It is always exciting to bring in a new Sigma Art lens and covering the normal, most-commonly-used focal length range with an f/2.8 aperture combined with optical stabilization definitely raised the anticipation level for this one. Sigma's "It’s Here to Steal the Spotlight" statement didn't hurt either.
The Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens brings the "Global Vision" treatment to Sigma's version of this highly popular lens model.
There is a reason that the focal length or focal length range is included in the product name of every DSLR lens produced today. Of utmost importance in lens selection is acquiring the right focal length or, in the case of a zoom lens, the right range of focal lengths that cover your needs. Focal length is especially important in that it drives focus distance choices, which in turn determine perspective for the desired composition.
The good news about the 24-70mm focal length range, considered "normal" and covering angles of view ranging from wide angle through short telephoto, is the great general purpose usefulness it has. Practically all kits can make use of a lens covering this range.
A 24-70mm lens is an essential part of many landscape and cityscape photography kits. At the 24mm end, this lens provides a very wide angle of view, able to simply take in a vast scene (27mm is featured above at Emerald Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park) and/or to show a strong perspective, creating a sense of presence in an image (27mm also used below at Alluvial Fan Falls, Rocky Mountain NP).
Still, 24mm is not so wide that composition becomes overly challenging. And, having the ability to zoom slightly was apparently helpful to me in the last two situations shared.
Using the 70mm end of the focal length range, smaller portions of a scene can be isolated. Distant mountains will appear larger in proportion to closer elements and closer details, such as the knot in a log, can be focused on.
A 24-70mm lens is often a requirement in a wedding photographer's kit and an f/2.8 version of this lens often becomes the most-used option in that kit. At 24mm, environmental portraits that include the venue can be captured and by 70mm, people can be framed tight enough for head and shoulder portraits while retaining pleasing perspective. This lens will work well for photographing a wide variety of events, from parents capturing informal birthday parties at home to photojournalists covering formal galas at large venues.
Architecture photographers are typically looking for linear-distortion-free lenses to keep their buildings and walls straight and though prime lenses are often utilized for this purpose, zoom lenses nearly always have near-distortion-free focal lengths ideal for such work. Selecting the lowest distortion focal length (around 28-30mm) takes care of the distortion problem (and removal during post processing is always an option at other focal lengths).
Sports photographers able to get close to their subjects (such as basketball shot from over or under the net) or wanting to capture a wider/environmental view of their events appreciate this focal length range. This focal length range especially complements a 70-200mm lens very well for sports uses.
Fashion, portraiture, weddings, parties, events, documentary, lifestyle, travel, sports, architecture, land/city/nightscapes, around-the-house needs, general studio applications including product photography and much more. I'm just getting started into the list of uses for this lens and the range of video uses for this lens is as broad as for stills.
Framing narrower on APS-C cameras (full frame 36-105mm equivalent angle of view), the 24-70mm lens' uses shift away from wide angle landscapes/cityscapes/nightscapes and environmental portraits toward portraiture including more tightly-framed portraits. Most of the uses for this lens on an APS-C camera remain the same otherwise.
I'll take you to the Alluvial Fan Falls area in Rocky Mountain National Park for an example of what the 24-70mm focal length range looks like from a full frame body point of view:
If you only have one lens or can only take one lens with you, this focal length range might be the ideal choice.
With a few exceptions, f/2.8 is the widest aperture available in a zoom lens and majority of those exceptions cover only the smaller APS-C image circle. And, none of the wider-than f/2.8 full frame options reach beyond 35mm. So, the f/2.8 made available over the entire 24-70mm focal length range is, for the most part, best-available. This is a bright lens (significantly brighter than the lenses included in camera kits) and it compares very well in this regard.
A big advantage of a wide aperture is the amount of light transmitted to the imaging sensor, allowing for lower ISO settings and allowing for shutter speeds capable of stopping both camera and subject motion blur in low light. I typically recommend f/2.8 as the minimum aperture opening for indoors sports such as basketball. Also, lenses with an opening wider than a specific aperture (usually f/2.8) enable the higher precision AF capabilities (most often the center AF point) in some cameras and present a brighter viewfinder image than narrower aperture alternatives.
A disadvantage of a wide aperture is the increased physical size of the lens elements that are accompanied by a larger size, heavier weight and a higher cost.
Another big wide aperture advantage is the shallow depth of field available at the widest aperture, enabling distracting background details to be rendered out of focus if desired, isolating the subject through the use of shallow depth of field. The example above was captured at this lens' minimum focus distance, 70mm and f/2.8, maximizing the amount of background blur this lens is capable of.
For the longest time, in most DSLR brands, an f/2.8 aperture and optical stabilization were mutually exclusive in a lens covering 24-70mm focal length range. Basically, you could have an f/2.8 aperture or you could have optical stabilization. In recent years, that mutual exclusion has been disappearing and the combination option has been made available by a number of lens manufacturers. And now, with the 24-70mm f/2.8 OS Art lens, Sigma offers their first such lens.
While the f/2.8 aperture is quite wide and alone makes a camera handholdable in low light, optical stabilization dramatically decreases the amount of light necessary for capturing sharp handheld images. While OS does not stop subject motion blur, sometimes OS can be used to intentionally capture motion blur.
I relied on this lens' OS feature to capture the mountain lake image I shared earlier. I did not have a tripod with me on this hike and wanted to use an f/8 aperture for optimal depth of field. While the 1/15 second shutter speed used for that capture at 27mm may not sound amazing, I was in an unstable position, balanced on uneven rocks while trying to frame the scene through an opening in the trees. That was on top of just hiking nearly two miles up the mountain at a rather high altitude. I'm certain that this image and the many others I captured on this hike would not have been sharp without the aid of OS (or a tripod).
So, valuable is that OS allows handholding in medium and low light levels when more depth of field is needed, allowing narrower apertures to be used without a tripod. When using a circular polarizer filter with narrow apertures (typical for landscapes and cityscapes), OS can be helpful even under a full sun.
Another benefit of OS is that it provides a stabilized image to the camera's AF system. While AF does not seem like an image quality factor as it has a mechanical role, AF is an extremely important component to the optical system and having a stabilized image allows it to make better decisions. OS is also useful for stabilizing the viewfinder, aiding in optimal composition, and for stabilizing video recording, creating a handheld result that is much more pleasant to watch.
How much does OS help? A lot. Sigma rates the amount of assistance provided by this OS implementation at 4 stops using the CIPA standard. Figure out what max aperture would be required for equivalency for a different perspective on this feature.
With a Canon EOS 5Ds R behind this lens, I had a decent percentage of sharp handheld 24mm results at 1/5 second and still had sharp images at an OK rate at 1/4 second. By 0.3 seconds, that keeper rate had dropped significantly, though good results could still be obtained through very careful technique and with a high enough number of shots to cover the low percentage keeper rate.
A requirement for a sharp image is that subject details do not cross over image sensor pixels during the exposure. Longer focal lengths, with their higher subject magnification, generally require faster shutter speeds. In this case, at 70mm, the 24-70 Art lens produced a good percentage of sharp results at 1/8 second, a still decent percentage of sharp results were achieved at 1/6 second and even at 1/5 second, a reasonable keeper rate was experienced. Beyond 1/5 second, I experienced a sharp drop in the sharp image rate.
Another differentiator between optical stabilization systems is their audibility. This OS implementation is very quiet with a light click being heard at startup and shutdown. A quiet whirring sound can be heard if the lens is rapidly moved while OS is activated.
In this lens, OS activation often causes the viewfinder image to jump slightly to different framing and the same often happens when OS deactivates. Very little or no drifting of the composition was noticeable while OS was active and panning a scene was comfortable to do.
Optical stabilization is a great asset to the already valuable focal length range and wide aperture of this lens. It can save the day at many events.
My understanding is that a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, ranging from retrofocus to telephoto, is extremely hard to design. With the popularity and usefulness of this focal length range, we see lens manufacturers coming out with new versions of these lenses frequently with this being Sigma's fourth version since the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG Aspherical DF was introduced in 2001 [per Sigma] for an average of a 4-year lifespan. While they could be simply trying to stay ahead of reviewers, far more likely is that manufacturers are pouring every bit of technological advancement possible into this lens category.
The Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 OS Art Lens design utilizes three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass lens elements and four aspherical lens elements working together along with special lens coatings including Sigma's Super Multi-Layer Coating to minimize optical aberrations.
How sharp is the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens? That is probably the first question you have in regards to image quality – it was definitely mine. Let's explore that aspect.
In the center of the frame, this lens has decent sharpness from 24mm through 28mm. By 35mm, results become somewhat softer and similar results are seen through 70mm.
Stop down to f/4 and prepare to be impressed by the center and mid-periphery results. This lens becomes extremely sharp when stopped down one stop and any differences realized by stopping down to f/5.6 are minor in this portion of the image circle.
Taking the testing outdoors, we next look at a pair of center-of-the-frame 100% resolution crops examples. These images were captured using an ultra-high resolution Canon EOS 5Ds R with RAW files processed in Canon DPP (Digital Photo Professional) using the Standard Picture Style and sharpness set to only "1" (0-10 scale).
Viewed by themselves, the f/2.8 results are decent and a little increase in sharpness would make them even nicer. Especially in the 35mm and 70mm samples, a very significant sharpness increase is seen at f/4 where the razor sharp term could be applied across the entire focal length range. Little difference is seen at f/5.6 and no difference is needed.
Especially noticeable in the 24mm samples is that the foreground does not increase in sharpness at narrower apertures, regardless of the increased depth of field. The reason is because this lens shifts the plane of sharpest focus rearward when it is stopped down. This shifting occurs over the entire focal length range. Here is a 70mm example:
As you can see, the intended plane of sharp focus remains in focus, so this issue will not be a significant one for many scenarios and focusing on a closer subject resolves the issue in many more.
The enhanced resolution ISO 12233 test chart we photograph under lab conditions generally produces results that are ideal for assessing image quality. But, test charts are flat and a corner blur can potentially indicate that a lens' sharp focus is not in a flat plane. While there may sometimes be a slight benefit from a curved area of focus, I nearly always want a flat plane. Still, it is worth determining how well a lens performs in the corners if focused in the corners.
The extreme corner test results shown below are an attempt to make the lens look its best in the area of the image circle where it generally looks the worst. These images were manually focused in the top-left extreme corner with that corner showing. I don't remember a real world image where I opted to focus the frame in the extreme corner, but ... here are the results
In these results, we see the 24mm corners becoming nicely sharp at f/5.6 with 35 and 70mm results showing an increasingly noticeable bump in sharpness at f/8. Interesting in this case is that the corners in some of my test results (notably more-distant ones) look better when the center of the frame is used for focusing, which is much more desirable for normal use. * The two f/11 results shown above were from the top right in some of my general results and though dark, these images show reasonable detail.
Corner image quality does not matter in all scenarios and you must decide if it is important for your lens to be sharp in the corners and what aperture settings sharp corners are needed at. Landscape photographers will care greatly, but f/8 and f/11 will likely be in use when sharp corners are required. Some portrait photographers may not care nearly as much about sharp corners.
Full frame lenses always show peripheral shading when used at their widest apertures on full frame cameras and this one is no different. The amount of shading ranges by focal length with the strongest shading present at the extents of the focal length range. At 24mm, corners are darkened by about 3 stops at f/2.8 while the 28mm and 70mm focal lengths see about 2.5 stops of wide open corner shading. A lesser 1.5 stops of corner shading is present in the 35-70mm range, again with a wide open aperture. Stopping down the aperture significantly resolves the shading with f/4 resulting in 1 to 2 stops of shading and the f/5.6 range is from 1.5 stops at the wide end to .6 stops at the long end. Little change is seen at apertures narrower than f/8 with a sometimes-noticeable 1.2 to 1.5 stops remaining in 24mm and 28mm corners.
The effect of different colors of the spectrum being magnified differently is referred to as lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration). Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii) with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the greatest amount as this is where the greatest difference in the magnification of wavelengths exists. Placing white lines against a black background in the corner of an EOS 5Ds R image will make such aberrations very apparent.
There should be only black and white colors in these images and the additional colors are showing lateral CA. This lens has a relatively strong amount of lateral CA over most of its focal length range with 50mm being an approximate color magnification crossover point, where the least amount of this CA is exhibited.
A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light, or more simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration, but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to look for. Axial CA remains at least somewhat persistent when stopping down with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing while the spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.
In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures. The silver bracelets in the samples below remain mostly-properly colored in both the foreground (bottom left) and background (top right) blur. Though there is some modest difference in the 24mm sample, these results indicate little overall concern in this regard.
This lens performs very well in our standard flare test involving the sun placed in the corner of the frame. However, a rather-unique circlular flare pattern is seen with the lens aimed directly at the sun (see the sun-star effect sample below).
Coma is generally recognized by sharp contrast towards the center of an image and long, soft contrast transition toward the image periphery. Coma becomes quite visible mid-frame and in the corners of images captured at wide apertures and significantly resolves when the lens is stopped down. Astigmatism is another lens image quality attribute that is apparent in the corners and the pin-point stars in the night sky are a subject that makes these aberrations, along with some others, easily recognizable.
The above samples show 100% crops taken from near the top-left corner of the frame and the shape of these stars is neither round nor pin-point.
Typical is for a zoom lens in this focal length range to exhibit barrel distortion at the wide end transitioning into negligible distortion and on into pincushion distortion at the long end. That aptly describes this lens with the wide end showing just a slight touch of mustache/wave distortion along with the normal central bulge of the barrel distortion. The amount of distortion at 24mm is, relatively speaking, not strong. The amount diminishes at 28mm and by 35mm, pincushion distortion is slightly apparent. Modest pincushion distortion is visible throughout the longer end of the range.
Geometric distortion is most visible when straight lines are located close to and parallel with the frame borders. Below are examples showing this (note that a slightly-upward camera angle produced some keystoning in these images and this should not be considered a lens attribute)
The last 24mm image was obviously captured at a different location, but also shows a line that should be at least mostly parallel to the frame border.
Geometric distortion makes framing a scene with a straight horizon, such as the ocean, challenging as there are no lines parallel to the edges of the viewfinder or viewfinder gridlines, though cameras with electronic levels are advantageous for overcoming this issue. Most modern lenses have lens correction profiles available for the popular image processing software (though most cameras will not have this correction available for a Sigma lens) and distortion can be easily removed using these, but distortion correction is destructive at the pixel level and this technique is seldom as good as using a distortion-free lens/focal length in the first place.
When used at a wide open aperture, most lenses have a fully-round aperture. It is at narrower aperture settings when the aperture blades most-affect the bokeh (quality of the background blur) and the following f/8 examples illustrate these effects in this lens.
All of these samples showing background blur (vs. foreground) and are 100% crops with the exception of the last 70mm example showing the full image downsized. The out-of-focus specular highlights show an interesting fill pattern, but the edges are not strongly-bordered and the bokeh in the outdoor-captured images appears quite nice.
An odd-number blade count means that point light sources captured with a narrow aperture and showing a star-like effect will have twice as many points as the blade count, which is 9 in this case. Here is an example showing this:
While I don't see the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens delivering image quality that is going to clearly make it every photographer's must-have lens, it competes well in most regards and is a contender for this most important lens slot.
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens receives a "... newly designed hypersonic motor (HSM) [that] offers 1.3 times the torque of its predecessor." [Sigma] That new motor seems to make a difference and I was pleasantly surprised by the focus speed of this lens. Unless a full extent distance adjustment is needed, AF locks onto subjects quite fast.
HSM-based AF systems are generally very quiet and this one has that feature, with just a click and "shhhh" heard during focusing. Other HSM features that are welcomed are internal focusing and FTM (Full Time Manual) focus support.
With any lens, autofocus accuracy is critically important for image quality (unless, of course, manual focus is being used) and experience has taught me that I can't always trust third party lenses in this regard. However, I am quite pleased with this one – my experience is that this lens consistently delivers accurate AF.
Subjects change size quite noticeably with focus distance change. While this attribute is not unusual, photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques involving focus distance adjustment, videographers pulling focus and anyone very-critically framing a scene should be aware.
A window provides focus distance settings (in both ft and mm) at a glance.
The manual focus ring is located to the rear of the zoom ring (I'll complain about that later). This ring is somewhat small, but it is smooth and has no play in it. With a 95° full extents rotation, focus distance is adjusted at a nice rate with close focus at 70mm happening just slightly fast.
With a 14.6" (370mm) minimum focus distance (MFD), the 24-70mm Art lens turns in an overall-good 0.21x maximum magnification (MM) at the 70mm mark. Comparatively, this number is better than the predecessor lens and similar to much of the competition with Sony and Nikon having better numbers on the board.
|Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens||15.0"||(380mm)||0.21x|
|Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E AF-S VR Lens||15.0"||(380mm)||0.28x|
|Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G AF-S Lens||14.4"||(366mm)||0.27x|
|Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens||14.6"||(370mm)||0.21x|
|Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM Lens||15.0"||(380mm)||0.19x|
|Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens||15.0"||(380mm)||0.24x|
|Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens||15.0"||(381mm)||0.20x|
|Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens||15.0"||(380mm)||0.20x|
|Tokina 24-70mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro FX Lens||15.0"||(380mm)||0.21x|
The image below was captured at 70mm at this lens' minimum focus distance. The largest in-focus flower measures about 1.3" (33mm) in diameter.
Magnification from wide angle through standard/normal focal length lenses, including this one, is generally significantly increased with the use of extension tubes which are basically as their name implies, hollow tubes (with electronic connections) that shift a lens farther from the camera. Doing so allows the lens to focus at closer distances, though at the expense of long distance focusing. Like all other lenses in this class, the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens is not compatible with Sigma's teleconverters.
Standard with the Sigma Global Vision series lenses is a modern, classy-looking, tightly-dimensioned, high-quality lens design and the 24-70 Art lens gets this.
While the most recently introduced Sigma EX lenses are nice and they are a major improvement over their predecessors, the Global Vision lenses are nicer still. The image above shows the EX predecessor to the left of the 24-70mm Art lens.
Sigma states that "... the lens barrel contains a large amount of metal, while the external moving parts feature thermally stable composite (TSC), which is resistant to thermal expansion and contraction." Overall, the lens is well-built with essentially no play/wobble in the barrel assembly even at full extension. Like all other lenses in its class, this lens extends with focal length change, becoming 1.24" (31.5mm) longer at 70mm. The zoom ring is smooth and nicely damped, rotating in the same direction as Canon lenses, opposite of the Nikon standard direction.
Easily my biggest disappointment with the 24-70 Art lens is Sigma's decision to move the zoom ring to the front of the lens with the focus ring moved rearward. I much-prefer holding a zoom lens with my left hand positioned under the zoom ring at the lens' balance point, which in this case is around the focus ring or just slightly rearward. Moving my left hand to the zoom ring means that my right hand must help support the camera. With the left hand under the focus ring to balance the lens, there is also an increased chance that the focus distance will inadvertently be changed while recomposing an image after focusing.
Positive is the overall smooth and comfortable shape of this lens, featuring very little diameter change after the initial stylishly-tapered transition from the narrower mount diameter. Both focus and zoom rings have nice sharply-ribbed rubber covers and about half of the remaining section of lens barrel is mold-ribbed for aided grip. While the ribbing is all good, the position, texture and diameter of the ribbed parts increases the challenge of tactilely finding the desired ring.
Low profile switches are provided on a low profile switch bank conveniently located for use with the left thumb. These switches need just the right amount of force to move them and switch position is nicely click-confirmed. Universal with Global Vision lenses is the white background showing behind the focus mode switch when in AF mode, adding a touch of class. OS can be switch-enabled or disabled. A zoom lock switch is not provided.
The Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens features a dust/splash-proof construction including a rubber gasket seal at the lens mount. The front lens element has a water- and oil-repellent coating that aids in keeping the lens clean and makes the lens easier to clean if something does adhere.
A 24-70mm f/2.8 lens cannot be expected to be light, image stabilization is not weightless and as of review time, this lens is the second-heaviest in its class, weighing less than only the Nikon variant.
|Model||Weight||Dimensions w/o Hood||Filter||Year|
|Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens||28.4 oz||(805g)||3.5 x 4.4"||(88.5 x 113mm)||82mm||2012|
|Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM Lens||21.2 oz||(600g)||3.3 x 3.7"||(83.4 x 93mm)||77mm||2012|
|Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens||28.1 oz||(795g)||3.3 x 4.6"||(83.5 x 118mm)||77mm||2016|
|Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E AF-S VR Lens||37.8 oz||(1070g)||3.5 x 6.1"||(88.0 x 154.5mm)||82mm||2015|
|Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G AF-S Lens||31.8 oz||(900g)||3.3 x 5.2"||(83.8 x 132.1mm)||77mm||2007|
|Nikon 24-120mm f/4G AF-S VR Lens||23.7 oz||(670g)||3.3 x 4.1"||(84 x 103mm)||77mm||2010|
|Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens||36.0 oz||(1020g)||3.5 x 4.2"||(88.0 x 107.6mm)||82mm||2017|
|Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM Lens||27.9 oz||(790g)||3.4 x 3.7"||(86.6 x 94.7mm)||82mm||2008|
|Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG Lens||24.7 oz||(700g)||3.5 x 4.6"||(89.0 x 116mm)|
|Sigma 24-105mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM Art Lens||31.2 oz||(885g)||3.5 x 4.3"||(88.6 x 109.4mm)||82mm||2013|
|Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens||31.3 oz||(886g)||3.4 x 5.4"||(87.6 x 136mm)||82mm||2016|
|Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens||31.9 oz||(904g)||3.5 x 4.4"||(88.4 x 111.8mm)||82mm||2017|
|Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens||29.1 oz||(825g)||3.5 x 4.3"||(88.2 x 108.5mm)||82mm||2012|
|Tokina 24-70mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro FX Lens||35.2 oz||(998g)||3.5 x 4.2"||(89.6 x 107.5mm)||82mm||2015|
For many more comparisons, review the complete Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens Specifications using the site's Lens Spec tool.
Though it feels like a solid chunk of lens in the hand, the 24-70mm Art lens is not that heavy and I didn't feel burdened even when carrying it on a nearly-4-mile hike in the national park.
While it is one of the heaviest lenses in its class and while it gained in size over its predecessor, the 24-70 Art lens is one of the most-compact in its class. Here is a comparison featuring many of this lens' contemporaries.
Above, from left to right, positioned by increasing apparent size, are the following lenses:
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens
Tokina 24-70mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro FX Lens
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens
Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G AF-S Lens
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E AF-S VR Lens
The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.
Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens to other lenses.
From the lens design guidebook for this era: if it is a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, it must have 82mm filter threads. At least that is what the above chart would lead us to believe. I recall 10 years ago when many of us were thinking that the 82mm filter size on the then-introduced Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L II USM Lens was huge and that adding this filter size to kits was a nuisance. Since then, at least two dozen additional 82mm-threaded lenses have been introduced and this size, though still rather large, is common and many kits are already aligned with this standard.
Take note that using a standard thickness circular polarizer filter will increase light falloff in frame corners. A slim model such as the B+W XS-Pro is highly recommended. UV/clear lens protection filters tend to be slimmer than CP filters and the tiny amount of increased vignetting standard thickness version of these filters cause will be unnoticed.
I love that Sigma includes a lens hood with all of their lenses. This hood is modest in size, but affords a good amount of protection to the lens from both impact and flare-inducing light (at least at the wide end of the range). The hood is strong molded plastic-constructed with only a slight amount of flex (which is good for absorbing impact). The interior of the hood is ribbed to avoid reflections and small portions of the exterior mount area are ribbed or rubberized for easier grip.
Sigma Art lenses arrive in a nicely padded, double-zippered case. While I'm certain that these cases do not cost Sigma very much to source, they are quite useful and I much prefer these over not-otherwise-useful shipping packing materials. A shoulder strap is not provided/available for this model, but an approximately 1.75" (44mm) belt loop is.
Sigma's Global Vision lenses get a classification of "A", "C" or "S", representing a primary Sigma-intended use of "Artistic", "Contemporary" and "Sports". A full description of these categories can be found in the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art Lens press release.
Don't read too much into the category names (they are too limiting), but Sigma has been introducing some very nice lenses under all 3 names. This is an "Art" lens. In addition to the obvious inclusion in the name, it is denoted by an "A" stamped in a classy chrome circle on the lens barrel.
A great feature of the Global Vision lenses is compatibility with the Sigma Dock. The dock, working in conjunction with the Sigma Optimization Pro software, allows the lens' firmware to be updated (bug fixes, compatibility updates, feature enhancements, etc.) and allows precise autofocus calibration at four distances. FTM focus can also be disabled/controlled via the dock. Here are some screen grabs showing some of the functionality.
Note that the focus calibration values were set for illustration purposes only.
We have come to expect Sigma Art lenses to by synonymous with great image and build quality at a competitive price. And, that is what we find in the 24-70 Art lens. While it may not be amazingly better than the other options from an optical perspective, the 24-70 Art lens is priced very significantly less than the Canon, Nikon and Sony counterparts. In some cases, the Sigma is just slightly over half the price of the camera-brand competition. So, in my mind, that makes this lens a very good value.
The Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens is available in Canon (reviewed), Nikon and Sigma mounts and the Canon mount version can be used on a Sony E-mount camera body via the Sigma Mount Converter MC-11. This lens also qualifies for Sigma's Mount Conversion Service, so you can change your mind later.
My standard disclaimer: There are potential issues with third party lenses. Since Sigma reverse engineers (vs. licenses) manufacturer electronics and algorithms, there is always the potential for a DSLR body to not be supported by a (likely older) third party lens. Usually a lens can be made compatible by the manufacturer via a firmware update, but this cannot be guaranteed. Compatibility with the Sigma USB Dock is risk (and hassle) reducing as Sigma can make dock-compatible lens firmware updates available for download. Sigma USA's provides a 3-year limited warranty (Sigma's international limited warranty is 1 year and Sigma USA adds a 3-year extension).
The reviewed Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens was online/retail acquired.
There is no shortage of 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses to compare the Sigma Art option to and that creates a decision-making challenge. In addition, many of these lenses are very similar in many regards and the selection of each can be justified for one or more reasons. I'll provide some differentiators to help you make that choice.
Certain is that a high number of those considering purchasing the 24-70mm Art Lens include photographers who currently own the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens (or who are alternatively considering the purchase of it). At f/2.8, the Canon is noticeably sharper than the Sigma, especially in the center of the frame and in the extreme corners. Of course, if you cannot use a tripod and cannot hold the lens stable enough for sharp images, the Sigma's OS will quickly flip that advantage. At f/4, these two lenses are both extremely sharp and there is little differentiation in this regard aside from the Canon's still-better corner performance.
Otherwise, there are surprisingly-few significant differentiators between these lenses. The Canon is slightly larger and the Sigma is 7.6 oz (215g) heavier. The Canon's rear-positioned zoom ring is a much better design, but for sure you will like the Sigma's roughly-25%-lower price tag better.
Perhaps the most-direct competitor to the Sigma 24-70mm Art Lens is the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens. In comparison at f/2.8, the Tamron is sharper in the center of the frame and the Sigma is sharper in the periphery. Exceptions to that description include 24mm where the Tamron is slightly better in the periphery and at 70mm where the Sigma perform slightly better over most of the image circle. Differences even out considerably at f/4, where the Sigma generally has slightly sharper center of the frame performance and the Tamron takes a couple of corners.
The Tamron has slightly stronger barrel distortion at 24mm. The Tamron is 4.1 oz (115g) lighter and the Sigma is slightly shorter. The Tamron's VC (Vibration Control) is rated one stop higher than the Sigma's OS (5 stops vs. 4) and the Tamron has a modestly lower price tag at review time.
Another third party lens currently available is the Tokina 24-70mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro FX Lens. At f/2.8, the Tokina is slightly sharper in the center of the frame and the Sigma is better in the periphery. At f/4, the Sigma is at least as sharp in the center of the frame and the Tokina closes the gap on periphery performance.
The Tokina has about .5 stops less peripheral shading at f/2.8, though stopping down largely eliminates this difference. The Sigma has a considerably more-modern overall design, though the Tokina has the rear-positioned zoom ring I prefer. The Sigma includes OS and the Tokina bears a more-wallet-friendly price tag.
In the Nikon VR vs. Sigma Art lens comparison at f/2.8, I see the Nikon performing better in the periphery at 24mm and the Sigma turns in slightly better 70mm results. Differences become hard to describe at the other focal lengths, but are not substantial. At f/4, I like the Sigma results better.
Noticeable is that the Nikon VR has more lateral CA in the mid focal lengths, but less at the long end. The Nikon has stronger barrel distortion at 24mm and stronger pincushion distortion from 35-50mm. The Nikon is significantly longer than the Sigma and is the only current comparable lens that weighs more, though only very slightly so. The Sigma provides 95° of focus ring rotation compared to the Nikon's 65°. The Nikon has the maximum magnification advantage with a 0.28x spec vs. the Sigma's 0.21x. That nearly two of the Sigma Art lenses could be purchased for the same price as a single Nikon VR, the highest-priced lens being compared here, leaves a mark on this comparison.
We have not tested the non-VR Nikon lens on the Nikon D810 yet, but we do have results from the D3X which are available to nicely compare against Canon 1Ds III results. In this comparison, I'd give the Nikon the edge at f/2.8, though it has more lateral CA with 70mm being an exception in that regard. At f/4, I like the Sigma results slightly better at the long end and the Nikon appears to be slightly sharper at the wide end, though the CA definitely gets in the way of the latter comparison.
The Nikon has less peripheral shading at the ends of the focal length range and the Sigma shows fewer flare effects at the wide end. The Nikon has more barrel distortion at 24mm, but less pincushion distortion at 70mm. The Sigma provides 95° of focus ring rotation compared to the Nikon's 72°. Again, the Nikon's 0.27x maximum magnification spec is considerably advantaged over Sigma's 0.21x. The Nikon is noticeably longer, though it weighs about 4.2 oz (120g) less. The non-VR Nikon option is more-attractively priced than the VR counterpart, but it is still considerably more expensive than the Sigma.
As mentioned earlier, Sony-based systems can make use of the Canon mount version of the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 OS Art Lens via the Sigma Mount Converter MC-11. The native-mount Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens will be the head-on competition for these kits. In the Sigma vs. Sony comparison at f/2.8, the Sony shows as the modestly sharper lens at most focal lengths and also shows less lateral CA at 70mm. I see the Sony still holding the slight edge in the f/4 comparisons.
The Sony has modestly less vignetting at 70mm f/2.8 but the Sigma shows fewer flare effects. The Sigma is notably shorter and the Sony is 4.6 oz (124g) lighter. The Sony lens has a modestly higher 0.24x maximum magnification spec vs. the Sigma's 0.21x. The Sony option, without the need for an adapter, would be expected to perform better from AF and frame rate perspectives. The Sony is the considerably-more-expensive option, but the price of the adapter takes a noticeable bite out of that difference.
If you don't need the f/2.8 aperture, there are a number of f/4 lenses that cover or exceed the 24-70mm focal length range and all are worth considering. All else being equal, a narrower max aperture means smaller size, lighter weight and lower price. Here are some options to consider:
The primary downside to consider when selecting an f/4 lens is that twice as much light is required to stop camera and subject action.
The promise of Sigma Art lens quality coming to the 24-70mm focal length range along with an f/2.8 max aperture and optical stabilization had a large number of photographers signing up to add this lens to their kits immediately on announcement day. Does the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 OS Art Lens fulfill Sigma's "It’s Here to Steal the Spotlight" promise? From the perspectives of many, it was hoped that this lens would get that spotlight for its exceedingly sharp image quality performance and from that perspective, I'm sure that there is some let-down among the hopeful. However, this lens is optically competitive and it performs quite well for the price.
Hopefully Sigma can move the zoom ring back to the predecessor's location for the next model, but otherwise I like this lens a lot. The 24-70 Art lens is compact for its specs, it seems well built, including being inclement weather-ready and it has a high quality appearance. The focal length range is highly useful, as is the wide aperture and the AF system may be my new Sigma favorite. Adding OS significantly increases this lens' already great versatility and especially at f/4, this lens delivers very impressive image sharpness. While not a cheap lens, the price is very competitive and I'm sure that aspect alone will bring it strong popularity.
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