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Sigma 18-50mm F3.5-5.6 DC

Review Date: Sep 10, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $120.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Cheap and usable.
See below.

It is plastic, small, light, quite well built and has a metal mount. It can be difficult to mount it on the camera since you need to grab its base. The front rotates so you need to put it in MF mode to take off/put on the hood - since moving the focus ring can kill the AF motor. This also means that CPLs need to be adjusted when you refocus. The zoom ring is reasonably damped and the focus ring is easy to move but not loose.

The newspaper test results. Optically, the centre is always good to very good. It is edges and corners at the shortest focal length where this is bad. Sigma clearly intends it this way. At 18mm wide the edges and corners are terrible. They become usable by f8. At 24, 28,35 and 50 it is not atall that bad even wide open. But this is bought for the 18mm fl. Sadly, if they made it that good, then many would not buy the other much more expensive offerings...

That said, in the field it IS usable. I have many shots at 18mm which show this. Shooting RAW helps and not going for big prints. Flare is not an issue nor is CA. Distortion is a bit worse than a 15-30 EX or 17-40L.

Overall and for the money it is better than one might expect at this price. If you want good performance through the range, then you must pay a lot more.

Sigma 15-30mm f3.5-4.5 EX Aspherical DG DF

Review Date: Sep 6, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Wide, sharp, little distortion, contrasty, well built and good price.
None at this price.

This lens stands against the 17-40L in most people's minds. I scoured the web looking at shots of each and quite a few where people had tested both together and some on a FF 1DS. I could see no advantage optically, for me, to buy the 17-40L The Sigma 15-30 is wider and those few mm do make a difference. It is as sharp in some cases more so and almost as conratsty.

I see the recent condemnation for flare... I honestly I have not found it any more an issue than on any other lens I have and in any case a WA is a little more prone to it. Maybe take a little care. CA also has been so minor as to be 'forget it'. It offers sharpness across the frame at all lengths - in the corners too. It does give a slight warm tint to shots but I like that and if I do not I can remove it easily. Distortion is minor - about as much as the 17-40L wide. I like this lens indoors too; it has a nice range for people shots. Outdoors it's not super wide (try the 12-24) but better than the 28-70s and does give a good sense of width with some nice wide effects possible.

It feels balanced on my D60. The DF AF/MF switch is a minor bother since the focus ring is a little stiff - in this case. But I am used to the DF with my other Sigma EX lenses and can do it very quickly almost without a thought. Focus is slightly noisy but nothing bothersome and is reasonably fast, positive and on the D60 it is accurate.

Could it be better? Of course. Most things can be improved. However, the pertinent questions are does it do the job and at an affordable price. The answers are yes and yes.