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Sigma 24-70 EX DG HSM f/2.8 Review/Test Shots

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Published on Dec 20, 2010

READ THE REVIEW HERE

BUY the Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 HSM for Canon Here;

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product...

Buy the Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 HSM for Nikon Here;

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product...

by Darren Miles Naples, FL Photographer

After the great response I received from my first video for the Canon EF-S 15-85mm, I decided to start reviewing all my lenses based on real world experience rather than the charts you see on most review sites. The reality is the majority of us take photos in real world situations and not in controlled environments that are used by most reviewers.

On to the Sigma 24-70 EX DG HSM f/2.8 lens.

Sigma is the world's largest manufacturer of 3rd party lenses (www.SigmaPhoto.com) for all camera systems. Notably, they manufacture lenses that compete directly with some of the most popular from the standard bearers Nikon and Canon for significantly less money. But do the lenses hold up in terms of build, focus speed and accuracy as well as optical quality? Lets find out.

BUILD: The Sigma 24-70 EX DG HSM is part of Sigma's EX (or Excellence) line of lenses, aimed at professional photographers ($1,499 list, $899 street), the build quality is top notch with smooth and well damped focus and zoom rings. The lens consists of heavy plastic and feels solid in the hands. It is a stout lens, much shorter than its Canon counterpart. Overall, a solid effort. Nice job Sigma!

FOCUS SPEED AND ACCURACY: The HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) focuses quickly - not as fast as Canon's ultrasonic - but certainly not slow and certainly fast enough for most real world situations. But is the focus accurate? Yes and No. If you read reviews around the net, you'll find that no manufacturer has as many focus issues as Sigma - specifically when mounted to Canon cameras. Most reviewers will tell you that "when a Sigma lens hits" it's amazing, the problem is, it doesn't hit often enough. Much to my chagrin, I have had similar experiences with this lens. When its focuses accurately (which is approximately 70% of the time, and by the way, this particular lens was sent to Sigma THREE TIMES for calibration) the results are just stellar, great contrast, excellent color rendition, very little chromatic aberation, smooth buttery bokeh. Nice! However, with my specific copy, I find the further my subject moves away from the lens (specifically at f/2.8), the less likely the lens is to focus properly - usually back focusing noticeably... If the subject is within say 15 feet of the camera, it'll hit with dead accuracy. Pretty shaky and not exactly the kind of performace that gives a photographer a strong sense of confidence. If I'm at an event, I don't always feel super secure that I'll get the shot when I have this lens mounted on my rig - specifically in low light...

OPTICAL QUALITY: The results of the lens's optical performance correlate directly to the focus performance. When its on, wow - amazing, the problem is, I can't count on it. For the purpose of reviewing optical quality, I'll 'focus' on the shots I get when it hits - most are sampled in the brief video - some of the better shots I've ever taken have been with this lens, I actually mistakenly put this lens in the wrong lens bag and took it to a wedding I was shooting, and caught one of my best shots ever (the shot at 1:01) - so in effect, the Sigma surprised me, in a positive way. If you're shooting with this lens in a studio environment (with apertures at f/5.6 and above) the lens will perform marvelously.

CONCLUSION: So how does the Sigma stack up? Well, its a mixed bag. You buy a lens like this for several reasons, number one, its an f/2.8 aperture, meaning you're an event photographer who needs a lens in low light situations. The other reason you'll buy this lens is because you're interested in saving money versus buying the Canon or Nikon counterpart (a savings of $500 - $700) which makes the Sigma - on paper anyway - a compelling value. However, if you get paid to take people's photos, you may want to consider spending the extra money and buy the manufacturers versions to insure focus accuracy. I've heard great stories about this lens, and there are photographers out there who'll swear by the Sigma. Truth is, I want to love this lens, but given its focussing inconsistency, I am reluctant to go beyond just a basic 'recommend' review... Some photographers have gotten lucky, you may be one of them, but for the purposes of this review - in a nutshell;

Build Quality - 9/10
Focus Speed and Accuracy - 7/10
Optical Quality - 8/10
Quality of results - 7/10
Value - 7/10

Overal - 38 (out of 50) - Recommend

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