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Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM C Lens Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM C lens for APS-C format cameras. It is available to fit Canon, Nikon and Sigma cameras and costs around �350.

|  Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM in Interchangeable Lenses
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Handling and features
Sigma 17 70mm Lens (2)

This 4.1x zoom lens for APS-C format cameras sports a variable f/2.8-4 maximum aperture, silent focusing, optical stabilisation and a closest focusing distance of 22cm throughout the zoom range. The zoom range is roughly equivalent to that of a 25.5-105mm lens used on a 35mm camera. It is available to fit Canon, Nikon and Sigma cameras and costs around £350.
Sigma 17 70mm Lens (4)



Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM C Handling and features

This lens weighs around 465g, which is reasonably lightweight. Despite not being heavy the build quality is very good, and the lens mount is made of brass. The lens balances well with the Canon EOS 600D used for testing as a result. The lens is finished in matte black with a wide rubberised grip for the zoom control.


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A silent HSM focusing motor powers the focusing mechanism, which focuses the lens quickly and accurately. Even though this lens has a silent focusing motor, it doesn't allow manual focus adjustments to be applied at any time. The focus ring rotates during focusing and the edge closest to the zoom ring has a smooth finish to prevent it from dragging on your fingers during use.

Closest focus is 22cm from the sensor plane at any focal length, which is great for shooting in claustrophobic environments, or for frame filling close ups at the telephoto end of the zoom range with a maximum magnification of 1:2.8.

With optical stabilisation enabled, sharp hand held shots are possible around half the time at shutter speeds as low as 1/5sec, which is roughly four stops slower than the usual rule of thumb would allow.
Sigma 17 70mm Lens (8)





Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM C Performance

At 17mm, sharpness is already outstanding in the centre of the frame and excellent towards the edges of the frame at maximum aperture. This high level of clarity across the frame is maintained as the lens is stopped down to around f/8.

Zooming the lens to 35mm results in similarly high performance in the centre of the frame, but a noticeable reduction in sharpness towards the edges of the frame. At maximum aperture sharpness towards the edges of the frame only reaches fairly good levels. This improves as the aperture is stopped down, peaking between f/8 and f/11 where the clarity towards the edges falls just short of excellent levels.

Finally, zooming the lens to 70mm results in a reduction in overall sharpness. At maximum aperture, clarity still approaches very good levels in the centre of the frame, but only reaches fairly good levels towards the edges. Stopping down to between f/8 and f/11 results in the best compromise between sharpness in the centre and towards the edges of the frame.





Resolution @ 17mm
Resolution @ 17mm
Resolution @ 35mm
Resolution @ 35mm
Resolution @ 70mm
Resolution @ 70mm

How to read our charts

The 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 Canon EOS 600D using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are fairly well controlled, just exceeding 0.75 pixel-widths towards the edges of the frame at 17mm and maximum aperture, although this level decreases as the lens is stopped down, or as the lens is zoomed in. This low level should pose few issues, even in images with high contrast edges close to the edges of the frame.





Chromatic aberration @ 17mm
Chromatic aberration @ 17mm
Chromatic aberration @ 35mm
Chromatic aberration @ 35mm
Chromatic aberration @ 70mm
Chromatic aberration @ 70mm

How to read our charts

Chromatic 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 Canon EOS 600D using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is well controlled for a zoom lens of this aperture and focal length range. At 17mm, the corners of the frame are 1.15 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved with the aperture stopped down to f/5.6 or beyond. At 70mm the corners are only 0.747 stops darker than the image centre and f/5.6 will also result in visually uniform illumination.

Reasonably strong barrel distortion can be seen in images take at 17mm. Imatest detected 3.71% barrel distortion at 17mm and 0.791% pincushion distortion at 70mm. Throughout the zoom range, the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, which should make corrections relatively easy to apply in image editing software afterwards.

A petal shaped hood is supplied with the lens, which does a great job of shading the lens from extraneous light that may cause loss of contrast of flare. Contrast remains good when shooting into the light also.

Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM Sample Photos



Value for Money

With a launch price of around £350, this lens represents decent enough value for money. Even so, those looking to buy this lens may be able to save a few pennies by picking up the older version, which has exactly the same specification, but can be picked up for around £270 while stocks last.

The closest equivalent from Canon is their 17-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens, which offers a slightly broader zoom range, but has a slightly slower maximum aperture and doesn't focus as close as this Sigma lens. It is available for around £230 though.

The nearest equivalent for Nikon DX format cameras is the Nikon 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G lens, which offers a slightly broader zoom range, at the expense of how fast the maximum aperture is, and how close the lens can focus. This lens is available for around £440, which is a fair bit more to pay.

Sony camera owners have the Carl Zeiss branded 16-80mm ZA VS DT lens as an alternative. This lens also has a slightly slower maximum aperture than the Sigma through the zoom range and doesn't focus as close. It is also a fair bit more expensive at around £560.

Pentax users have the 17-70mm f/4 AL SDM lens as a suitable alternative to this Sigma Lens. The Pentax lens boasts a constant f/4 aperture throughout the range and silent focusing, but it doesn’t focus quite as close as the Sigma lens. It is similarly priced at around £350.

Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM C Verdict

Those looking for a high quality general purpose zoom lens for their APS-C format DSLR could do a lot worse than this lens from Sigma. As well as sporting a very useful zoom range, having a maximum aperture slightly faster than normal will help with shooting in low light, as will the optical stabilisation, which works very well.

Sharpness in the centre of the frame is very good throughout the zoom range, and the close focusing ability is great for close up shooting. It is by no means a perfect lens, but it does offer good quality and useful features at a good value price.

  The Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 macro lens has very good sharpness in the centre and good build quality.  

Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM C Pros

Very good sharpness in the centre
Good build quality
Close focusing
Optical stabilisation



Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM C Cons

Drop off in clarity towards edges as lens is zoomed in may concern some people
Barrel distortion at 17mm






Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Nikon F
  • Canon EF
  • Sigma SA
Focal Length17mm - 70mm
Angle of View22.9° - 79.7°
Max Aperturef/2.8 - f/4
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size72mm
35mm equivalent25.5mm - 105mm
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus22cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsFront and rear caps, lens hood.

View Full Product Details





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1 Jun 2013 2:27PM
Thanks for this really useful review.
One question: I already own a sigma 18-50 2.8 ex lens: do you think this 17-70 could give me an equivalent quality with an extended focal range or I'd better keep my 18-50?
Many thanks for your advice!
11 Nov 2016 10:49AM
Let us not pull any punches. This might have been an acceptable lens 25 years ago, but it is a disappointment now, when computer aided design can make even relatively inexepensive lenses perform brilliantly. It is fine for posting images to the web or for small prints, but even enlarged to A4 the flaws are obvious.

The worst flaw is not CA or distortion. It is the corners. They are unsharp and exhibit coma at all apertures (but especially bad at wide apertures) and all focal lengths (but worst at wide angles). Perversely the centre sharpness is excellent and the contrast with the centre make the corners look really bad.

To make things worse, this is an APS-C lens. It does not have to cover an especially large image circle. It would be unfair to make a comparison with Canon's L-lenses like the 24-70s and the new 16-35 f/4 as they are much more expensive, but even Canon's consumer zooms, which are comparable in price to the Sigma yet have to cover a full frame sensor, manage to be much sharper and more free of aberrations in the corners.

And do not tell me that the corners don't matter, because in some kinds of photograph they do. If you shoot portraits with blurred backgrounds, or if you do not make large prints then this lens is good enough, but if you want to make large, really sharp and detailed prints then forget it. It just is not up to the job.

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