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This telephoto zoom lens for use with APS-C format cameras offers a 3x zoom range equivalent to a 75-225mm lens used on a 35mm camera, a fast constant f/2.8 maximum aperture, silent autofocus and optical stabilisation. It can be picked up for around £720 and is available to fit, Sigma, Canon and Nikon SLR cameras.
Weighing around 1.3kg, this lens is quite hefty, even though it is more compact than similar lenses designed to cover full-frame sensors. High quality plastics with a matt finish have been used for much of the lens barrel, which provides a good feel to the lens and a metal lens mount adds to the overall robustness of the lens. However, Sigma make no claims about this lens being resistant to dust and moisture. The lens balances well on the Nikon D300 body used for testing, and handling is aided further by the addition of a vertical battery grip. Care may need to be taken if pairing this lens with a more compact camera body as that may result in quite a lens-heavy combination.
A HSM motor powers autofocus, resulting in quick silent focus and the ability to apply manual focus adjustments at any time. The manual focus ring is well damped, which makes applying manual adjustments a pleasure. Focusing is performed internally, so the 77mm filter thread does not rotate, making this lens ideal for use with polarising and graduated filters. The close focusing distance of 80cm is fairly typical of this kind of lens.
The optical stabilisation system fitted to this lens promises to allow sharp images to be taken at shutter speeds slower than would be possible without the system enabled. With care, sharp images can be produced around half the time with shutters speeds as low as 1/30sec at 150mm, which is roughly three stops slower than the usual rule of thumb would dictate necessary, so long as a couple of seconds are allowed for the optical stabiliser to settle before taking an image.
Similar performance is maintained at 100mm, with excellent sharpness in the centre although clarity falls just below good levels at maximum aperture. Stopping down to between f/5.6 and f/8 results in peak performance as sharpness is excellent across the frame.
Finally, at 150mm, there is a slight drop in performance in the centre of the frame at maximum aperture, with performance in the centre approaching excellent levels. Clarity towards the edges of the frame is improved over other focal lengths at maximum aperture, with performance approaching very good levels. Peak performance for this focal length is realised between f/5.6 and f/8, where sharpness improves to excellent levels across the frame.
How to read our chartsThe blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.
The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.
For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D300 using Imatest.
Chromatic aberrations are reasonably controlled, just exceeding 0.75 pixel widths at 50mm and f/2.8, as well as f/22. This low level of CA should pose few issues, even in large prints, or harsh crops from the edges of the frame.
How to read our chartsChromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.
Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.
For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D300 using Imatest.
Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is fairly well controlled. At 50mm the corners are 1.08 stops darker than the image centre and at 150mm the corners are 1.39 stops darker than the centre. Visually uniform illumination isn't achieved until the lens is stopped down to f/5.6 or beyond throughout the zoom range.
Mild barrel distortion is present throughout the zoom range, with 1.31% barrelling being present at 50mm and 0.347% at 150mm. This low level of distortion should be difficult to spot, but if straight lines are paramount, then you'll be glad to hear that the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame at both ends of the zoom range, which should make applying corrections in image editing software pretty straightforward.
A deep petal-shaped hood is supplied as standard with the lens, which does a decent job of shading the lens from extraneous light that may cause unwanted flare and loss of contrast. During testing there were no issues with flare and contrast holds up reasonably well, even when shooting into the light.
Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC APO OS HSM Sample Photos
Wide-angle | 1/320 sec | f/6.3 | 50.0 mm | ISO 200
Telephoto | 1/200 sec | f/6.3 | 150.0 mm | ISO 200
Closest focus is 80cm | 1/200 sec | f/4.0 | 150.0 mm | ISO 560
Contrast holds up well, even when shooting into the light | 1/320 sec | f/4.0 | 150.0 mm | ISO 200
1/200 sec | f/2.8 | 70.0 mm | ISO 360
1/640 sec | f/2.8 | 102.0 mm | ISO 200
1/200 sec | f/6.3 | 102.0 mm | ISO 360
1/200 sec | f/11.0 | 66.0 mm | ISO 200
Value For MoneyThe price of around £720 means that this lens is a more affordable and compact alternative to the traditional 70-200mm telephoto zooms.
The closest equivalent for Canon cameras in terms of specification is their 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II lens, which apart from the slightly longer focal length range sports virtually identical specifications, but is currently around £1950 to buy new. It is worth noting that the previous version of this lens is also still available from some retailers at a more manageable £1000. Canon users on a budget may also consider the EF 70-200mm f/4L lens, which can be picked up for around £515. However, this lens is a stop slower throughout the zoom range and lacks optical stabilisation.
Nikon camera owners looking at their 70-200mm f/4 VR lens, which costs around £950 may also consider this offering from Sigma as it is a stop faster throughout the zoom range. Nikon's 70-200mm f/2.8 lens costs around £1580.
Tamron also produce a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens with optical stabilisation, which costs around £1030.
The Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC OS Lens is a solid performer capable of delivering high quality images.
Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC APO OS ProsExcellent sharpness in the centre throughout the zoom range
Good build quality
Constant f/2.8 maximum aperture
Effective optical stabilisation
Good value for money
Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC APO OS ConsPerformance towards the edges at maximum aperture could be improved
No weather sealing
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC APO OS HSM Specifications
|Focal Length||50mm - 150mm|
|Angle of View||10.8° - 31.7°|
|35mm equivalent||75mm - 225mm|
|Box Contents||No Data|