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Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 EX APO IF HSM

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152 581059 Dec 11, 2014
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93% of reviewers $704.67
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Sigma's new Hyper Sonic Motors (H.S.M.) provide silent, responsive autofocus action with Canon, Sigma, and now Nikon AF cameras.
H.S.M. also permits manual adjustment of focus without the necessity of switching off the autofocus function.
Focus Free mechanism keeps the manual focus ring from spinning when the camera is autofocusing.
This new lens features apochromatic optical design and four elements composed of Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass for high image contrast, resolution and color saturation.
The front barrel does not rotate during focusing, due to internal focusing system.
Internal zooming mechanism allows the lens length to remain constant during zooming.


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Registered: Mar 1, 2005
Location: Chile
Posts: 405
Review Date: Apr 6, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

Pros: Nice price for a 2.8 with all the accessories
Bad quality control, poor performance on two samples

I decided I needed a fast 70-200 and after considering the reviews here and elsewhere I decided to give it a try.

I was not going to leave the store without testing it a little first. A fresh one out of the box was handed to me and I focused on one wall of the store. No matter what I tried, it would show as focused, but the images were only in focus for the right third of the frame. Never was the left two thirds in focus. The store clerk repeated the test and the results.

Out came a second fresh one and it seemed to focus properly. I took this one home and did some astro-photography with it. All the stars were tear drop shaped across the field and it mattered not what F stop I used. So I printed out a test target and did some testing. F2.8 was horrible with blur and CA all over. F4 was immediately sharper but still with CA. F5.6 still the same. Back to the store I went.

We tested in the store with the same target in a shoot-out with a 70-200 F2.8 Canon. The Canon at F2.8 blew away the Sigma at F5.6. I left with the Canon and left the Sigma behind.

Based on all the positive reviews on this lens I wonder if that store had a bad batch or something, but I cannot recommend this lens. I have noticed similar bad experiences scattered around in reviews so perhaps Sigma has some problems controlling quality on this one.

Apr 6, 2005
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Registered: Apr 15, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 3826
Review Date: Mar 6, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $668.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: good overall build, fast focus, sharp shot when correctly focussed.
Mine rear focussed at all focal lengths when open. I would shoot the same way as I do with the Canon but it always shot with the focus hitting the ear and not the eye.

I got this as a backup or assistant lens. I found that when @ F5.6 or smaller, all shots were in focus. However, @ F2.8 nothing was hitting the focus point I had selected. If you were to get a copy that hits focus wide open, it would be equal to the sharpness of my Canon L (same range). Where it was focussing it was wonderful and sharp/contrasty.

I will be getting a Canon as the second. Sad

(can't keep trying multiple copies and paying the shipping)

Mar 6, 2005
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Registered: Jan 12, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 215
Review Date: Feb 22, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: f2.8 for under £600, looks better than the f4 canon that people compare it to, not white so does not attract attention. petal hood if your vain. sharp images from f4 up. f2.8 requires focus to be spot on. fast focus. contains tripod ring unlike the f4 canon
does not have the build quality of the canon but then your not likely to be using this lens in the rain or not taking care of it.

I choose this lens over the canon f4 70-200L and I'm glad I did. te extra stop is a god send. lens is heavy to use but then any other 70-200 f2.8 lens is heavy. I have this lens on my 20D most of the time. zoom ring bit stif but nothing too bad. nice finish on the lens too.

Feb 22, 2005
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Registered: Feb 19, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 19, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 1 

Pros: None
I miss my 70-200mm IS f/2.8L,which was stolen!!

I've owned this lens for about a month now, and I can't find anything I like about it. The Canon 70-200 IS is built way better than this, and so is the image quality.

Feb 19, 2005
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Registered: Feb 17, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 17, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $600.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent optical quality, particularly wide open. Focusing speed. Build quality.
I really can't find any without nitpicking, I guess I would like it to have metal filter threads instead of plastic.

I was leery about purchasing this lens because for an additional $200 I could have had the Nikon 80-200mm 2.8. However after taking some pictures with this lens and comparing them to pictures from the Nikon I can actually say that the Sigma is sharper. I must have an exceptional sample because I shot a test series of shots from f2.8 to f11 and only noticed a few lines per inch drop in sharpness, basically not perceptible except in the largest enlargements. Contrast on the other hand is noticeably worse wide open, but I can live with that, as it is easily fixable in Photoshop. I am very pleased with this lens optically and am glad that I did not purchase the Nikon. I am not afraid to use this lens at f2.8, something I can’t say of other 2.8 zooms I have used.

Feb 17, 2005
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Registered: Mar 12, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 23
Review Date: Feb 9, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $665.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Everything

For my money this is the greatest lens. Adding anything or changing anything on the lens would detract from its abilities. This lens is fast, accurate, quiet, and easy to work with. I've had other f:2.8 lenses, all of which had something that was negative. Not this lens. I have three Sigma lenses, 12-24, 24-70, and 70-200. Add the TC and I am set for just about anything.

Feb 9, 2005
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Registered: Jan 2, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 2
Review Date: Feb 2, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Tank like build. Price!!! F/2.8 aperture thoughout. 77mm filter size like L lens. Full time manual focus.
In low light it can hunt with AF sometimes

Really is a superb lens. For the price you just cannot fault it. If it had IS it would be perfect for the job.

Feb 2, 2005
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Registered: Aug 16, 2004
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 3
Review Date: Dec 31, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $420.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: HSM, Weight, razor sharp, 2.8

after coming from the realms of a Canon f4.0:L 70-200 that constantly suffered from backfocus problems on my 300D - I sold it to another guy with a film camera where it worked perfectly - go figure!?

In search of another lens in that zoom range and not having the moolah to go for the canon 2.8L; I opted for this one and I'm glad I did.

The focus was slower than the canon it replaced - but you had to really devpote some attention to notice it - in normal use you would find it just as fast I would say. One thing I did notice though is that i could actually "hear" it - albeit ever so faint but that's probabvly down to my bat like hearing more than anything else I would imagine. In short - it's QUIET Smile It very rarely hunts and focuses nice and swiftly - tracks wonderfully with AI too.

It works flawlessly at 2.8 where I expected it to be soft in truth - well it "can" be soft at that f-stop but surprisingly not as much as the 70-200f4L was.

Crucially for me was how well it could accurately focus at all ranges exactly where my center point was located - and in this regard it performed magnificiently - pushing it even with oblique shots of people's heads at f2.8 where I was trying to get just the eyelashes in focus - A tall order even I suspected - but when finally loaded to the PC and upon viewing to see that even these dire tests showed 100% successful results had me salivating quite a bit.

In short - the lens can be heavy - not as heavy as a Canon 2.8 L in the same league mind you - but - for me anyways - a manageable weight. Everything is easy to operate - nothing is overly stiff not even the zoom ring which on Sigma can be stiff as a plank in some lenses. it doesn't noticeably suffer from any zoom creep either - nice feel and build quality throughout.

This is a lens I can very highly recommend to any user - if you find you have a bad one - then that is because it is indeed for whatever reason a genuine flawed item -(dropped during shipping etc..) return it and get another!

All shots I take with this lens continue to please - nice vivid colours - almost on a par with L glass - tack sharp focus and detail. CA hardly noticeable and doesn't bother me.

Nice one Sigma...thumbs up.

Dec 31, 2004
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Registered: Apr 22, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 546
Review Date: Dec 29, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Price, quality, f2.8, hood and collar included
No IS, It's not white :)

A great alternative to the Canon versions for those on a budget. It's quite usable at f2.8 although I think it's not quite as good as the Canon f2.8 when used wide open. Heaver that the Canon non-IS version, not as heavy as the Canon IS version.
Works quite well with the 1.4x converter with very little quality loss at f4.0-f5.6 From f6.7 and up there is no visible quality loss.

Dec 29, 2004
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Registered: Nov 18, 2004
Location: Hungary
Posts: 1
Review Date: Dec 26, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Price, speed, sharpness
it isn't white :D it seems this cause problems for some people

When I bought this gem, it was completely unusable at F2.8 and F4 on my 300D, slight frontfocus at 70 and 200 mm-s good picture at 135mms, so I thought maybe the kens is defective, I was right, the AF system wasn't calibrated well, so I send it for a recalibration, along with my cam... They recalibrated it in one day... then I was astonished by the pic quality at f2.8 it delivers a very good picture - but you need to apply some USM to get a contrasty pic, as you have to do in canon's case... I have a baby L *70-200 4L also, for travelling lightweight, the pics are undestinguishable, except for sigma's yellowish tint, but as I like the canons colors better I get rid of yellow colors in during conversion.
For some days I have a Canon BiGL *70-200 2.8L it was a bit heavier than the sigma, in other terms they qualified the same on my friends 1Ds, i borrowed it for a quick field test... You can justify the canon price if you're a working pro, canon has better mechanism in it's lens, if you do shooting for living you can count on canon, you can count on sigma also but have in mind that the sigma's internal build quality is not the same as canon's, optically they're virtually the same...
If you have a piece that is unusable at 2.8, then make a quick test, then get it recalibrated, or recalibrate yourself, maybe the error was in you...

Greetz Alex

Dec 26, 2004
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Registered: Oct 18, 2003
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 17
Review Date: Dec 22, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp except f2.8, good candid protrait lens, black, very sturdy; it has a good feel on my 10D
unusable image at f2.8, like a newspaper photo clipping

I do like this lens, but I cant keep the photos taken at f2.8 (I dont know why I get this in my lens reading other reviews) they are like news paper photo quality very unsharp and missing details. I have had Sigma look at it, to be told its in perfect order. I think the Canon f4L would be my choice now, knowing this. I also have a Sigma 2x teleconverter which can only be used in manual focus mode when on a 10D with this 70-200. BTW I am a Sigma fan and this is the only lens I have had problems with.

Dec 22, 2004
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Registered: Dec 10, 2004
Location: France
Posts: 2098
Review Date: Dec 10, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $780.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very well built. HSM works well on the Canon 20D + BG-E2 Grip. Deadly accurate focusing. Manual focus over-ride. Pleasingly sharp wide open especially after post prod in Photoshop unsharp mask 0.9 pixels at 100 percent. Stopped down to F 3.5 through 16 very sharp. The "Bokeh" is rendered beautifully.
The felt like finish attracts dust and grease. Quite heavy. I will use a monopod when doing pro photo sessions.

I have been a professional Fashion, Beauty and Advertising photographer for over 20 years. I have worked in every format and have been published world wide in everything from Harpers Italy to L'Officiel to "W" etc. I have not shot long lenses for years. I am primarily a wide angle shooter. For some reason, I was attracted to this lens. None the less I bought it. The lens is very tight above 3.5 and quite acceptable wide open at 2.8. When I unsharp in PS images start to really pop when using my standard formula of 0.7 to 1.0 pixels at 100 percent and then to add more punch 50 to 60 pixels at 10 to 15 percent. I will use this lens on my Manfroto mono-pod and quick release head. I will not hand hold it unless in a controlled environment with flash.

I tested this lens under several conditions and found that at 2.8 at 200mm to be quite sharp, if your point of focus is dead on. You must be very discerning in choosing your focus point, as the fall off is quite radical. It can be used for beauty and fashion in a way akin to a tilt shift lens if you are somewhat off axis. The drop off is that extreme, especially at 200 (320) on my Canon. From 70 to 200 at 3.5 and above it is extremely sharp. In fact it has been rated as actual being a better performer than the Canon 70-200 2.8 L in the prestigious "British Photography Journal". Photodo gave it a 3.9 rating which translates as Very Good which was similar to the rating given to the Canon 70-200 2.8 L. I compared this lens to my Tamron Di Macro 90 mm lens and was astonished by how sharp this lens is in direct comparison to this fixed focal length macro. It comes very close to the resolution of the Tamron Di Macro 90, a brutally sharp lens to say the least. The "Bokeh" on this lens is rendered dramatically but with finesse. It blows out the background radically from 2.8 to 5.6 at 200 mm and quite nicely at 70mm between 2.8 and 4.0. My only complaint would be the 1.8 meter minimum focus distance. However this is not a major problem as it does come in well if you increase the focal length. For my Canon 20D, it is a 112 to 320 F2.8 Lens. One more thing. The HSM is fast. In fact using it under my working conditions, I cannot imagine focussing faster than what this lens is able to accomplish. I generally use the one shot setting on my Canon 20D. I appreciate the manual focus over-ride compensation, even when in its' auto focus mode. The quality of workmanship of this lens is plush. It belies its' low price and is exemplary in its' finition and use of materials. The textured metal finish used is very pleasing to the touch. In a word it just smacks of "Class".

Just a couple of points. There seem to be some complaints by some users of this lens when used in conjunction with the Canon 10D. There have been several problems associated with back focus issues and the 10D. I did own a 10D and did have some of the aforementioned problems. I suggest to anyone with this problem, to submit the lens and the camera to Technical Services and ask Canon to fine tune your specific camera with the lenses in your arsenal. They will attempt to find a happy medium. Another issue is the concern that this lens is not sharp wide open. Most large aperture lenses suffer this anomaly. Much can be rectified in post production. However I have found that with a long focal length and extremely fast lens that your focussing must be spot on, or you may misread an out of focus image with that of an incorrectly focussed image. Remember that if you are not perfectly perpendicular to the subject, the fall off will occur very quickly, especially wide open. Get used to your lens before passing judgment about it's sharpness and performance. This lens is comparable to any of the finest lenses on the market. Secondly... Would I recommend this lens? Highly and that includes professionals and hobbyists alike!

PS: Here is the lens rating. Sigma sits quite comfortably within the top of the class:

Canon EF 2.8 70-200 USM L
4.07 (3) = very-good 

Sigma AF 2.8 70-200mm EX (HSM) 
4.02 (5) = very-good 

Canon EF 2.8 70-200mm USM L IS
4.02 (3) = very-good

Nikkor AF-S 2.8 80-200mm IF ED D
3.98 (4) = very-good 

Nikkor AF 2.8 80-200mm IF ED D
3.90 (3) = very-good

Pentax SMC-FA 2.8 80-200mm ED (IF)
3.87 (5) = very-good 

Nikkor AF-S 2.8 70-200mm ED-IF VR D
3.67 (2) = good

Tokina AF 2.8 80-200mm AT-X Pro 
3.36 (4) = good

Tamron AF 2.8 70-210mm LD 
3.35 (4) = good 

You may visit my London and Paris agents sites to view some samples of my work.
Don't forget to click on my name: Benjamin Kanarek

You may also view my work at my Yahoo group FashionMode 1:

Dec 10, 2004
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Carl Auer
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Registered: Mar 14, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 9620
Review Date: Dec 7, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $650.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great value. Quick, sharp lens. Quiet
Not an L lens. No focus limiter switch. Black paint coating chips easily

While not a Canon L lens, it is very close, or at least my copy is. Focus is quick and quiet, and the images are very nice. Works well with the 1.4X converter, but poorly with the 2X unless you have a LOT of light. This lens spend most of it's time on my camera. I recently sold this lens after almost 2 years of strong preformance. If you are in need of a fast sports lens but no budget for Canon L or Nikon glass, this is the lens for you.

Dec 7, 2004
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Registered: Nov 29, 2004
Location: Germany
Posts: 409
Review Date: Nov 30, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $620.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharp, fast, price
lack of IS/OS, min. focusing distance

I am stunned by this piece of glass. Very sharp, only slightly softer wide open. Great bokeh, great contrast. And all that for less than half the price of the Canon. AF is nearly instant and spot on, manual focus and zooming is very smooth. Detachable collar is nice although it gets a bit in the way when zooming. Solid build. Light for what it does. Works still near perfect with the 1.4xTC, a bit less with the 2xTC. Nearly impossible to get it to flare bad. IS/OS would've been nice of course but you can't have everything. Minimal focusing distance is also not too thrilling.

Nov 30, 2004
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Registered: Jul 25, 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 131
Review Date: Nov 4, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $650.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast AF, sharp (even wide open), FTM, nice colors
Little heavy, not as fast as Canon's L USM lenses (pretty close though!)

I bought a used copy of the lens from a fellow FM member and have pretty much fallen in love with it. Even in lower light and with my 300d, it still could do a decent job with sportsbike photos...definitely impressed with that! I found that with the 300d + battery grip, the balance is quite nice...I usually keep the tripod collar in my bag...this also lightens up the lens a little.

This week, I'm going to try it out at a local hockey arena and see how it performs there, but I fell confident that it will work great!

Nov 4, 2004
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Registered: Aug 23, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 1474
Review Date: Oct 24, 2004 Recommend? no | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Not too heavy to walk around with
It was very soft, didn't work very well with servo.

I had a very hard time getting any sharp images out of this lens. The focus ring felt a little bit too flimsy to me as well.

Oct 24, 2004
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Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 EX APO IF HSM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
152 581059 Dec 11, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
93% of reviewers $704.67
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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