My Observations on our tests of the new Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG (OS) HSM Zoom lens on the SD1M

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Nancy and Pete Spader
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My Observations on our tests of the new Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG (OS) HSM Zoom lens on the SD1M
2 months ago

First of all, nothing I say is as effective as what the images from the new Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG (OS) HSM Zoom lens on the SD1M “say.” So do not forget to look at these images after you read my words.

Nancy and I have been testing the new Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG (OS) HSM Zoom lens since we obtained it several weeks ago. It is in the new “Art” series of lenses that they are creating using their new techniques for designing and testing lenses. This series of lenses focuses on the ultimate in image quality. In testing this new lens I focused on sharpness, a key quality of any image.

My technique of testing is relatively simple. I found a flat surface and I placed the camera at right angles to this flat subject. I used the back wall of our house which has a relatively wide flat section which contain some windows. The surface is stucco which gives us a very nice uniformly bumpy surface that does reveal sharpness quite continuously across the entire area, with the window frames giving another type of sharpness to see as well.

I shot the Sigma 24-105mm at 24mm, 50mm, 70mm, and 105mm, using f4, f8, and f16. I do so because 24mm and 105mm are limits of the zoom and thus will be areas that are the least effective in producing sharp images, while 50 millimeters is the middle area where this zoom should perform best. In addition I did 70 millimeters since I will be testing this lens against our older 70mm prime because it is the best of our older lens on the SD1M. I start with this lens wide open at f4, because this is where you would expect the lens to be least effective at maintaining sharpness, while by the time you get to f8 it should be doing as well as it can even at 24mm and 105 mm. By the time we get f16 you may well be facing problems caused by diffraction.

I then ran the same series of shots using our older Sigma 70mm f2.8 EX DG.

In addition to this series of tests using the same subject matter picked to most effectively reveal the sharpness of these lenses, we also took a series of landscape pictures, and shot pictures of flowers in our backyard. These subject matters give a different sense of the sharpness and the quality of these lenses.

All of these pictures are posted in our new Pbase gallery entitled the “Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG (OS) HSM lens (Art series).” It is our second gallery at:

http://www.pbase.com/pspader/new_24105_zoom_art_lens

Now to get to my judgment on this lens. As I look at these pictures it is obvious to me that this is a great zoom lens on the SD1M, and with the exception of the 70mm and possibly the 50 it is better than anything we have. (We presently have the older Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 APO DG Macro zoom that is good on the SD14, but not really sharp enough on the SD1M; an old Sigma DC 17-70 f2.8-4.5 (not the later OS version) that is surprisingly good on the SD1M, but no match for this new zoom, a 105 prime that needs fixing; and the old 20mm prime that is good but no better than the old17-70mm zoom.

Incidentally, my copy of this new Sigma 24-105mm lens does not seem to be producing the kinds of differential in sharpness (where one side is not as sharp as the other side is) that the copy being used by Rick Decker and company seems to be displaying. Some of my images do seem to have areas that are not sharp, but this can very well be features of the subject produced by wind blowing leaves etc. or other possible factors not identifiable. (I am only really worried about a problem that shows up in a wide variety of images.)

Now let’s look at the downside. To produce the best image quality (the goal of the “Art” series). Sigma allowed the lens to become as large and as heavy as was needed.

Therefore, weight is the greatest cost you pay with this lens. It is heavy, and when on a heavy camera this can become a problem for some people. It is a problem for Nancy, who prefers hand-holding the camera/lens as she shoots her flowers. Indeed, I was not sure we would keep the lens if she could not get used to using at least the monopod. But despite the weight problem, Nancy is so impressed with the quality of the pictures she can produce with it she is willing to put up with the limitations of using the monopod (essentially the fact that she will lose some pictures possibilities because she cannot get into position to take them).

When it comes to sharpness, this lens is not perfect. It does display the kind of falloff in sharpness as you go toward the corners and the edges that you would expect from any lens, especially a wide ranging zoom. But it still the best Zoom lens we have had on our SD1M when you are talking about sharpness.

I will now stop talking. Go look at my pictures and make your own judgments on what they “say.” Look at the pictures taken by others as well. I recommend a series of pictures posted by Rick, Kendall, and Larry at:

http://www.pbase.com/sigmadslr/sigma_24105mm_f4_os

I hope my comments have been worthwhile.

All reactions are welcome.

Pete

Sigma SD1 Merrill Sigma SD14
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