Sigma may not be as household a name as Canon or Nikon, but to photography enthusiasts they are a name to be trusted. They have produced good standard equipment – compact cameras, lenses, flashguns and other accessories – even trying their hand at an SLR at times. But a couple of years ago they really tried to go ‘head to head’ with the ‘marque’ lenses when they introduced their ‘EX’ Range. This lens under review was one of the first in the range. The idea was to improve the build quality and finish of the lens as well as use tip top glass for the optical elements. For those of you maybe not quite so ‘au fait’ with photography, this lens is what is termed as a ‘standard zoom’. It takes the place of a wide angle lens for group shots, encompasses the old ‘standard’ of 50mm (basically the view given is what they eye actually sees) and at the top end gives you a medium length telephoto lens of 70mm – useful for portraiture. Basically, Sigma have tried to produce a range of leses built to a high standard – good enough to match those made by Canon and Nikon – the names that Professionals go to. Thereby providing an alternative for a cost conscious semi-pro or an amateur looking for the best quality at a reasonable price. To further illustrate this, the Canon 28-70 f2.8 lens will set you back around £1000 – but it will last and last and last, producing high quality images each time. The Sigma costs around £550, possibly cheaper if you look around. Certainly far from being inexpensive when you consider more ‘hobbiest’ lenses of this focal length will be less than £100. But does it match up? It’s a good quality lens, don’t get me wrong, but having had it in my bag for 18 months, I interchange this with my Canon lens, sometimes needing two cameras with a similar lens on each (when shooting colour
print AND Slide film for a job). Despite it’s ‘fast’ aperture i.e f2.8 is ranked as ‘fast’, because it lets more light onto the film, allowing the photographer to use it in darker situations or at higher shutter speeds. Focusing should be quicker too as the extra light transmission speeds up the autofocus. I find that this lens tends to ‘hunt’ for the subject far more than it’s Canon equivalent. In an outdoor situation in good light, it’s not problem and the sharpness of the results are excellent – but I suppose when you are buying a lens at half the price of another, one or two downsides are acceptable. Overall, for the price, it is good value and the build quality is superb, so it should last even the more robust of users for ages. The ultimate still is the Canon (or if you are a Nikon user, their f2.8 – but I understand from a friend there is little to choose between the two on a Nikon camera). This is not recommended for a beginner, because I don’t honestly think that you need to invest in the best when you are still learning the ropes. You just don’t see the benefits and frankly, you do not need it. It is a pro or semi-pro tool at a good price.