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Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM "A"

sigma35
Review Date: Sep 29, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp across the frame (almost) at any aperture, hard to make it flare, handles well, built well, nice clean design.
Cons:
I would say it has no weather or dust seals but I knew that before I bought it. Sigma have improved their quality control but they are still letting the odd problem lens through. This one included.

When I first saw this lens I was intrigued. I have always liked Sigma lenses, especially their primes but this one really got me interested.

I read about a dozen reviews starting with Photozone, then DXO, then Cameralabs, DPReview and so on and they all said the same thing. "It's sharp, the optics are superb, it's built well, it's designed well it looks good, Sigma have upped their game and it costs far less than most of the alternatives" and so on......

I thought that there had to be a duff review out there somewhere then I thought 'Ken Rockwell'. He won't like it at all and he didn't disappoint. He knew he'd be hard put to slate the optics so he focused ('scuse the pun) on the build. He said it was terrible consumer grade rubbish and that he wouldn't soil his camera bag with one......... Well that did it for me. I went out an bought one.

It's a lovely lens. I have 5 lenses that I use on a D800 including three fast primes. This one and the Nikons 50mm and 85mm f1.8 G lenses and I am hard put to say which one I like best. Optically it would be between this and the 85 I suppose.

It is sharp even wide open. Matt Granger said it has aberrations that softened the extreme corners and I suppose he might be right but strangely I could only detect them on the right hand side of the frame in the extreme corners at wider aperture settings. The sweet spot starts at f2.8. Chromatic abs are minimal to non existent, I love the contrast and the colours and I love the fact that you have to put effort in to make it flare. The AF is fast and accurate, the MF is smooth but with a short throw making MF a little trickier but you get used to it.

I love the way it looks, feels and handles. Materials are a mix of very high grade plastic in the barrel, the thread and the hood with metal for the focus ring and the base plus a brass mount. It is weighty, it balances well on my D800 and feels like a high end lens in your hand.

I needed to dial in a little AF fine tune on my D700 but strangely not on my D800. Dust and weather sealing would be nice but I won't mark it down for that because I knew before I bought it. If you are a jobbing pro who needs to use his/her kit in any weather then you might need the Nikon version instead but optically it won't be quite as good as this Siggy.

I have only had one issue with it but I feel it was a significant one. After a month or so the base worked loose but it never stopped working and it got sorted under warranty. I felt a bit sore and slightly out of love with it for a while as a result and I have decided that if it happens again I will fix it and sell it so I will mark it down a little on build.

Overall a cracking lens, I am starting to love it again but I am still a little cross that I had to send it in to be fixed. Well done Sigma but you still need to improve your quality control.


 
Sigma 24-60mm f2.8 EX DG Lens

24-60mm
Review Date: May 13, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Cheap, sharp, fast, well built, zoom lock at 24mm, fast accurate focus, really nice image quality.
Cons:
Slightly noisy auto focus, no environmental seals, hood not very good.

Introduction:


This lens came as a surprise to me, I only heard about it a couple of weeks ago and when I read the reviews here and elsewhere the overall opinion of it was that it is a little known gem.


Lets face it even Sigma have their legends. The original 70-200 f2.8 APO, the 100-300 f4, the 150mm f2.8 macro just to name a few and I think this one could be a candidate for that hallowed hall of fame.


Concerns over quality control:


I worried that I would get a 'bad copy', not sure why, I have owned many Sigma lenses and never had any focus or QC issues, and while I was a little disappointed with the IQ of my later model 70-200 f2.8 'macro' and my 120-400 OS, there was nothing actually wrong with those lenses. So when I got this I did the usual tests to make sure it behaved properly and guess what? It did and it does. Of course it does and I am glad to report that the research paid off.


Image quality:


The IQ is superb. I own a Nikon 70-200 f2.8 G VR and this 'little' (I'll come back to that point) Sigma doesn't quite match the sharpness, contrast or colour of that lens but I can tell you that the difference isn't worlds apart. Is it soft at f2.8? Relative to f5.6 yes it is but show me a constant aperture f2.8 zoom lens nudging telephoto focal lengths and upward that isn't. Even my legendary Nikon 70-200 f2.8 is soft wide open or at least it is relative to how sharp it is at f5.6. f2.8 offers a wafer thin DoF and the longer focal lengths compound this, if you don't get your focus absolutely spot on it is always going to look soft. Its not soft, it's just slightly out of focus. Maybe. For the record though I'd say it is a tad soft a f2.8 (or it might be user error on my part) but certainly not unusable. Pretty much anywhere beyond f2.8 it is sharp. It is tack sharp by f4 and is, as expected, at it's very best at f5.6. Contrast is good though I might nudge it up a bit on my D300 but it still looks fine on my D50. I see no major colour caste issues and the out of focus elements of the frame (bokeh) rival my big Nikon zoom.


Build and handling:


You're supposed to either love the Sigma EX finish or loath it. Me? I really don't care that much so long as it feels right overall. I did scratch one once and thought at the time that it wasn't such a good idea but generally I think it is okay. It is solid and nicely screwed together but I wish Sigma would add some degree of dust and moisture sealing to its EX range of lenses. It is compact but not small. It balances nicely on a D300 with a grip, the big front element and relatively wide barrel give it presence. The barrel extends when you zoom, the zoom ring operates in the opposite direction to Nikon lenses, it is rubberised and nicely damped. I think the focus ring is a tad small and offers no manual over-ride but operates smoothly and accurately. I like the zoom lock at the 24mm end, I think the petal hood is a bit poxy but better than a kick in the knackers.


I have owned a Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 EX DG and I though it was very good but I feel the 24-60mm is the better lens. So far I don't miss the 60-70mm range and I need the exercise I get by moving my fat bum to cover it anyway.


In summary I think this lens is a belter, especially for the price, not perfect but everything in the photographic world is a compromise. I'd like to see an HSM version with environmental sealing, a better hood and perhaps a bigger focus ring but then they'd ask three times the price. Overall it is spot on. Well done Sigma.


 
Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 EX Aspherical DG DF

24_70EX_med_1_
Review Date: Oct 30, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp, good contrast, good colour.
Cons:
Not keen on the hood, control of flare could be better but can be largely overcome with practice and good technique. Could do with a wider angle of view on a cropped sensor.

I'd like to get one thing straight. I have read a lot of issues with regard to the double action mucking about when trying to switch from auto to manual focus. I have a Nikon D80 and in normal use I have the lens set to manual focus. So long as the body is set to autofocus it will autofocus without issue. If I wish to switch to manual I only need to set the body switch to manual. So there is no need for a two step switch from manual to autofocus, at least not with a D80.

My biggest issue with this lens is flare control. Forget shooting directly into the sun but if you catch the sunrise just before it fully clears the horizon it remains under control. Conversly, if you wait for the sun to touch the horizon a little at the end of the day it will remain under control. It also helps to keep the front element of the lens and your filters spotless. In truth, for sunrises and sunsets I have switched back to my old Nikkor 18 - 70mm AF-S as flare control with this lens is far better in every respect. It also gives me a wider angle of view which the 24 - 70 loses out to on the D80s cropped sensor.

The lens hood is not very good but not useless, the AF motor is not silent but not overly loud. AF is quick and accurate.

I love the sharpness. Yes it softens considerably at f2.8 but nothing so bad as 10 seconds of very mild unsharp mask cannot correct. Above f2.8 it is pin sharp with really nice background blur (bokeh). Contrast and colour reproduction is very nice indeed.

Filters can be expensive with the 82mm filter thread if you don't shop around. But my Hoya circular polariser only cost me 28 new/delivered off eBay. Although the thread is 82mm the front element is quite a lot smaller. This means that I can load filters up to my hearts content and not see any vignetting. To test this I loaded up a UV, a CP and a Cokin adapter with 3 filters in the holder and I saw no vignetting at all. I personally like the design.

The lens handles well and is built well but there is a little barrel creep when held vertically. I never really have got used to the backward action of the zoom either but thats not really an issue.

This is a very good/excellent lens for 90% of what I do (I'll photograph almost anything) but sunrises and sunsets need a bit of practice or a different lens. I recomend it.