© 2009 xiao Sigma 17-70mm

Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC Macro HSM

Acquired used in Camtec Photo, Montreal
HSM acquired new in Beijing, China

Sigma 17-70mm

Sigma 17-70mm

After trying many other lenses, I am more and more impressed by the performance of this lens and especially for its price. First note that it’s not a specialized macro lens. It’s a standard digital lens with macro abilities (for having a very nice 20cm minimal focusing distance and a nice f/2.8 aperture) There’s 2 models, a HSM version and a normal AF version. The HSM version is fatter on the trunk but has the same filter size. The normal AF version can be loud if you’re trying to be subtle (like photographing in places that forbids it and knowing that Tibetan lamas will beat you down if they catch you) but then again, the shutter on the D200 is louder. It can be a bit slow but can still keep up with moving vehicles and can fail in dark places. The HSM version isn’t too quiet itself either however. The focusing speed isn’t amazingly high and Nikon AF-S lenses are still superior in terms of focusing speed and metering.

The focal range on this lens is very convenient and covers most of your needs for non-specialized photography and the macro ability of this lens is appreciative too and is also competent. It can focus with the lens hood touching the subject and at 70mm at f/4.5, the bokeh is very beautiful. Of course, every lens has limitations and once you find them, accept it and stop shooting at those settings if you want good pictures. And for the price, those limitations are more than acceptable. Never mind a 300$ Sigma lens, even a gold Nikkor lens won’t be perfect at f/2.8 but at f/8, this lens is very sharp everywhere in the frame. Distortions are good for its class and there is no noticeable chromatic aberrations. The optics of the lens is surprisingly good. Contrast is very nice even in low lights. It produces good results even at high ISO and the colours are true.

In the hands the HSM version feels a lot more solid than the normal AF version. Although it’s a bit heavier. The extension is double cam but given the 72mm ring size, the double cam feels rather solid and doesn’t wabble (the Nikkor AF-S 24-120 wabbles more). The build is typical of Sigmas with a large easy to use zoom ring and a lock to prevent creeping. Being a non-EX sigma lens, it does not compare with Nikon lenses in physical terms but optically, the Sigma is sharp sharp sharp!! It is also lighter than equivalent Nikon lenses.

Metering on this lens tends to be slightly high. This lens is not water/dustproof at all. The lens cap is shit compared to Nikon lens caps but I find the lens hood more solid than Nikon lens hoods. The newest version of Sigma lens cap is a solid improvement and definitely places itself above Tamron and Canon. Functionality is as good as Nikon lens caps but this new Sigma one looks cooler. The lens creeps violently but again luckily, there’s a lock for it during travel.

In conclusion a lens of amazing value where you know you’re pay for optical quality of exclusively for optical quality

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