If there’s one zoom lens you should own above the rest, it’s a 24-70mm. There is the argument for a wide-angle zoom or the very capable 70-200mm zoom, but the 24-70mm covers the most useful and common focal lengths. This is why we’re taking a closer look at the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art to see if it is a viable alternative to same-brand offerings.
The more popular camera makers produce their own versions of the 24-70mm, which themselves are highly regarded. So, why buy a third-party version, when a same-brand zoom can do the job?
In the case of the Sigma 24-70mm, the company has been on point across their whole Art series of lenses including both prime and zoom lenses. These lenses provide excellent optical quality for the price and while they may not have the full weatherproofing of a Canon L series or Nikon, they certainly deliver in the image quality department.
With that in mind, let’s see how the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art compares to the rest.
Firstly, the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 comes in its own canvas carrying case which is lined with a soft rubberized material. Although you wouldn’t necessarily use this case every day, it makes the whole package feel higher quality than just receiving a lens in a cardboard box.
The lens barrel itself feels rock-solid, being made from Thermally Stable Composite (TSC), with a brass bayonet fitting and rubber seals to keep out dust and moisture. An optical image stabilization system has been incorporated with four stops of compensation, an aspect some of the other 24-70mm lenses don’t include. Another plus point there.
Although the lens weighs in 1,020g, it has smaller dimensions than its mainstay counterparts, making the lens feel well-balanced on a Canon or Nikon camera body. Additionally, upfront is an 82mm filter thread which doesn’t rotate when focusing. A petal-shaped lens hood is supplied in the package.
Internally, the lens features an Integrated Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) with manual override. The barrel has the common AF/MF switch for swapping between auto and manual focusing modes, as well as an on/off switch for the stabilization system.
The nine-blade rounded diaphragm is electromagnetically controlled, with an internal optical arrangement of 19 elements arranged in 14 groups. These elements include three Special Low Dispersion (SLD) and four aspherical elements, along with a Super Multi-Layer coating.
Other plus points of the lens include updates available from the optional Sigma USB dock, for things like firmware updates and fine-tuning. Converters can be purchased to use the lens on Sony E-mount cameras and if you want to jump ship to another camera body make, Sigma has a mount conversion service.
The Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art in Use
The autofocus system on this lens is extremely quick in operation and only skipped a beat once or twice in very low light conditions. The close focusing distance of 37cm is also beneficial – it’s not exactly a macro lens, but at least it gets you quite near to small subjects.
The four stops of optical stabilization is a great addition when using extra-low shutter speeds. This aspect is especially useful in very dim conditions, where you normally have to break out a wider aperture prime lens or strobe. An f/2.8 aperture is reasonably wide anyway, but the addition of stabilization just adds that extra level of usefulness.
Sharpness levels with this lens are fantastic, even with the aperture set to f/2.8. There is a slight touch of edge softness at 24mm, with some noticeable barrel distortion, which quickly goes away by 35mm. Contrast and color saturation are also wonderful, taking advantage of the camera’s full resolution, with plenty of detail and definition.
When the Sigma is set to f/2.8, bokeh has a wonderfully smooth transition of colors, which worked very well for portrait shots. Plus, with a close-up subject, separation with the background still looks great up to f/5.6.
As for lens anomalies, I was expecting some chromatic aberration with the aperture fully wide open, as is the case with my Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens. But, with the 24-70mm, chromatic aberration is only slightly noticeable in high contrast areas at f/2.8. Barrel distortion is noticeable at 24mm, dropping incrementally up to 70mm, but this aspect can be easily fixed with a good lens profile in your favorite post-editing software.
Flaring and ghosting are well handled with this lens and while the petal-shaped hood does a reasonable job, my subjective preference is for a large and bulky lens hood. This point is just simply for added front element protection.
Overall, there are simply no complaints about the image quality coming from this lens. Once you nail the focus, images are tack sharp and the stabilization system gives you the confidence to go into lower light level conditions.
How Does It Compare?
As the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art is designed to be an alternative to same brand offerings, it’s worth lining up the lens against the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM. Mainly because this is the lens I have the most experience with and is a common comparison.
The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is lighter weight than the Sigma, but it doesn’t feature image stabilization. The Canon has a handy zoom lock switch, full weatherproofing, and the usual L-series build quality, but it’s also a good $500 more expensive than the Sigma.
Image quality from the Sigma is definitely on par with the Canon, which means if you don’t need the peace of mind of full weatherproofing, then the Sigma is a great alternative.
|Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art||Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM|
|Optics||19 elements / 14 groups||18 elements / 13 groups|
|Close Focus Distance||37cm||38cm|
There’s no denying that the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art is a great zoom lens with impressive image quality. The stabilization system and price point tip the balance in favor of the Sigma over same-brand offerings. Plus, the Sigma is lighter weight than a Nikon version, but a touch heavier than a Canon version.
Tamron also has its own 24-70mm zoom, which is less expensive than the Sigma, but just doesn’t have the same optical prowess. Therefore, if you are not completely sold on native brand 24-70mm zooms, then the Sigma is definitely worth a closer look.