We’re admittedly not the biggest fan of superzoom lenses, but the Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM Contemporary is one that is making us take a close look at the category again. Designed for cameras with APS-C sensors, it isn’t the engineering feat that the Tamron 28-300mm f3.5-6.3 DI VC PZD is. This is part of Sigma’s Contemporary series, but instead feels like an Art lens in many ways. Designed for the entry level DSLR user that wants an all in one zoom lens and those of us that really hate walking, this lens is one that many folks will fall in love with.
And if you’re the type of person that travels a lot, this could be the all-in-one travel zoom that you want.
Pros and Cons
– Locking mechanism is standard but very handy
– Pretty well built for a super zoom
– Surprisingly sharp. We used it for some of our product photography on the site
– Fast to focus
– Nice range and option for the entry level DSLR user who is bound to use it in auto.
– The bokeh is pretty mediocre.
We tested this lens with the Canon Rebel SL1 and the Phottix Indra 500 TTL.
Specs taken from the B&H Photo listing of the product
|Filter Thread||Front:72 mm|
|Dimensions (DxL)||Approx. 3.11 x 4.00″ (79 x 101.5 mm)|
|Weight||20.6 oz (584 g)|
The the Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM Contemporary is one that is characterized by a rather spiffy looking exterior. Much of it is dominated by the zoom ring, but the parts that aren’t have a bit of extra class to them without looking pretentious.
The Sigma 18-300mm lens has a front element that is protected by a rather small lens hood. It has a 72mm filter thread that also works very well with the company’s close up filters.
In terms of lens controls, this lens has a switch for MF/AF focusing modes and optical stabilization. These are both guaranteed to be on for most users.
The lens extends out quite a bit from its original collapsed mode. With that, there are Macro focusing markings on the lens for very close up focusing.
The build quality of the Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM Contemporary lens is pretty well built. It isn’t like the Sports optics and only a smidge below the Art lineup in terms of build quality. For the typical APS-C DSLR user, you’ll have nothing to complain about with the build of this lens except that the lens cap should have been better designed. If the lens hood is on, it can be tough to take the lens cap off.
What’s really nice is the zoom locking function that keeps the lens collapsed and compact for travel.
Ease of Use
The typical user of this lens is bound to set their DSLR to auto mode and forget about all the rest. When using this lens just remember to unlock it and also ensure that the optical stabilization is turned on.
Though the autofocus performance with a lens like this will largely be based on the camera that you’re using, we didn’t have many troubles with focusing on things in low light, good light, far away, close up, moving, or stagnant. The lens also focuses very quietly, so quiet in fact that a dog totally didn’t mind the sound of the motors on the inside.
The Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM Contemporary is a lens that many of us reading this site will find very basic and will very little pizzazz at first glance. But we’d be incredibly wrong. When using artificial lighting, this lens exhibits sharpness right up there with many of the higher end options from Sigma. In fact, we’ve used this lens for product images on the site and didn’t have much of a problem with the results. On the contrary, I needed to really check my monitor to ensure that it was just as good as it was saying it was.
The bokeh with the Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM Contemporary is…well…not amazing. This goes our analysis of it at either end of the zoom range. We expected much better at the longer end, but it just wasn’t there for our personal liking.
What we were absolutely surprised by with this lens is the sharpness that this lens offers when shooting with artificial light. The images that it can deliver are beautiful. Even when shooting in natural light, we weren’t too disappointed at all with the sharpness.
The image above is designed to look like natural light, but instead there is a flash being bounced off of a window.
The color rendition from this lens is very standard for Sigma, which means that it’s top notch. There is no where as high a contrast level as you’d see with the Art series, but instead it is a bit more muted. Despite the muted colors, it isn’t at all horrible and a bit of a saturation boost in Adobe Lightroom will solve any problems.
Throughout our tests, we didn’t find very much purple fringing–and if anything it was only in the most high contrast areas.
Extra Image Samples
– Nice feel in the hands
– Good image quality
– Not a bad price at $579
– Any qualms that we have with this lens are very personal and don’t have to do with who the lens is targeted at.
The Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM Contemporary lens will make anyone purchasing it happy as long as they realize that they’re not reaching for higher fruit. It surely is a lens designed for the traveller or entry-mid enthusiast.
We award the Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM Contemporary lens 4 out of 5 stars. Want one? Check B&H Photo for listings.