Last month we reported Sigma's total revamp of their lens lineup. Their new organization would place lenses in one of three categories: Art, Sports, and Contemporary. Those categories were then immediately filled by three new lenses: The 35mm f/1.4, the 120-300mm f/2.8, and the 17-70mm f/2.8-4.0 macro. The new offerings looked extremely appealing, and this past week we got a hands-on demo with the prototypes.
The first lens I wanted to get my hands on was, of course, the beastly 120-300mm f/2.8 Sports lens. As has become the norm with the recent offerings from Sigma, this lens is fast in terms of both aperture and auto focus. I'm continually impressed with the accuracy and speed of Sigma's auto focus motor. To get an idea of how huge this lens is, take a look at the image below.
Though understandably quite heavy, the 120-300mm is a very exciting lens. If their pricing can stay competitive with Canon and Nikon, this is sure to become a popular lens among action/sports photographers.
What struck most of you as a lens you might want to add to your lineup was the second lens I wanted to try out: the 35mm f/1.4. This was the only lens that they had for a Canon mount, so naturally I took it for a spin. It performed exactly as I expected. It's a beautiful lens and from a hardware standpoint, was right on the money. That's really great news, considering this was an unreleased prototype. I took a few shots of course, but unfortunately I can't show those to you (it's a prototype; you understand right?).
For those of you looking for a good 35mm to pick up, you won't have to wait long for this lens. Sigma is releasing it before the others, aiming to have it ready for market in November. As soon as it is available, we will let you know our thoughts in a full review so you can determine if it is a good fit for your needs.
Finally, I took a closer look at the variable aperture 17-70mm f/2.8-4.0 macro lens being categorized under their Contemporary line. Most of us aren't always so jazzed about variable aperture lenses, but they have their place. I personally don't mind them in some cases, but if they don't feel sturdy I am never confident in the product. My eyes lit up when I felt this lens in my hand: it felt good. It felt really good. The zoom was smooth and firm, focus was as snappy as I require, and the weight of the lens wasn't heavy, but had just enough heft to make me feel satisfied I had a quality product. What is of course going to matter is image quality and price, but if this can hit that sweet spot Sigma has a great product on their hands.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm impressed with what Sigma is doing. Their emphasis on quality and their fulfillment of their promises is something the third party lens market drastically needs. These lenses don't feel like older Sigma lenses, they feel like Zeiss lenses. The time to pay attention to Sigma is now, and if you plan to just brush these aside because they don't have the word "Canon" or "Nikkor" slapped on the side of the lens, you're going to be missing out.