Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports Review
The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports is a classic telephoto zoom lens for Canon and Nikon full-frame DSLR cameras. This lens features a constant aperture of f/2.8 throughout the range, built-in Optical Stabilisation (OS) technology, a minimum focus distance of 1.2m, an ultrasonic focus motor for quiet and fast AF operation, fixed tripod collar and a dust- and moisture-sealed construction. The optical formula comprises 24 lens elements in 22 groups, including nine FLD glass elements (performance equal to fluorite) and one SLD glass element, and an iris diaphragm with 11 rounded aperture blades. It's also compatible with the optional Sigma 1.4x and 2x teleconverters.
The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports lens officially retails for £1349.99 / $1499 in the UK and USA respectively.
Ease of Use
The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports is noticeably bigger and heavier than comparable lenses from the likes of Canon, Nikon and Tamron (and indeed Sigma's older 70-200mm f/2.8 lens), measuring 20.3cms in length and weighing in at around 1.8Kg.
While you can use it on a smaller APS-C body, the 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports won't balance particularly well unless you attach a battery grip to the camera. Note that the focal length will also change, becoming 112-320mm, although some may see this as a positive.
As demonstrated by the images below, it's a much better match for a professional-grade, full-frame camera like the Canon EOS 5DS R, where it feels better balanced, although we'd still suggest fitting a battery grip to that camera too for more protracted use.
The lens has a non-retractable design, so it does not extend at all when zoomed out from 70mm to 200mm.
Build quality is excellent. The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports lens has a complex part magnesium, part Carbon fiber reinforced plastic, part Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) construction. It incorporates a brass bayonet mount that's claimed to be more durable.
The 24 elements in 22 groups are made of high-grade glass with nine FLD glass elements (performance equal to fluorite) and one SLD glass element, while the lens has a dust and splash-proof construction.
In terms of features, the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports offers everything that you need from a professional telephoto zoom lens.
Focusing is internal and manual focusing is possible when set via the Focus switch on the lens barrel. Full-time manual focus override is also available by setting the Focus switch to the MO mode and then rotating the focus ring.
The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports lens has a generously sized focus ring, and it is ridged for easier grip. There are hard stops at both ends of the range, making it easier to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the 82mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.
When it comes to auto-focusing, this lens is a very quick performer, taking about 0.10 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Canon EOS 5DS R that we tested it with. We didn't experience very much "hunting", either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time. It's also a very quiet performer, thanks to the built-in HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor).
The focus limiter switch has two settings, Full and 3m-infinity, which helps speed up the auto-focusing if you know how far your subject is from the lens. You can also use the USB dock to customise these ranges to your own needs. A clear distance scale in both feet and meters runs from the closest focusing distance of 1.2m to infinity.
Built-in Vibration Reduction is activated by the OS switch on the lens barrel, which offers around 4 stops of compensation. The OS system has two modes - mode 1 is suitable for general photography, and mode 2 is best for panning shots of moving subjects in a horizontal direction (not vertical).
The Custom switch has three settings - Off, C1 and C2 - with the latter two settings allowing you to configure the lens via the Sigma Dock, and then quickly access those configurations.
There are three unmarked "soft" buttons on the lens barrel, which are for easily accessing a focus preset. You can configure a specific focus point, and each time you push any of those buttons, the lens will automatically focus at that preset distance.
The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports features a non-removable tripod collar which has a locking knob that allows the lens and camera to rotate freely to position them horizontally or vertically. The tripod collar foot is both Arca Swiss compatible and has a standard 1/4"-20 female tripod socket on the bottom. It can also be completely removed for use with different tripod or monopod heads.
The lens ships with a good quality padded case and a large, lockable petal-shaped plastic lens hood (LH914-01).
Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are impressively well controlled with this lens, so well that we couldn't find any examples in our test shots.
The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports offers a classic focal range for full-frame DSLR owners.
Light Fall-off and Distortion
With the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports wide open at f/2.8, you can see some noticeable light fall-off in the corners at both ends of the zoom range. Stopping down helps, although to completely get rid of this phenomenon, you will need to use an f-stop of f/5.6 or smaller.
The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports is not a macro lens. The close-focus point is at 120cm / 47.2in. from the film/sensor plane and the magnification ratio is 1:4.8. The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject with the lens set to 200mm to aid magnification, in this case a CompactFlash card.
Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. One of the reason to buy a fast lens is to be able to isolate the subject from the background. Sigma was apparently very much aware of this requirement, as they employed an iris diaphragm with 11 rounded blades for a very pleasing rendering of the out-of-focus highlights. Based on what we have seen, we can say that they largely succeeded. Below you'll find some examples, but you are also encouraged to check out our sample images.
In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.