of the image toward the edges, and contrast value (highest value is 1) is shown in the vertical axis.
The readings at 10 lines per millimeter measure the lens' contrast ability (red lines), repeating fine parallel lines spaced at 30 lines per millimeter measure the lens' sharpness ability (green lines), when the aperture is wide open. Fine repeating line sets are created parallel to a diagonal line running from corner to corner of the frame, are called Sagittal lines (S) and sets of repeating lines vertical to these lines are drawn, called Meridional (M) line sets.
effective distortion: When you take a picture of a lattice pattern, it will appear as the blue dotted line shows. the red line illustrates how the lattice pattern will appear in the actual picture when any lens distortion is taken into account.
relative distortion: In this chart, the horizontal axis shows the ideal image height (the distance from the center to the edge of the image [mm]). The vertical axis shows the extent of distortion. The extent of the distortion is represented by how much Y, which is the actual image height, grows (or shrinks) against Y0 which is the ideal image height.
Extent of distortion: D[%]=(Y-Y0/Y0)x100
When you take the picture of a square object, if the distortion amount show a minus value, the image will be seen as expanded (Barrel distortion). If the distortion amount is a plus value, it will be seen as a recessed (pincushi on distortion). When the distortion value is close to 0, the appearance of distortion is very minimal.
The horizontal axis shows the image height (the distance from the center to the edge of the image [mm]). The vertical axis shows the amount of light in the image (based on the amount of light in the image center being 100%). If the peripheral amount of light is lower than the center, the four corners of the image will be darker (vignetting).
Top Customer Reviews
So, why consider a third party lens at all? Well, if you're here you know it's because of the magic of f/2.8. All of that glass gives you twice the light of an f/4. We're also not all made of money. $1,000 extra is a lot of coin for a lens, especially when your livelihood doesn't depend on it. There are definite advantages to the Canon (or Nikkor) brands. Metal builds. Weather resistance (not waterproof). Guaranteed forward compatibility. Peace of mind. Oh yes, and that red ring for Canon shooters.
That said, I've come to like the Sigma brand as of late. They're upping their game and producing some of the very best macro lenses on the market, and a huge range of UWA lenses for crop-sensor cameras. I've had great luck with my Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM and Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM FLD . Since I'm lacking a good lens with range and speed, a fast telephoto seemed in order. I honestly invested in Canon to own one of those gray beauties, but wanted to keep an open mind (and less open wallet) when it came to a new lens.
So, I read every single review I could lay my hands on. I even brushed up on my German! I asked people on photo forums for every thought and photo they'd post. In Europe, this lens is garnering rave reviews, winning awards and placing incredibly well in comparisons. In the end of course, it comes down to "going rogue" or sticking with the known commodity. Emboldened by my recent experience with the Sigma 17-50, I took the plunge.
That said, this lens is far and away better than I ever imagined. When it comes to reviews and reviewers, the top of the line lenses by Nikkor and Canon have obviously jaded everyone. The bar is set incredibly high. Remember that when Sigma introduced this lens, the first generation lenses were the target. And here, Sigma succeeds in spades. It's only when compared to the second generation it has some shortcomings - but it also succeeds over its competition in places.
The optical traits of this lens are complex, and when examining detailed MTF charts and other data, I'd agree with a lot of it. But where the rubber meets the road so to speak - optically this lens simply stands up to comparisons, period. I was fully expecting to see softness at f2.8, weak edges and poor contrast. Well, if you have to A/B photos with the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II at 100% to see the difference (and you do), then the Sigma has already won the first round. Seriously, this lens is quite sharp at f2.8 (especially from 100-200, which is at odds with some review MTF charts), and then at f4 competes with pretty much anything. The big weakness I've found exists around f2.8-5.6 at 70mm, and that's red CA on distant (<50') contrasting objects. The flick of a slider, or using the lens's filter in Adobe RAW or Lightroom solves it. Really, I'm guilty of pixel peeping in the first degree, and scan around my shots at 100% far too often. Not only is this completely unrealistic, but extremely gratifying when I can't find anything to complain about! Once you move beyond 70mm - say 135 up this lens is amazing. Photos of flowers at f2.8 reveal every single hair on a honey bee, and all the little crystals of pollen on its legs and the flower stamens. And it gets sharper from there? Wow.
Okay, optically this thing rocks. But really, where are the shortcuts? I'll continue to outline the characteristics of the lens in sections to give you my thoughts (such as they are) of tradeoffs and omissions.
The lens is sharp. Some very minor softness is exhibited at the edges, and more in the very corners of an image depending on focal length. According to charts, there are certain focal lengths + apertures where the center is actually softer than mid-frame, which is sharper than center frame in other places. As I mentioned, it has complex optical traits. Have I personally found those places and said "oh, look!"? No. I'm still looking though! There's a lot more to a good lens than sharpness.
Color and contrast is wonderful. If you own any Sigma lenses, the color has the same warmish cast - which I've come to prefer over Canon's slightly crisp-cool blue coloration. Care needs to be given working wide open however, and attention given to your histogram. I find it a bit more sensitive here than my 17-50 f2.8, but just a bit.
Distortion is negligible. I've already mentioned CA, which is one of the few things that annoy me with any lens. It's absent for most of the range and apertures. If you point the lens at the sun, you will get flaring. It's most noticeable again at 70. I don't believe it's any worse than any of the other 70-200 fast lenses; it's going to happen with that many elements in a lens. Shooting in the general direction of the sun poses no issues. Unlike many telephotos or poorly coated lenses, work against reflective and bright objects is not a problem.
Bokeh, it's marvelous! This really rivals some of my older primes. This is something I've personally always deemed secondary for image quality in a zoom. But when you've got it, it's noticed and appreciated. Foreground and background images blur wonderfully, you can just see that plane of focus simply slicing through your image. There's no etching, busyness or vortex effect. Light reflections are frosty and shimmer, just hanging in space. Colors blend effortlessly. The end result is far better than I ever expected here.
Low light performance is great. There's something that's really hard to pin down, but it's more than just romanticized. Yet it's accurate. I was taking photos of flowers in our backyard just at dusk, the sun was down but in the summer evening the light was wonderful. Somehow this lens caught it. I was floored. I took pictures the following evening with 2 other lenses and this one, and got the same effect only from the Sigma. Somehow it just gets the color of the light, and you just know when it was. You can feel the dense air and stillness of the moment. Simply magical. Could you get the same effect in PP? Probably, especially if you had a shot from this lens to compare it to! That sounds silly, doesn't it? Indoors, you can capture images with only the slightest light coming in from the windows. Here again, by not having to crank up the ISO, and dropping the shutter speed, the ambiance of the moment is yours for the taking. This is all enhanced by the creamy dreamy bokeh of the wide-open lens and the abilities of the OS. This lens will be pushing your creative buttons with a heavy hand.
Just a word about lens breathing. When I purchased the Sigma, I was also testing the Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 SP Di VC USD XLD. In comparing the 2 lenses (which I did heavily for a few days), the close distance difference was quite noticeable on the Sigma. This may or may not drive you nuts. To me, if what I see is what I get, I'm fine with it. But, if you compare the shrinkage to another similar or fixed lens, be aware that you'll lose reach. It seems most noticeable at 70mm, but is apparent throughout the range. To offer an unscientific guess, I'd say it's about a 20mm loss. I believe it's in good company with the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II being about the same in that regard. Not many mention this, but it is a weakness of the lens and is worth noting.
Sigma's Optical Stabilization is very good, but not amazing. Smooth handling pays off, sloppy shooting is not entirely compensated for. I have easily managed shots down to 1/12, but alternately, have had some with obvious motion blur at even 1/60. I have not used setting 2 for panning yet - but will insert my thoughts when I give that one a spin. I'm quite sure a lot of what I'm experiencing has to do with the weight of the lens. Other telephotos I've used seem better, but they also weigh a fraction of the Sigma. When initiated, you'll detect a slight jump in the viewfinder, and a very subtle "clunk" as it engages. Complaints about "noisy OS" should be taken with a huge grain of salt. The OS remains engaged for about 2 seconds and shuts off with a similar clunk. While 3.15 pounds of lens doesn't seem like much at first, fatigue does set in after a while. Consider a good monopod or similar if dedicated shooting over a period of time is anticipated.
Unfortunately for Sony and Pentax users there is no version without OS available. I know some that have gotten the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM II Macro for this reason. Even more unfortunate, the OS lens is a complete redesign optically, and IMHO far superior. Only you can judge if it's worth the $400 upgrade. It really is a shame that Sigma doesn't make a version without the OS in these mounts for a little less. I have a feeling though that people would then be complaining there's not a "non-OS" version available for Canon and Nikon! So, Pentax and Sony users get the short shrift on this one.
This is where you'll notice some of your $1000 savings. But, it doesn't seem like it. The build is tight and solid. It's plastic. Solid and dense plastic, and I don't mean to be facetious. Tapping on the broad section of the barrel gives off a telltale slight hollow sound. That aside, overall the lens has a "built of a piece" feeling to it. In this regard it holds up to the competition very well. Unlike the first versions of this lens, mine is completely "new finish". It's a silky, smooth finish that seems unfazed by fingerprints. Most review copies (or as shown in photo here) had combination old and new finish. The focus and zoom ring portions of the barrel had the old flat finish, giving it an odd 2-tone appearance.
To back up even further (if you don't know), Sigma's originally had a sort of matt "crinkle" finish on their lenses. This was excellent at disguising the plastic, and many assumed their lenses were metal. It had a nice felt-like appearance, and slight insulating properties. However, the old finish was supposedly prone to wear or peeling. While this never happened to me, I can say that the old finish is extremely difficult to clean and keep clean. I'm delighted with the more homogenized aesthetic now that I've seen it, and I'm positive it will wear better over time.
The metal mount is solid and well machined (at least the Canon version), and connects smoothly and effortlessly. The interior of the back element is finished with black ribbing up to the glass element. The front element goes right to the edge as you would expect, it conveys every single one of its 22 elements. Looking into the eye of this lens really is a sexy experience! It positively lights up. New for Sigma, and now carried over on their 50-150 f2.8 OS, the focus group is placed to the rear of the lens. The zoom ring is prominently placed forward - which may or may not be an issue for some people.
The lens is not weather resistant. That's probably the biggest trade off. And one I happily relinquish. If you're livelihood depends on your camera, then it makes all the sense in the world to get the best lens money can buy for your body. You don't know where you'll need to be and when to get "the shot". For avid photographers and hobbyists it's the same. If money is no object and you don't want to come in out of the rain, by all means get the very best. I'm fairly confident though that this lens will not be affected by a slight misting or spray. And no lens is sand or dust proof, so caution is advised in any outdoor situation with any lens! I've read too many sad stories about sand in L lenses. A clear filter may be in order on these occasions: Marumi DHG Super Digital High Grade MC Lens Protect Slim Safety Filter 77mm
Handling and Operation
Occupying the forward position, the wide zoom ring is smooth as silk. It's completely linear with zero variation in friction, and a delight to use. The ring turns counterclockwise to go up, right or wrong depending on your platform! Just behind it is the narrow focus ring, which also offers just the right amount of resistance and silkiness. It rotates about 120° with a soft stop. Focus distance is displayed on the scale window - accuracy is yet TBD. The zoom and focus ring have slightly different sized/spaced hard-rubber ridges; the result is the zoom ring feeling a bit "sharper", a nice Sigma touch. Nice not because that's unusual, but because visually they look nearly identical which helps streamline the look. Most other lenses have decidedly different looking rib patterns. However, since the focus ring is so narrow, there's little chance you'd mix them up even if they were identical. It will take some folks a bit of time to adjust to the forward zoom position though.
Sitting on a raised section and held by 4 screws are the 2 switches for manual focus and the OS off and on positions 1 & 2. The switches operate in a precise and positive manner; I don't feel these will suffer accidental switching when pulling in and out of your bag. All in all, you won't really see or feel anything that seems like corner cutting here. The balance of the lens is something worth noting. Mounted on my 60D (24 oz.), the balance of the lens is almost perfect if the fulcrum point were just forward of the collar. Add another 2-4 ounces and you could literally balance it with one finger under the mounting point. So basically, right where you'll be grasping the lens in a "one-handed mode" the balance is 50/50, which makes a huge difference. I'm sure this is not accidental, and it is greatly appreciated. This is not something I'd expect on a "budget" lens. Bonus points! I have 3 Sigma EX lenses, and as nice as they operate, this is the first one that I'd put against an L lens for overall feel.
Possible omissions here would be a focus limiter switch, and a switch for range. The first isn't really necessary depending on your body or platform. You can usually limit excessive hunting through the menus. With this lens it's really not an issue with a modern body. The second switch however could be helpful. Again, I've not had any focus issues when shooting near objects, if you'd call it near. One downside to this lens is the minimum focus distance of 55.1", or about 4.6 feet. I'd say it's closer to 5 if not a bit more, but I haven't measured it. I can say I've had to step back several times to be able to achieve near focus.
The operation of the HSM is near flawless, it's fast and accurate. The Canon lenses are notably faster from infinity to near focus, and back again. 50% faster? Maybe, but that's about it. While this looks really great on paper or youtube shootouts, I can't think of many times where I've gone from one distance extreme to the other, and frequently. If you tend to shoot: wife, moon, wife, moon, wife, moon and time is of the essence, then perhaps this is the wrong lens. Or, if your paycheck depends on catching unexpected and sudden shots. Once you're anywhere near a given range, the focus is plenty fast going from subject to subject or tracking. The performance of the HSM really is another highlight of this lens. I've not experience one time where it's been off or missed. No issues with front or back focus which is great, since my camera can't MFA.
Focus Testing Methodology
4 types of focusing methods have been tried and proven on this lens. The first and foremost is single center-point (one shot) focusing. Back to back, dozens of shots at a time at various lengths and apertures. This was done to see if focus is consistent and accurate every time. It is. Subjects included dogs, the S.O. (who likes getting her picture taken up to a point), flowers and plants, landscapes, dogs, brick and stucco walls and dogs. These were all shot between 6'-60' mostly, with some leaning towards infinity. Additionally, the standard battery test was implemented to see if there was any tendency for front or back focus. There is not. Ambient/low light tests were also tried to check for hunting. No issues were found here either. Pretty much if you can see it, and you can get the shot handheld, there are no issues as far as locking on. No further tests necessary here.
Second was multi-point focus (selected) for accuracy in corners. No issues. Shooting involved the same subject matter as above. Just as fast and quick to lock on as center point. The third focus tests involved AI servo and burst mode, to see if there were problems tracking - and to check for speed as well. Keeper rate is about 90%, most problems were deemed user error. It's so hard to find good help. This lens would probably be good for (close) BIF shots in skilled hands with the appropriate body. For motorsports it's a natural. Of course it will absolutely shine for indoor sports such as basketball or outdoor sports like soccer and baseball. My humble little 60D however is no match for the lens. I'm sure things would only improve with a 7D, a 5D mkiii or a D800 for that matter!
Finally we have live mode. I've tried live mode in daylight and *very* low light conditions. Contrast detection by nature is slower, so speed really isn't something any lens excels with here. The Sigma has no problems in brighter conditions, but when things get really dark , past handheld , the lens noticeably slows . It also for the most part will go past its focus point and then go back, but always on the first pass. In this regard, it behaves as every other lens I've used with my body anyway. Since live mode is so camera and system dependant, it may behave completely different on your body.
As with most Sigma lenses, you get everything you need to start enjoying your lens immediately. It comes with a hood, and a hood extender for crop sensor cameras. I have left that in the box, the hood is big enough to deal with. As with the 17-50, the hood throws some folks. Simply line up the "in" arrow with the dot on the lens and rotate. When it stops, rotate a bit harder and it will snap into place with a nice firm click. Sigma includes a high quality zippered hard padded case for storage, with a carrying strap. Also included is their excellent tripod mounting collar. It's easy to use and take on and off literally using only one hand. The finish is a nice silky smooth dense coating on metal, with a polished anodized metal band on the ring's interior for a scratch-free mating. Lines on it correspond to lens markings for horizontal and vertical use. I can say this absolutely blows away the Canon collars. A center pinch lens cap and back cap finish off the package.
* Fantastic build quality
* Great sharpness at f2.8
* Amazing sharpness throughout
* Great color and contrast
* Fast AF
* Smooth and easy operation
* Optical Stabilization
* Great balance
* Hood, case and tripod collar included
* 4 year warranty
* Lack of weather resistance
* Plastic build
* Minimum focus distance of 55.1"
* Reversed hood on lens makes operation impossible
* Third party (possible future compatibility issues)
* No version without OS for Pentax & Sony users
* No gray body and red ring
Yeah, that's it. I'm almost done. I'll join the chorus of "what took me so long?". This lens is remarkable, and in places the performance is off the charts. Certainly a lens of this type really is a personal decision. A 70-200 is most often a second or third lens of choice for the avid hobbyist. But when you need one, you know it. If I were shooting as a pro (which I do, but not with this type of lens) I'd lean towards the best Canon or Nikkor lenses without a doubt. You don't often get second chances if you're a photo journalist. They're rugged and dependable, and can go anywhere. The AF will work fast and flawlessly on their given platform. They will continue to function day after day after day in all conditions giving consistent results.
For a lot of us though, this may not be the #1 go-to lens in our arsenal. In fact, the cameras might not even come out until the weekend. But if you're shooting a Niece's wedding, capturing your Son's soccer game, or snapping the Grand Daughter's piano recital Saturday night - this lens is p-e-r-f-e-c-t. The money saved will buy you a lot of extra equipment. Or one trip to the orthodontist. Also, if you're shooting a crop sensor camera, check out the Sigma APO 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM. Its performance on cropped sensor is as good and potentially better on crop. It's a bit less expensive, and visually identical to this lens. A heck of a bargain if you intend to stay with cropped sensors.
If you're just starting to look, dpreview.com and lenstip.com are good beginning points. Both of these sites have photos and charts to compare. Dpreview has a particularly informative interactive chart where you can choose the lenses and camera bodies. You can pit the Sigma against first and second generation Canon and Nikon 70-200 f2.8 lenses. This chart will show how close and at times even better the Sigma can be, and also how much of an improvement it is over the first generation f2.8's from Canon and Nikon.
Again, there's always the caveat of a third party lens and forward compatibility. That said, and without the slightest hesitation, I give this lens 5 stars. If all things were equal (and they're not), the Canon would get 5 stars and this one 4.5. The performance and value of this lens is simply off the charts for a "mid level" enthusiast lens. I look forward to see what's in store from Sigma in the future. They've hit it out of the park with this lens in so many ways. Thank you Sigma! And thanks for sticking with me. There's a lot of good lenses out there, you can't really go wrong with most. But you can certainly save some money if you want to, and still get an amazing piece of equipment that will keep you happy for many years. I hope my thoughts on it will help you make an informed, confident decision!
*** Update 9/20/13 ***
Back in August - exactly one year after this review I purchased a Canon 6D. I've had over a month to evaluate it - and again another trip to Hawaii.
The Performance of this lens is simply astounding on the full frame. It didn't need the handicap of shooting on APS-C! In fact, it is much, much better as far as sharpness edge-to-edge than my EF 24-105 f4L IS. The 2 new L lenses I purchased needed MFA on the 6D on both ends, and are also just a bit soft on my 60D. In fairness, this is 100% pixel peeping. I mean they're sharp, but not compared to the Sigma. And, the Sigma needed no MFA at all. Wide open it's fantastic. I guess the one thing I have to get used to is the razor thin depth of field at f2.8. I have to stop up just so I have more than a half an inch of focal plane! I'm delighted I got this lens in anticipation of going FF. It's a gem.
Five Fantastic Full Frame Stars!
I was set on buying the Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II ($2100) then I seen this lens at my local camera rental store. The shop owner had nothing but good things to say about the Sigma and let me sample both Canon and Sigma 70-200 2.8 lenses and encouraged me to use one over the weekend. I took the sigma to see what the hype was about. I WAS BLOWN AWAY!!! I took over 1000 shots over the weekend, had a few events so I made good use of it, and I was thoroughly impressed. If you have kids who play sports, the Sigma lens does the trick. The auto focus was lightning fast and I was able to track my subjects easily and swiftly. The 2.8 F-stop lead to great Bokeh which the recipients of the photos were pleased and commented "looks professional".
Performance: Great quick auto focus, clean and crisp shots. Some slight vignetting at the edges mostly noticed at 200mm. The focus and zoom ring are switched (compared to the normal Canon Lens set up) the zoom ring is near the front lens, focus ring towards the camera (this took some getting used to). Its a bit heavy for long shoots but it helps you beef up your left arm. So far no complaints except from my wife who is embarrassed when I bust out this big bad boy at my kid's events (I think its cool) Oh well, the photos speak for themselves.
Bottom line- If you got the money or making money, spend the money and get the Canon. If you are like me and have regular bills, a family, and just want to take great photos of them without dipping into their college fund, the SIGMA is a great and sensible choice.
Stabilization noise: You can hear it activating when you are shooting, but your ear is inches away from it. Some people grumble about the noise, I don't really pay attention to it that much, its not that bad. My Canon 70-300mm (non L) makes similar sounds too.
Great Price, affordable
Great Stability Control
Sturdy Build Quality
Made in Japan (this was a big pro to me)
Not weather sealed
Heavy (but so is the Canon)
You still may have Lens Envy
Black finish did make the lens warmer in the sun (didn't see a drop in performance though)
I included some sample photos I took comparing the Canon vs Sigma. I used the respective lens to shoot the opponent lens (canon 6d). They both looked great to me, but like I said, I'm not a pro. The other two photos are with the SIGMA 70-200 2.8 APO EX DG HSM OS at a local pub using the Canon 6D