Two new Sigma lenses

Posted on 31 January 2008, 19:08

This year’s PMA has seen the announcement of two potentially appealing lenses from Sigma – the 120-400mm DG OS HSM and 150-500mm DG OS HSM.

I won’t regurgitate their specifications – the links above have those details – but there are two things that make lenses rather interesting…

The first is that they both have OS – “Optical Stabilisation” – Sigma’s own in-lens anti shake technology.

I know from personal experience (I am a big fan of their 80-400mm OS) that OS is very good, but these new lenses boast a whopping four stop benefit.

That’s a significant figure: I estimate that the 80-400mm OS – and the Canon 100-400mm IS – are in about the two to three stop range, and they’re very good for it: four stops is a big deal.

Possibly even more interesting than the OS however, is the fact that the new lenses both have Sigma’s Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) – their version of Canon’s USM auto focus drive.

It’s the lack of that option which – in my view – always prevented the 80-400mm OS from really competing with the 100-400mm.

Although an optically excellent lens, the Sigma was comparatively slow focusing, and that was a mark against it for bird photography (although it was every bit the match for Nikon’s 80-400mm VR lens, which also lacks an ultrasonic AF drive).

But these new lenses have levelled the playing field in terms of features.

Now then, it’s not clear as yet where they sit in the Sigma range. They don’t appear to be EX lenses (Sigma’s best), but it seems very unlikely that they will be at the budget end of the price range either: they lack the EX gold ring livery, but the finish looks like the EX finish.

So we’ll have to wait and see where they sit in the range, and how they’ll be priced – but assuming that Sigma don’t screw up on the image quality (and there’s no reason to think they will) – I predict a lot of interest in these if the price is right…

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