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Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 EX DG HSM

Review Date: Aug 19, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,300.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Solid build. Sharp images. Good focal range. Great price. DG version comes with carry-handle/heavy duty monopod mount.
Heavy sucker (just deal with it).

The lens is built like a tank, it is heavy and it is solid and an all metal build. It has the 'crinkle' finish on it that all the Sigma EX range have. The lens hood adds about 80mm to the length of the lens, and is metal constructin also, again with the crinkle finish. Supplied with the lens is a heavy duty tripod foot, that doubles as a carrying handle.

As I said, the lens is built like a tank, it is heavy, feeling more than it's whopping 2.6kg. There is no way you could hold the camera body and not the lens without, I fear, ripping the mount clean out of the body. Because of it's weight, very good long lens technique is needed at the 300mm focal length.

This is a heavy lens, I can't stress that enough. If you lack upper body or wrist strength, this isn't a good choice for you. I shot hand held for the best part of a day and my images suffered towards the end due to muscle fatigue.

Performance wise the Sigma performs like you would expect from a lens of this type.

These pics are from my first outing:

The shots I've taken show the lens to be sharp at 300mm and F/2.8, which is what you would wish for. The lens is sharper though around the F/3.2 - F/3.5 mark. The F/2.8 images are sharp even at 100% crop. I don't think the lens is quite as sharp as the 70-200 VR, but it's pretty close.

The bokeh is nice and creamy, and the DOF is thin at F/2.8. It would be a good lens for candid portraits, but possibly a bit to bulky.

The zoom ring is firm, but not stiff and the focus ring is smotth and easily operated with 1 finger. The zoom ring rotates the opposite way to the Nikkor lens, but doesn't take much getting used to.

The reason I got this lens was for motorsports and I know it's going to be a steep learning curve to get used to it. I will have to completely re-learn my panning technique, given the difference between the 70-200VR and this monster. I think that it will be monopod mounted for most shots.

The Sigma 120 - 300 F/ 2.8 offers a good option for sports, with a good focal length and aperture.

All in all, I'm extremely happy with my purchase. If your thinking of a second hand Nikkor or Canon 300mm prime, then give this lens consideration. Other reviews I've read say this lens compares favourably to these primes, but I can't comment, having never had a prime to play with.

Hope someone finds this useful.