Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM

Togsblog Star Rating
Superb

Paul Burgman-0110Sigma120-300OS028

For the last couple of weeks I have been testing the brand new Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM F2.8 lens. I have had a couple of the previous incarnations of this lens including the very first version which I rated very highly, despite having some reservations about a number of design faults. The tripod mount was pretty much unusable and the lens hood which was too short & didn’t have a protective surround at the end, which meant after a few uses that the paint had chipped & worn revealing shiny metal (and also no flocking).

120-300firmwareSome of the issues were addressed pretty quickly, including shipping the lens with the TS41 tripod mount (from the Sigma 50-500mm from memory) The lens hood, whilst still too short, had a protective rubber trim at the end, which meant that I could put the lens with body front element down when not in use).

Ray Fitchett promised me a look at the new version, which is one of the first lenses they have produced in their “global vision” concept. This is the first of the “sport” lenses, hopefully there will be many more.

27/09/2014. Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers.Woking's John Goddard

27/09/2014. Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers.Woking’s John Goddard

When the latest version arrived, I was impressed at the significant improvements in the design, it has a much more substantial tripod mount, secured by a large knurled locking wheel, and the ring is secured in much the same way as the Canon 70-200mm F2.8 IS L, & so much less likely to detach accidentally than the previous version. The lens hood is also substantially improved, it is quite considerable deeper and of a much better design, including some protection on the leading edge from damage.

The build quality is at last capable of rivalling that of Canon & Nikon, and the weather proofing seems to be substantially improved, alsong with the quality of the all of the switches.

The lens is also available with a USB dock, which mounts on the lens mount (so is specific to the brand of camera that you use) this enables you to access several options, including one of upgrading the firmware. I hope that this will enable (should Canon or Nikon change the functionality of their lens mounts) the lens to be updated to match, rather than as historically required, be sent away to be rechipped.

27/09/2014. Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers.Woking's Joe McNerney

27/09/2014. Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers.Woking’s Joe McNerney

So first thing was to have a play, well there was a firmware update, within a few minutes it was applied. I then a look through a few of the other options, but decided to leave it in the default settings. To be honest this should be built into the lens, it can’t be beyond the abilities of the technical department at Sigma to have this functionality on board, along with a weatherproofed micro USB port.

After that the lens remained in the boot of the car for a few days until I had a job that required it, which to be honest was going to either be Football or Rugby, as 90% of the provincial news I shoot these days tend to be done on a 16-35mm.
Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers was the first job that it was used for, and I have to say that I was impressed, the AF is substantially improved over the previous version, even on my old Canon bodies, I think that the improvement would be even more noticeable on later generations of Canon cameras, especially something like the EOS 1Dx.

11/10/2014 Guildford City v Frimley Green at the Spectrum. City's Edward Boateng fouled

11/10/2014 Guildford City v Frimley Green at the Spectrum. City’s Edward Boateng fouled

There are some subtle differences in the image quality as well, the new Aperture assembly in the latest lens has 9 blades as opposed to the 7 in the version that I have, and the out of focus backgrounds have a much more pleasant look to them, I would hesitate to say “bokeh” as someone will “google” it and find the urban dictionary definition.

I can’t fault the quality of this lens, and when one introduces the question of price at £2800 it is expensive, but when you consider that the Canon 300mm F2.8L IS USM is £4800, & the Nikon 300mm f2.8 G ED VR II AF-S Nikkor Lens is £4100, then you get the added versatility of a zoom also, which from the point of few of shooting sport, helps as you can’t always chose your location or indeed where the action happens.

Anyway here are a couple of frames from the Woking match, & a couple from a Guildford City FC match. Whilst wordpress will have compressed the crap out of them, trust me they are sharp.

I have also used the lens with the Canon 1.4 & 2x extenders as well as the Sigma 1.4 extender & can report that they work well, which was an issue for the earlier version.

Previously I wrote This and This.

Way back in 2005ish, I wrote a review which you can read here.

Anyway more to follow in due course.

Advertisements