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Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro APO

 
Lens Reviews / Sigma Lenses i Lab tested
70-300mm $180
average price
image of Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro APO

SLRgear Review
January 19, 2008
by Andrew Alexander

With the 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6, Sigma has had an economical competitor to the major manufacturers' consumer telephoto zooms for some years now. There are two versions of this lens, with and without the APO designation; APO signifies that more than one super-low dispersion lens element has been used, and is said to reduce the effects of chromatic aberration. The subject of this lens review is the APO version, and is differentiated from the non-APO lens by a red stripe around the forward part of the lens barrel.

The 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6 is designed to fill a 35mm frame, but functions properly on a reduced-frame sensor as well. On these types of cameras the lens will provide and equivalent field of view of 105 - 450mm (1.5x sensors) and 112 - 480mm (1.6x sensors). This lens is not yet available in the 4/3rds mount system. To economize and create a more efficient design, the lens is equipped with a variable aperture; as the zoom extends the focal length, both the smallest and the largest apertures change. The following chart represents the largest and smallest apertures you can expect at a given focal length:

Focal length 70mm 100mm 133mm 190mm 300mm
Largest aperture ƒ/4 ƒ/4 ƒ/4.5 ƒ/5 ƒ/5.6
Smallest aperture ƒ/22 ƒ/22 ƒ/25 ƒ/29 ƒ/32

The Sigma 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6 APO DG comes with a circular lens hood and lens pouch, and is available now for around $200.

Update (February 2, 2009): A reader asked us to evaluate the sharpness performance of this lens with the macro switch enabled, as there is a popular opinion that image quality is substantially improved in this case. Our results can be found in the Macro section of this review. In summary: no change.

Sharpness
In general, the 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6 offers above-average results for sharpness; when stopped down, and kept below 200mm, results are excellent. The sharpest focal length / aperture setting on our sample was 70mm at ƒ/11, where the image was almost tack-sharp across the entire frame.

The lens seems to have been optimized to perform best at its 70mm setting, where the best results for sharpness can be found. When shot wide open at ƒ/4 on the 20D, image sharpness is good (~2 blur units, just slightly better in the center), improving substantially when stopped down to ƒ/8 and ƒ/11. It's almost the same story at 100mm, but by 133mm the lens never hits the same level of "tack-sharp" that can be seen at shorter focal lengths. At around 200mm our copy of this lens showed significant corner softness and some de-centered flaws (the bottom of the frame is softer than the top); 300mm has a small sweet spot of above-average performance near the center of the image and substantial corner softness (~3 blur units in the center, upwards of 4-7 blur units in the corners).

On the 5D, performance is similar, but the lens is pushed to the limit as the corners are much more soft on the full-frame sensor. Again, 70mm offers the best performance when comparing apertures and focal lengths, as corner softness appears at 100mm and gets substantially more prominent as the lens is zoomed closer to 300mm. Stopping down to ƒ/8 or ƒ/11 helps a bit, but by 133mm corner softness is always a factor. At 300mm, corner softness is off the charts until ƒ/22, and central sharpness isn't that great, either.

Image sharpness with the lens stopped down fully (ƒ/22 - ƒ/32) is surprisingly good until around 133mm (~3 blur units). At focal lengths longer than that images are uniformly soft, but in the case of 300mm, image quality is a bit more evenly soft than at wider apertures, where the corners are off the charts for softness in comparison to the center.

In short, this may not be the lens you want to turn to if you're looking for consistent corner-to-corner sharpness, but if you're looking for subject isolation - sharp center, soft corners - the lens does this quite well.

Chromatic Aberration
Sigma promises good resistance to chromatic aberration thanks to its APO glass, and our test results bear this out. At 70mm CA is almost non-existent across all apertures, on both sub- and full-frame camera sensors. At the focal length is increased CA does increase as well, but it never surpasses 6/100ths of a percent of frame height in the corners, in either full- or sub-frame sensors, making it fairly hard to detect by the naked eye. Overall, excellent performance here.

Shading (''Vignetting'')
On the sub-frame 20D, the 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6 produces very little in the way of corner shading; when shot wide open, the corners are just over a quarter-stop darker than the center, but that's the extent of it. Anything else and there's no difference.

The story's completely different on the full-frame 5D, where there's substantial corner darkening when the lens is used in the majority of its focal length / aperture combinations. On average, the corners are one full stop darker than the center. Curiously, the best results are obtained at either 70mm or 300mm, where the worst effects of corner shading only occur with the lens open to its widest aperture. Stopping down 2-3 aperture settings reduces the vignetting effects to 1/3 of a stop or less.

Distortion
The 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6 is optimized at 70mm to counter distortion: at that setting, there is almost 0% distortion, making that the preferred setting. As the focal length is extended through the zoom range on the sub-frame 20D the corners exhibit pincushion distortion - at its worst point, 133m, our tests show -0.4% distortion - and there is a general barrel distortion throughout the image of around +0.1%.

On the full-frame 5D distortion is a bit more significant, but follows the same pattern. By 133mm corner distortion is a fully -1.0% pincushion-distorted and the center is +0.5% barrel-distorted. These aren't big numbers, but if you need your straight lines to be straight, you should be aware of them.

Autofocus Operation
The 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6 APO isn't an HSM lens, but it does use a built-in electric motor to focus. The result is a fairly fast focusing lens that produces some noise while focusing. The focusing ring will turn while the lens autofocuses, as will the front filter element. As well, the lens will extend slightly throughout the range of focus. Note that for Nikon there are two versions of this lens, in that the newer one of the two will focus properly on D40, D40x and D60 bodies.

Macro
The 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6 is designated as a macro lens, providing up to 1:2 (0.5x) macro magnification when set to the 300mm focal length. Macro use is restricted to 200-300mm. At 200mm this magnification is 1:2.9. Minimum close-focusing distance is just over three feet (37.4 inches, 95 cm).

Update (February 2, 2009): A reader asked us to evaluate the sharpness performance of this lens with the macro switch enabled, as there is a popular opinion that image quality is substantially improved in this case. Intrigued, we put the lens into the same test setup and did the retest, with the following results:

Results (central BxU), 300mm

Aperture Original test (macro OFF) Retest (macro OFF) Retest (macro ON)
f/5.6 2.860 2.630 2.695
f/8 2.455 2.345 2.365
f/11 1.993 1.878 1.883
f/16 2.043 2.065 2.095
f/22 2.803 2.888 2.888
f/32 4.395 4.515 4.543

In short, the results are essentially the same whether the macro switch is engaged or not; it appears to act as a focus limiter rather than engaging some form of alternate configuration of lens elements.

Build Quality and Handling
The Sigma 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6 is composed mainly of plastic, however the overall impression is that the lens is quite rugged. The lens mount is metal and the filter rings are plastic. The lens barrel is black, which a semi-roughed finish. The focus ring is mounted near the front of the lens, the zoom ring towards the lens mount, and both are composed of a nice rubber ridged pattern that is well-dampened and easy to grip.

The lens provides the user with a distance scale marked in imperial and metric units, as well as a depth-of-field scale for ƒ/11 and ƒ/22. There are switches for autofocus operation (on or off) and macro mode activation; above 200mm you can engage the macro mode.

The generous zoom ring (1 1/8 inches wide) is well-dampened, requiring slightly more torque to move, no doubt designed this way to prevent zoom creep. The lens does not have a switch to lock the zoom to 70mm. It takes about ninety degrees to run the lens through its entire range of focal lengths, and doing so extends the lens by 2 1/8 inches as it approaches 300mm.

The focus ring is mounted at the far end of the lens. It uses a different texture than the zoom ring, more like that of the body, and is about a half-inch wide. It offers about ninety degrees of movement for manual focusing and is linked to the focus motor so you'll need to disengage the autofocus to adjust the focus manually. The front element does turn during focus operations, making life that much more interesting for filter users. There are hard stops at the close-focus and infinity ends of the focus spectrum, and the lens will focus past the infinity mark.

The LH635-01 lens hood, a circular and bayonet-mount affair, comes with the lens as a package however wasn't part of the sample we received from Sigma. Looking on the net it appears not to be flocked or ribbed, but has a smooth and matte finish on the interior. We've confirmed it will reverse for storage on the lens.

Alternatives

Nikon 70-300mm ƒ/4.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S VR ~$529
The Nikon's results for image sharpness are dramatically better than that of the Sigma, especially when shot wide open. Chromatic aberration is controlled better by the Sigma, and they're about the same for distortion and corner shading. Note we haven't tested the Nikon on a full-frame body. The Nikon offers vibration reduction and AF-S focusing.

Canon EF 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6 IS USM ~$549
The Canon performs very well, providing excellent results that best the Sigma in almost every category (the Sigma is still excellent at resisting chromatic aberration at 70mm).

Pentax 75-300mm ƒ/4.5-5.8 AL SMC P-FA J ~$130
While there is a newer version of this class of lens (the Pentax 55-300mm) we haven't yet tested it; the 75-300mm provides about the same performance as the Sigma, with the Sigma providing better results for tolerance to CA. The Pentax offers less distortion.

Sony 75-300mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 ~$200
The Sony performs about as well as the Sigma, but the Sigma bests it for tolerance to CA. Distortion is better controlled by the Sony.

Conclusion
The Sigma 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6 is a viable alternative to manufacturers' versions of the same lens. If you're looking for excellent corner-to-corner sharpness across a wide range of focal lengths and apertures you won't find it in the Sigma, but when stopped down to ƒ/8 and ƒ/11 the lens performs decently well. It offers an excellent macro mode between 200mm and 300mm and some of the best resistance to chromatic aberration that we've seen in lenses of this category, all for a very reasonable price.

Sample Photos

The VFA target should give you a good idea of sharpness in the center and corners, as well as some idea of the extent of barrel or pincushion distortion and chromatic aberration, while the Still Life subject may help in judging contrast and color. We shoot both images using the default JPEG settings and manual white balance of our test bodies, so the images should be quite consistent from lens to lens.

As appropriate, we shoot these with both full-frame and sub-frame bodies, at a range of focal lengths, and at both maximum aperture and ƒ/8. For the ''VFA'' target (the viewfinder accuracy target from Imaging Resource), we also provide sample crops from the center and upper-left corner of each shot, so you can quickly get a sense of relative sharpness, without having to download and inspect the full-res images. To avoid space limitations with the layout of our review pages, indexes to the test shots launch in separate windows.

Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro APO User Reviews

7.3/10 average of 29 reviews Build Quality 6.8/10 Image Quality 7.1/10
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  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    versatile, excellent macros, pleasant images
    soft in some cases, slow optically

    The first 50 images I shot with this lens were overly soft. As I worked more with the lens the images improved dramatically.

    I typically start in manual mode and begin testing based upon what I know about light and exposure (which I'm learning slowly over time). I also switch to auto or programmed AE periodically and compare my results with what the camera's logic comes up with. I'm delighted to find when I get more consistent shots than the camera does automatically. Such is the case with this lens. Leaving it up to the camera usually blows the shot.

    This is not a fast sports lens but this lens performs admirably given enough light. I have captured bees and butterflies in flight in direct sunlight. I have captured roses in windy conditions. I have shot cityscapes at night on long exposures and gotten tack sharp results on details 10 to 15 miles away. I have shot people candidly with no flash (tripod) as well as handheld with flash and have gotten great results, giving up only moderate detail at high ISO.

    Odds are for every complaint someone levies about this lens, I can present a real-world example in which I got a successful shot.

    This is a roughly $200 lens and I do not expect the performance of a lens at double or triple this price point. However it has routinely gotten shots that rivaled that which I know to have been taken by more expensive lenses.

    It has met my expectations (and in a lot of cases exceeded them). It is also not a prime lens, but its not meant to be either. There are cases however that I have gotten shots that are as sharp as my nifty 50, and not just at the low focal lengths.

    This lens especially has a very pleasant blur in the depth of field and subjects are well saturated. It adds to the pleasant look of images.

    It is well built, and does not feel plastic like the canon kit lenses. The housing of the lens has a micro textured matte coating. It includes a hood.

    Is it a perfect lens? No. But gets as much use as either of my other lenses.

    reviewed February 14th, 2010 (purchased for $200)
  • 5 out of 10 points and not recommended by (1 reviews)
    la funzione macro è molto utile
    scarsa nitidezza e messa a fuoco lenta

    fino a 100 mm la nitidezza è molto buona, ma a f8, poi a mio parere diventa inutile. Buona la modalità macro da usare almeno a f11 e rigorosamente con flash e cavalletto a non più di 200mm. Oltre 1 150mm la nitidezza cala in modo esponenziale fino a 300 mm dove l'obiettivo diventa inutilizzabile anche per i fotoamatori, specie se si deve croppare la foto o si deve stampare oltre i 10x15 cm. Il 55-250 IS della CANON è sicuramente di gran lunga più nitido ed offre in più la stabilizzazione.
    Alcuni scatti prodotti con questo obiettivo sono sul mio sito: www.flickr.com/photos/elletommy ed esattamente http://www.flickr.com/photos/elletommy/2812866897/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/elletommy/2813494079/in/photostream/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/elletommy/3720958423/

    reviewed January 28th, 2010 (purchased for $370)
  • 6 out of 10 points and recommended by (16 reviews)
    Cheap
    You get exactly what you pay for

    I have recently used a copy of this lens. Lets be honest, it is a very cheap lens, so I had no real expectations of anything special from it.
    Used on a Canon EOS 30D, the results are at best mediocre.
    I am not a regular Tele user so have no need to splash out for an expensive lens with IS.
    However, unless you are prepared to ALWAYS use a tripod or only shoot in bright sunshine , I would forget it.
    To be sensible , expecting to handhold a lens giving 480 mm on a 1.6 crop camera is unrealistic, whatever ISO you might use, the laws of physics alone preclude that.
    So, up to 200mm in bright conditions, you have a useable lens, it never really gets sharp in the corners no matter what F stop you might use, and focuses slowly, sometimes baulking unexpectedly. Cropping your images will be required.
    The build quality is quite good at the price point, no grumbles there. As a cheap secondhand lens it might fit your needs, however I would not buy one.
    If money is tight, the Canon 55-250 IS is a far superior lens, with IS as part of its spec for not an awful lot more money. You would have a lens you could use all year round rather than just during the three month UK summer. A no brainer really!

    reviewed April 1st, 2009
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by (7 reviews)
    Superb CA/Pf performance, good build, nice contrast even out to 300mm, great macro mode
    Poor resolution from 200-300mm, need to be at f8 for OK, and f11 for good IQ

    As some pro reviews say, I recommend this lens with "some reservations", if you don't care about 200-300mm sharpness or don't mind having to be at f11 or higher to get good results at 300mm. Now that's the only thing this lens does bad, its kinda a shame because everything else is good. It has very good contrast probably from having 3 ED elements, and those ED elements totally banish CA/PF, and better than any other ##-300mm consumer telephoto (from my research). The IQ performance below 200mm and at f8 is very nice, good color, sharp. Macro performance is great all the way to 300mm, this lens is sharp at f8 300mm at things 1m away but not 100m away, could be by design. Seems Sigma made it the best at CA/PF, great at macro, great up to 200mm, at the expense of sharpness 200-300mm. So you decide, you could think of it as a 70-200mm lens with outstanding performance for the price?? lol and with macro.

    Even if you own a fine 300mm lens, you could use this as a light bag lens that can do macro and high IQ shots up to 200mm. With a tripod, and non moving object, this lens can produce some serious pics. At the price, it does have serious competition. And I can only recommend it, if performance in the 200-300mm is of little concern to you, and you need its other strengths.

    reviewed February 2nd, 2009 (purchased for $219)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (2 reviews)
    Inexpensive; very decent quality if used properly; good macro
    Soft above 200mm in normal mode; fails to seek focus sometimes

    This is a tricky product...because if used properly it is quite good, but if used improperly it is useless above 200mm.

    What do I mean by "use properly". Just this: the lens is quite sharp in "normal" mode one stop above wide-open, and useable wide open at most focal lengths....that is up to 200mm. Above 200mm sharpness desolves quickly....UNLESS...one switches to macro mode. The lens will then stay even sharper from 200mm up to 300mm. In other words, "macro" isn't just for macros, but also essential for the tele end of the range.

    In macro mode the lens is soft at some apertures but very sharp at its optimum f/13, with a usable range from about f/9 up to f/16.

    The most annoying thing about the lens is its tendency to just quit looking for focus sometimes...in this case it is necessary to manuall focus to the vicinity, then let auto take over. It also helps to look for a really sharp contrast to focus on.

    So it is a quirky lens. But if you learn its quirks...and learn to live with them...it is a tremendous bargain. It will outperform Nikons own 70-300 non-VR handily, and its 70-300 VR in the 200-300 range (when used in "macro" mode as suggested above).

    Since the lens is light it is easy to handhold, and in good light is quite capable of capturing birds in flight.

    The DG designation indicates both glass and multicoating designed to reduce glare and I can personally attest to that since I also own the older 70-300 APO Super. That lens went out longer in "normal" (to 240mm), was sharp again in "macro" at 300mm, but useless if the subject light agains a dark background in bright light.

    So I give the DG version perhaps a better rating thatn some people, but it is contingent on using it properly.

    reviewed August 11th, 2008 (purchased for $169)
  • 6 out of 10 points and recommended by (8 reviews)
    Cheap, Sharp enough for this price, Having Macro
    Don't hope for 200-300mm sharpness

    Good budget lens.
    But don't hope for image quality from 200-300 mm.
    Its construction is so so, but for this price, it can beat Canon 75-300 (easily beat) and Tamron 70-300.

    Telephoto zoom lens for starter and for this economic situation in my country.

    reviewed June 1st, 2008 (purchased for $140)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    sharp, great for macros and nature, best bang for your buck
    Slips out of focus when pointed down, a bit slow in low light

    I have enjoyed using this lens for 3 years and can't imagine another that would give me a better bang for this price. I also use a Kenko 1.4 teleconverter and it works well for nature shots. Most of the problems others are reporting are due to poor technique and not the lens. I always use a good tripod unles I am using 100% flash. The additional telephoto feature allows you to use this lens as a macro for bees, insects, butterflies, flowers etc. It has a nice working distance which allows you to use the pop up flash on your camera for fill flash shots. No need for an expensive ring flash. I have also used this lens for candid flash photos indoors with excellent results. Used properly, this lens will not disappoint.

    reviewed February 22nd, 2008 (purchased for $300)
  • 6 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)

    Very nice.... but too hard understanding DOF in 200mm or 300mm need close diaphragm near 22 or more for good DOF but in wind and poor light the shot is very hardly.

    macro work only in 200-300mm diapason and swithing is not a problem only then you turn of macro mode. because each time need switch in manual focus and set in more then 1.5 metre.
    and once more then lens an the camera and camera have a direction to bottom the lens can change focal distance by self I mean this is not fixed.

    reviewed May 15th, 2007 (purchased for $260)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (2 reviews)
    Price, Zoom Range
    Sharpness at 300mm

    You get what you pay for.
    I have taken some really nice photos with this lens and overall I can’t complain. My problem is that I know what’s out there and that this lens is not comparable in that regard.

    I have a 30D and I certainly do not want a lens to hold the cameras potential at bay. I will definitely be spending a few more dollars on a newer telephoto lens and I am having a hard time deciding between Canon’s 70-200 f/4 IS and the 700-200 f/2.8 IS.
    I have also been eyeing the Sigma 100-300 as it has been getting some fantastic reviews.

    Oh well… back to work for now.

    reviewed January 29th, 2007 (purchased for $260)
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by (16 reviews)
    Cheap, macro mode, light
    Macro switch.

    This is an average zoom for a small price.
    It is certainly better than the non-APO version.
    Image quality is good from 70 to about 150mm wide open, and on the whole range when stopped down (I said good, not excellent).
    The macro mode can be useful but is not really easy to use : you have to be at the long end to switch to macro mode and then you're locked, you can't switch to normal mode unless you focus to something far away... not really straightforward.
    Build quality isn't that bad for the price, and this lens is not very heavy, it is only a bit long when fully extended.
    If you want a zoom in this focal and price range, choose this one over the non-APO version., it is quite better.

    reviewed January 14th, 2007
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by (4 reviews)
    low price, nice zoom range, macro
    soft beyond 200 mm, feels a bit cheap, zoom ring feel

    excellent lens for its price, can compete with very expensive tele lenses when shooting up to 200mm.


    small and light and can fit in a pouch.

    soft at 300mm and harder to hold tight but in good lighting its excellent.


    if u dont have the money for an expensive zoom, there is no better alternative among the cheapst.

    reviewed January 13th, 2007 (purchased for $100)
  • 5 out of 10 points and not recommended by (3 reviews)

    I borrowed this lens from a friend to test.

    I tried shooting my sons hockey game with it.
    Not very happy with the results. IQ was ok,not great but ok for the price. but was a bit too slow of a lens for indoor sports. might be ok outside.

    reviewed January 10th, 2007
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (5 reviews)
    excellent bang for the buck, small, good quality
    feels cheap, soft at 300mm, no IS, slow AF in low light

    excellent lens for its price, can compete with very expensive tele lenses when shooting up to 200mm.

    small and light and can fit in a pouch. no need for back pack.

    soft at 300mm and harder to hold tight but in good lighting its excellent.

    if u dont have the money for an expensive zoom, there is no better alternative among the cheapst.

    reviewed January 8th, 2007 (purchased for $200)
  • 2 out of 10 points and not recommended by (16 reviews)
    Cheap, good range, usable macro
    Horrible optics, terrible build

    The only truely bad lens I've ever owned (and I owned two of them). Horrible at 300mm and f5.6 doesn't begin to describe just how bad it is. In fairness, it's good below 150mm and above f11 above that. Not very useful. I replaced mine with the 70-300IS which is so much better it's laughable.

    reviewed January 7th, 2007 (purchased for $210)
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by (26 reviews)
    Pretty good value for long zoom
    Heavy

    I owned an earlier version of this lens on my Nikon N60 but only sparingly. I used it for a while on my D70 but was not particularly impressed by the sharpness even when stepped down to F8-F16. If you are anything like me on buying a lens, you will end up buying and selling several lenses before finally realizing it was a waste of time and money. Eventually, you will have to bite the bullet and spend the money on a much better lens to get really good picture quality. An alternative would be to buy a really good tripod with ball mount head and you can get away with these low cost lenses for a while before eventually buying a good one.

    reviewed January 5th, 2007 (purchased for $250)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (10 reviews)
    Good value
    Soft at the long end

    This lens is probably the best choice out of all of the 70-300 lenses in the $200 or below price range. Image quality gets a little soft at the 300 mm end, but the APO glass does a good job controlling CA.

    reviewed December 30th, 2006 (purchased for $200)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (5 reviews)
    good image quality
    hunts af at 300mm, slow

    i bought this lens back when i bought my nikon N65 in Nov 2001. I'm still using it with my Nikon D80. I have to admit that inspite of the cheap feel of this lens, it produces good quality photos taken either from my N65 or my D80. I've been using it for 5 years and the only time i have problem with it is hen it hunts at the long end. I'm expecting that though and i know it's limitations. I know when i can use it and when not to. Other than that, it had served me well considering the price i paid for it. It's cheap. If you dont want to spend a fortune on nikon lenses with the same focal lenght i have to say that you might want to consider this lens. Macro is a bonus on this lens. However if you have the money spend it wisely and get those great nikon lenses or canon if you're a canon shooter. Third party lenses are good compromise if you're tight on the budget.
    Would i recommend this lens, of course i have used it for 5 years and still using it, providing me with good results.

    reviewed December 30th, 2006 (purchased for $200)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (7 reviews)
    good tele range, macro
    soft at long end

    This lens is the first tele lens I owned. Its range is very good, from 70 to 300, and the aperture is ok if you shoot in good light, otherwise a tripod is mandatory for non-blurry pictures.
    I used it for typical tele pictures, but also for shhoting moon, sun and eclipses, of course with a special filter mounted in the front of the lens.
    The macro capability is amaizing: even if it is not a true 1:1macro, it is only 1:2, but the closest distance is a little bit less than one metter, so it will not disturb the subject too much.
    At long end (200-300) it becomes soft, but the image is still not to bad.
    Since it extend while zooming or at macro, a very good tripod and head is needed, otherwise it fall down in the front.
    What I would like to have at this lens is the IS capability...

    reviewed December 28th, 2006 (purchased for $200)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (17 reviews)
    Good lens for money, nice feel of quality, LightWeight.
    Soft at 300, slight soft at 200, slow autofocus, needs light.

    It was my first tele lens, and i enjoyed using it. Don't wait miracles, but for this money it is a bargain.

    I switch to 70-200L now and i sell my sigma but i really liked it. It has by no mean the IQ of L glass but you know what to expect for the amount you paid. And for the money is a lot of glass.

    Be careful with the light that lens need to make good photos. Also have in mind that it is difficult to focus in average light conditions.

    If you are in low money and want a telephoto go for it. It is the best you can buy for the money.

    reviewed December 27th, 2006 (purchased for $250)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (10 reviews)
    Good bargain! Like the inclusion of the macro.
    Soft at 300mm, slow focusing, slow optically

    I got this lens because I was on a budget and I think its money well spent. The major gripes are its slow AF and aperture, but once you learn how to live with those, you can work wonders with this lens. I have used this lens for some macro work and it works beautifully!

    I shot an airshow with this lens and I'm surprised that the AF hit spot on with flying planes 85% of the time.

    Sometimes, I find manual focusing is easier because the lens sometimes hunts especially in low light.

    I would recommend this lens to anyone on a tight budget. Its the best you can find for this price.

    reviewed December 24th, 2006 (purchased for $200)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (4 reviews)
    Sharp, very low CA
    None

    I replaced my very inexpensive Nikon 70-300G lens with this Sigma after hearing some good things. Physically, it's about the same, and has the unfortunate characteristic of extending way out at longer zoon ranges.

    The only problem with that is, honestly, it looks silly.

    But performance wise, it is sharper than the Nikon G and ED versions of the same range, and in between the two in terms of cost. The CA performance beats the G version, and is as good as the ED version at a lower price.

    What really amazes me is the sharpness, especially at the lower zoom range. Note: I'm not saying that the longest range is bad, because it's not. I'm just saying the shorter range is amazing.

    The only thing I would like to see is a little bit closer focusing.

    reviewed December 14th, 2006 (purchased for $209)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (8 reviews)
    Apo, Cheap, Macro 1:2
    Grip not good as tamron 70-300.

    I've switched to it from my tamron 70-300. It suffered of too much chromatic aberrations for my taste.

    The APO is really useful.

    The Colors are faithfull than the Tamron which instead tend to create a bit cooler images.

    I noticed that the Tamron when in macro mode at 300 go to F6 while Sigma keep F5.6 as declared.


    The drawback is the not so handy grip that sometime i feel blocking.

    For sharpeness "simply" use F6 or more and i'm happy. If there is less light it's better an "evergreen" solid tripod.

    reviewed December 11th, 2006 (purchased for $150)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (2 reviews)
    Cheap, pretty sharp, great value overall
    No cons so far, especially for this price

    At this price it's hard to have any cons. It's my first long tele lens and I am very happy to have it in my camera bag. It is not very fast and you need good light to get good, sharp images.
    Here is my favourite shot with it:
    http://dpchallenge.com/image.php?IMAGE_ID=269391

    It's not a L glass lens but definetely a good choice in this price range.

    Warmly recommended.
    Edit: another pic
    http://dpchallenge.com/image.php?IMAGE_ID=249229

    reviewed December 9th, 2006 (purchased for $190)
  • 6 out of 10 points and recommended by (4 reviews)
    Light, good sharpness wide open until 200mm, high value for money
    Needs to be closed down to f8-f11 over 200mm, slow AF (on D50)

    I bought this lens as a first telezoom, together with a D50. My objective was to get a good first trial in the telezoom field, keeping in mind that I would shoot mainly outdoor (windsurf, hichking) and was on a budget. In this category this lens is just great, very light therefore you might not wonder putting it or not in the bag.

    I am now seriously consdiering upgrade into sigma 100-300 F4 to get more sharpness above 200mm, which is unfortuantely the weak point of this lens.

    All in all, I would recommend it to anyone looking for a not-too expensive & light lens, shooting outdoor in lightfull environment.

    reviewed November 29th, 2006 (purchased for $200)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    Inexpensive
    Non that I have found yet

    I am a Pro-am photographer and wanted a good, but inexpensive lens. This one did it. I have been able to take more photos with this lens that simply astonish me. I shoot with the Nikon D80 and this lens makes a perfect companion for my kit lens.

    Highly recommend it.

    reviewed November 28th, 2006 (purchased for $189)
  • 6 out of 10 points and recommended by (18 reviews)
    cheap and light
    plasticky build quality

    The build quality is very plasticky particularly when zoomed out and using the macro facility (1:2 max).

    The manual focusing didnt inspire confidence with a hint of lens creep when pointed downwards

    Image quality was acceptable after a bit of contrast enhancement in PS.

    The 300mm end sufers a little with sharpness.

    Upgraded to a Nikon 70-200 which is on a different planet ( cost and qulaity)

    OK for a budget entry zoom but you will always be wanting something a bit better

    colourperfect

    reviewed November 21st, 2006 (purchased for $200)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    APO (Low CA), relatively silent operation, Nice bokeh, great colours, good macro, price
    Slightly soft at 300mm f/5.6 though quite good at f/8

    Its a bad lens if you think it will shoot like a prime with astounding speed and accuracy and be sharp at f5.6 300mm.
    However if you shoot within the limitations of this lens, you will find that its a great lens vis-a-vis the cost that sigma is selling it at. It is definitely better than any 70-300 in the market. The tamron is the closest but suffers from excessive CA and noisy motor.
    I use it with my D50 and I prefer shooting at f/8 at 300mm. It is quite sharp then.
    The macro is relatively good but only for flowers and butterflies.
    I am a nature photographer and I feel its a great companion to have on the treks for those who like to shoot everything from the moths to the mammals.
    See it for yourself:
    www.flickr.com/photos/gauravbhatnagar
    and
    www.pbase.com/gauravbhatnagar

    reviewed October 3rd, 2006 (purchased for $234)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    Price, capabilities, macro
    Build quality, lens cap, noise

    I decided to pick that lens over Nikon 70-300ED due to lesser price and macro feature for my D50.

    Generally nice, sharp lens when used outdoors. Indoors average, with some focusing problems when in poor light conditions.
    Macro feature is a nice add-on for that lens but macro switch is difficult to use, cheap plastic. Same as lens cap, very difficult to handle comparing to superior Nikon cap.
    Lens hood is same cheap plastic and difficult to handle.
    In the manual is a note when using A or M modes the lens' aperture ring should be used. But when I tried to use it D50 reported an error.

    Besides lens cap, hood and macro switch that lens is quite capable, especially at that price point.

    reviewed April 20th, 2006 (purchased for $250)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (2 reviews)
    Price, range, great quality for the $
    None I can say

    I picked this lens up for my D70, it came in a kit with the 28-70mm, paid $229 for the kit at Wolf.

    I gave this lens it's first real action workout at a stunt show, and it proved itself to be very fast, easy to use, and the image quality is very good, especially for a lens at this price point. It may be that a more expensive lens would do even better, but for a hobby, I really can't justify spending $800+ for a lens...not yet, anyway...

    If you are looking to get started with a good camera body...get a body only, and pick up the two lens kit Sigma makes....it's the only way to get started, as far as I am concerned...Both lenses are fast, good quality, and very capable.

    reviewed November 9th, 2005 (purchased for $229)