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

24_70EX_med_1_
Review Date: Jan 24, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Fast 2.8 aperture, solid build quality, awesome EX finish, close focusing, price!!!
Cons:
Lens cap, MF focus switch is clumsy on D70, expensive filters

This lens replaced the 18-70DX on my D70. It's not as wide but I don't miss the wide angle on the 18-70 much because it was too soft for me anyway. I bought the newer macro version of this lens at B&H in NYC. The sales person Jason was very helpful and was not pushy at all. B&H is a great store to deal with.
The lens is built very solid. The Kit lens feels cheap compared to the Sigma. It is a lot bigger than the 18-70, and it is heavy on my D70 with an external flash, but it's not a bad thing necessarily. I feel like the lens can take more knocks and the 2.8 constant aperture is worth the extra heft.
The lens is sharp wide open, perfectly usable and a whole lot better than my kit lens IMHO (but maybe I just have a bad copy of it). Focus is right on except at 70mm where I get a mm or two of front focus with closeup shots (hardly noticeable), but it's hardly a problem with regular shots, especially after f/4 and up.
Speaking of close focusing, the lens can be used as a decent closeup for those of you who don't have a true macro lens. I have a sigma 105mm macro so I won't be using the lens for real macro shots, but for casual closeups the lens is more than useable.
I have not done real tests but I'm more than happy with shots at 2.8. It gets better at f/4 but I would not hesistate to use it at f/2.8 when necessary.
I did not like the focus mode switch on my sigma macro lens, and this lens has the same problem. On my D70, if i want to switch to manual focus, I have to pull the focus ring down and also switch the position on the camera body to manual focus. However, I hardly manual focus on the D70 due to its less than stellar viewfinder so this isn't a big problem.
The focus isn't AF-S (or HSM as Sigma calls it) so it is louder than the kit lens, but the focus speed is pretty fast. My kit lens hunted a bit, especially in low light at the tele end (where the max aperture is 4.5). I was pleased to find that the constant f/2.8 aperture helped the low light focusing by a noticeable margin.
The lens cap is a standard one, not a pinch type like the newer Nikon ones, so it is hard to put the cap on with the lens hood on. I might buy a Tamron pinch type lens cap to remedy this.
The filter size is 82mm so filters can also be very expensive. A B+W circular polariser is $200, half of the cost of the lens itself!

I'd consider this lens to be a professional grade lens without a pro price tag. A 28-70 f/2.8 Nikkor is almost four times the price of this lens. I'm sure that there are benefits of paying the premium for the Nikkor, but for me, the extra $1000 dollars will go to a 85mm f/1.4 or towards the funding of a 70-200 VR.

For anyone looking to upgrade from the kit lens or want another choice when buying a D70s/D50, and does not want to spend a fortune, they should consider this Sigma.