One of the most useful telephoto zooms you can ever own is the 70-200mm. This type of zoom lens covers the short to medium telephoto range and has been the number one solution for anything from portraits to wildlife photography.
Without waxing lyrical for days about the usefulness of a 70-200, the end solution for most for a quality zooms was a same-as camera brand lens. But as soon as third-party makers started to get in on the act, their versions instantly became viable options. Therefore, we’re bringing you our top picks of Sigma 70-200mm lenses.
Now, as you’re reading this article you’ve probably already delved into the world of 70-200mm lenses and what is currently available. This begs the first question of, “Isn’t there only one Sigma 70-200mm lens available?”
If you’re just counting the latest and greatest designs, then you are correct as we will show below. But if you don’t mind diving back in time a little, Sigma’s older models still provide plenty of optical qualities. Plus, being older models, they should be available as refurbished or reinvigorated examples for a very competitive price.
1. Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports (Overall Winner)
The latest and greatest Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports has hit our number one spot several times due to its wonderful optics, features, and basically being everything you need in a 70-200mm package. This lens is part of Sigma’s Sports range, which means it’s a good choice for distant, fast-moving subject matter such as wildlife, sports events, or for anything that won’t keep still. The lens also provides a 112-320mm equivalent focal length on crop sensor cameras, which stretches into the long telephoto zone.
As per any high-quality zoom lens, the aperture comes in at f/2.8, which works very well in relatively low-light conditions and is very adept at producing quality bokeh. This aspect is mainly due to the 11-blade rounded diaphragm, which is a step up above the regular nine-blade version.
Internally, the lens has a fair degree of glass as we found out with its 1.8kg overall mass. All the internal optics are centered around an arrangement of 24 elements in 22 groups, which includes One Special Low Dispersion and nine F Low Dispersion elements, along with a super multi-layer coating to maintain image quality. The front and rear elements have also been treated to an oil repellent coating.
One essential item on all modern telephoto lenses is an optical stabilization system with two modes of operation. Other additional features include a focus limiter switch, a manual override setting, and custom modes. The lens also comes with its own pre-requisite tripod collar, all wrapped around a fully weather-sealed magnesium lens barrel.
In essence, there’s really not much to complain about this lens. Images are wonderfully sharp even at f/2.8 and the quality of bokeh, especially at the longer focal lengths is professionally creamy. This 70-200mm lens is also a great solution for video work. And while it may be quite a heavyweight beast, it’s an excellent alternative to same-as camera brand offerings.
Read our complete review of the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports.
The Sigma APO 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM is an older model lens, which came out in 2010 and slotted in an optical stabilization system and a completely reworked optical design from previous models. This lens can also be fitted on crop sensor cameras to provide a 105-300mm equivalent focal length.
The wide and bright f/2.8 aperture works extremely well in low light and just like the lens above, produces high-quality bokeh for the likes of portrait shots.
Internally, the optics are arranged around 22 elements in 17 groups. The arrangement includes two F Low Dispersion and three Special Low Dispersion elements, with a multi-layer coating applied to each element.
Sigma’s efficient Hypersonic motor has also been included, which is quick to lock into focus and is only tripped up from time to time in low-light conditions. The optical stabilization system also has two modes of operation, with an overall four stops of compensation.
Optically, this third-party 70-200mm lens is extremely sharp throughout its aperture and focal range, being almost a match for the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports. If you buy this lens brand new, it’s almost as expensive as the Sports version. But used and refurbished models can be picked up for nearly half the price, which makes it an extremely good value option in this category.
3. Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG APO Macro HSM II (Budget Winner)
This lens was released back in 2007 and has all the hallmarks of a high-quality 70-200mm zoom. It’s equally capable on crop sensor cameras, providing a 105-300mm view on 1.5x versions and a 112-320mm viewpoint on the 1.6x variety. The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG APO Macro HSM II, just like the top Sports model, was and still is a contender against other high-quality 70-200mm f/2.8 offerings.
The lens has Sigma’s highly capable Hypersonic autofocus motor, which works at its best at the longer focal lengths with fast-moving objects. It provides its sharpest results on full-frame cameras and although it produces images which are a touch softer at the longer focal lengths than the options above, it’s still respectably sharp throughout the aperture and focal range. Background blur or bokeh is also respectable, just not to the same quality as the two options above.
Ultimately, the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG APO Macro HSM II is harder to track down than the two options above. But when you do find one for sale, it can make for a low-cost alternative to other 70-200mm zooms.
Finding High-Performance Sigma 70-200mm Lenses
It usually comes down to weighing up the pros and cons of each lens option, with one example just edging ahead. In this lineup, the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports is the clear winner, not just because it’s the latest model, but because it has the best overall features. It is the most expensive lens of the bunch, but you won’t be thinking about its initial price when you sample its capabilities.
The other two options are still highly capable and very good value for money if you want to stick to the Sigma platform. They have just been superseded by a more focused design, which is more than capable of extracting all the resolution from modern digital cameras.
If you want to go outside this zoom range and have a bit of money to play with, you might want to look at our guide on the best Sigma telephoto lenses under $1000.