The Phoblographer’s Guide to Sigma Prime Lenses

Editor’s Note: The Phoblographer’s Sigma Prime Lens Guide was not sponsored by Sigma. It was done by the Phoblographer staff with complete Editorial credibility being kept intact. However, before you make a purchase, we recommend that you give them a try first. 

Months and months in the making, the Phoblographer staff has been working hard to finish a guide that we’re finally proud to say is ready for release. In the past couple of years, Sigma has stated that they have improve their QC measures in manufacturing lenses and also released the plans for a new vision of their future products. Today, they are separated into Art, Contemporary and Sports. And one of the leading third party manufacturer of lenses, they helped to vanquish the ideology that third party products just aren’t as good as the first party.

And with that in mind, we bring you our guide to Sigma’s Prime Lenses–featuring the entire list of Sigma fixed focal length glass.

Sigma Nomenclature

As cited from Sigma’s own website.


    In order to attain the highest quality images, the APO lens has been made using special low-dispersion (SLD) glass and is designed to minimize color aberration.


    The aspherical lens complex allows freedom of design, improved performance, a reduced number of component lenses and a compact size.


    This function utilizes a built-in mechanism that compensates for camera shake. It dramatically expands photographic possibilities by alleviating camera movement when shooting handheld.


    This lens uses a motor driven by ultrasonic waves to provide quiet, high-speed AF.


    This lens is equipped with a system that moves the rear lens group for high-speed, silent focusing.


    To ensure stability in focusing, this lens moves the inner lens or groups without changing the lens’ physical length.


    This lens can be used with the APO Teleconverter EX. It can increase the focal length and will interface with the camera’s AE (automatic exposure) function.

  • EX (EX LENS)

  • The exterior of this lens is EX-finished to denote the superior build and optical quality, and to enhance its appearance

Sigma 8mm f3.5 EX DG Circular Fisheye

Fisheye lenses aren’t for everyone–we all know that. But for photographers looking to be more experimental, shooting extreme sports, or going for an edgy in-your-face type of look, you might want to consider Sigma’s 8mm f3.5.

We found the center sharpness to be very good for the price point, but with significant chromatic aberration throughout the image. The build quality is also something that we found to be very standard for this lens due to Sigma’s use of plastics–which many companies do these days.

Focusing with Canon DSLRs proved to be good in normal lighting situations with the lens taking a little bit extra time in low light. With a lens like this, the depth of field is enormous anyway and some may argue that you don’t even have to focus it.

Lastly, we found the color rendition to be a bit flat overall, but that can be fixed easily in post-production.

Read the review.

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Sigma 10mm f2.8 Fisheye


Sigma’s 10mm f2.8 is designed for APS-C DSLRs, so if you ever mount one onto a full frame camera you’ll get loads of vignetting. Depending on what camera you’re using, it will render either a 16 or 15mm field of view–which is quite wide as it is.

In our review, we noted that this lens is built like a tank and is one of the nicest feeling Sigma lenses that we’ve held. With all of this said, it’s pretty heavy, so it might be a tad weighty on a Canon Rebel or D3000 series Nikon camera.

But of course, this is a lens and a primary thought is about image quality. This lens is tack sharp in the center and as you get towards the corners, the sharpness tends to fall off. And if you’re the person that hates to do any post-production, you can note that this lens has barely any color fringing. Plus the colors are vibrant.

Overall, we rate this a good choice for anyone just getting into the fisheye world.

Read the review.

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Sigma 14mm f1.8 DG HSM Art

Perhaps one of the most innovative things that Sigma has done is their 14mm f1.8. The Sigma 14mm f1.8 DG HSM Art lens is one of the best lenses for photographers who photograph landscapes at night and shoot the night sky. In fact, this lens absolutely amazed us when shooting the night sky. On top of that, we were simply impressed with just how sharp it is wide open and how it can render scenes overall. It’s a gorgeous lens with weather sealing and even has the ability to create a scene with bokeh. This is due to the f1.8 aperture.

Of course, this lens focuses quickly. But that can be said for a lot of wide angle lenses in general. In our review, we tested this lens on both film and digital cameras. We liked what it could do with some of Ilford’s film stock. But we’re sure that most photographers buying this lens will go for mounting it on their digital cameras.

Read the review.

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Sigma 15mm f2.8 DG Fisheye

Sigma’s 15mm f2.8 is meant for full frame cameras, and the colors can be quite wonderful coupled with crisp images. In the hand, it feels great due to the rubberized focusing ring and the brushed metal finish that is pleasant to the touch.

We found the autofocusing performance to be quite fast on the 15mm f2.8 DG; and we tested it for things like landscapes, street photography and more. In our testing, we didn’t find any color fringing with the lens

Like every other fisheye lens, it’s a very specialized item that isn’t meant to be used for everything. But if you have the right creative vision, we’ve seen this lens used with lots of interesting effects. Granted, they’ve all been a bit extreme with lots of lighting. With that in mind, consider this lens for extreme sports (like skateboarding) or some sort of edgy photo shoot.

Read the review.

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Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary

We’ve tested a few of Sigma’s DN contemporary lenses; and some of them we weren’t really big fans of. But with the Sigma 16mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary we were really surprised. It’s a fantastic lens for street photography, video, and even some candid stuff that you just may want snapshots of. The contemporary line is not built as well as the company’s Art lineup or sports line up and part of this is reflected in the price point.

As it is though, you’re getting a fantastic lens, with fast autofocus, sharp optics, beautiful bokeh, and that can easily double for video use. If that’s what you’re doing, you can’t really go wrong with an option like this. It’s a lens for the enthusiast with professional performance.

Read the review.

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Sigma 19mm f2.8 Version 1

We tested this lens on a Micro Four Thirds camera, and of the two that were originally launched (it was launched with the 30mm f2.8) this one was our favored choice. The 19mm provides a wide to semi-wide field of view on Micro Four Thirds cameras and Sony NEX APS-C cameras when attached.

Wide open and when used with flashes, it’s pretty darned sharp and we’ve even used it for shoots here on the site. The colors are true to life and the performance is sharp. When it was originally launched, the lens had issues with the floating element making a heck of a racket when attached to the camera, but it eventually went away with firmware updates. The floating element is part of the design and in some ways can provide a sort of image stabilization–or so we’re told. There was also an issue with laggy startup times, but that’s also gone. However, don’t expect them to focus as past as Olympus or Panasonic lenses.

There is no real point in stopping them down that much–especially as diffraction starts to occur with Micro Four Thirds cameras at f4 and f5.6. At the time, they were some of the best built Micro Four Thirds lenses released, but have since been surpassed by the likes of other lenses that Olympus has put out.

Read the review.

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Sigma 19mm and 30mm DN Version 2

Shortly after Sigma announced their Global Vision initiative, they updated their two Micro Four Thirds lenses with what was essentially a new chassis. With that in mind, the image is still good and the build quality became even better. The focusing ring, however, is completely smooth, and we recommend putting some gaffers tape on it to give it some better grip.

At this point in the game though, Olympus, Panasonic, and Sony all had been developing speed demon lenses and so Sigma’s offerings have a slower focusing compared to other standards of the day.

Additionally, we really wish that Sigma had found a way to make these lenses f2 instead of f2.8.

Read the review.

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Sigma 20mm f1.8 EX DG RF

It’s not everyday that you can find yourself an autofocus lens that is almost bordering the ultra-wide space with an aperture faster than f2.8. However, Sigma offers users a 20mm f1.8 EX DG RF, which has lots of light soaking abilities due to its fast apertur

Keep in mind that a fast aperture doesn’t always mean the best performance. We weren’t too thrilled with what the lens offered when used with the aperture wide open, but the lens was quite excellent when stopped down to around f2.8. That’s fine anyway–it’s not like you’re going to buy this lens for its bokeh.

In our testing, we were also a bit peeved by the noisy focusing motor. However, this is an older lens–and maybe Sigma is planning an update sooner or later.

Make no mistake, this lens is pretty darned well built with its beefy rubber focusing ring, though the finish can scuff quite easily.

Read the review.

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Sigma 20mm f1.4 DG HSM Art

With this lens, Sigma has done a world’s first: a wide angle lens with an f1.4 aperture that autofocuses. But not only have they broken a record, but Sigma made the image quality from this lens rather incredible. There is very little distortion with this lens, and we’re not sure how they kept it down. You’ll surely see vignetting, but I feel that it adds to the quality and look of the images.

The Sigma 20mm f1.4 DG HSM Art also renders very sharp photos even wide open. As with many other Global Vision lenses, you can expect super saturated colors, beautiful bokeh, and great image quality overall.

Even more impressive: it’s incredibly fast and very silent to focus with. This lens deserves praise all around and photographers of all sorts will love it. But it will find itself best serving street photographers, architecture photographers, real estate photographers and landscape photographers.

Read the review.

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Sigma 24mm f1.4 DG HSM Art

As the third prime lens to be added to Sigma’s art lens lineup, the company pulled out all the stops with this one. Yes, the sharpness and build quality is just as great as the others. That also means that there is no weather sealing. But you really fall in love with this lens for the image quality.

Though this lens has less contrast than its 50mm and 35mm siblings, it still has that token Sigma saturation to all the colors–which is great for landscape shooters and architecture photographers. We also found it to be a bit sharper than the 35mm f1.4 Art though not as tack as the company’s 50mm f1.4 Art.

Oh yeah, you’ll love the bokeh too. Yup, we never thought we’d say that with a wide angle prime but you’ve got nothing to worry about here except for some extremely minor color fringing that you may not even notice.

Read the review.

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Sigma 24mm f1.8 EX DG Macro


This is the lens that we really expect to see an update to sooner or later as the company doesn’t have a 24mm f1.4 offering, but we’re very positive that they could.

Still though, that doesn’t mean that we have very many complaints with the lens. It’s built well, sharp wide open, quite contrasty, and focuses pretty darned fast in normal lighting conditions. The bokeh is also very creamy due to its 9 aperture blades. In general, the more aperture blades a lens has, the creamier its bokeh is.

Color fringing can easily be missed and if anything we often only spotted it in the corners of the frames. Overall, it’s well controlled.

If you’re a photojournalist or concert photographer looking for a wide prime with a fast aperture, Sigma’s 24mm is a good option.

Read the review.

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Sigma 28mm f1.8 EX DG

The 28mm lens offering has always provided a great midway point between the traditional 35mm and 24mm field of views. Though Canon and Nikon both have their own offerings, we found Sigma’s to be sharp, contrasty, well built, albeit heavy, and the autofocus performed very well. In low light, however, the lens can cause a camera to hunt a bit.

Something that we really, really need to emphasize about this lens is the bokeh. We were seriously blown away by its quality. The colors are very true to life–and will obviously be made better with post-production.

When using the lens, remember that in order to use it in manual focus mode you’ll need to snap the focusing ring back. If you’re not used to this, you’ll instinctively search for a switch instead.

Just bear it in mind. If you plan to never manually focus, enjoy your glorious bokeh.

Read the review.

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Sigma 30mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary

It makes absolute sense that Sigma would take the award winning 30mm f1.4 lens and adapted it to mirrorless cameras. Best used with APS-C and Micro Four Thirds offerings, this lens provides the user with a normal-ish field of view when working with it.

It exhibits some really beautiful bokeh and the autofocus is often pretty accurate with a few exceptions, but the real killer feature is the sharpness that it is capable of exhibiting. What I’m not a fan of is the purple fringing–which it gives off more of than I’m really used to with newer lenses on the market.

Read the review.

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Sigma 30mm f1.4 II

This is a lens that really blew us away. Sigma updated their very popular 30mm f1.4 designed for APS-C DSLRs recently and on a whim we decided to try it with a full frame camera. We experienced almost no vignetting as the imaging circle covered the entire full frame sensor area. Still though, it’s designed to be used with APS-C DSLRs and with those it will be incredibly sharp, contrasty, and fairly fast to focus.

When used with a full frame camera though, it will also give the same performance but the sharpness will not be as stellar in the corners. This can only be expected with a lens designed for APS-C DSLRs though.

Besides the image quality and the autofocus, it’s built quite well and feels almost like a small piece of fruit in the hand.

Owners of the old lens will still love their lens, but if you don’t own the older lens then you might want to consider this offering.

Read the review.

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Sigma 30mm f2.8 EX

When Sigma released the original 30m f2.8 lens, it was pitched as a normal normal field of view on APS-C and Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras. Like its 19mm f2.8 sibling, this lens is sharp, contrasty, and super light. And as with that lens, we preferred the more ergonomically pleasing focusing ring of the original version.

At the original time of reviewing the lens, it focused quite quickly. However Sony, Panasonic, and Olympus all make faster focusing lenses than this offering at the moment. However, the 30mm f2.8 can still be had at a significantly more affordable price than most alternatives from the aforementioned three companies.

In the right conditions, this lens can deliver some beautiful image quality and I have to be honest and say that some of the best images I’ve shot on mirrorless cameras have been done with this lens despite finding the 60mm equivalent field of view on Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras quite weird.

Still, you can’t really complain about the sharpness, bokeh, and light weight offered in such a small and affordable package.

Liken this lens to a nifty 50 in some ways.

Read the review.

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Sigma 35mm f1.4 DG HSM

This is the lens that has won award after award after award and it is deserving of every bit of praise that it receives. When I first purchased this lens, I compared it to my Canon L version and this blew it out of the water despite Canon’s offering having slightly creamier bokeh.

Still this lens is sharp, contrasty, well built, and can focus quite closely. Because of this, it can be used for a variety of situations. In fact, it’s the lens that basically married to my DSLR and very much considered my bread and butter optic.

Additionally, Sigma managed to create a better lens that pretty much every one other at a better price than most competitors. Of any lens on this lens, this is the one that we want to tell everyone to spring for.

Seriously, you’ll get it and will never look back.

Read the review.

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Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM

If you’re a lover of the 50mm field of view, then Sigma’s f1.4 offering will be one that you’ll want to consider. It’s big and beefy and offers some very beautiful bokeh along with good sharpness. However, it will fringe a bit wide open and doesn’t focus that closely–so you’ll want to look elsewhere for some product photography. But if you’re using it as an every day lens, then it may never leave your camera.

The lens is also built better than anyone else’s 50mm f1.4 offerings with autofocus; and it will feel great when mated to more professional camera bodies or more entry level cameras.

At times though, the lens can be slow to focus, but in general you won’t have much of a problem.

Oh yeah: we rated the bokeh from this lens as better than the offering from Zeiss.

Read the review.

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Sigma 50mm f2.8 DG Macro

Macro lenses are the envy of lots of hobbyist photographers, and Sigma’s 50mm f2.8 option is one that will excite many shooters. It is small, fast to focus (exceptionally fast for a Macro lens, actually) and has a decent build quality. At the Macro range though, we often opted for manually focusing instead. But once again, most folks care more about the image quality more than anything else.

We found the bokeh to be nice and creamy–which is very characteristic of many macro lenses. The sharpness is pretty good wide open and maxes out at around f8. However, you can stop down to f32. With all honesty though, there are sharper options out there but not at this price point.

Read the review.

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Sigma 50mm f1.4 DG HSM Art

When Sigma decided to update their 50mm f1.4 lens, they knew that it had to be every bit as good as their new 35mm f1.4 Art lens. When we got the new 50mm in, we played with the lens a whole lot: we posted first sample images, a full review, and comparison posts against the 35mm f1.4 and 50mm f1.4 version 1.

Sigma’s new 50mm f1.4 Art lens received our Editor’s Choice award along with our highest recommendations for most DSLR users. It performs very well right up there with Zeiss’s 55mm f1.4 Otus lens and Sony’s new 50mm f1.4 offering. It’s a big lens but is also big on performance. The new lens has nice micro contrast (though we wish it had more) good colors though a bit more muted than the 35mm f1.4’s, excellent sharpness wide open, beautiful bokeh that makes a distracting background look dreamy, and some beefy build quality to back all of this up.

Still though, we wish it incorporated weather sealing.

Read the review.

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Sigma 60mm f2.8 DN

Sigma’s 60mm f2.8 was pitched as being a portrait lens when it was released. The reason for this is because of the field of view that it will render: 90mm on APS-C mirrorless cameras and 120mm on Micro Four Thirds. Like its other siblings, the current lens has a sleek, smooth body: whether or not you like that though is up to you.

We tested the lens on the Sony NEX 6 and found the focusing to be blazingly fast–and perhaps one of the strongest features of the lens. To get the best balance of bokeh and sharpness though, you’d need to stop down to at least f3.5. The lens exhibits slight color fringing, but you really have to look for it.

The lens is overall pretty darned good, but don’t expect it to perform like similar offerings from Sony, Olympus and especially Panasonic.

Read the review.

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Sigma 70mm f2.8 EX DG Macro

The 70mm f2.8 Macro lens is another lens targeted at the APS-C DSLR crowd. Of note is the excellent build quality and just how much detail this can can resolve from a camera sensor. We tested with lens with an older Nikon D90, and it seemed to breathe loads of new life into the aging camera.

Like other macro lenses, focusing in the macro range can be a slow process in which can you probably finish brewing a good cup of coffee. However, we were still able to nail focusing accurately.The sloth-like pace is due to the fact that the lens lacks an HSM motor.

As stated earlier, the sharpness is exceptional on top of the bokeh also being creamy and pleasing. We found this lens to be a good option for portrait photographers using APS-C DSLRs. Additionally, we found that it can be good for food photography in some instances. As always, we encourage you to use studio lighting or flashes to get the best out of your macro images.

This lens is fantastic and deserves consideration. It would be a nice addition to any photographer’s kit.

Read the review.

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Sigma 85mm f1.4 EX DG HSM

We’ve pitted this lens against Canon’s offerings, and if you don’t need their f1.2 L version, then Sigma’s 85mm f1.4 is a super solid offering. Though we wish that it focused a bit closer if you’re doing something like product photos, you can’t complain at all about what this lens can give you.

First off, this lens is crazy sharp. Then there is the beautiful bokeh and the excellent build quality. The 85mm focal length is a classic portrait choice due to its low distortion and the fact that you can still work fairly close to your subject–therefore maintaining intimacy when shooting.

For the price, there really is nothing else like it right now.

And if you’re a serious portrait shooter, this will without a doubt be the one lens you should care about.

Read the review.

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Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG Art

It was tough for me to accept that Sigma’s 85mm f1.4 could get any better. But if you use cameras with higher resolution sensors, then you surely do start to see its age. That’s why Sigma updated the lens to have a bit of weather sealing, faster autofocus, and better build quality over it. But it’s pretty massive.

Despite the large size though, the image quality from this lens is incredibly good. Everything about it is much better than the original. The bokeh is beautiful, the colors are contrasty, the sharpness is unparalleled, and the skin tones are perfect. Plus there’s pretty much no chromatic aberration.

Of course, this comes at a higher price point. But it’s worth it.

Read the review.

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Sigma 105mm f2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro

Sigma’s full frame standard Macro lens is an offering that is highly compared to the competition from both Canon and Nikon. Like many other macro lenses, you’ve got the option of focusing limiters to make your workflow easier and faster. It also has switches for different types of image stabilization; though we need to note that it is noisy. However, it’s quite effective as we were able to handhold the camera/lens combo and get a blur free photo at 1/4 of a second. According to the reciprocal rule of shutter speeds, that’s almost breaking the rules of physics.

One of our favorite features about this lens is the internal focusing, which means that it doesn’t eventually poke someone’s eye out if you’re shooting a portrait. Speaking of focusing, we felt that the focusing with this lens quite speedy.

We were very pleased with the overall image quality, what with its sharpness and incredibly smooth bokeh that we gushed over.

Read the review.

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Sigma 135mm f1.8 DG HSM Art

The Sigma 135mm f1.8 DG HSM Art lens is perhaps our most favorite portrait lens providing that your studio has the room to accommodate working with such a focal length. For years, Sony was the only company that had such a lens until Sigma came out with one of their own. This lens is not only known for its exceptional sharpness but the gorgeous bokeh that you can get. It is designed for portraits, obviously, and is perhaps best for headshots.

One of the reasons why we so highly recommend this lens besides the bokeh is because on camera, it isn’t that contrasty as many of the company’s other lenses. Instead, it offers more muted tones.

Again, pretty obviously, this lens is targeted to the portrait and headshot photographer. But it’s also great on location due to the weather sealing realized within and on the mount of this lens.

Read the Review

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Sigma 150mm f2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro

Another good though not very mentioned lens is the 150mm f2.8 Macro. Like other macro lenses, it works very nicely as a portrait lens, though that’s obviously not its primary use.

We found the build quality to be solid–especially for the price. It’s a bit heavy though coming in at 2.5 lbs; and we recommend holding it with your other hand if you’re simply walking about leisurely taking photos with it.

The focusing is also very quick with this lens; and we wouldn’t expect anything else.

Overall, the image quality that we experienced was sharp with extremely smooth bokeh. We also found the color rendition to be very true to life.

A minor complaint that we had is the two piece lens hood for those shooting with APS-C DSLRs: the overall size of the hood basically is the size of the lens and therefore turns the entire unit into a massive piece. Granted, this is a long telephoto lens, so it needs a longer hood.

Read the review.

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Sigma 180mm f2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro

And here is where we start to get to the really long end: Sigma’s 180mm f2.8 is a full frame lens with an emphasis on shooting macro images along with exhibiting impressive sharpness.

Now, don’t think for a second that this isn’t a behemoth of a lens. It’s massive and we often recommend using a tripod when shooting with it.

With that said though, we were very impressed with the focusing accuracy–which is very important for long telephoto lenses and especially macro lenses.

If you spring for this tank of a lens, expect not only great sharpness, but pleasant bokeh from its 9 aperture blades.

Read the review.

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Sigma 300mm f2.8 EX APO DG

At this point, we’re now talking about some telephoto lenses that are often used by professional wildlife, outdoors, landscape, and sports photographers.

Sigma’s 300mm f2.8 is the first of those lenses on this list. If you’re considering handholding this lens (and you probably shouldn’t) we recommend that you drop to the ground and give us 50 first–pushups that is!

This tank of a lens has some very tank-like build quality to it and like any other super telephoto lens, it has internal filters.

But if you’re going for a lens like this, something that you really care about will be autofocusing performance and image quality. We had a couple of issues trying to lock onto and maintain focus on fast moving objects, but otherwise the focusing was perfect. That means that if you want your subjects in focus while shooting sports, you may need to stop down quite a bit.

And of course, the bokeh is epic. You shouldn’t expect anything less from a lens of this focal length.

Read the review.

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Sigma 500mm f4.5 EX DG APO

Sigma’s 500mm f4.5 is great for spying on your neighbors like a total creeper. However, we don’t exactly condone behavior like that.

So what’s the word on the 500mm? Well, it’s incredibly well balanced and can totally stand on its own with the tripod collar in place. Additionally, it’s a heck of a lot lighter than it looks.

The build quality overall is just like we like it: tanky. However, we now understand why Canon makes a lot of their lenses in white. This lens absorbed heat quite easily during our testing.

We found the focusing to be quick, silent and spot on. Once again though, tracking focusing with the lens wasn’t the greatest. With that in mind though, wildlife and landscape photographers can surely make great use of this lens.

As for the image quality, this is one of the sharpest Sigma lenses that we’ve tested.

Read the review.

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Sigma 500mm f4 DG OS HSM Sports

With the Sigma 500mm f4 DG OS HSM Sports lens, sports and wildlife photographers have a great option for their line of work. Considering what this lens is, you shouldn’t be surprised that Sigma threw all their biggest technologies into it. Of course, it can also be handheld and shot–though probably not for long depending on how strong you are. We were able to do that when mounting this lens to a Sony a7r III though. That means that it has weather sealing, a tripod collar and so much more.

This lens has everything: great bokeh, sharpness, autofocus speed in most situations, overall quality, and more. We had a blast with the Sigma 500mm f4 DG HSM OS Sports.

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Sigma 800mm f5.6 EX DG APO HSM

And we’re rounding out this list with the big daddy.

Sigma’s 800mm f5.6 is currently the company’s longest prime lens–in more than one way. During our testing, we found the lens to be larger than a small child. But that probably doesn’t matter if you’re looking at this piece of glass seriously.

We were able to resolve an absurd amount of detail with this lens. Shooting from New Jersey, we were able to make out details out as far as Queens, NY–one of the outer boroughs of NYC.

Oh yeah, and it focused pretty darn quickly too. If you’re going for a lens like this, you have to expect that.

Read the review.

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