The Sigma 70-200mm F/2.8 HSM II is a lower-cost alternative to the more expensive Sony 70-200mm model, also tested here. How does it stand up to the Tamron and Sony equivalents? Has Sigma’s quality control improved? read on.
This Sigma fast telephoto zoom lens is quite impressive for the price. Build quality is very similar to the Sony, and it offers the same type of fast, almost silent focusing system, which uses a motor inside the lens, and works just as good as Sony’s SSM in my opinion. There are a couple of things missing though, there are no focus hold or focus limiter buttons to speed up focusing in certain situations, but not everyone will miss those items. On the upside, the lens performs very well optically, with good contrast across the frame, especially at the short end, along with relatively low distortion and light fall-off, although color fringing at the long end is quite noticeable in some images.
The Sigma 70-200mm HSM II is very sharp at almost all apertures near the short end, however, as you zoom out near 200mm, the image sides are not quite as sharp as the Sony or Tamron equivalents, but that’s only visible when you display the crops side-by-side as I normally do.
Final thoughts; Sigma’s quality control is awful, I used three lenses for this review, the third lens they sent me was a winner. If you want to try your luck, and are patient, you might wind up getting a good one, at which point you’ll be hard pressed to tell the differences between the Sigma 70-200mm F/2.8 HSM II and the Sony 70-200mm F/2.8 G, in both sharpness, focusing accuracy and speed. At the time of this review the Sigma is about half the price of the Sony, which makes it a great bargain….but only if you get a good copy!
I’m still using the boring stamp shots for the test samples, because of time constraints, as I’m simultaneously doing the comparisons with the other equivalent telephoto zooms, all using the full frame A900. If you want to know how the APS-C cameras perform, just look at the full frame mid-section crops, that’s the same general location of the APS-C corners, of course the centers are the same.