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Sigma - Is it still a gamble?

Ade_Osman 15 4.5k 36 England
16 May 2014 12:05PM
As most folk know I have a arsenal of various different macro lenses, 8 in total now with the latest additions being the Olympus 60mm Macro, which I use when I want to travel light and the Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro. Because I don't like faffing around changing lens barrels, the Sigma has it's own dedicated camera and as yet it hasn't come off that camera body. Despite it being a third party lens I actually prefer the Sigma over the Canon EF 100mm f2.8L Macro IS USM Lens, more than anything because of it's longer focal length and handling, but I find its performance is pretty well equal to the Canon in terms of image quality. The upside to the Canon is it perhaps focusses just fractionally quicker, but being old school I trust my eyes more than a cameras auto focus abilities so much prefer manual focussing anyway when using any macro lenses. This is just my own personal opinion of course......I'm sure others will disagree Wink

I still have an old Sigma 50-500 (the original Bigma) for when I occasionally feel the need for a bit of birding or longer distance work, never felt the need to change it as I rarely use the thing these days preferring instead to concentrate on my macro work, I know it's perhaps not as superior as some of the Canon or newer Sigma kit, but it seems to perform well enough for my needs despite it's age.

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KevinandSeri 4 326 United Kingdom
16 May 2014 12:18PM

Quote:Third party lens manufacturers are catching up to the big boys, and in many areas exceeding them, with reduced cost to purchasers.
As we are discussing Sigma the recent 150-600 and 50mm f1.4 "Art' are good examples.

Quite so, as are the other "Art" lenses presently coming on stream of course this topic relates to Sigma, but the Tamron 24-70 and 70-200 are both getting rave reviews too and are worth a mention as a general nod to 3rd party manufacturing co's.

The 150--600 is also a Tamron lens of course Smile
frenchie44 12 335 United Kingdom
10 Jun 2014 2:55PM
I have the Sigma
10-20mm very good no problems
17-50 f2.8 lovely lens very sharp. no problems
105 macro this is a super quality lens no problems
150-500mm well made, I use this a lot, no problems

I remember when Sigma lenses were first coming in Britain, I tried one, it was terrible, but now they produce very good lenses, the sigma 17-50 f2.8 beats my Canon 17-85mm in the quality of picture. I like them so much that I am interested in the Sigma 500mm F4, if I was younger I would go for the 300-800mm, but the weight of that would cripple me when on long trek through the countryside.
steve_p 12 1.2k England
12 Jun 2014 3:18PM
I have owned two 10-20- sold the first one, no problems with it. I bought a second one which again was excellent.
I've had the 17-70 non IS and the IS later version. Both were excellent.

I had an 18-125 which to be honest was not very good, but that was a used item so it's not fair to say it was bad!
You take a risk whatever you buy- some of the Canon ones are quite poor as well.
tonyb6122 4 1
13 Jun 2014 11:42PM
I hold back on purchasing Sigma products because of past reported IQ & compatability issues. I am also undecided whether I should risk buying a Sony A7r because of minor issues with adapters. However good these products may be I refuse to buy anything that leaves doubts unless I am happy with any compromises. I have oodles of cash to spend -just having sold my superteles as I am no longer prepared to haul around the weight- but feel that whatever I buy has a long way to go to justify the cost & extra weight when compared to the 24-70 vII & 70-200 vII . I await with interest the 16-35 f4 IS.
FionaB 11 11 United Kingdom
22 Jun 2014 10:42AM
I have had good and bad experiences..... I have the sigma 20-40 2.8 absolutely fantastic pin sharp but now needing its second repair ( i bought it second hand about 6 years ago so i guess thats not too bad)
I also have the 150-500mm which i absolutely love,, has its limitatins in that its a tad slow on picking up focus but in good light its phenomenal...
and then i had the 24 - 70.well what can i say unless you shot everything at f8 nothing was sharp,.. was the biggest pile of tat i have ever had the displeasure of owning. 2 /3 not bad but i still think long and hard about buying a sigma.
arhb Plus
10 3.4k 68 United Kingdom
22 Jun 2014 11:07AM
Only problem I had was with the same lens as Lemmy - the 50mm F1.4.
I had AF issues within 5 minutes of fitting it to the body.
The dealer happily exchanged it for the equivalent Canon plus money difference, and I haven't had any issues with the Canon.
I have had good examples of the 20-40mm F2.8, 24-70mm F2.8, the 10-20mm F4.
GlennH 13 1.9k 1 France
22 Jun 2014 11:53AM

Quote:Live view (especially zoomed) is deadly accurate when manual focusing, of course, which would seem to me to be reasonably transferable to manual focusing with a precision screen.

Your second point is well made.

Your first point is as fallible as that of those who blindly claim phase detect AF is 100% accurate with everything when camera makers rightly point out it is not.

My first point seems compatible with your statement:

Quote:Another advantage of live view (working from a tripod) is the ability to zoom in prior to taking the image to check the zone of sharpness is exactly where required.

Perhaps I should have been clearer. This is a method I've used often and is one of the great advantages of digital in my experience.

I don't think the issue of Sigma being a gamble is even a discussion, especially with reference to very fast lenses. You can Google any such lens for focusing problems and end up with an abundance of reading material.
Ade_Osman 15 4.5k 36 England
23 Jun 2014 1:38AM
Even Canon have made a few lemons in their time, do a search for the 100-400L IS and friction bearing failure......Great lens when it worked, shocking when it seized up and fell apart on you Tongue
StrayCat 14 19.1k 3 Canada
23 Jun 2014 2:46AM
How about the Canon 200-400mm with the built-in converter? Control panel switches located, and designed, to be almost unusable under real-life in-the-field situations, and it costs only $12,000.00Smile
thewilliam 9 6.1k
23 Jun 2014 1:40PM

Quote:Even Canon have made a few lemons in their time, do a search for the 100-400L IS and friction bearing failure......Great lens when it worked, shocking when it seized up and fell apart on you Tongue

All manufacturers produce the occasional duffer but the good ones soon release an improved version.

When Dr Rudolf designed the Planar in the closing years of the 19th century, it was all but useless because anti-reflective coating wouldn't be invented for another 40 years!
ChrisJD 8 100 Scotland
25 Jun 2014 8:40PM
Well, I started this topic and I guess I could be about to end it. Just bitten the bullet and ordered the Sigma 180 f2.8 Macro. Full report will follow in a few days (not in stock for 6 days)...
Ade_Osman 15 4.5k 36 England
26 Jun 2014 6:44AM
Can't speak for the 180, but the 150mm is a blinder, especially when used with Sigma's x1.4 TC. Look forward to hearing your views on the 180.
ChrisJD 8 100 Scotland
4 Jul 2014 8:13AM
Well it's arrived and I've been playing with my new toy most of yesterday. Happily happily playing with it. It's amazingly good. There's already a review on ephotozine so I'll just add my thoughts here.

Yes it's a heavy lens but not as heavy as I thought it may be. It feels quite similar to the old Nikon 70-200 (haven't met the new one yet) and sits nicely on my D4. It's easily hand-holdable and the tripod foot is solid as well. The foot rotates to make it a comfier lens to hold. The lens and D4 combo fit nicely into my Lowepro toploader. Despite the weight it's really portable and easy to use. Not one to swing round your neck though!

Macro ability is excellent. No photo's worth uploading (and I can't anyway thanks to my grumpy PC) but details are sharp and crisp, colour seems accurate on my D4's LCD and manual and auto focus both work well.

Telephoto ability is superb. I had been thinking of getting the new Nikon 70-200 at some stage (had to sell my old one when times were hard) but now I'm not sure I need it. I mainly shot at about 150-200 on it anyway so it would feel like unnecessary duplication not to mention a waste of 1500. But I have to admit that the Sigma 120-300 is now looking very attractive....... Need to try and force these expensive thoughts from my head!Wink

VR, or OS as Sigma refer to it, seems to work well although it was sunny yesterday so shutter speeds were naturally high enough and I probably didn't give it a decent workout if I'm honest.

A choice of 2 lens hoods come packed; 1 for DX and 1 for FX sensors. A Canon using friend of mine was moaning that a lot of Canon lenses come with no hood - they need to be bought seperately which is something I didn't know. Nice extra touch from Sigma there. The FX hood is about twice the size of the DX and makes the lens seem even bigger but worked really well in the bright sun. Might dig out the old D200 and try the DX hood.

The lens is compatible with Sigma's teleconverters which I have none of but the 2x means manual focus only. I'm not sure if that still applies to the D4 thanks to it's f8 autofous abilities or not. Something to investigate if I ever buy a 2x which is unlikely. I may be tempted by a 1.4 sometime since I'm going to be saving 1500 on that 70-200 (this is how I justify these purchases!)

Build quality is faultless. The lens is solid, everything feels "right" and there's no hint of loose pieces or poor finishing. The lens operates smoothly with no grinding or rattling. To me it's as well finished as a Nikon lens.

I own only 1 other macro lens - the Nikon 105 VR. This lens is just as good, it's that simple. I'll not be comparing MTF data or graphs/charts/pictures with many colours because I don't fully understand them and I can tell for myself whether a lens is sharp, if there's vignetting or distortion and how the bokeh looks. Just look at the pic you've taken, zoom in a bit and scroll around. If there's a problem you'll see it without the need for numbers and complex charts. Pics taken from both these lenses satisfy my quite high expectations and inbuilt quality controls for picture quality.

Overall I'm really pleased. My initial question of whether Sigma is a gamble seems to have been answered on this occasion with a resounding "NO!" although I have to say I wonder whether that's because this is a relatively high-end lens. Still, the new 50 ART lens and that 120-300 have come back onto my radar simply because the 180 macro is so impressive. I'm happy to call myself a Sigma customer.

4 Jul 2014 9:42PM
Hi, I had the the 10-20mm, 17-50 and the 105 macro on my Nikon d7000. I think that after using a Nikkor 12-24 and now the the canon L lenses I would say that brand lenses are more of an investment and the glass and sharpness is across the board is of better quality. I used the sigma lenses for a few years and as for build quality I have always said I think they are better than Nikon and Canon, but and here is the thing for me. The 105 macro was outstanding although searched a lot so spent most of the time in manual mode. The images would be hard to fault. But I used the other 2 for landscape and spent most of my time trying to fine tune the focus. There was always something about the sharpness I could not get my head around. In my humble opinion the sensor on any body is only as good as the glass you put in front of it. If it's price and your not a pixel nut the sigma lenses come in at a good price and hold a little money over the years. In all I would say if you can wait a bit, pick one lens for your chosen area and put the extra and get brand name. If I could turn back the the clock I would have saved a mint......even being lucky enough to use my 5D with L lenses, I still miss that 12-24 Nikkor even second hand and almost 10 years old it was a outstanding pice of kit. Have you considered second hand, some of the big retailers like clifton often give 6 months warranty, worth a look at.

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