Are Sigma lenses good?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by jonathan_lewis, Feb 28, 2005.

  1. My ex-girlfriend's dad used them and he seemed to like them, but
    maybe they perform better on a better setup. I know he had better
    gear than I do.
  2. That's like asking if Fords are good. Some are. Some aren't.

    Some Sigma lenses are excellent, and priced fairly well for what they are. Some are horrible but don't cost much. Most of the ones in the middle are okay, and are a good value for the low cost, but some of their mid range lenses are still poor. Their EX series are generally decent performers.

    Which Sigma lenses are you considering? And what camera will you be using them on?
  3. Not really.

    If that didn't answer your question, read on...
    The best way to look silly is to get a Nikon F100 and stick a third party lens (Sigma, Tamron...)on it. Better to get the cheaper body and spend the real money on a good lens.

    When you say perform do you mean optical performance? They will be the same regardless of camera you use. If you mean focusing speed, the camera body might make a difference.
    People get third party lenses like Sigma because they can't afford the name brand version of the lens. Also third party lenses don't hold their value nearly as well as the name brand versions. If you ever want to sell it, you will get nothing for your Sigma.
    Don't promote the false economy of third party lenses.
  4. The general attitude here seems to be that they are okay, but not as good as the camera manufacturer's lenses, and not as durably made. But you'll find lots of conflicting information.

    I remember when Sigma came out with the first 14mm lens, reading all the rave reviews about how wonderful it was. Of course, now, you can go read how it's so crappy compared to the Canon 14mm lens.

    The durability seems to be an issue mainly with people that use their cameras all the time (unlike myself). You would assume that their professional-type lenses (IE, expensive ones) are made with correspondingly high mechanical quality.

    Anyway, I've got a 24mm f/2.8 lens that I really like. The depth-of-field scale is about gone on it, though, just silk-screened on the barrel.

    Summary: It's a heck of a lot better to have a Sigma lens than not having a lens, which is often the other alternative.

    Pretty much the same could be said for Tokina and Tamron, by the way.
  5. Here is a repost of my answer from a similar question on Nikonians (with some editing for context):
    "I found the Sigma 70-200 HSM to be just as solid as my 80-200. I have found all of my Sigma EX HSMs (180 f3.5macro, 100-300 f4, 50-500HSM, and 105EX) to be that way. That's just my experience. Sigmas must have really been junk at one time before I started using them because the idea that they are inferior is still going strong, and I have found (through personal experience) the the opposite to be quite true. I still see plenty of comments about inferiority of these lenses, and the only thing I am aware of is that some early release HSMs had compatability issues with certain bodies. I don't even think that is happening much anymore. I have been shooting pro Nikkors alongside Sigma HSMs for three years and have found them to be every bit as good. No field failures, no optical deficiences, no focusing issues. I may be lucky, but I think not. I'm sure there are lemons out there, but they exist for all brands. They may more slightly more prevalent in third party lenses, but I think the gap is smaller than some think. Please don't misunderstand me, I love my Nikkor lenses, but I just think it is a shame that there are some superb lenses out there that folks are missing out on because of a reputation that won't seem to die (often perpetuted by those with no hands-on experience). That is a lesson all businesses can learn from. Once you get branded, it is hard to shake the stink no matter how good your product is. Anyway, that's probably more of an answer than you asked for but I hope it helps."
  6. Your ex-girlfriend's dad probably likes them because they do a good job. Like the first poster said, investigate the exact model(s) you're interested in, not the entire brand. I have a Tokina 100-300 f/4 that I wouldn't even consider selling. Many professional sports photographers (go to love Sigma's 120-300 f/2.8, which is a fantastic performer for less than a 300 f/2.8 prime. Each of these brands has good examples and bad examples, just like Nikon, Canon, and company.
  7. The lens I was thinking of is the 'Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 Macro Super Tele-Zoom Lens'. I am operating on a Canon Rebel 2k. I am mostly a newb, so this isn't for professional use or anything; Just recreational photography. And while I am here...Know where I can get like...diced foam? I have a nice aluminum case, but I want good foam to cut out for it rather than the eggshell inside. Closest I can find is replacement foam for Pelican cases.
  8. I have a manual focus, 24/2.8 in the C/Y mount. I really like it. I think it is the exception rather than the rule - which is why I bought it.
  9. Many people actually prefer this Sigma lens to its Nikon counterpart. It has a good reputation as the 70-300 variable aperture lenses go. Plus, it goes down to 1:2 (half life-size) magnification, which the Nikon does not. It's cheap as SLR lenses go, so buy it and have a blast.
  10. I have several Sigmas; the old manual focus 14mm, a slow 28-70 some 20-300APO macro and maybe a 28-85. I wouldn't call them "good". The 28-70 has a loose focusing mechanism which makes it slower than a cheap consumer Pentax lens. The 70-300 isn't sharp enough in my opinion; I prefer primes a lot on my DSLR. The 14mm works. It isn't impressive but extreme WAs are a challenge, so it's acceptable. I don't call Sigma "bad" their primes are competitive according to test I read from time to time and it doesn't seem fair to me to compare a zoom which I got damn cheap used on ebay with good pentax primes. Even the crappy SMC-A 135 f2.8 which has the reputation of being a bit soft is obviously sharper than the Sigma, even with extension tubes.

    Consumer zooms do their job somehow for a moderate time. When they are worn out better ones will be available. If you like quality go for primes, but zooms take better pictures than any gear that you left at home. My critique is based on pixelpeeping. I suppose even Sigmas produce acceptable 5x7" prints.

    Recreational photography can mean anything; even carrying a 8x10" with premium lenses...

    About foam: I filled my suitcases with foam I had cut to outer shape at some Mattress-shop and cut out the shapes of my gear with some electric kitchen knive. Maybe this way is cheaper.
  11. "Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 Macro Super Tele-Zoom Lens"
    <P>This particular model is not very good.
    <BR>Or more precisely,it is sort of OK at best.I've seen many really bad reports on that model and got a bad one myself-maybe it has quality control problems?
    <P>The model you SHOULD buy is the APO version of that lens-it is universally praised as a very decent telezoom lens
    <BR>It and the canon 100-300 usm are the best of the consumer zooms available for canon EOS.The sigma has very good macro performance (1:2 ratio) while the canon has seriously good focus speed
  12. Optically, your best bet is 70-200/4 USM L + Canon 1.4X TC. Your second best bet is the 100-300/5.6 L.
    See, ,, and
    If your budget is very tight than the Sigma 70-300 APO II is optically the best of all x-300 cheap zooms. 70-300 canon&item_no=1
    Happy shooting ,
  13. Jonathan,
    As I read the posts here I can't help thinking that there is some....ahem.....snob appeal as to one brand lens over another, namely the "big 2". I personally use Sigma lenses and can say that for what I do photographically, they are great. Especially the EX series. Just ask any advanced or pro shooter who owns some of the "L" lenses, and your answer will be greatly swayed in the direction of, "Sigma lenses suck" yada yada. Being a newb, as you say, just look into the better Sigma's, such as the EX's and you will be fine.
  14. This is more like asking if "Yugo's" are good cars.Both Yugo's and Sigma's are poorly made crap IMHO.

    I bought a Sigma 18mm f3.5 in Nikon AI mount in 1998.Within 8 months it clouded up inside.Two trips to SIGMA,and $120 later it now sits in my bottom file drawer(purgatory for lost camera souls).I wouldnt buy anything from them again.

    I should point out that this lens was stored with a dozen NIKKORS,when it clouded up.The NIKKORs all still work fine.
  15. See what I mean, Jonathan? Steve, my new Sigma 70-200 EX is far from a piece of crap. Sorry to hear about your "old" Sigma. My advice is to never buy a Sigma again, but in the meantime, don't condemn what you don't own.
  16. Pretty much everything that Jonathan Buffaloe said was incorrect.

    Just try buying a Sigma lens on eBay for "nothing."
  17. One thing to keep in mind is the uncanny need for Sigma lenses to be "rechipped" in order to stay compatible with Canon bodies.
  18. That is quite true, Daniel, for the older Sigma's. However the new EX lenses are quite compatible with EOS. I have a DRebel and the EX works fine.
  19. While most of my lenses are Nikkors, I have had a couple of Sigma lenses that were optically fine: 70-210 f/3.5-f/4.5 APO, and the 400 f/5.6 APO. While I had heard that the 400 had tripod mount problems in that it could become disconnected at inopportune moments, it never happened to me. On the other hand, the 70-210 optics did come out of its mount when I was riding in the hills above Sedona. This required sending it back for repair to the tune of about $90. The slides and prints obtained with these lenses are quite sharp even wide open. Incidently, I project the slies onto an 84X84 matte screen with a Leica Pradolux and Colorplan lens where you can see every detail. I still use the 70-210 today, but gave the 400 to my son when I acquired my 500mm.
  20. I have had quite a few Sigmas - I used to have 24-50 and 24-70 cheapies - both fell apart. I also had 18mm f3.5 and 75-300 UC APO - neither usable on my current camera, but both reasonable optically, but which have lasted very well.
    Then I have the EX 70-200 f2.8 HSM, 12-24 and 18-50 f2.8, all of which are pretty well made and optically very satisfactory - only a snob would reject them.
  21. At the time I bought my "crappy" 18mm Sigma,it set me back $350 at B&H.The Nikkor 18mm was almost $200 more,but the Sigma looked great,so I bought it.As I said within 6-8 months it needed to go back to Sigma twice.They charged me twice too!They claimed they fixed it too.I have Nikkor lenses that were made in the early 1960's,that I had AI'd.These still work fine after 40 years.If you think that 6 months is a reasonable life span for a professional lens,then buy a Sigma.
  22. I once had a fortune cookie that read...

    You may never know if the Sigma is as good as a Canon, but will you know for sure the Canon is as good as the Canon.
  23. Just thought I'd throw my two cents in...

    I've never totally understood the attitude summed up by Jonathan earlier on this thread with "The best way to look silly is to get a Nikon F100 and stick a third party lens (Sigma, Tamron...) on it." Just because a lens isn't made by the camera manufacturer does not mean it cannot be a good lens - and just because a lens is made by the camera manufacturer doesn't necessarely mean it is a good lens. Every line has good performers and they all have dogs.

    I just picked up a Tamron lens, for instance - their AF28-75mm F/2.8 XR Di lens. I find this is an excellent lens, though my experience with it is brief, and compared to similar lenses by Nikon and Canon, it holds its own well against them and at a lower price.

    The trick in getting a good lens isn't in buying by brand. It is in doing your research, then testing before you commit to shelling out the bucks (even if it means taking advantage of a store's return policy). BTW - check out Bob Atkin's review on this lens - it is still on the front page I believe. I don't mean ignore brand, but don't simply rule out a lens because of it. Actually see how the lens performs for you before you simply say it's bad because it isn't a "Nikon/Canon/Etc..."
  24. I don't mean to sound biased if I do, ya know. But I really didn't know about all the different brands of lenses. I had only really seen the Canon, Sigma and a few Pentax my ex's dad had. I was looking at Tamrons online, but I saw mostly for Digital and wasn't sure if they'd work on my 35mm.
  25. Jonathan - the comment I was referring to was actually Jonathan Buffaloe's. :)

    Tamron's Di lens line will work for full-frame and should be fine on your film cameras - these are lenses "featuring optical systems designed to meet the performance characteristics of digital SLR cameras" - whatever that means. :-D

    But at least on the lens I got, it works well. I cannot speak for all of Tamron's Di lenses, of course.

    They also have a few lenses designated Di-II - these lenses are made for the APS-sized sensor on most digital SLR's and do not work on full-frame digital or film cameras, so if that's important to you, you may want to steer clear of them.
  26. This is more like asking if "Yugo's" are good cars.Both Yugo's and Sigma's are poorly made crap IMHO.
    This opinion is neither humble nor terribly well informed, and therefore is not especially helpful to Jonathan Lewis. Neither is the opinion of Mr. Buffalloe. Sweeping judgements like that fly in the face of the fact that there are a lot of working professional photographers who are happily using third-party lenses, especially Sigma (because of the HSM and, now, OS).
  27. Just thinking that very same thing; well said Chris.
  28. "Jonathan, As I read the posts here I can't help thinking that there is some....ahem.....snob appeal as to one brand lens over another"

    Never was a truer word spoken. I've used several Sigma lenses over the years and currently have a 17~35 EX zoom. It gets the job done as well as anything else.
  29. Harvey,
    I just love my new 70-200 f2.8 EX APO. I am using it on a Drebel and I love the fast AF as well as the great optics. Like I said in a previous post, some of the older Sigma's have been known to have compatibility problems. I have a 70-210 in OM mount which is a crappy lens optically, especially at the long end, so my son is using it now, just to get into learning about 35mm. I think that Steve had a real problem with one of his Sigmas, not to be critical of the problem with the lens, but like you mentioned, there are many happy Sigma shooters out there. I suppose even Canon has made some lemons from time to time. Anyhow, I think that using any 3rd-party lens may be a crap-shoot, more so than the high end products, but if it allows folks to get into the enjoyment of this wonderful craft, so maybe that's a good thing. Agreed?
  30. As many others have said - it depends on the lens. Generally, it seems that the more you spend the better off you are.

    I have read that Sigma's problems with Cannon are actually generated from the Canon end. I believe that when SIgma reverse engineers the lens mount, it relies on various electronic impulses and such that Cannon keeps changing to make life harder on the 3rd party manufacturers. When Cannon takes this step Sigma respnds by (generally) offering a free re-chipping to get the lens to work again.
  31. You would be better off with the Tamron 70-300. I used to own the Sigma and couldn't stant it! I got so frustrated with it's constant seeking I though it off a mountain. No kidding! Right now there is a Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 Macro Super in the woods at Steven's Pass, Washington. The Nikon 70-300 ED is very good but it has no macro ability. The Nikkor 70-300 G is all plastic and only made for weekenders. I own the Tamron and love it.
  32. I had my one and only (EVER!) Sigma come apart inside. The elements were held in place
    by double-sided sticky tape. I hear they're better now, but there's no way I will ever find
    out, especially being an EOS user. If I used another SLR system I might try out their 30 f/
    1.4 HSM which looks enticing, but too many Sigmas have had to be 're-chipped' and Sigma
    refuses to re-chip a good many of their lenses.

    I don't want to buy a new camera some day and have it reject one of my lenses.
  33. I might add that I would buy a Tokina ATX Pro lens in a second. They are absolutely solid,
    and can't be compared to the majority of other 3rd party lenses available today. Even
    Canon L lenses feel kind of cheap next to the Tokina 17mm f/3.5!
  34. I have nothing against 3rd party lenses myself since I use a Tamron quite often. If you want to get such a lense all I can say is that Tamron has never had the compatability problems Sigma has, so I don't know how you would rationalize the theory that the problem is on Canon's end as one poster said above. As Bruce mentioned, supposedly Sigma has the problem fixed but ya never know. Personally I won't be buying any Sigma lenses for a few years until I can be absolutely sure. Even if a "rechip" is free of charge, I'd rather not be bothered with the hassle.
  35. Andrew Robertson, you say you would never buy another Sigma lens partly because of future incompatiblity issues, but you would buy another Tokina lens. However, remember that Tokina has also had their share of incompatibility problems with Canon cameras. This isn't a Sigma only issue, nor is it a Canon camera only issue. There is no guaranty that the latest Tokina ATX Pro will work on the next Canon DSLR, or the next Nikon, Pentax, or Minolta either.

    As someone else pointed out, Sigma has made some real crap in the past, and is still trying to live that down. It's hard to rebuild a reputation, and it will be years before many of us will trust them again. However, I don't find the present Sigma lenses much different than lenses from other maufacturers. Some are still crap, and some are a good buy, and some are very good. (The Sigam 70-300 DL is certainly not one of the better lenses.) And whether any of them will work with future camera bodies will only be known in the future.

    The best insurance for future compatibility is to buy Canon lenses for Canon cameras, but even that is not a sure thing. Canon (and everyone else) have changed their lens mount before, and someday they may do it again.
  36. I have only one Sigma lens, a 28mm f/2.8 MF Nikon mouth with more than 20 years and I think it's great. It's very solid and sharp.
  37. Some are. I have a Sigma 18mm Sigma-XQ in Pentax screw mount that is an outstanding optic. It dates from the late 70's. Pentax never made an 18mm lens in screwmount (well they made a terrible 18mm FISHEYE). I couldn't aford (or find) the Pentax 15mm lens. The Sigma works well. I paid $50 for a Nikon hood for it.

    I've carried it all over the world and it is still working fine.
  38. Jim, once bitten, twice shy. I haven't actually heard of reliability or compatibility problems
    regarding the Tokina 17mm lens. The all brass / duraluminum construction and armalite
    coating also appeal to me as a gun lover. Canon really has nothing that can compete with
    that weapon.

    I know Sigma is working hard on its reputation, but they don't support rechips on lenses
    that were discontinued at all. That bodes ill for the future, as they consider adding a red
    line to a lens an upgrade. What would convince me that they really want to keep
    customers happy is if they would spend the small amount of scratch on new chips for
    discontinued lenses. I used to work on black boxes and other avionics in the aerospace
    industry, and I know that your average EEPROM costs about a quarter. It can't be cost that
    is holding them back. What's holding Sigma back on free rechips for older lenses is their
    desire that you would replace your suddenly worthless paperweight with the newer DI XD
    RI EX Vtec model (which is secretly exactly the same).
  39. I agree with everything you said. The Tokina 17mm seems to be a very fine lens, and I have a Tokina 12-24 on order. I thought about buying the Sigma 18-50 f/2.8, as everyone seems to be raving about how good it is, and there is really no competition to it, but I'm one of those "twice shy" ones myself.
  40. I have been using Sigma Lenses for about 11 years now. I bought a 28-70/2.8, 70-210/2.8, 400 AF 5.6 and a 21-35mm zoom lens (all AF). I have nikon bodies. I find the image quality to be excellant. I challege anyone to pick out a picture taken with a Nikon lens against a Sigma lens. This is not really the point though. Bottom line is "you get what you pay for". I use my lenses a lot and have taken them all over the world and subjected them to some punishment.I look after them well. I have had my share of problems with them because they do not have the build quality of Nikon lenses. I never expected them to stand up like a Nikon lens and neither should you. I am happy with them because they are about half the price and they have done the job for me. Unless I win the lottery I will continue to buy Sigma lenses.
    PS. The EX versions of these lenses are supposed to be much better quality these days. The prices have gone up a bit for this series.
  41. I have the particular lens that you are asking about. Aside from the speed (or lack of it) it's a fine lens--BUT, I find that for most of my work Weddings,runway,concerts and portraits the Canon AF 18-55 is my favorite when I factor in magnification. I actually end up with a 27 - 77MM lens which works well at most of my focal distances.
    The Sigma zoom is only good for stuff REALLY, REALLY far away and for the times you would want to use that- as in shooting sports-or in my case animals in the wild- you may find it's a little slower than what you needed. Hope this helped....

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