A long time ago when I reviewed the Nikon D3100 and used the kit lens that came with it, I came to the conclusion that I wanted a wide angle lens. I did not, however, want a kit lens. I had a small budget and when I did the research to find something that fit all of my criteria, the Sigma 18-50mm F2.8-4.5 DC OS HSM came up. Some have criticized me for not getting the fixed f2.8, but I really did not care. This lens, with its low cost and great quality, was well worth it. There is plenty to like about it.
Pros and Cons
- $200 price point.
- The sigma 18-50mm F2.8-4.5 has its own focusing motor, so it works on most crop sensor cameras.
- Great for photo walks and everyday photography.
- In a few low light situations, the lens focus hunts a bit.
- Having to explain why you did not save more for the 17-50mm f/2.8 EX (a little more than double the price).
I used this lens with my Nikon D90, my Nikon D700, and for the review of the Nikon D3200, instead of using the standard kit lens. The lens went in and out of all my bags. While I mostly used this lens handheld, I did, occasionally, put it on the UltraPod II desktop tripod or a Oben AC-1400 tripod for landscape work. The lens was never a problem to carry around.
For its price, this lens is amazingly well built. It was like someone at Sigma said ‘let’s take care of those with a tight budget’. The coating on the outside of the lens has a nice feel to it as it is textured with a durable light and coarse coating. The zoom and focus are all internal. So the lens does not change size when shooting. The Sigma 18-50mm F2.8-4.5 is slightly larger than a standard kit lens and was not too heavy. While it is made of plastic on the outside, the Sigma 18-50mm F2.8-4.5 feels very solid. It is a great lens to use.
The Sigma 18-50mm F2.8-4.5 is well labeled. The numbers on the zoom ring are easy to read as well as the focus distance scale.The zoom ring, which you will use the most, is a great size. The focus ring, while not as big, is a decent size.
The autofocus/manual button and the optical stabilization buttons are a decent size and well placed. You don’t have to look at them to adjust them. I only turned off the optical stabilization when I put the D90 and the Sigma 18-50mm F2.8-4.5 on a tripod. I did not have to reach for these buttons a lot.
The mount is metal and plastic which makes it very sturdy. The ring is also rather thick. If you put this lens on an FX camera and forget to put it into DX mode you will get horrible vignetting.
The autofocus is very quick and accurate. If I was capturing a moving subject or just had to get a image quickly, I never had an issue. When photo walking I would always get a decent image even if I was not looking through the viewfinder. If I had to get a shot in a restaurant, I could quickly get camera out, compose the shot, and shoot. Autofocus would get what I needed it to do. In low light situations it would occasionally focus hunt, but not too often. Manually focusing was easy with this lens. With the ring being a nice size it was easy to grab and shoot.
Ease of Use
For a photographer of any level this lens is easy to use. With its versatility, it can handle anything from landscapes to a bit of macro. If you just needed a zoom lens to keep around, this lens would not disappoint. I used this lens for a long time. On the days I had it on my Nikon D90, I was generally fine with it the whole day. When I did put this lens in a new photographer’s hands, he did not have much of a learning curve with it. The Sigma 18-50mm F2.8-4.5 did everything I needed it to do.
At $200, you would think that the image quality would have been sacrificed a bit, but what this lens produces is surprising. With the Sigma 18-50mm F2.8-4.5 the images were sharp. The colors are well rendered. Skin tones came out properly. The contrast was spot on. The bokeh was nice and clean. Now it is not the best lens in the world, but it is damned good.
The optical stabilization works very well on this lens. If you have to get images in low light this lens will perform admirably.
Here are some extra sample images:
Much better than a kit lens, the Sigma 18-50mm F2.8-4.5 is great glass. It’s very affordable at around $200. For most major DSLR mounts, it will serve you well. Its speed does not bother me personally because when shooting landscapes or photo walking, I kept my lens between f8 – f16. I can shoot a little macro with it, too. When I went full frame, I sold my Sigma 18-50mm F2.8-4.5, but not because I no longer liked it. I sold it to a good friend who was getting into photography and did not buy his camera with a kit lens. To save him money I sold him the Sigma 18-50mm F2.8-4.5 knowing I could borrow it whenever I missed it too much. If you need a cheap lens to help you get started with landscape photography or keep around for food photography. It’s also brilliant as a street photography lens. You could say it’s a jack of all trades.
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