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  Reviews by: Joshua ODonne  

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Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 EX DG HSM

Review Date: Jan 25, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,799.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Price, Sharpness, versatility of f2.8 zoom to 300mm, fast focus, great IQ w/ TCs
Hood is much too short, tripod collar is too short and lacks neck strap rings

I recently purchased a 'demo' copy of the non-DG version of this lens. This is my first high-end long glass and I must say it's made a very strong impression on me. My copy is sharp wide open and VERY sharp when stopped down a couple clicks. I frequently use it with a 2x TC and it still remains sharp when used at f8 (looses a little sharpness but not much, very acceptable). With the 1.4x TC there is very little if any noticeable different in IQ. The HSM focusing is rapid and accurate, even when using the 1.4x TC. When using the 2x TC the focusing is noticeably slower but still better than a non-HSM lens. I use it on a D50 so I'm sure it would focus faster on a better camera body. This lens is built like a tank and weighs nearly 3kg. A sturdy tripod or monopod is a must for extended use, however I have had success hand-holding this lens for short periods of time, so long as there's plenty of light to allow for shutter speeds of 1/1000 or greater.

My two complaints are 1) the hood is MUCH too short for what I use this lens for and 2) the tripod collar is less than desirable. I use this lens almost exclusively for bird and other wildlife photography. Living in Florida I experience a lot of harsh light and the hood is much too short for this. I experienced a lot of flare with the original hood, so I made a homemade attachment that goes over the top of the original that fixes this problem. It was a simple and cheap fix but one would think that a lens in the $2K range would come with a suitable hood. Also, the tripod collar that comes with the lens is very short and has no rings for using a neck strap. I purchased the replacement TS-41 collar from Sigma and this is a much better collar. It is taller and the foot is longer, which provides for more stable mounting on my Sidekick. It also allows for attachment of a shoulder strap. This is still not ideal for me, however I make it work.