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.