I mentioned last week that one of the purposes of my Durham visit was to see how my Sigma 70-300mm lens would play in reasonably good conditions with the Canon 5D Mk II. Well, I gave it a good test, and had a proper look at the images it captured. And they were a bit lacking. Not as sharp as they might be, nowhere near as clear as I’d like, and when I was using it, the autofocus was not only quite loud, but was definitely struggling to lock on. So I decided that it really was time to think about a better lens to complement my lovely Canon 24-105mm that came with the 5D. I’ve got some nice lenses at the wider end, and there is of course my hefty 150-500mm monster, but that’s a little too big to carry around on a regular basis. So what I wanted was a better quality lens in the medium telephoto range. A bit of reading and researching first led me to the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM, which would seem to be both the bees’ knees and the canine wossnames, but as it costs £1,800, there is no way I’d be able to get it for quite a long time. So, I did some more reading, read more reviews, and came around to this lens. Like most of my lenses, it’s made by Sigma and is designed to be a lower-cost alternative to the Canon – quite substantially lower in this case – Amazon’s current price is £569.99. Now this isn’t an exact equivalent to the Canon – the Canon has image stabilisation, and this doesn’t. Sigma do make an IS version, but its price is only a whisker under the £1,000 mark, which led me to ask myself how much I like image stabilisation. Well, I like it, and appreciate it on my 24-105mm lens, but is it worth over £400 extra to me? In this instance, I decided it wasn’t, and so I ordered this lens.
Like the Canon, its maximum aperture is f/2.8 throughout the zoom range, and unlike my other telephoto lenses, all the zooming is done internally – this lens does not get any longer when you zoom, which I find makes it easier to balance. It’s a pretty big and heavy lens, which is only to be expected – there’s some seriously big glass in there, and the whole thing is solidly built.
As I’ve mentioned, the weather has been conspiring to stop me giving it a proper test, but here are a few shots I took this evening, while wandering around the Grey’s Monument area: