Photozone, one of the Internet’s most respected camera lens review websites, has just completed a review dealing with one of the most unique lenses on the market: Sigma’s monster 120-300 f2.8, which now sports Sigma’s optical stabilization (OS) technology as well as weather sealing. The draw: Sigma is the only manufacturer in the world to produce a lens that combines the f2.8 of the common 70-200s and the range of a 300mm in a single package.
So, how did the new Sigma fare?
To start with, for any lens costing in excess of $3,000, there is a reasonable expectation that the product should deliver the images. Good news, the Sigma does not disappoint. The build quality is top-notch in every respect. To start with, the lens is all-metal in construction, has a dust/moisture seal at the mount, is non-extending, and is inner focusing, meaning that no crud will be getting inside. The mechanics, namely the rings’ operation, are reported to be silky smooth.
Moving into the lens a little deeper, it features Sigma’s Hypersonic (HSM) AF drive, which means for fast, silent focusing with the capability for full time manual override, no need to flip switches. In addition, and as the improvement over the old version of the 20-300 f2.8, this new model features Sigma’s OS technology, which is marketed as being good for 4 stops, the equal of name brand manufacturers’ stabilization technology. Photozone reported that the OS lived up to its billing, too
Now, the biggie: optics.
In terms of sharpness, the Sigma delivers the goods, especially in the center, where sharpness is at its most critical for a telephoto. Rather strangely, corner sharpness doesn’t improve relative to the center, even when stopping down. More pluses of the Sigma are the facts that the chromatic aberration is virtually nil and the same can be said for distortion. As for vignetting, it is considered “average” for a lens in this class and diminishes dramatically upon stopping down to f4.
In the end, the big question is this: am I willing to carry around a lens that weighs upwards # pounds
and costs upwards of $3000? For many, the answer is a clear ‘no’ simply because of the price. However, for those people who absolutely need the photographic freedom the 120-300 f2.8 OS affords and can afford the price, the answer can only be a confident ‘yes.’
Unfortunately, those Cleveland-area people wanting to buy locally are out of luck as both Cleveland-based Dodd Camera and west of Cleveland Loomis Camera, located in downtown Elyria, do not regularly stock much in the way of Sigma products. However, it never hurts to call and ask if one can be special ordered. Don’t mind buying online? Then B&H and Adorama are the places to go
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