Sigma USB Dock quick review

Sigma USB Dock | £40 / $59 / €60

Sigma's USB dock is a unique accessory, that was announced as part of Sigma's 'Global Vision' strategy at Photokina 2012. It's a pretty simple concept - it allows you to plug a lens into a computer and update its firmware or tweak its operational settings using Sigma's 'Optimization Pro' software. It would be easy to think that because nobody else offers such a thing, it must be superfluous. But look a little closer and it's actually an interesting piece of kit. In this review we'll look into how it works, and what it can do. 

Design and operation

The USB dock is inherently a very simple device. It has a mount for the lens on one side, an LED status indicator on the other, and a USB port for connection to a computer. That's all there is to it.

On one side of the dock is a mount for the lens. Our review sample was for Canon-fit lenses; Nikon F and Sigma SA versions are also available. This is the other side of the dock. The central LED indicator lights up green when the lens is plugged in and connected to Optimization Pro.
The dock connects to a computer via this Micro USB port, using the supplied cable Simply place the dock on the lens, and plug in. It's clearly designed to be used this way up, especially with the huge 120-300mm lens.

Lens compatibility

The USB dock only works with Sigma's most recent 'Global Vision' SLR lenses, i.e. those announced either at the same time as the dock or later; it's not compatible with older models or 'DN' lenses for mirrorless cameras. At the time of writing, the compatible lenses are:

This list isn't especially long, but it's certainly distinguished - it includes the Gold Award-winning 35mm F1.4, and the 17-70mm F2.8-4 which we gave a Silver Award. Then there's the 18-35mm F1.8 - the fastest SLR zoom on the planet, and surely the most interesting lens of the year so far.

As for lens mounts, the dock is already available in Canon EF and Sigma SA mount, with the Nikon F mount version due to start shipping towards the end of August 2013.

Comments

Total comments: 137
Rbrt
By Rbrt (6 months ago)

So... USB 2.0? 3.0? You would think a USB dock review would mention this.

0 upvotes
Henderson May
By Henderson May (4 months ago)

I think it doesn't matter in this case..you wont need such bandwidth

3 upvotes
1singur
By 1singur (6 months ago)

For a moment there I thought this was a module to take pictures via usb, and it would've been such a great concept: have a "dock" that houses the sensor, mount a lens on it, and control everything from the provided software!
Then I read the article introduction...

0 upvotes
Biowizard
By Biowizard (6 months ago)

Yeh, you can buy that too - it's called a DSLR! 8-)

Brian

4 upvotes
AdamT
By AdamT (7 months ago)

No of course not . for one, Sigma wouldn`t have the software to re-program their lenses even if they could be via a standard computer, secondly why would Sigma want people to optimize Tamron or Nikon lenses ?

0 upvotes
MrIchiro
By MrIchiro (7 months ago)

does this work with Tamron and Nikkor lenses?

0 upvotes
uomorospo
By uomorospo (2 months ago)

no

0 upvotes
Steve oliphant
By Steve oliphant (7 months ago)

Just so you know it will work on Mac theres no mention on this report ,..sloppy

1 upvote
BobORama
By BobORama (7 months ago)

All they need to do is put a sensor in it ( and a KAF mount on the front ) and you have a product I'd buy. I would love for someone to create an easily integrated imaging system - free of legacy SLR design constraints - that you could use for projects, research, machine vision. Either that or a standard, robust way to expose the control surface of the tyoical camera via USB or WiFi in a way that makes it easy to integrate with mobile devices, or whatever. None of this is hard to do. But Japan seems stuck in the 1970's regarding what a camera is, and what we are supposed to be doing with it.

1 upvote
uomorospo
By uomorospo (2 months ago)

i guess putting a sensor inside would shift the price way higher...

0 upvotes
Lucas_
By Lucas_ (8 months ago)

I hope Sigma quickly adds more compatible lenses to this awesome system! Being able to adjust AF at different focal lengths on a zoom lens is great, since current in-camera micro AF adjust systems usually let you adjust one point.

Comment edited 37 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Cartagena Photo
By Cartagena Photo (7 months ago)

And we wan't it for SONY a and e mount.

Comment edited 17 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Samlivas
By Samlivas (3 months ago)

If u know how AF works - u have to know- in all focal length u don't need to do any adjustments if on yours camera fine adjustment has been done.... LOL

Comment edited 24 seconds after posting
1 upvote
TerryW
By TerryW (8 months ago)

Alas, doesn't support the 35mm f/1.4 and my Pentax K-5 IIs. This lens needed a +6 AF adjustment....but so did every other lens on this new body. Coincidentally, my previous K20D needed about +8-10 for all lenses (mix of Pentax, Tamron and Sigma)......which leads me to believe that AF adjustment follows the camera body, not the lens.

And btw, the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 is an absolutely awesome lens....hasn't left the camera since I got it.

2 upvotes
Higuel
By Higuel (8 months ago)

When i bought my 10D, 3of my sigma lenses didn't work, in my country they wanted to charge a bit for that service, it would take several months to get the parts(and they never actually got them!), and even told me for one of the lens they would never do! Those 3lenses become paperweights!!! One of them was my favorite: the 300mm f4 APO MACRO!!! :L

This eventual possible solution from Sigma is only truly valid for future lenses you could buy, any lenses you already have, even from last year are still subjected from any stunt from canon again to turn them to paperweights!!

2 upvotes
ThorstenMUC
By ThorstenMUC (8 months ago)

Like the idea of the dock... especially since Sigma sometimes had minor issues with focus accuracy compared to the manufacturer's own lenses.

What I really struggle about is hearing, that until now you can't update lens firmware with most DSLRs?

I'm using Olympus E system since I started with DSLRs and really though this would be a common feature... I'll really miss that innovative Olympus DSLRs :-(

0 upvotes
maksa
By maksa (8 months ago)

Since the software needs Internet connection to deal with lenses, it may be a good idea to include an anti-theft feature in future versions of the Optimization Pro.

3 upvotes
RKGoth
By RKGoth (8 months ago)

My very first thought when I worked on my own review material - it reads the serial number and connects to a server, Sigma could, and should, offer an additional service to registered lens owners where they can track their products online (Nikon does this), be informed of firmware updates, and potentially, mark a lens as stolen.

A number of things could then take place, from a "this lens is stolen" warning, to messing with firmware, using IP address to locate rough area the lens is in geographically...

0 upvotes
Der Steppenwolf
By Der Steppenwolf (8 months ago)

And after you have " locates rough area the lens is in geographically..." what would you do ? Check everybodys lens in that location ? Or have police do it ?
Totally worthless suggestion.

0 upvotes
Tonio Loewald
By Tonio Loewald (8 months ago)

You do realize that plenty of cellphones and laptops have been recovered using exactly the same mechanism. The 120-300 in particular is a very expensive lens.

2 upvotes
unknown member
By (unknown member) (8 months ago)

"Sigma has been doing lots of good things recently,"

If you mean that then where are the reviews for the Sigma DP1, 2 and 3 Merrill series cameras???

Why are readers also prevented from doing image comparisons with other cameras with the Sigma SD1 you tested outside of that particular review?

Comment edited 21 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
unlearny
By unlearny (8 months ago)

Blame Adobe. DP would have to explain the adjusted protocol in their boilerplate scene... sounds like too much work. that doesn't explain jpegs though.

0 upvotes
Hobbit13
By Hobbit13 (8 months ago)

I think he refers to the lenses, Sigma's cameras never made a single dent in the vast lake of models. A review of a Sigma camera is quite simple though: Image Quality: spectacular @ low ISO, sucks at high ISO, Handling: sucks in every aspect. (and I've owned the SD9 and SD14)

0 upvotes
SushiEater
By SushiEater (8 months ago)

Now if Sigma could offer electronics conversion for lenses made after 2010 so all lenses could be focus adjusted, I would never buy another OEM lens again. Oh wait, I am not buying any OEM lenses now since 2010.

1 upvote
jl_smith
By jl_smith (8 months ago)

Re: Track-side setup -- Erm, guys, that's why they make laptops. You get to the field early, you mark off your distances, you use the software to calibrate if need be, then you enjoy.

Granted, not as cool as it could be, and the software markings make it a bit harder, but not impossible.

Version 2.0 -- Have the integrated adjustment software inside the lens itself, then you just use your phone to dial in settings and save on the spot. Use a screwed-on weather-sealed cap to seal the lens's USB connection, which would be near the base of the lens, which would only be needed for lens firmware / calibration software updates

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Pritzl
By Pritzl (8 months ago)

Dear Andy, I doubt that the custom modes are supposed to be set track-side. I suspect the intended use is for the photographer to pre-program 2 custom settings that cover some unique situations he expects to face given previous knowledge of the subject matter. At the shoot, if they encounter any other situation they still have the option to switch back to "normal" operation.

I think it's simply brilliant. I just wish I could afford the 120-300.

1 upvote
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (8 months ago)

Maybe they're not meant to be set trackside. But in practical terms, wouldn't it be so much better if they could be?

When you're sitting at home thinking about a specific event or scenario, it's unlikely to be all that easy to set optimal limits, especially with the ill-defined distance scale Sigma shows you. In practice what you really want to be able to do is tell the lens 'focus anywhere between this bit of the pitch/track/course closest to me, and that bit furthest away' (with a bit of leeway, of course).

0 upvotes
Pritzl
By Pritzl (8 months ago)

It definitely would be better but I personally wouldn't downgrade the functionality based on how I think it might be better; everything can be better.
I also suspect the intended audience is expected to be familiar enough with their subject that an informed guess will be close enuogh.

0 upvotes
Revenant
By Revenant (8 months ago)

Funny how some people are saying that lenses should work out of the box, and that we shouldn't accept that manufacturers release sub-standard products using the consumers as beta-testers. You clearly have no idea why AF fine-tuning is sometimes necessary.

It's nothing wrong with the lens, because it may work properly with another camera body. Likewise, it's nothing wrong with the camera, because it may autofocus correctly with another lens. They're both made within manufacturing tolerances. It's the specific camera-lens combination that requires AF fine-tuning.

It's impossible to manufacture such complex devices as DSLRs and lenses, and get the micro-alignment of parts exactly the same in every copy. There's always slight variation from copy to copy, which means that every combination of lens and body may not work optimally.

4 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (8 months ago)

I guess they have some point. The now traditional MA is cumbersome enough. Now, MA at four distances and several FLs (for zooms) is something you should not have to do at home, it should be done in labs. We still have to hear about success stories.

0 upvotes
SushiEater
By SushiEater (8 months ago)

Slight variations? My Sigma 35mm F1.4 and all other Sigmas and Nikons were -5 on the D800e. After firmware upgrade on the camera all lenses went to Zero but Sigma 35mm F1.4 went off scale. Even at -20 it was still tremendously back focusing.
But with a dock It was easy to adjust it and I did not have to send it back. Even if I sent it back there is no guarantee that Sigma would have adjust it right unless I sent camera with it.

3 upvotes
qwertyasdf
By qwertyasdf (8 months ago)

SIGMA IS AWESOME period.

3 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (8 months ago)

This all raises the question of why I can't change OS type, AF speed focus limiting and focus micro-adjustment dynamically in-camera, where it would be far more useful.

Why don't Sigma offer these features in their own bodies (or maybe they do, and I've missed it?) Similarly for other brands - doesn't this rather cool little widget show up how bad the manufacturers of supposedly "pro" cameras are at giving us proper control over our gear?

2 upvotes
Der Steppenwolf
By Der Steppenwolf (8 months ago)

Those "other brands" DO NOT want to give you same functionality since that would result in you not having to send and pay for calibration of your lenses. It would be money out of their pockets and they don't like that.
So next time when you are about to buy something from those "other brands" keep that in mind. They are not your friends nor do they care about your pics or your hobby, they want your money.
Vote with your wallet.

Comment edited 34 seconds after posting
6 upvotes
jtmon
By jtmon (8 months ago)

Sigma is not your friend either and is most likely doing this to solve their own quality control issues in regards to focus issues widely reported in reviews. Oh and you as the consumer NOW get the added benefit that you can possibly screw up a FIRMWARE upgrade and render your lens completely useless. Win win for Sigma!

0 upvotes
MPA1
By MPA1 (7 months ago)

None of my Nikons have ever been back for recalibration. I used Focus Tune and they were all spot on after the modest adjustments required. As yet, neither have Nikon felt the need to change the firmware the lenses were shipped with. I wonder why...

0 upvotes
GodSpeaks
By GodSpeaks (8 months ago)

No different than the lens firmware updates Sony, Panasonic, Olympus etc do. In thier case, the lens is attached to the camera body for the firmware update.

Sigma is not in a position to do that, so they created their own cheap pseudo body lens cap to facilitate lens firmware updates.

Better than having to send the lens back to Sigma for a firmware update. N'est-ce pas?

4 upvotes
PrebenR
By PrebenR (8 months ago)

Neither Sony, Panasonic nor Olympus does focus adjustments for your camera through firmware releases? You completely missed the point of this dock.

4 upvotes
thxbb12
By thxbb12 (8 months ago)

@PrebenR: You're missing the point: CDAF systems don't need any focus adjustments. They work on the final image as seen by the sensor which means the focus is always accurate. Inaccuracy issues simply don't exist in mirrorless land.

Comment edited 17 seconds after posting
10 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (8 months ago)

The lens update component is no different to those offered by all mirrorless systems. But no other SLR lenses for film-era systems have user upgradeable firmware, and no SLR body offers all of the other customisatiom features provided via this dock.

3 upvotes
Michael Engelen
By Michael Engelen (8 months ago)

@thxbb12: you are right, but you are also wrong. At least Sony and Olympus have DSLRs which use the good old viewfinder/sensor-technique and therefore might need focus adjustments.

0 upvotes
Henrik Herranen
By Henrik Herranen (8 months ago)

Andy Westlake wrote: "But no other SLR lenses for film-era systems have user upgradeable firmware" [...]
This part of what you wrote is not quite correct. At least the Canon EF40mm f/2.8 STM firmware can be upgraded with Canon's newest EOS camera models.

Comment edited 32 seconds after posting
1 upvote
thxbb12
By thxbb12 (8 months ago)

It's a great device, very much needed in order to fix potential AF inaccuracy due to camera/lens miscalibration inherently present with the traditional outdated PDAF tech.

Instead of buying this device I'm glad to have switched to mirror-less: AF inaccuracies are a thing of the past :-) Long gone is my frustration with AF micro-adjustments, etc. I now enjoy photography a lot more, no more AF frustration!

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 44 seconds after posting
1 upvote
mavc
By mavc (8 months ago)

I'm also glad I've switched to mirrorless. Although the USB dock is clever it's already been superseded by cameras that use contrast based AF from the imaging sensor itself which don't have the problem of misaligned phase detect sensors in the first place. I used to think contrast AF was too slow. But then I tried the Lumix system. It's just as fast as my Canon DSLR was, and far more accurate.

1 upvote
Jonathan F/2
By Jonathan F/2 (8 months ago)

Outdated PDAF tech? That outdated tech still focus tracks moving subjects better than all the mirrorless cameras combined.

4 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (8 months ago)

All the mirrorless cameras combined... hmm, I might have to get myself £20,000 and some masking tape, and check that out.

2 upvotes
thxbb12
By thxbb12 (8 months ago)

I'm talking about AF accuracy. In this respect, yes, PDAF is majorly outdated.
Now as far as tracking ability is concern, the Nikon 1 system shows that mirrorless can achieve DSLR level tracking. Also remember, technology can only improve.. and it's improving very fast!

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
abortabort
By abortabort (8 months ago)

Yes, by having PDAF on sensor.

3 upvotes
kikiriki
By kikiriki (8 months ago)

And with small sensor size where AF accuracy is less relevant, so tracking is easy...

1 upvote
abortabort
By abortabort (8 months ago)

And AF micro adjust, completely unnecessary.

0 upvotes
Andy Crowe
By Andy Crowe (8 months ago)

> Yes, by having PDAF on sensor.

It's best of both worlds innit, PDAF to show the direction of focus and for less accurate constant focus, CDAF to confirm final focus on single shots.

2 upvotes
Jonathan F/2
By Jonathan F/2 (8 months ago)

I have a Nikon V1 and indeed they hybrid focusing is good...in good light. In low light it loses that advantage. There is still merit in mirrored cameras and I consider it far from outdated tech.

2 upvotes
Jonathan F/2
By Jonathan F/2 (8 months ago)

JWest...£20,000? Is that like $2? I have no clue what you're sputtering about!

1 upvote
JWest
By JWest (8 months ago)

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=20000+pounds+in+dollars

0 upvotes
keepreal
By keepreal (8 months ago)

This is another example of technology getting out of hand. As I went digital, I had to familiarise myself with all sorts of concepts only to subsequently dispose of most of them, like having twenty two subject modes, none of which are needed for serious photography where the camera operator still knows what he is doing and remains in control.

I am not saying that this Sigma device is unnecessary, just that it ought to be in the labs of manufacturers. If one is using high quality equipment where fine tuning to this degree makes sense, for the exorbitant amounts one has to pay, let them get it right before the user gets to buy anything or, if we are talking about an option like adjusting the autofocus seek range, let them build that into the camera to adjust, where it should be in the first place, so that one is not stuck with one setting per shooting session.

Everything now is becoming so unnecessarily complicated that soon you will need training just to suck eggs.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Goodmeme
By Goodmeme (8 months ago)

Actually, if you've bought Sigma lenses before only to find the focus isn't spot on with your camera, or - a few years later- your new camera does not work with the Sigma lenses for some reason known only to Canon or Nikon etc - then this device is very interesting.

It means you might buy Sigma lenses in relative confidence, knowing you can update the firmware or focus as required without shipping to Sigma.

And Sigma makes some excellent lenses.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
7 upvotes
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (8 months ago)

All this contraption does is solve a problem that shouldn't exist in the first place - and doesn't, when you buy OEM lenses

5 upvotes
PepsiCan
By PepsiCan (8 months ago)

Except of course the OEMs don't make the lenses we want...

6 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (8 months ago)

Twenty two subject modes? No-one forced you to use them. If you'd realised in the first place how pointless they were, you could have saved yourself a lot of trouble.

0 upvotes
Mike Fewster
By Mike Fewster (8 months ago)

OEM lenses on pdaf cameras have exactly the same problem. To really nail AF you need to calibrate them to the particular camera as well.
I'd have thought however it ought to be possible to improve this device by running the cable to the camera (with the lens attached) and calibrating actual shots on a test chart. It would save a lot of messing around.

7 upvotes
Der Steppenwolf
By Der Steppenwolf (8 months ago)

@Mikhail
Are you sure about that ? I had 3 Nikkors that needed calibration to work with my D7000.
Just because something never happened to you DOES NOT mean that is not happening at all.
It's rather sad to see how single minded some are.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
5 upvotes
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (8 months ago)

@Mike but you don't need a separate adapter to do that with OEM lenses.

0 upvotes
woof woof
By woof woof (8 months ago)

"All this contraption does is solve a problem that shouldn't exist in the first place - and doesn't, when you buy OEM lenses"

You are kidding aren't you. If you're right no OEM lens will ever need micro adjust on any OEM body.

Good luck with that.

0 upvotes
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (8 months ago)

Why is Andy Westlake reviewing some obscure gadget that is going to interest a tiny group of people, instead of one of the overdue mirrorless camera reviews like GF6, G6, NEX-5R, NEX-3N, E-PL5, etc? Obviously this is somewhat shorter than a camera review but it seems very strange to prioritize a niche product over a camera with much broader appeal, especially on DPR.

Comment edited 59 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Peter62
By Peter62 (8 months ago)

Mikhail is right!

Especially the new NEX-3N is so extremely good given the street price (€ 299,- with 16-50 zoom here in Germany), so it's very strange that one cannot find anything about it on this #1 photography website. The qualitiy of the images is even slightly better than those from an EOS 7D - just look at the High ISO Comparison section on imaging resource comparometer!

But on the other hand, this SIGMA USB dock is a very interesting gadget, too! Because now you can adjust front- or backfocus on SIGMA lenses, which seems to be a problem with these otherwise good and relatively cheap lenses.

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 13 minutes after posting
1 upvote
abortabort
By abortabort (8 months ago)

Because every single one of those cameras you have mentioned are minor, evolutionary 'upgrades' of existing models.

Want a NEX-3n review? Here you go: It's like a NEX-C3 and a NEX-F3 but with some minor cosmetic changes. Done! Next.

This dock on the other hand actually introduces and entirely new concept for camera equipment. It's review is FAR more interesting than any of the reviews you've mentioned.

7 upvotes
abortabort
By abortabort (8 months ago)

@ Peter62 - The biggest thing the 3N does over it's predecessors is come with the 'pancake' zoom, which has been covered by DPR and is cheaper by having a lesser screen and no accs port. Do you really need a 12 page review for this camera? It is the repackaging of existing cameras, nothing more.

0 upvotes
raincoat
By raincoat (8 months ago)

Really Peter62? So you know NEX-3N price you know it's really good, basically you know everything about it already, and you're gushing like a teenage girl over 1D, BUT, you need a review to tell you to buy it.

Meanwhile, real photographers want to hear about the USB dock. Because it's innovative.

3 upvotes
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (8 months ago)

Oh yeah it's such a unique and innovative product that it lets you do the same thing that you can already do with every other camera maker's lenses. The only reason this extra $59 device is even necessary is because Sigma makes 3rd party lenses.

"Real photographers" oh that's rich, you're going to arbitrarily decide what kind of gear one has to use to be a real photographer? Next time you want to troll go to the Sigma forum where two people will read your post.

1 upvote
Rad Encarnacion
By Rad Encarnacion (8 months ago)

Real Photographers are people who take photos.

Real "Photographers" (intentional quotation marks) are people who demand a free-access website to provide reviews of cameras these "photographers" have already predetermined should be "80%+, Gold Award" and are just looking for an excuse to say either "good, unbiased review" if the result matches their expectations, and "obviously biased to Canon/Nikon" if the result does not.

2 upvotes
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (8 months ago)

The fact that you are resorting to ad hominem attacks is pretty much the most ringing endorsement you could ever give of my position, since it proves you can't defeat it on logic. DPR is a website that provides digital photography content for public consumption, and you're really going to take issue with me offering them input into what content I'd like them to provide? Go somewhere else if you want to play fantasy moderator.

2 upvotes
keeponkeepingon
By keeponkeepingon (8 months ago)

" it lets you do the same thing that you can already do with every other camera maker's lenses."

This is untrue. I have a T2i and a buggy canon 40mm. Canon does not support flashing the lens's firmware with the T2i. Having a cheap dohicky by canon would mitigate the issue of canon dropping support for older hardware.

1 upvote
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (8 months ago)

As it happens, I fully understand your frustrations about some cameras not getting reviews. But here are a few points worth considering:

1) I currently review lenses, not cameras. Reviewing this device hasn't harmed a single camera review. 2) This review took just a couple of days to write. Camera reviews take several weeks. It's just not the same thing. 3) This accessory may not interest you. It would be foolish to assume, however, that this means it won't interest other readers. You are no more (or less) important than they are.

7 upvotes
abortabort
By abortabort (8 months ago)

Thanks for the reply Andy and @ Mikhail - Show me one camera that can do what this can and I will give you a peanut.

1 upvote
abortabort
By abortabort (8 months ago)

And a NEX-3n review

0 upvotes
domina
By domina (8 months ago)

Probably Andy writes this review because he is a free person and can do whatever he wants, he writes what he likes and he shares his work with us. If you want a review not written yet go write it yourself or wait until someone writes it and shares it.

0 upvotes
AllOtherNamesTaken
By AllOtherNamesTaken (8 months ago)

So, you still need to manually test every lens for front/back focus? I would have expected that much to be automated. I don't really see the point of this. Basically it just prevents you from having to send your lenses to Sigma for calibration, but instead you pay for it instead of have it done under warranty. It gives some other neat options but I'm not sure how popular this will be.

Every Nikon lens I've ever owned has required zero AF fine tune. I would expect the same if paying big money for one of the nice new Sigmas.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
KentG
By KentG (8 months ago)

Then obviously you don't have much experience, otherwise Nikon would not have put AF tuning in their cameras either. Every camera maker had the same problems when they went to 10 MP from 6 MP, every one of them. AF sensor technology was not up to par during that time. Plus there are reasons today when you might want to play with the front and back focus to change the amount of each for a particular shot.
As for the Sigma USB Dock of course you have to test it out. The camera is what decides the focus point not the lens. The Dock does not have a built in test sensor.

6 upvotes
abortabort
By abortabort (8 months ago)

And I want a unicorn... and a BIG pot of gold!

0 upvotes
raincoat
By raincoat (8 months ago)

Every lens requires AF fine tune. The fact you have no idea how to measure AF doesn't mean it doesn't need it. I've rejected plenty of Nikon gold ring lenses. Nikon's guarantee is that both ends of the zoom range require the same AF fine tune setting. Canon does less, you need to set different AF fine tune settings for both ends of the zoom! And we haven't even talked about subject distance yet.

It's not always the lens' fault, it can be the camera body tolerance too. Funny how amateurs think they know more than 100+ optical engineers who put together the AF fine tune feature and various calibration soft/hardware.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
AllOtherNamesTaken
By AllOtherNamesTaken (8 months ago)

You couldn't be more incorrect about me. I have done extensive fine tuning, using pretty well every method (Focal, dot tune, etc.) and "zero" always produces the best results with the equipment I have. Did I say it was unnecessary for everyone? No. Would I want it as a feature of my body if something happened to my camera in the field or on a job, and I lost my "zero" setting sharpness? Yes. Not sure why you've jumped to such wild conclusions. Every lens does not require fine tuning, or if it does, it does not require it to a degree that is adjustable small enough between 0 and 1 or -1. I'm sorry you've had some bad luck with your lenses.

My point with the Sigma is with in body AF tune, and their excellent warranties, it doesn't give much incentive to buy their device to fine tune. It will be good for some people, but I can't see it being wildly popular. That's all I meant.

1 upvote
Roger
By Roger (8 months ago)

Very nice but I have a F3, F2as with 15 lenses and they all work first time every time.
They even work on my D4 D800E

Have fun playing with your new lenses

Enjoy
roger J.

0 upvotes
InTheMist
By InTheMist (8 months ago)

Maybe qutlity from Nikon has gone down, but I have to focus fine-tune every single one of my Nikkors.

The feature from Sigma is highly appreciated.

0 upvotes
Catalana
By Catalana (8 months ago)

The Sigma 35mm F1.4 is a DG lens. The link text above describes it as a DC lens...

0 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (8 months ago)

Has this been tried on people ... I mean, lenses?

0 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (8 months ago)

Exceptional concept by Sigma and looks like first implementation is good.

1 upvote
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (8 months ago)

Cool new device.

Will it take off? Will it sell? Will it blend?

Shoulder pat to Sigma for innovation...

...but,

Sigma should step up their camera line up to attach to their lenses.

That way, the big guns will be shaking in their shoes

.

3 upvotes
JDThomas
By JDThomas (8 months ago)

Funny. People will complain when camera bodies don't have AF fine-tuning built-in AND they complain when a lens manufacturer offers a solution for all cameras.

23 upvotes
CliveRowland
By CliveRowland (8 months ago)

You wasted a lot of keystrokes...

"Funny. People will complain."

2 upvotes
riknash
By riknash (8 months ago)

U2

0 upvotes
AlpCns2
By AlpCns2 (8 months ago)

Brilliant idea, and well-implemented. Kudos to Sigma!

6 upvotes
UCSB
By UCSB (8 months ago)

This product is great and has me considering Sigma again. I would like to see Canon offer a similar product. Even if they charged a much higher amount for dock it would be cost effective for people that have a number of lenses. I have 16 EF lenses and I often have a lens that may need a factory calibration. Which involves paying for insured shipping (that alone is more than the Sigma adapter) plus the calibration costs. Lost time and having to reevaluate the lens once it is returned means more time lost. I would rather evaluate the lens and adjust it in one step ... putting it back into service.

6 upvotes
The Photo Ninja
By The Photo Ninja (8 months ago)

If I buy a lens, it better work without me having to buy a dock to fix it.

2 upvotes
snackwells
By snackwells (8 months ago)

Yeah good luck with that one. There are a lot of variances from copy to copy and the fact that Sigma provides a way to tweak the performance and parameters of the lens is a BIG PLUS.

17 upvotes
The Photo Ninja
By The Photo Ninja (8 months ago)

If the lens doesn't work right, return it. As consumers we need to stand up to corporations that pass on sub standard products ad use us as beta testers.

3 upvotes
UCSB
By UCSB (8 months ago)

HaHaHa ... the voice of inexperience.

10 upvotes
raincoat
By raincoat (8 months ago)

More like the voice of the street corner ________
What's the bet this guy has never even tested his lenses (properly) and that all of his gear is off by 5 or more but he doesn't notice?

1 upvote
mgrum
By mgrum (8 months ago)

The problem might just as well lie with the camera body. At least Sigma is offering the means to fix it, wherever the problem lies

3 upvotes
cordellwillis
By cordellwillis (8 months ago)

Some people just don't get it :( Some things in life need a little tweak here and there every now and then. Hence, the dock.

Comment edited 17 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
riknash
By riknash (8 months ago)

Some people think that it doesn't exist if they don't/can't/won't see it.

0 upvotes
Denis Grenier
By Denis Grenier (8 months ago)

I have converted a Canon 50D for infrared light. I can't rely on the focusing system which is based on visible light. Infrared light does not focus exactly at the same place. Is there enough leeway in this micro adjustment by Sigma to fix this?

0 upvotes
PCorvo
By PCorvo (8 months ago)

My dream lens: 18-35 1.8... I want it so bad (:

1 upvote
Edgar2049
By Edgar2049 (8 months ago)

Does anybody know if will it fix the Sigma 18-250 issue on the Nikon D7100??

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (8 months ago)

See the list of supported lenses on page 1 of the review. The 18-250mm isn't included.

Comment edited 15 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
AksCT
By AksCT (8 months ago)

What problem(s) are you experiencing with Sigma 18-250?

0 upvotes
bcalkins
By bcalkins (8 months ago)

I don't think it is quite fair to say nobody else offers such a thing - Olympus allows updates of lens firmware by using the body attached to the 'dock'... Makes more sense than having to buy a separate dock.

1 upvote
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (8 months ago)

I honestly don't believe it's a stretch to suggest that Sigma's USB dock is a very different thing to an Olympus camera. (Or indeed any other camera belonging to a post-film era system, all of which can be used to update lens firmware.)

3 upvotes
bcalkins
By bcalkins (8 months ago)

Canon allows updating of lenses on said mount via the body... (https://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/support/consumer?pageKeyCode=prdAdvDetail&docId=0901e0248060f7c7)

0 upvotes
Walsh_uk
By Walsh_uk (8 months ago)

Sigma lens for life?

Change the mount end and flash the electronics, swap from Nikon, Canon, Sony etc ??

Now that would be great :)

1 upvote
abortabort
By abortabort (8 months ago)

They are already onto it.

0 upvotes
tech_head
By tech_head (8 months ago)

Actually Canon does not license it's lens protocol, don't know about the rest. If you buy a third party lens, there is a chance that with a firmware change that lens may not work.

I tossed (sold) a bunch of Sigma lenses when I got my 50D then 7D.
Sigma and the others actually need this. I've decided to buy only Canon glass for this reason.

No matter how much Tamron, Sigma, etc promise; they can be made obsolete with a firmware change.

0 upvotes
JKP
By JKP (8 months ago)

I think Sigma does such service without charge if needed. At least years back when I bought EOS 20D, Sigma service changed the internal parts of an old Sigma lens of mine to work with the camera for free.

2 upvotes
cordellwillis
By cordellwillis (8 months ago)

Really? I still have a 20D, 7D, 5D, and use my buddy's 5DIII with new and old Sigma and Canon lenses and ALL of them work fine.

I've read post over the years about this or that changing by the OEM but have never experienced any compatibilities problems. Even so I am aware that Sigma will re-chip a lens if needed.

To me that mutes the point in going all Canon if the lenses work as expected.

0 upvotes
Jon Ragnarsson
By Jon Ragnarsson (8 months ago)

Canon marketing: It worked!

0 upvotes
Higuel
By Higuel (8 months ago)

@ JKP:

When i bought my 10D, 3of my sigma lenses didn't work, in my country they wanted to charge a bit for that service, would take several months to get the parts(and they never actually got them!, and even told me for one of the lens they would never do! Those 3lenses become paper weigths!!! :L

0 upvotes
Thomas Kachadurian
By Thomas Kachadurian (8 months ago)

It is impossible to make every lens match every camera given today's high resolution. This is the best solution.

1 upvote
mavc
By mavc (8 months ago)

Unless of course the camera uses contrast based AF using the imaging sensor (e.g. Panasonic Lumix etc.) which works far more reliably/accurately than phase based detection using a separate sensor. I've just ditched my Canon DSLR gear having got fed up with all the "phaffing around" to fix front or back focus issues. I've been staggered by how quickly and accurately the Panasonic Lumix system focuses, far better than my Canon DSLRs ever were.

1 upvote
Kabe Luna
By Kabe Luna (8 months ago)

Yes, until the subject starts moving.

4 upvotes
Joesiv
By Joesiv (8 months ago)

How about using the camera that has both contrast detect AF and phase detect AF, and have the body automatically calibrate the lens'? It could be a routine that you could run it through? Could probably be done quite quickly, with little user intervention (just pointing it at subjects that are farther/closer.

2 upvotes
mavc
By mavc (8 months ago)

Actually the Lumix G5 handles moving subjects too.

1 upvote
slncezgsi
By slncezgsi (8 months ago)

What is actually the real point of this product? When I buy a lens I do not expect to spend time 'fine tuning AF' or some similar nonsense - the lens should work out of the box!

1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (8 months ago)

The lens will work out of the box.

It just may not work optimally with your camera.

Comment edited 40 seconds after posting
22 upvotes
sagephotography
By sagephotography (8 months ago)

Mr. Butler, can't believe you have to respond to idiots like this. AF calibration is much more complicated than "working straight out of the box" like these cocky know-it-alls presume.

11 upvotes
tech_head
By tech_head (8 months ago)

Okay, lens works with current body when you bought it. You buy a new body and the lens no longer works?

This is what happened to me. Canon changed the protocol at the 50D and 7D. So I had glass that could not be upgraded and would not work. This is a solution if you buy newer glass from Sigma.

0 upvotes
WayneHuangPhoto
By WayneHuangPhoto (8 months ago)

Says the casual photographer.

0 upvotes
Spectro
By Spectro (8 months ago)

The reason you even need this for sigma and not like tokina or tamron is that they reverse engineer their af for Nikon, canon, Sony,etc. Tamron and tokina liencse with the camera makers. My big local camera store refuse to carry sigma of issues. Maybe this USB will help with my sigma 85mm 1.4 jerky af issues.

0 upvotes
KennyXL
By KennyXL (8 months ago)

I don't see the 85mm f/1.4 as one of the supported lenses. That's disappointing to me personally since I have one of those lenses.

1 upvote
Peter A. Stavrakoglou
By Peter A. Stavrakoglou (8 months ago)

I don't believe that any camera maker licenses their lens protocols to anyone. Why would they license it to a lens company clearly competing against them for lens sales?

0 upvotes
sanath444
By sanath444 (8 months ago)

No matter which brand the the lens is. it has be calibrated to camera, if you are picky about front/back focusing.
LensRentals has few articles about this.
http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2008/12/this-lens-is-soft-and-other-myths

0 upvotes
KentG
By KentG (8 months ago)

The other companies do in fact license the mount technology from Nikon, Canon, Pentax, and Sony (in fact most of the big Nikon pro telephotos are built in a Tokina plant or were). Sigma doesn't because they are not allowed to. They won a big suit in the film days that broke the monopoly on the proprietary nature of each camera makers mounts. So none of the Big 4 will sell them a license and the original suit approved a method they used to reverse engineer the electronic protocols. The original suit broke any proprietary nature on the mechanical specs of the mount at the time. More that likely since Sigma actually kept the third party industry alive we would be paying as much as 2x for factory lenses these days. In fact the only reason they sell lens technology licenses at all is to allow others to compete with Sigma.

1 upvote
rb59020
By rb59020 (8 months ago)

No Pentax support? :-(

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (8 months ago)

Not currently. But Sigma historically has an excellent record of supporting Pentax (and Sony) - however lenses take somewhat longer to appear in these mounts. So it wouldn't be a great surprise to see K and Alpha mount USB docks turn up later in the year.

1 upvote
FredSpain
By FredSpain (8 months ago)

Personnaly, i doubt it. Sony will enter the all mirrorless era this fall and AF adjustment will be a thing of the past for them. The translucent era was the in-between phase and it ends this year.

0 upvotes
thxbb12
By thxbb12 (8 months ago)

@FedSpain
Absolutely. The days of traditional DSLR (i.e. with the mirror box) are counted. It's just a matter of time until all manufacturers move (slowly) to all mirrorless. It may not happen tomorrow nor in 2 years, but eventually Nikon and Canon will have to follow. It simply makes much more sense from a technological point of view.

2 upvotes
Sir_Peter
By Sir_Peter (8 months ago)

There might be new jobs in sight for people who will calibrate your camera with your lenses. To mount and unmount a lens every time you want to calibrate it is of course a no go. Stupid invention from my point of view.

0 upvotes
riknash
By riknash (8 months ago)

When I first heard about this feature, I imagined the new lens would have a micro-USB port to allow connection to the computer while the lens is coupled to the camera body. A secondary USB connection from the camera body to the computer would complete a calibration feedback loop to allow automated alignment of lens to camera body. Unfortunately, not so. Yes, the software would have been a bit more challenging to develop but likely would be possible since there are already some third party lens MFA applications. Sigma could have even open-sourced their lens tweaking protocol and let others create innovative tuning applications. Oh well, better than nothing but a bit short of what one should expect.

1 upvote
Freddell
By Freddell (3 months ago)

Me too, but the secondary USB loop would be redundant, especially for cameras that has wifi capability. But a printer test pattern should suffice with a USM interface mounted and you could tweak quicky until and you confirm sharpness manually. Having to take the lens off between updates slows down the process quite a bit.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 137