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Some thoughts on the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX APO HSM zoom lens

The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 HSM zoom lens is a professional lens in the same league as the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L USM lens. As indicated by their name, they are indeed very similar. The both offer zoom function in the same range, wide-open aperture for low-light work, and provide super-quiet auto-focus operation.

I purchased the Sigma lens used for around $600 dollars, a bargain for this lens. I was extremely surprised to find it in brand new condition when it arrived. It came with hood, front lens cap, rear lens cap, and a padded soft carrying pouch.

The lens is heavy. It is about as heavy as my Canon 300mm f/4 L lens. With massive lenses of this caliber, always support the lens, rather than the camera body. The lens looks and feels extremely solid. It is almost just as long as the Canon 300mm f/4 L lens. As with the Canon lens, the flower-shaped hood makes the Sigma lens even longer. The lens comes with 77mm filter threads to accommodate your favorite filters.

The lens also came with a tripod support for mounting on tripod. The tripod support is rotate-able just like the Canon 300mm f/4 L lens. However, I found that the tripod collar gets in the way of the zoom ring when I hand-held the lens and the camera body. My only remedy is to rotate or remove the collar.

It is no wonder that the tripod collar gets in the way, the lens is well-designed and uses almost every inch of space. The manual focus ring is massive and takes up the whole front section of the lens. It feels extremely smooth. This lens uses Hypersonic Motor (HSM) technology, which is similar to Canon's Ultrasonic Motor (USM). Sigma's HSM auto-focus is extremely quiet, smooth, and fast. It is only slightly louder than Canon's USM.

The images produced by the lens are extremely sharp. The lens seems to produce pictures that are less warm and less color saturated than my Canon 300mm f/4 L. So, I performed a test by taking pictures of the same subject with the two lens. The pictures are composed of the same subject taken from different distance to show the same magnification on film. Then pictures are developed and printed from the same roll of film. When I place two pictures from the two lens, side-by-side, I can not tell the difference, and I could not pick out which picture was taken by which lens. In fact, I forced myself to pick the one I thought was more saturated. When I looked at the frame number on the back of the print, I found the picture to be taken by the Sigma lens.

Overall, this is an excellent lens. It is the only lens I take with me to shoot roller-hockey games. Based on my experience, the Canon 300mm f/4 L is too long to use at a roller-hockey game. With the fast action of the sport, a zoom lens is needed. At 200mm, the lens is about long enough to cover the rink. And at 70mm, the lens is short enough when the action occur right in front of me.

Other people's review of this lens

Copyright (C) 2000 by Chieh Cheng. All Rights Reserved.