I realise for many of you just starting out with digital SLR photography you have likely bought up a nice camera that came with something like a 18-55mm lens attached, what is commonly referred to as a ‘kit lens’. Now when I bought my first DSLR some 10 years ago the kit lenses weren’t that impressive but on a recent training session I was blown away by the results a trainee achieved with this lens. Not bad eh! (image right)
So the 18-55mm isn’t a bad little lens but you’ll soon wish you could zoom in a little further and the next lens in your bag needn’t be expensive, well not as far as lenses go.
NOTE: One thing you might not know is that entry level and mid range cameras have a cropped sensor which you can read about here. Now the only reason I say this is to highlight the fact that when you’re shooting at 55mm, you’re actually zoomed to around 87mm. That’s not a big deal at this size but going for a 300mm lens actually gives you a 476mm lens, and that’s a pretty decent zoom! When I changed from my 30D to my 5D I really missed the extra reach the cropped sensor gave me.
Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6DG Macro
Well this is what you’ve come to read about so lets jump in and have a look. Now I can’t quite believe this impressive lens is just under £90, you’d expect something nasty that couldn’t deliver sharp images, but as you’re about to see, this little lens performs like a £250+ lens.
The build is a high-grade plastic with metal mount and as you zoom out to 300mm the lens extends out.
Now the lens sharpness is really high but with anything less than a professional zoom lens you need to expect some fall off in sharpness as you push out that zoom past 150mm. That said, this Sigma is out performing anything else in its price range including the Tamron AF 70-300mm, priced at £116 currently.
Amazon reviews are another good place to always check these lenses as you’re typically hearing from amateurs like yourself and they’ll tell you it how it is without all the techy jargon. How does it feel, how noisy is it and most importantly you’ll see some of the photos customers have taken. I’ve added a few below to save you the effort. At the time of writing this Amazon.co.uk have 56 reviews with an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars. Amazon.com have 365 with the same glowing reviews of 4.5! That say’s a huge amount to me, none of those messages of regret for purchasing a cheap lens, just happy snappers.
Now by all means go and google the lens if you want some in-depth reviews, I made a point of deliberately not going there, I just want you to see that you don’t have to break the bank to add a nice zoom lens to your kit and as promised here’s a few customer’s images from Amazon (click the images to go through to the Amazon.co.uk review page where you can see them and their credits).
I should have mentioned the Macro feature on this lens as it’s pretty sweet. You can see from some of these images above that they’ve shot insects and flowers with the macro and with this lens you take it out to 300mm, switch over to macro and focus from there. This is different from your 18-55mm where you can get as close as 25cm with a 55mm zoom, you are zoomed 6x closer with the lens and can get less than 1m from the subject giving you super close-ups. If you’re really wanting to get into macro photography you’ll need to part with some serious money but for 90% of you this will be all you need.
One thing to note is that you have a gap in your range with this lens as your other presumably stops at 55mm. That’s not a big deal and if you upgrade the 18-55mm at some point in the future it would likely be to something like a 28-70mm. If in the short-term you want something starting at 55mm I strongly recommend the Canon 55-250mm f4-5.6 II IS at the dearer price of around £210 ($249) but the extra cost is seen in the increased quality. And that my friends is going to be my next review 😉
Here are the links to take you to Amazon, both .co.uk and .com (don’t say I don’t spoil you):
Buy the Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG lens on Amazon.co.uk – £87 here
Buy the Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG lens on Amazon.com – $144 here
Featured image thanks to Garry Fenton