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Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Macro OS HSM C Lens Review

Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Macro OS HSM C Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the new Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Macro OS HSM C lens for APS-C Digital SLRs.

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Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM in Interchangeable Lenses

Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Sigma 18 300mm F3

Sigma are continuing to gradually update their lenses to fit into their 'Art', 'Sport' and 'Contemporary' lens lines. This new lens sports a 16.7x zoom range, silent focusing and optical stabilisation. This lens fits into Sigma's 'Contemporary' line of lenses, which adds compatibility with Sigma's USB dock. This allows focusing adjustments and firmware updates to be applied to the lens by the user, rather than having to send it off to a technician.

This lens is very reasonably priced, costing only £399. In this review, we'll take a look at how it performs.

Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Macro OS HSM C Handling and Features

Sigma 18 300mm F3

Weighing 585g, this lens is a fairly typical size and weight when compared to other superzoom lenses. The lens balances well on the Nikon D300 body used for testing, and should also feel right at home on more compact entry-level camera bodies too.

High quality plastics with a smooth matt finish have been used for much of the lens' construction and the lens mount is made of metal. A wide rubberised zoom ring fills much of the lens barrel and the zoom action is very smooth, although it does tighten up a bit at around 80mm. There is enough resistance in the zoom mechanism to prevent it creeping through the range when pointed downwards. A locking switch is provided to hold the lens at 18mm during transport.

A silent HSM focusing motor powers the focusing mechanism, resulting in reasonably quick focusing. Focusing is performed internally, so the 72mm filter thread does not rotate, making this lens ideal for use with polarising and graduated filters.

Sigma 18 300mm F3

Full time manual focus adjustments are not supported as the focus ring is solidly engaged with the focusing motor. Manual focus adjustments can be tricky to apply, as the focus ring is very loose, and has a very short travel from infinity to close focusing when manual focus mode is engaged. The close focusing distance of 39cm is quite close for a lens with a zoom range as large as this.

Thanks to the optical stabilisation, sharp hand-held images are possible around half the time at shutter speeds as low as 1/40sec at 300mm, which is roughly four stops slower than the usual rule of thumb would dictate is possible.


Sigma 18 300mm F3
 

Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Macro OS HSM C Performance

At 18mm sharpness in the centre of the image area is excellent in the centre from maximum aperture, improving slightly as the lens is stopped down to between f/5.6 and f/8. Sharpness towards the edges is lack lustre by comparison at maximum aperture, although it improves to good levels as the aperture is stopped down to f/5.6 and beyond.

Zooming to 80mm results incredibly uniform sharpness across the frame. At maximum aperture clarity is a shade below excellent levels across the frame, increasing to excellent levels at f/8.

Finally, at 300mm although sharpness is reduced, the performance of this lens holds up quite well, given the huge zoom range. At maximum aperture sharpness is good in the centre and fairly good towards the edges. Stopping down to between f/8 and f/11 results in very good sharpness in the centre of the frame and good sharpness towards the edges.

MTF@18mm
MTF@18mm
MTF@80mm
MTF@80mm
MTF@300mm
MTF@300mm

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 Nikon D300 using Imatest.

 

Chromatic aberrations are remarkably well controlled given the huge zoom range. Fringing is at its strongest at 18mm, but even then it does not exceed one pixel width. This low level of fringing should be difficult to spot, even in large prints, or harsh crops from the edges of the frame.

CA@18mm
CA@18mm
CA@80mm
CA@80mm
CA@300mm
CA@300mm

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 Nikon D300 using Imatest.

 

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is typical of a lens of this type. At 18mm the corners are 1.91 stops darker than the image centre and at 300mm the corners are 1.48 stops darker. Visually uniform illumination is achieved with the lens stopped down by just over a stop from maximum aperture throughout the zoom range.

Distortion is often a weakness of high ratio zooms like this. Imatest detected 4.16% barrel distortion at 18mm, which is quite strong, although many similar lenses have just as much distortion. Pincushion distortion of 0.656% is present at the telephoto end, which shouldn't pose too many issues for most. If you require completely straight lines the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame throughout the zoom range, which should make applying corrections in image editing software relatively easy to apply.

A petal-shaped hood is supplied as standard with the lens, which does a good job of protecting 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 well, even when shooting into the light.

Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM Sample Photos

Value For Money

This 18-300mm Sigma lens includes optical stabilisation and costs around £399, which is a reasonable price given the specification.

Canon’s 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 is their closest equivalent. This lens may have a brighter maximum aperture at 200mm and supports full time manual focus override, but it costs the same and gives up 100mm at the telephoto end.

Nikon's 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens is much more expensive at around £600 and sports similar features to this Sigma lens, with the addition of full time manual focus override.

Sony’s closest equivalent is their 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DT AF lens, which costs around £360. As the Sony version of this Sigma lens doesn’t include stabilisation, the main differences are the 50mm difference at the telephoto end and the lack of silent focusing on the Sony lens.

Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Macro OS HSM C Verdict

This lens is certainly capable of delivering images with decent sharpness. It is reasonably compact, well built and the price is very reasonable too. Those looking for a lens covering a wide range of focal lengths, whilst allowing them to travel light should certainly give this lens serious consideration.

Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Macro OS HSM C Pros

Good optical performance for a super zoom lens
Well built
Lightweight
Compact
Optical stabiliser
Compatible with Sigma USB dock
Good value

Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Macro OS HSM C Cons

Loose manual focusing action with no full-time manual override

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

The Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Macro OS HSM C is capable of delivering images with decent sharpness and is reasonably priced.


Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM Specifications

ManufacturerSigma
General
Lens Mounts
  • Nikon AF
  • Canon EF-S
  • Sigma SA
  • Sony A
  • Pentax KAF
Lens
Focal Length18mm - 300mm
Angle of View5.4 - 76.5
Max Aperturef/3.5 - f/6.3
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size72mm
StabilisedYes
35mm equivalent27mm - 450mm
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus39cm
Construction
Blades7
Elements17
Groups13
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight585g
Height101.5mm

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