Field Review: Sigma 70-200mm F/2.8 EX APO DS HSM OS (Day 1)

We did a quick posting when the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 APO EX DG HSM OS FLDlens came in, but it’s now time to start the full field review. For those of you in the dark, this lens is designed in Canon mount and marketed as a more affordable option to Canon’s 70-200mm F/2.8 L IS II. Because we tend to use too many letters of the alphabet and I believe they need to be conserved before the Sigma lenses’ name gets any longer, it will be referred to as the Sigma 70-200mm F/2.8 EX OS.

Tech Specs

Information taken from Sigma’s site

– Designed for use with full frame digital SLR cameras. May also be used with smaller APS-c size sensors with a corresponding effective increase in focal length to about 100 to 300mm with most cameras

– Offers Sigma’s OS System (Optical Stabilization) allowing handheld photography even in low-light situation

– 17 groups 22 elements

– 3 SLD glass elements

– 2 FLD glass elements

– 9 aperture blades for a smoother bokeh

– 77mm filter

-HSM (Hyper-Sonic Motor) ensures a quiet & high-speed auto focus

– FLD glass elements with performance equal to fluorite glass for compensate for color aberration

Handling

The Sigma 70-200mm F/2.8 EX OShandles like a lens that I wish I had during my celebrity photography days. The lens isn’t textured the way previous models have been—instead the feeling is actually very smooth all around. It isn’t a heavy lens and on a 5D Mk II actually feels very balanced. I’d have no problem having the lens attached to the camera and having the camera’s strap wrapped around my wrist for prolonged periods of time.

The most prominent feature to me is the zoom and focus rings. The zoom ring literally has to be twice the size of the focusing ring and is closer to the front element of the lens. Right behind that is the focusing ring. Both rings are very smooth in their action, but it puzzles me as to why Sigma would go out of their way to make such an extremely large zoom ring and almost-but-not-quite skimp on the focusing ring.

To be fair, you might be saying, “Many photographers using this lens won’t manually focus.”

I beg to differ: studio photographers sometimes like to manually focus and minor touch ups to ensure absolute and perfect focusing are always appreciated by any photographer.

Needless to say, this still needs to be put through the tests.

Behind the focusing ring is the distance meter and the AF/MF switch with the OS switch right below that. Closest to the camera is the tripod collar. To date, I believe that Sigma designs the best tripod collars for lenses.

Photographers with larger hands and fingers may perhaps have problems with the focusing ring, but otherwise should be just fine.

Ergonomics

The lens feels very good in the hands—leaps and bounds better than what Sigma has created before. Indeed, their strive to make better lenses seems to be showing.

My favorite part is perhaps the lens hood. Why? Don’t try this at home, but it reminds me a lot of the Nikon 70-200mm F/2.8 ED VR II. As perhaps my current favorite 70-200mm lens, I loved the fact that when I was trying to shoot at a packed concert I was able to use the lens hood to clear a way through teenie boppers, hipsters and posers. While Sigma’s lens hood doesn’t feel as tough, I look forward to plowing through 😉

I kid, I kid.

When gripping the lens, one actually begins to see why Sigma made the focusing ring so small—you don’t need it to be huge despite the ramblings and requests of some photographers. Your hand and finger naturally rests in the middle of the zoom ring and with a very slight move back it can touch up the focusing on the photo you’re about to shoot using the focusing ring.

It’s actually very nice in practice.

Features

The main big feature of this lens is said to be the Optical Stabilization system. Once again, we talked about that here. Please realize that this was just one quick test and more will come to really put it through the vigors of real, serious photography work.

Autofocus

Sigma must be praised for dramatically improving the focusing speed of their lenses. I remember using some of them and the reverse engineering process in the focusing algorithms taking near forever. This time around, Sigma seems to have pulled out all the stops.

I’ve heard and read many complaints about the older version of this lens being very noisy and therefore interrupting guests at a wedding or event that the photographer was trying to shoot. This lens focuses not only much faster (even in low light!) but also much more silently. The only sound that you’ll probably hear is the OS activating and disengaging.

Photographers that were put off by the older version of this lens are encouraged to take a very close look at the Sigma 70-200mm F/2.8 EX OSand to pay careful attention as the field review continues.

The lens retails for around $1,699.00.

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