78 of 84 people found the following review helpful
Almost a modern 'classic'?,
This review is from: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 IF EX DG HSM Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital and Film SLR Cameras (Electronics)
Having owned and used both of two versions of Nikkor's 24-120 lens for general photography, I often got fed up with their slow f5.6 aperture at the long end. I needed an everyday lens that I could also use semi-professionally in low-light; bands, events at night etc. The need to focus accurately and quietly is essential as are the razor sharp, high contrast images that 'zing' off the computer screen.
Unable to even contemplate the cost of the Nikkor equivalent, there remained only one option. This. The lens is very well made and reassuringly solid but the zoom and manual focussing rings seem a bit stiff. The size/weight gives excellent handling on my Nikon D700 but initially to most users might seem quite chunky, especially on a normal, DX DSLR. The large glass frontage that accommodates that fast constant f2.8 aperture means a fairly whopping 82mm filter size, which is as big as they come for most people. Add a polariser - Sigma's own 82mm, the best filter I've ever handled, or used & which I review - the results are startling in, say, a bright, blue-skied landscape or seascape, but can be serious money in their own right.
At open aperture, on, you soon know this lens is a step up from your average standard zoom - just by looking through the viewfinder. Better than the Nikkor 24-120 at all apertures with an added depth of 'dimension' - photos look deeper and richer with better tonality - my Nikon 24-120's having opted for just high contrast to give an appearance of more definition - which they ultimately lack. This Sigma has a real bite to detail in all areas of the frame, save the very inner corners and from f4.5 to f13 produces quite exceptionally detailed, smooth toned and gorgeous looking photographs across the frame - every leaf and tracery of branch standing out from the one next to it. If you need to stop down further, f16 is still very good and f22 as good as any comparable lens.
The multi-coating is exemplary too; even at 24mm f2.8 and the sun at the edge of the frame, flare is extremely well tamed - you'd be unlucky to ever get a row of blobs - helped by the supplied, tactile and reassuringly superior lenshood. In comparison my VR Nikon's hood is shiny hard plastic that after only a few month's use regularly falls off. The gold (painted) embellishments make the lens look smart and the chunky rubber grips and overall quality feel reassuringly remind you that this is a superior product, that will last.
A narrow depth of field and a bright viewfinder, thanks to that fast constant f2.8, ensures easy and fast focus, done either manually or the instant, silent (& accurate) HSM (Hypersonic) autofocus. Sigma's current lofty position as the world leader in independent lenses, I'm sure is down to this almost instant 'pop-into' autofocus that's now seen by many as a must-have. It's as effective as Nikon's SWM (silent wave motor) on such lenses that I own.
Distortion (barrel at wide end, bowing out toward the edges, pincushion at long, straight lines at the edges bowing inwards) is very low. Whilst more noticeable at the 24mm end, it's streets ahead of the Nikkor 24-120mm and my Nikkor 28-200mm has barrel distortion so bad at 28mm, it's hideous. I'd say it's only noticeable with the Sigma on the computer screen when a grid is overlaid or the Photoshop distortion filters applied. At 70mm, pincushion is barely applicable, let alone a problem.
The extra initial cost should be offset by a much stronger resale value, as pro's such as myself consider it as a very serious contender to their own camera maker's lenses, which can be around upwards of twice the price.
The 24 to 70mm range covers - on a full frame (FX) camera - from true wideangle, bordering on ultrawide up to just over standard, making it a great, superb quality landscape & general purpose lens and in tandem with the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 (that I also own and review) a real pro-quality pair that I can take to any gig, concert, or anywhere actually, with pride. The resulting pictures happen to bring home the bacon, too.
I now also use this lens on my newly acquired DX format Nikon D7000, and which gives a 36-105mm equivalent focal length. The combination of the D7000's utterly superb A/F (better than the D700) and the lens' HSM has had me focus locked onto moving heavy rock musicians as they go about the audience in almost no light - I'm talking f2.8 at iso 4000 (thousand) sort of light levels. With the full-frame FX format, where it's the extra wideangle that's useful, on the DX format, it's the extra fast top short telephoto length that's useful - in buildings and of people, in low light.
This Sigma remains one of my most used and best ever investments - for all practical intents and purposes, it's as good as the Nikkor equivalent, though that will obviously be slightly better but only by a few percent, not the 200% extra that that one costs and no-one has ever, either fellow photographer, or subject has ever commented or sneered on it not being a Nikon lens - it looks the part and gets the results. Sorted!
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Initial post: 2 Mar 2013, 10:51:28 GMT
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