I recently purchased a Sigma lens for my Nikon D50 so that I could take some extreme telephoto shots. This was a bit of an impulse buy, but I am fairly pleased I did.
The lens is a 135-400 telephoto which after factoring in the magnification results in a 600mm zoom. This is pretty good going, but what about the lens quality?
First off, the lens is heavy – weight is not an issue for me at the moment, but be warned that this puppy has a significant mass! If you use this lens without a tripod, beanbag or monopod then you’ll need a very steady grip – if the zoom factor doesn’t blur your images the fatigue of holding it up will!
The images I am getting from this lens are more than acceptable. They are pretty good (I imagine a better lens would give me sharper results) at all lengths and for most purposes will be fine. Of course, if you make your living out of photography then you’ll no doubt be using a different 400mm lens, but for those with a strong interest then this is a good lens to start off with.
The focus speed is quite good. It isn’t excellent, however and at times is downright sluggish. If you have a need for a very fast focus (for sports photography, maybe) then you might be disappointed. However, for the price this is possibly a compromise worth making. On my D50 this lens needs to be set to maximum aperture in order for the camera to work (lock it in place) but when done it allows all of the features of the camera to work.
I have taken about 400 or so images with this lens since I got it, and I am reasonably pleased (OK – very pleased) with the results at all lengths – the longest length seems to introduce a slightly softer look, but it isn’t something for a beginner to worry too much about… it is a slight softening and acceptable, in my opinion.
My only concerns with this lens are that when it is fitted to the camera, and carried ‘nose down’ the barrel slips out to it’s full length (hardly surprising… the force of gravity on a lens this weight…) and since it is a long lens it is tricky to find a decent enough bag to carry it whilst attached to the camera. I ended up with a Lowe Pro ‘Slingshot’ bag, putting the camera and lens in lengthwise instead of across the bag. My only other concern is that with the lens hood on, and the lens out at 400mm it does look a tad comical!
I was lucky to get this lens second-hand. As ever, when buying in this way be sure to check out the lense for chips, dents, marks, mould and so on. This one was spotless and at ��150 below retail price it was worth a chance.
Overall, I’m pleased with it. For the price it has to be a leading contender in the market and I would certainly consider other Sigma lenses on the strength of my experiences with this one. I would be pleased to hear from anyone who has been using it, or any other non-nikon lens in their photography.