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Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC

18-50f28
Review Date: Jul 10, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $450.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Good performance wide open, very sharp stopped down, focuses quickly and accurately, good build quality, excellent lens. That is if you get a good copy.
Cons:
Shoddy quality control (I went through 4), little too much damping on zoom ring, inconsistent fit and finish.

I went through 4 of these lenses (Macro version) to get a good copy, so make sure you buy it from somewhere with a good exchange policy.

1st lens had extremely poor focus calibration and was exchanged.
2nd lens had slight front focus and was sharper at the edges than in the center, and slight, but noticeable decentering. This one was borderline acceptable.
3rd lens had obvious decentering where a large portion of one corner was completely smeared. Focus was great though.
4th and final lens is great, with no noticeable decentering and excellent focus.

I may be a little more nitpicky than the average person though, and I think the 2nd copy would probably have been acceptable to some.

Fit and finish not consistent between copies. Two had slight play in the zoom ring, 3 previous copies had stiff focus/lock switches.

Build is overall good, with a nice finish, solid feel, and very little barrel wobble. Comes with a nice case and hood.

Image quality on the keeper lens is excellent. Colors are a bit different from Canon lenses, but easily corrected with custom white balance. Wide open -- images are sharp, and as expected, softness is visible in corners. The lens is very sharp past f4, corner to corner. Vignetting is visible at f2.8 at the wide end of the zoom, but very low stopped down past f4. Vignetting is virtually gone at the longer end.

Focus speed is quick, accurate, and fairly quiet (assuming it is calibrated well). There is a light buzzing noise when autofocusing. Accurate manual focusing is difficult due to the short rotation range and undamped ring.

Overall a nice step up from the kit lens, and an affordable large aperture zoom. If only Sigma could get their QC up to snuff.