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Sigma APO 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM Lens Review (for Nikon)

Sigma APO 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM lens  


May 2012 (Updated Feb., 2013)
(tested with Nikon D7000)

The Sigma APO 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM lens was announced in February 2011 and released in April this year. The lens is available in Nikon, Canon, and Sigma mounts. This lens replaces the discontinued non OS version. The newer version is much larger than it's predecessor, being 2.5 inches longer and weighing 16.5 more ounces. This is a large bulky lens. Size wise it has the same dimensions as Sigma's 70-200mm f/2.8 OS full frame lens. This is a DC lens, which means it's designed specifically for DSLRs with APS-C sensors (DX, etc). On Nikon's DX (cropped) sensor the effective zoom range is 75-225mm. It's an EX lens which means it has superior build and optical quality. It has a built in Hyper-Sonic Motor (HSM), so it will autofocus with all Nikon Digital cameras, including the lower end consumer models, such as the D3100, D5100, and D3200. It's also an APO (Apochromatic) lens which means it's made with special low-dispersion (SLD) glass which minimizes color aberrations. Included accessories are front and rear lens caps, a lens hood, Sigma's standard, excellent carrying case, and a removable tripod collar. Manufacturer's retail list price is $1650 US but most retailers initially listed it for $1099. (For all of Sigma's letter designations see here).

The lens is made of metal and plastic and is built solid. The zoom and focus rings are rubber coated. Both are a bit stiff but turn smoothly. Zooming is internal. The front element doesn't rotate so using filters is no problem.The lens mount is metal and there is a distance meter built into the lens. There are two switches on the lens, an auto focus/manual focus switch, and an OS on/off switch. Autofocus can also be overridden just by turning the focus ring. There are two OS (Optical Stabilization) Modes. Mode 1 is used for normal usage, while Mode 2 is best used when subjects are moving horizontal to the camera. The OS works very well. Sigma claims a gain up to 4 stops. Thanks to the Hyper-Sonic Motor autofocus is fast and accurate.

Sharpness in the center of the lens is excellent throughout the zoom range wide open and gets better stopped down to f/4. It remains excellent until f/8 when diffraction starts to decrease the sharpness level, but not by much. Wide open at 50mm the borders and corners are very good. Stopped down to f/4 and both sharpen up a bit. From 70-150mm the corners are just bit soft wide open. Again, they sharpen up some at f/4 through f/8. I found the sweet spot to be 50mm at f/4. Overall the lens performed extremely well and I wouldn't hesitate to use it wide open at any focal length. I also used it with a Sigma 1.4x teleconverter which made it a 70-210mm f/4 lens (effective field of view being 105-315mm). I was a bit disappointed. Image wise it was good, but I expected it to be better given how excellent the lens is without the teleconverter.

There was only slight barrel distortion at 50mm and slight pincushion distortion at 150mm. Mid range the distortion is relatively flat. Overall the distortion should be easily correctable. Vignetting was only really noticable at 150mm wide open, and not very at that. Stopping down to f/4 eliminates it. Chromatic aberration is well controlled and not a problem, but it was more visible when I used the lens with the teleconverter. Flare and ghosting are also non issues. The bokeh the lens produces at 150mm and f/2.8 is excellent.

Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 OS Bokeh Example
The Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 OS produces smooth bokeh at 150mm, f/2.8. 

I was eager to try the Sigma APO 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM lens since I never had a fast mid range zoom in my bag. I've read reviews of the original non OS version which claimed it was an excellent lens so I had high expectations for this new version. I wasn't disappointed. The only real thing I can complain about is that it's a little softer than I would like when using a teleconverter. The effective field of view of 75-225mm makes it an excellent event lens, similar to the full frame 70-200mm lens. It also makes a great portrait lens. You can get nice subject islolation thanks to the large aperture and long reach. The Sigma 50-150mm OS can also be used for wildlife and action or sports. It may be a little too short though depending on the situation. Overall, if you're looking for a fast mid range zoom this lens is one to consider. The only real drawback is that it's a bit pricey. I've read a few comments on internet forums that because of the extra size, weight, and price, this new version isn't worth getting over the old one. The old version can be bought used for about $500. If you prefer travelling light (er), and/or don't have the funds for the newer version then the non OS version makes better sense. But to me the OS is worth the extra size and price, especially when shooting indoor events where the conditions can be less than perfect, ie a dimly lit church or wedding hall.

(Update Feb. 2013 - I sold this lens when I switched to full frame format (FX). I really hated to give this lens up. It was one of the sharpest zooms I ever used.)



Focal length 50-150mm
Maximum aperture f/2.8
Minimum aperture f/22
Lens Construction 21 elements in 15 groups
Angle of view 27.9o - 9.5.o
Closest focusing distance 80cm (31.5 in)
Maximum reproduction ratio 1:6.4
Number of diaphragm blades
Auto focus type HSM (Hyper-Sonic Motor)
Filter diameter 77 mm
Macro No
Dimensions 86.4 mm (3.4 in) x 197.6 mm (7.8 in)(Diameter x Length)
Weight 1340g (43.7 oz)

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