Lens review

Sigma S 70-200 mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM

30 April 2019
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality and image stabilization

The following chart presents a comparison between the new Sigma and other full frame, stabilized 70-200 mm f/2.8 lenses. It's obvious the Sigma is optically the most complex of all; it comes with the biggest filter thread, it is the heaviest and physically the largest. It lags behind many of its rivals when it comes to the minimum focusing distance but it offers more aperture blades.

 In the photo below the Sigma S 70–200 mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM is positioned between the Sigma A 35 mm f/1.4 DG HSM and the Canon EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM.

Sigma S 70-200 mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM - Build quality and image stabilization

The tested lens starts with a metal mount which surrounds contacts and a well-matted and ribbed tube. Inside the tube you see a rear element, about 33 mm in diameter. The element is hidden about 2 cm deep inside and it doesn't move so the lens seems to be properly sealed and blackened from this side.

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Sigma S 70-200 mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM - Build quality and image stabilization

The proper body of the lens is well sealed, made of magnesium composites and it starts with a smooth ring with an increasing diameter. On that ring you see a white dot, making an alignment with a camera easier, numbers 018, marking the year of production, along with information that the lens was made in Japan.

The next part is a very solid tripod adapter which can be turned. Unfortunately you can't dismantle it completely and it's a pity. Sometimes you walk around with such a lens quite a lot without any tripod or monopod and if you could take the tripod adapter off it would significantly reduce the weight of the instrument and make it more handy.

Sigma S 70-200 mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM - Build quality and image stabilization

Moving onwards along the tube you notice an inscription with the name and parameters of the lens. Above the inscription there is a distance scale behind a window, expressed in feet and meters. On its right side you see the serial number of the instrument; on the left there is a whole series of different switches. The first of them, FOCUS, controls the focusing mechanism modes and there are three positions available: AF, MO and MF. Apart from standard positions (the ring works even if you set the lens in the AF mode) you also get the MO option (Manual Override) which enables you to move the ring and manually focus all the time. The next switch is a focus limiter with two ranges: FULL and from 3 meters to infinity. Then you see an OS switch, responsible for optical stabilization unit (1, 2, and OFF modes) and finally a CUSTOM switch which has three positions, OFF, C1 and C2. It enables you to save settings of various parameters and modes after calibrating the lens with the help of the Sigma USB Dock.

Sigma S 70-200 mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM - Build quality and image stabilization

Further on you find a manual focus ring as wide as 28 mm. It is ribbed to ensure a firmer grip, and moves smoothly, with great precision. Running through the whole distance scale takes a turn through an angle of about 140 degrees.

Then you see an immobile part of the casing with the „S” letter which means the lens belongs to the „Sport” series and three buttons which enable you to access focus preset – you can configure a specific focus point and each time you push any of these buttons the lens will automatically focus at that preset distance.

Sigma S 70-200 mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM - Build quality and image stabilization

The next part is a zoom ring, as wide as 53 mm, most of its surface covered by comfortable, rubber ribbing with focal length markings at 70, 100, 135 and 200 mm situated below. Then you see an immobile, metal part of the barrel which turns smoothly into a hood mount.

The front element is almost 72 mm in diameter, it doesn't move and is surrounded by a non-rotating filter thread, 82 mm in diameter.

Sigma S 70-200 mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM - Build quality and image stabilization

When it comes to optical construction you deal here with a very impressive number of 24 elements positioned in 22 groups. Among them there are as many as nine FLD glass elements with properties similar to fluorite. Additionally one element is made of more classic SLD glass. Inside there is also an aperture with 11 diaphragm blades which can be closed down to a value of f/22 at the maximum. The front element is fluorine coated to repel grease and water.

Buyers get both caps, a hood, a tripod adapter and a hard case with the lens in the box.

Sigma S 70-200 mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM - Build quality and image stabilization

Optical stabilization

The producers declare that their stabilization unit is as effective as 4 stops of shutter speed. In order to check that claim we set the lens at 200 mm and took several dozen photos with exposure times ranging from 1/200 to 1/3 of a second and the stabilization switched on and off. For every set of photos we determined a percentage of out-of-focus shots; then we presented it in a form of a graph of exposure time which was expressed in EV (with 0 EV being an equivalent of 1/160 of a second).

Sigma S 70-200 mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM - Build quality and image stabilization

As you see the maximum distance between both curves reaches 3.3 EV and so we assess the stabilization efficiency of the tessted lens. It is a good result but far from sensational and also a bit below the official declarations. It's worth adding that the optical stabilization efficiency of the predecessor of this lens amounted to about 3 EV so you can talk about slight improvement in this category.