Sigma 50-150 OS - observations and samples

Started Aug 5, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Sigma 50-150 OS - observations and samples
Aug 5, 2012

Well, I got my Sigma 50-150 OS last week. Not much time to review, but I will update this thread as I use the lens more.

Handling notes:

  • The design of the lens makes it difficult to zoom or focus with the hood reversed. The upside of this is that the zoom ring is at just the right spot for using the lens with the hood forward (or not on at all). So better handling with the hood on in exchange for worse handling with the hood reversed. The hood on the 50-150 is the same length as the one on the 70-200, and the lens is basically the same on the outside. Same tripod collar, etc. You can read DPreview's notes on the 70-200's handling here; I'd say they are pretty accurate:

  • Tripod collar is really a smart design, very easy to use.

  • Build quality is very good, like the newer finish that was introduced a few years back. Much better than the old crinkle finish.

  • Focus is very quiet, about the same as Sigma's other lenses or any of my Nikon AFS lenses.

  • OS is somewhat louder than the focus. Although not exceptionally loud, you'll hear it, and notice the change in the viewfinder when it kicks on and off. I am not a fan of in-lens stabilization, and I wish Nikon and Canon would put it in their camera bodies instead, but for what it does, the Sigma is about equivalent to Nikon and Canon zooms, although maybe a little louder when turning on and off.

  • OS seems effective so far.

  • Focus is fast with the in-built HSM, much faster than I remember the old, non-OS version of this lens being. Not quite as fast as the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR2, but then again that lens costs over twice as much. Still, nothing to complain about. I was actually quite surprised by the focus speed - it's quick. Much faster than any screw drive (non-HSM/non-AFS) lenses I own / have owned.

  • Focus accuracy with my D7000 seems good. I haven't done any formal testing with an alignment chart though. Since front/back-focusing depends on the body that you use, who's to say what the results will be for you. See:

  • Zoom ring is very smooth and damped, much better feel than the Sigma 17-50 f/2.8.

  • Unlike the 17-50, on the 50-150 you can grab the focus ring at any time and adjust focus. For people used to this feature on their other lenses, it is nice to have, although I don't use it much despite it being available on most of my lenses.

  • It's a big lens. Pretty heavy. Feels like carrying around a 70-200 f/2.8. Then again, this is the only DX portrait zoom out there right now. The others are no longer made - the old Sigma 50-150 and the Tokina 50-135 - neither of which have OS. They are much lighter however, at the expense of OS and image quality.

Image quality notes

  • I'm definitely impressed with the quality so far. No complaints.

  • Pretty light vignetting - probably a byproduct of the large size of this lens

  • Almost no CA's. Really nice.

  • Bokeh looks good in most circumstances, but can exhibit "whorl" phenomenon that is common to some zoom lenses. I will try to get a good example of this, but basically, the background can sometimes appear to spin around the subject. Seems like it tends to happen with busier backgrounds. Out of several hundred pictures so far, only a couple have this (not good enough to post though blech).

  • If you want the best bokeh, get the 85mm f/1.4. This lens comes close, but is not quite as good.

A few samples that I liked.

  • Had to pick f/2.8 images at lower ISO that looked decent uncropped. I normally shoot stopped down and leave room for cropping to a nice composition, so not a lot of them to be had. But here are some of the better ones anyway.

  • All have no cropping, auto-tone and auto-WB in lightroom, default lightroom sharpening. No lens correction applied unless otherwise noted. Handheld with OS on unless otherwise noted.

  • You can download the originals if you want to pixel-peep

These are indoors, handheld, lighting with an SB-600 through umbrella, triggered with SU-800

Higher ISO on this one, outdoors, handheld, no artificial light.

An example of using Sigma's 50-150 OS lens correction profile in LR 4.1. Outdoors, handheld, no artificial light.

Nikon D7000
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