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Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG Macro HSM II review

July 2008 | By Andy Westlake

The 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG Macro HSM II is one of Sigma's latest lenses, which was first announced in December 2007 for Canon, Nikon and Sigma, with a slew of follow-on releases adding compatibility for the remaining SLR mounts (i.e. Four Thirds, Sony and Pentax; however none of these versions are yet shipping). It's a successor to the 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG Macro HSM of February 2006, with a refined optical layout offering improved optical performance, and becomes the fourth iteration of the same basic EX design first unveiled in 1999 (which was itself preceded by a well-respected 70-210mm F2.8 for 35mm). The HyperSonic Motor (HSM) focusing system promises fast, silent and accurate autofocus for users of all brands of DSLR, although Pentax users should be aware that this lens is effectively of 'KAF-3' mount specification, and therefore won't focus on bodies which don't support SDM lenses. Aside from that specific incompatibility, this is a design which will work on almost every DSLR ever made, and is therefore of unusually broad buyer appeal.

Sigma are fond of using a plethora of letters in their lens names (presumably on the principle that when faced with a choice, potential buyers will purchase the one with the most initials) and the 70-200mm declares its credentials accordingly. 'EX' stands for 'Excellence' and designates Sigma's premium lens line, with superior build and optical quality, while 'DG' means that the lens coatings are optimized for use on digital SLRs, and the image circle covers the full-frame 35mm format. Finally 'Macro' is a pointer towards the closer-than-usual minimum focusing distance of just 1m, which compares favorably to the 1.5m more typical of lenses of this class, although it has recently been trumped by the 0.95m of Tamron's SP AF 70-200mm F2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro.

Of course as one of Sigma's flagship lenses, the 70-200mm F2.8 boasts a suitably complex optical design, featuring 18 elements in 15 groups, two of which are Extraordinary Low Dispersion (ELD) glass and two Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass for correction of chromatic aberrations. Other attractions include internal focusing and zooming mechanisms, and a quick-release tripod mount collar which can be removed from the lens in seconds. On paper at least, this is a lens which might interest a huge number of photographers across a range of abilities; so is it worthy of that interest?

Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX design history

  • 70-200mm F2.8 EX APO - Original version, minimum focus distance 1.8m (1999)
  • 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG - Adds 'digitally optimized' lens coatings to reduce flare (2005)
  • 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG Macro (HSM) - Minimum focus distance reduced to 1m (2006)
  • 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG Macro HSM II - Improved optical performance (2007)

Headline features

  • 70-200mm focal length range; fast F2.8 constant maximum aperture
  • HSM (ultrasonic type) autofocus with full-time manual override
  • To be available in Canon, Nikon, Four Thirds, Pentax, Sigma and Sony/Minolta mounts

Angle of view

The pictures below illustrate the focal length range from wide to telephoto, on FX (35mm full-frame) and DX (1.5x crop) camera bodies:

70mm (FX) 200mm (FX)
70mm (DX; 105mm equivalent) 200mm (DX; 300mm equivalent)

 

Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG Macro HSM II specifications

Street price $800
Date introduced December 2007
Maximum format size 35mm full frame
Focal length 70-200mm
35mm equivalent focal length (APS-C) 105-300mm (1.5x)
112-320mm (1.6x)
Diagonal Angle of view (FF) 34º - 12º
Diagonal Angle of view (APS-C) 23º - 8º
Maximum aperture F2.8
Minimum aperture F22
Lens Construction • 18 elements/15 groups
• 2 ELD elements
• 2 SLD elements
Number of diaphragm blades 9
Minimum focus 1m
Maximum magnification 0.28x at 200mm
AF motor type • Ring-type ultrasonic
• Full-time manual focus
Focus method Internal
Zoom method Internal
Image stabilization • None
Filter thread • 77mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories • Front and rear caps
• Lens Hood
• Soft Case
Optional accessories Compatible with Sigma 1.4x and 2.0x EX APO teleconverters
Weight 1390g (49.0 oz)
Dimensions 86.6mm diameter x 184mm length
(3.4 x 7.2 in)
Lens Mount Canon, Nikon, Four Thirds, Pentax, Sigma, Sony

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area

Foreword / notes

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read some of our Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / recommendation / ratings are based on the opinion of the author, we recommend that you read the entire review before making any decision. Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of them, click to display a larger image in a new window.

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Dpreview use calibrated monitors at the PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally also A, B and C.

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