Telephoto zoom lenses that provide a fixed 2.8 aperture are wildly popular, and this Sigma APO 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM for cropped sensor cameras looks like a great deal for the price... but does it deliver?
The Sigma APO 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM for cropped sensor DSLR cameras is a telephoto zoom lens with a wide 2.8 fixed aperture which, coupled with Sigma's Optical Stabilizer (OS) system, delivers nice sharp images with beautiful bokeh. The lens is great for travel, weddings & events, portrait, nature & wildlife, and spots & action photography. Retailing for just over $1000, the lens is much less expensive than most models of its "big brother" the popular 70-200 f/2.8 lens made by nearly every lens manufacturer, and the similar effective field of view (75-225mm on Nikon DX and most other APS-C bodies, 80-240mm on Canon APS-C) makes it a potentially great buy for copped sensor DSLR users.
Build and Design
The lens is comprised of 21 elements in 15 groups. It has six SLD glass elements and boasts a Super Multi-Layer Coating which "... reduces flare and ghosting and ensures sharp and high contrast images even at the maximum apertures." The Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 lens has a minimum focusing distance of 31.5 inches (nearly 3 feet away) and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:6.3. This lens is optimized for telephoto shooting. It has a rounded 9 blade diaphragm for a smooth and soft feel to the defocused areas of the image. The lens also has a minimum aperture of f/22. The lens weighs 47.3 oz and is 3.4"x7.8" (diameter x length). The Sigma 50-150mm lens can be found in Nikon, Canon and Sigma mounts.
Right off the bat, I was impressed with how solid and well built this lens feels. It is heavy, with a metal lens mount and solid hard plastic used for the plastic parts. The focus ring is narrow and moves quickly, smoothly and effortlessly in both autofocus and manual focusing modes. The zoom ring is wide and the rubber ribbed grip makes it very easy to hold and adjust. This lens feels like it was built to last. The lens hood is huge. It adds a full four inches to the already long length of the lens. The lens comes with a very solid tripod mount ring, which is necessary due to the weight of this lens.... did I mention it is heavy?
As a photographer, I tend to heavily favor prime lenses, but the image quality of this lens blew me away! This Sigma lens is one of the sharpest zoom lenses I have ever used. I was easily able to get tack sharp images even shooting wide open at f/2.8, even when zoomed in all the way. The lens produced excellent sharpness in images across the full range of apertures. I noticed very little distortion for a zoom lens, but I did notice some moderate chromatic aberration in very bright, contrasty situations.
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Ease of use/User Experience
I found the HSM (hyper sonic motor) motor from Sigma to be super quiet, fast and accurate with regards to AF, producing tack sharp images with ease on my Nikon d7000. I am a firm believer in AF fine tuning/microcalibration for best results, but even straight out of the box with no adjustments on my NIkon d7000, the results were great, and that is saying something considering I have had some AF issues with this camera.
I love this lens! It is sharp in focus and has beautiful, creamy bokeh. I can truly understand the popularity of this focal length range, too... after shooting with this lens for a little while, I didn't want to take it off my camera! I am totally impressed with it, especially for the price! I am rapidly becoming a huge Sigma fan, and they have scored another hit with this lens. This lens comes highly recommended from me!
At the time of this review, the Sigma APO 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM can be purchased for about $950.
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