9 out of 10 points and recommendedWide-angle to telephoto range, rather sharp, fast auto-focus, bright: f2.8-4.5, good colorNone
I've seen many reviews on this lens both for and against it. I needed/wanted a lens with its range for my Konica-Minolta Maxxum 5D. It was either get the Minolta 24-105 f3.5-4.5 or this one. I choose this one and I'm glad I did. It rivals the Minolta lens well equaling it if not bettering it. It is definitely an under rated lens. The www.popphoto.com review of this lens gave it excellent imatest results for sharpness. However, they claimed it had in the range of 2.4% barrel distortion at the 24mm end which I do not see at all. Granted that I use a camera with an APS-C size sensor, but the distortion would nonethless have to show a bit regardless. I do not see any of it. Pop-Photo claims it to be a great general purpose lens. I think it is more than that. It covers a lot of range and is a great walk around lens as well as a good portrait lens. Though it is not a macro lens I have used it in such a way and I have gotten great results. But, if you are a macro shooter get a dedicated lens. Though, this lens comes in handy for such a job if you happen to not have a macro lens with you.reviewed October 16th, 2007 (purchased for $279)
The colors are good if not great. The build of the lens is excellent. It feels heavy and substantial. I rated its build a 9 for one simple reason: the rubber on the zoom ring began slipping. So, before it could stretch out and deform I used a good grade of double sided sticky tape to repair the problem. It worked great and I have had no problems since. The zoom ring is pretty well dampened, but it is a bit uneven in feel when comparing zooming out and in. The manual focus ring is fine and has a good feel to it. It does rotate during auto focus. However, it is out of your way. It is plenty bright (f2.8-4.5). It focuses fast and if it hunts it is in the lowest light with a complete lack of contrast. Any lens will have that problem. It controls CA really well. It is also sufficiantly sharp throughout its range. A touch soft on the 135mm end as well as wide open throughout the range, but not much loss that unmask sharp in Photoshop can't help with. No zoom lock is necessary as this lens does not creep in the retracted (24mm) position. Though, it might have been a nice feature to have. I have to add that it does not match my Minolta AF 50mm f1.7 prime lens in sharpness wide open (at 50mm and f3.5) unless I up the in camera sharpness to +1 or 2. Afterall, it is a zoom and they are known to be softer than good quality prime lenses. In addition, it's sharpness also does not match my old Minolta AF 70-210mm f4 zoom known as the "Beer Can." Though it can come close. Again, unless I up the in camera sharpness to +1 or 2.
I am rather impressed with this lens. A great all-around contender. It would be nice if Sigma tweaked its sharpness and transfoms it into an "EX" lens.
8 out of 10 points and recommendedGreat zoom range, good aperture range (f4.5-5.6), can produce sharp images, can have realitively fast auto focus.Zoom creep, tends to hunt in low light.
I wanted a zoom lens with a good range. I came across this Sigma and I thought "why not." I checked out any official reviews I could find on the web (not many). It seemed that the lens was well regarded. I think it is.reviewed October 16th, 2007 (purchased for $499)
I think the lens can produce some really good sharp pictures. Especially on the 135mm end. I will agree that on the 400mm end pictures can seem a bit soft wide open or not. But, I would say in part that it is simply due to the fact that it is a 400mm zoom after all. I have gotten some good sharp pictures out of this lens. Though, you really need to keep it steady or else you can get a soft image. I have a KM Maxxum 5D with the integrated anti-shake mechanism (image stabilization) and it helps a lot. So unless it is very bright outside for a fast shutter or you have a tripod forget about hand holding it for long periods of time and getting a sharp picture. It will make you tire from its weight.
When it come to auto focus I think people can be too critical on this lens. When it is bright outside and your target has plenty of contrast you will have fast auto focus lock. However, once it starts to get dim and contrast starts to go forget about it. This lens will hunt. Once that happens you potentially can wait forever. Though, I have found if you use area auto focus when using the lens for birding or to capture any other moving objects auto focus improves drastically and will not necessarily be quick to start hunting as when using the center AF point most of the time as I do.
Tracking is okay with this lens, but mainly in area auto focus. Some times I have trouble getting auto focus when using the center auto focus point alone while tracking with this lens.
Zoom creep can be an issue. I hate it when I'm walking along and when I tilt my camera down the lens extends. And it can move too. A zoom lock would have been nice when you are walking about and not necessarily looking for a shot.
Manual focus is alright. I would have liked a slightly smoother focus ring. But, it will do. I wish that the ring did not turn when auto focusing. If it was father up the barrel I wouldn't mind. However, it is right by my hand and I often end up touching the focus ring while it is focusing.
The zoom ring is stiff. But, I can live with that. With this lens I pretty much choose my focal length first and then start shooting. I don't usually zoom on the fly with this lens. It's range is too great for that anyway.
The general build for this lens is great. It feels strong and substantial. It will take abuse.
This lens has its flaws. However, I like it and I have gotten great shots with it. Keep it steady and you can get good clean sharp pictures under most situations.
Just as a note: I have compared sample shots I have taken with this lens and my old Minolta AF 70-210 f4 "Beer Can." This lens can match and even beat the Minolta lens on the overlapping zoom ranges. Plus the Sigma lens controls Chromatic Aberrations very well.
9 out of 10 points and recommendedGreat wide-angle zoom range, good aperture range (f4-5.6), can produce sharp images, fast auto focus. Makes great panorama pictures.The obvious barrel distortion for wide-angle zooms such as this.
This lens is great. It has a desired wide-angle zoom range for the APS-C sensor. Colors and contrast are great if not excellent. Sharpness is good if not great. There is barrel distortion on the wide end (10-11mm in particular), but that is to be expected. It handles well though when you use it as intended (landscape panoramas in particular). When it comes to cityscapes it works well also. However, with individual buildings or close range objects distortion comes into play. The more closed in the lens is the more distortion you'll have to deal with. Depending on what you are shooting distortion can be an issue. Adobe Photoshop helps to take care of these problems, but not everything can be fixed with software. The build of the lens is truely Sigma EX. The zoom ring is well dampened and feels good. The focus ring is well dampened and feels good. The zoom does not creep at all whatsoever so no zoom lock is needed. Auto focus is very fast on my Konica-Minolta Maxxum 5D and my version is non-HSM. It has a 77mm thread so I can use filters; I like that. Many other extreme wide-angle lenses do not offer that possibility.reviewed October 17th, 2007 (purchased for $489)
If you need a wide-angle lens with excellent quality this lens is one to look at. It will also save you quite a few dollars as opposed to getting a first party lens from Sony/Minolta, Nikon, Canon or Pentax.
10 out of 10 points and recommendedSharp, fast AF, constant f4 aperture, silky smooth Focus and Zoom Rings, pleasant bokeh, scales under glass, build and finishNone
I feel this lens is everything that it is supposed to be. Build and optical quality at a pro level, but minus the OEM prices of Canon, Nikon, Sony/Minolta, Pentax/Samsung and Olympus/Leica/Panasonic.reviewed December 7th, 2007 (purchased for $999)
I've only made some test shots thus far. The quality is surely there. The lens is magnificent in my opinion. The bokeh is so nice and creamy. The CA's are very well controlled. I even tried it with my Sigma 1.4x EX DG APO Tele-Converter and there doesn't seem to be any loss in sharpness. If there is, it is so minor that I can't tell off hand with out pixal peeping. The Tele-Converter does slow down the AF mechanism due to gear reduction.
Since I have the non-HSM version (Alpha mount) I just want to say that I feel the Auto Focus is fast. I've read some reviews from Minolta people that say the lens is average or even slow in AF speed and is prone to hunting. I have measured the speed of the AF from minimum focus distance to infinity (with the lens cap on). It moves along at 1/2 a second with my Maxxum 5D from one end of the focus range to the other when at 100mm. I also do not think it is prone to hunting. It will hunt when there is a lack of contrast for the AF system. Any system will hunt when there is a lack of contrast. That is the one constant universal flaw of AF systems.
If you're in the market for a high quality pro zoom lens with this range, but find that the OEM lenses are a bit too much in price. Especially, for the f2.8 lenses out there. Try this one. The optical quality is high and a constant f4 aperture should be bright enough. An f2.8 lens will not make a "make-or-break" difference when compared to this lens.
9 out of 10 points and recommendedSharp, fast AF, constant f2.8 aperture, well dampened Focus and Zoom Rings, pleasant bokeh, build and finishReally none to mention
This lens can really deliver. Since I bought a Sigma 100-300 F4 EX DG my other lens was just sitting around (Sigma 135-400 f4.5-5.6). I was at a camera show/swap near my home so I went with my gear. I came across this lens and traded it for the Sigma 135-400 lens plus $100. I am happy that I did. This lens is great. At f2.8 it can occasionally be a mixed bag. It tends to front focus at times when at f2.8 only. However, when AF gets it right it is sharp. I confirmed this by manually focusing the lens. By f4 the lens is sharp straight across the frame. I have not noticed any AF issues beyond f2.8. It has fast AF and a rather nice bokeh. Image quality is surely there. The build is of quality also. Though, more metal would have been nice. The focus and zoom rings are pretty good; well dampened. The zoom ring has a consistent feel of friction to it. However, there are lenses that are better dampened (Ex. Sigma 100-300 f4 - Silky Smooooth).reviewed January 24th, 2008 (purchased for $440)
I like this lens a great deal. Though, I would have liked it to be a 24-85 f2.8. But, I am not going to complain about a few millimeters. I do have, afterall, a Sigma 10-20 to give me my required wide angle range and I do not lose much if anything on the 75mm end.
This lens is highly recomended if you can get one. If you can not get the KM version get the Tamron version. Afterall, this is basically a Tamron lens with Konica Minolta adjustments/tweaks so to speak which is mainly external appearance and possibly lens coatings. AF gearing is the same at 3-1/3 screw turns if anyone was wondering. Also, just to add, this lens definitely lives up to the testing that was made on the Tamron version of this lens. Look in the Tamron section and see the sharpness test. This lens (and Tamron version) beats out the Canon 24-105 f4 L and 24-70 f2.8 L at less than half the cost based on these optical tests at SLRGear. True that the build is lesser in quality, but it is still quality nonetheless and it is not worth the extra expense to be sure. Sorry Canon;-(
10 out of 10 points and recommendedSharp, Sharp, Sharp! AF is swift. Focus limiter switch. Pretty good build. f2.8 aperture. 9 aperture blades.Aperture blades not circular. Focus ring could have been slightly larger and have a clutch as to not rotate during AF.
This lens is truely sharp from f2.8 and onward through f11. f16 is good, but I do not know beyond that since I have not bothered to try. The aperture does not have round blades. So I am not sure what effect that will have on the quality of the bokeh when stopped down past f4 or f5.6. I would have liked a slightly larger focus ring. Its size is okay, but a 1/4 inch more of rubber would have been nice. I don't mind that it does not have a clutch in the focus ring, but for a macro lens it would have been a nice feature. Others say that the focus is not fast. That's not true. When using it as a "normal" 70mm telephoto lens with the focus limiter enabled for the "normal" range focus is really fast. However, using this lens in the macro range with or without the limiter it seems to take forever. It is a dedicated macro lens afterall. It needs to extend quite a bit to get the 1:1 ratio when you need it.reviewed August 3rd, 2008 (purchased for $389)
This lens is what all the reviews have stated it too be optically......Sharp! from f2.8 and from corner to corner. If you need a macro lens between the range of 50mm and 100mm this is one you should heavily consider.
8 out of 10 points and recommendedSmall and durable build, seems to be plenty sharp when stopped down a bit, bokeh, no zoom creep, zoom and focus rings nice and tight, but relatively dampened well.Not as sharp as I hoped when wide open.
Some of the previous reviews claim the build quality is not good. I beg to differ. The build of this lens is excellent. Sure, the external body is made of polycarbonate, but it is durable enough and the inside of the lens obviously has plenty of metal (and glass) due to its weight. Optical quality is also decent, but not "G" class. On my A700 & Maxxum 5D I have gotten some great pictures. Vignetting isn't really an issue with an APS-C sensor. I can't say for a full frame camera. The zoom ring has no creep and it feels good. The focus ring is a bit stiff, but it does have a clutch mechanism to prevent it from rotating when in AF mode. This accounts for the added stiffness.reviewed March 6th, 2009 (purchased for $275)
I would definitely recommend this lens or its new Sony variant if you are looking for a decent range on APS-C or Full Frame cameras.