Sigma has been surprising the photography fraternity with its affordable but high-quality premium lenses. One such lens is its 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM lens, launched in 2013 and lauded for its large constant aperture and sharp optical performance.
This year, Sigma released its 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM lens, designed for interchangeable-lens cameras (ILCs) with APS-C image sensors. It has a large constant f/1.8 aperture through the 50mm-to- 100mm focal range.
For this review, I used the lens with my old but trusty Canon EOS 7D, and a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.
I also used the Sony A7R II with the Sigma MC-11 adapter ($368). This adapter is a great buy if you are moving from Canon to Sony's mirrorless cameras, as it allows you to use your current Canon lenses.
Paired with the EOS 7D, the lens offers focal lengths ranging from 80mm to 160mm, due to the camera image sensor's 1.6x crop factor. For full-frame ILCs like the 5D Mark IV and the A7R II, the lens will produce images with vignetting especially in the 50mm-to- 70mm focal range.
The design is quite conventional, with a manual focusing ring in front and a zoom ring closer to the lens mount. The zooming mechanism is internal, so the lens barrel stays the same length all the time.
With a solid blend of metal and polycarbonate, the lens gives a confident feel in the hand during use.
Autofocusing (AF) is accurate when used with the Canon DSLR cameras but a tad slow, taking slightly less than 1sec to secure a focus. However, when used with the MC-11 on the Sony A7R II, the AF is at times up to 1sec slower than with the Canon.This is certainly not a lens that I will bring to cover a football match.
PRICE: $1,588 (Canon mount, version tested; Nikon mount, Sigma mount)
FOCAL LENGTH: 24mm to 35mm
FOCUSING RANGE: 0.95m to infinity
MAXIMUM APERTURE: f/1.8
MINIMUM APERTURE: f/16
VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5
Shooting at f/1.8, I was able to get really nice bokeh - the deliberately blurred out-of-focus effect in an image. With this latest Sigma lens, bokeh has the wow factor, especially when you are shooting portraits.
Most lenses tend to look soft at larger apertures, typically when the f-stop setting is f/2.8 or below. At f/1.8, the edge-to-edge sharpness of the Sigma is comparable to my test cameras' original lenses at f/2.8.
And while many lenses yield the sharpest images at f/5.6, I found the images shot with this lens to be sharpest in the centre at f/2.8 with no significant difference at f/4.
However, if you want a more constant edge-to-edge sharpness, stepping down to f/5.6 will yield better results.
Considering that a Canon or Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens will set you back more than $2,000, the Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM represents great value for money at only $1,588.
But, on the downside, its focal length from 50mm to 100mm is a bit odd. Most mid-telephoto lens range from 70mm to 200mm.
I feel this Sigma lens is more suited for portrait and landscape photography.
- Verdict: The Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM is a great value-for-money mid-telephoto lens for your portraiture and landscape work. Not so much for sports.