First Impression: New SIGMA Lenses Ooze Quality

March 04, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

TK1_0002First ImpressionsCanon EOS-1D X, Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM / DG HSM | A , 1/4000sec, ISO 200, Shutter Priority, Pattern Metering

First Impressions Matter.

“So why SIGMA lenses?” I here you ask. Particularly for a professional with over 25 years experience and a CPS Canon stalwart since the year 2000 after changing over from Nikon with the introduction of the digital Canon Kodak DCS 520. Whether that stands me in good stead to make an informed evaluation, only you can judge.

Whilst I was agency staff, we did have some SIGMA zoom lenses in the pool cupboard, and to be honest although they were optically fine, the AF was slow, a bit searching and the motor was very noisy. So, for me, they tended to stay in the cupboard.

However, that was a long time ago, particularly in terms of technology. SIGMA has, as I say, always produced good quality; value for money lenses for the amateur market and has arguably been the leading independent lens manufacturer. With the introduction of their new Global Range, on paper these look to not only rival the big two, but dare I say, would appear to be much better specked!

My current Canon lenses are:

  • 15mm f2.8 Fisheye
  • EF 17-40mm f4L USM
  • EF 28-70mm f2.8L USM
  • EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM
  • Extender EF 1.4x mkII
  • 300mm f2.8L IS USM
  • 500mm f4L IS USM

Not a cheap investment, by any means!

As a sports photographer, covering motorbike racing and in particular the British Superbike Championship (BSB), this is a not an insignificant amount of kit to lug around a track all day long. To me the SIGMA equivalents (as follows) not only lightened the load, but also tightened up the focal ranges covered.

  • 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 II DG HSM
  • 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM / DG HSM | A
  • 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM
  • 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM
  • TELE CONVERTER 1.4X TC-1401

Being ‘old school’ I have always been told that zooms are a compromise over prime lenses and that converters diminish image quality and AF effectiveness. However, my Canon EF 28-70 is my favourite lens and the 500mm with x1.4 Extender is my standard lens at circuits like Silverstone. However, on paper, the SIGMA’s Hyper Sonic Motor ensures quiet, high speed, accurate auto focusing. Similarly, the new converters are specifically matched to the new Global Lens Range, so all should be well.

To me First Impressions count for a lot and I have to say, that on unpacking the lenses, I could instantly tell that the build quality of the new SIGMA lenses is in the same league as the Canon equipment I possess and considerably better than the last experience of SIGMA lenses I had many years ago. The new range feels solid, with well thought out switch placements. The hoods are not flimsy and I like the little touches such as the locating plates to prevent you not attaching them properly. There is weatherproofing on the mounts of the sports lenses and the paint feels tactile and substantial. All in all, they just ooze quality.

The first task was to register the lenses with SIGMA. This is not only straight forward, but extends your warranty to 3 years in total! So they are prepared to back their products!

Then I set about updating the firmware on the lenses. Yes, the lenses! We are all used to having to update the firmware on our camera bodies, but SIGMA now enable you to do this via a docking station (sold separately which is mount specific). This way you can keep your cameras and lenses up to date. You can also tweak some focus settings too. Don’t panic, if it all goes wrong, you can simply restore the settings at the click of a button.

As a professional, I cannot afford to compromise on the quality of my images. The SIGMA lenses are not a decision I have taken lightly. Technically they are second to none. Now I have them all set up and paired with my camera bodies (1Dx and 5DmkIII) I am anxious to see if they perform in reality as their technical specifications suggest.

I will post specific reviews on each lens, in due course.

The details for the above image are:

Canon EOS-1D X, Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM / DG HSM | A , 1/4000sec, ISO 200, Shutter Priority, Pattern Metering


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