Sigma 120-300 mm f/2.8 APO EX DG OS HSM
- solid, compact and sealed casing,
- good aperture fastness along with an interesting focal range and a possibility of using converters mean great versatility,
- excellent resolution in the frame centre regardless of the focal length,
- good resolution on the edge of APS-C/DX,
- well-corrected chromatic aberration,
- slight distortion,
- sensational coma correction,
- quite efficient image stabilization,
- 3-year warranty period with a possibility of extending it by additional two years,
- excellent quality/price and versatility/price ratio.
- unacceptable frame edges after attaching the converter,
- weak performance against bright light,
- necessity of using huge 105 mm filters,
- lack of autofocus limiter.
The Sigma 120–300 mm f/2.8 APO EX DG OS HSM is undoubtedly an interesting and well-done instrument. I really appreciate its versatility – if you own this lens along with 1.4x and 2.0x converters (in the case of a Nikon camera you can also use the 1.7x model) you have the focal range from 120 to 600 mm covered and it is fully useful (with working autofocus!). What’s more, buying all these devices you will spend two times less money than purchasing a brand name 2.8/300 Canon or Nikon lens. So what are the advantages of brand name instruments? In the frame centre – not much: the difference between the quality of the Sigma and Canon or Nikon shots is in fact negligible. Still the “primes” will be better on the edge of the frame, providing a more efficient stabilization and a better autofocus performance (mainly because of the limiter which makes the whole focusing mechanism much faster). Such differences can entice many professionals into buying a brand name instrument instead of the Sigma.
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You should add the Sigma is hardly a faultless device. In this class of equipment a weak performance against bright light is a bit jarring; also the edges of the frame after attaching to the converter could have been a bit better. However these slip-ups can be forgiven taking into account its price and versatility. Exactly such types of devices I would expect from independent producers because fighting for 1-2 lines of the frame height and competing for price with brand name lenses is perhaps not exactly the right strategy for the Sigma company. I would rather expect them offering lenses with a great price/quality ratio and the tested model is following such a business model perfectly well.
An optics test should be as objective and matter-of-fact as it is only possible. Still I cannot help adding something personal here; please, dear Readers, forgive me this moment of weakness but, after all, I am also a customer interested in this type of equipment. I have been yearning for a 2.8/300 device for ages. The price of that class lenses, produced by Canon and Nikon, went down some time ago, getting closer to my level of acceptance. Still the cut in prices was connected to the launch of their successors. The economic crisis combined with currency fluctuations made these successors almost two times more expensive than the older models so currently I can’t accept their price tag at all. That’s why I am so pleased that a device like the Sigma 120-300 mm f/2.8 APO EX DG OS HSM is available on the market. When push comes to shove this instrument certainly is among those I will seriously consider buying.