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Some thoughts on the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX APO HSM zoom lens

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 HSM zoom lens is a professional lens in the same league as the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L USM lens. As indicated by their name, they are almost identical. They both offer zoom function in the 70mm to 200mm range, f/2.8 wide-open aperture for low-light work, and provide super-quiet auto-focus operation with Hypersonic Motor (HSM) and Ultrasonic Motor (USM).

I purchased the Sigma lens used for around $600 dollars, a bargain for this lens. I was extremely surprised to find it in virtually brand new condition when it arrived. It came with hood, front lens cap, rear lens cap, and a padded soft carrying pouch.

The lens is heavy. It is about as heavy as my Canon 300mm f/4 L lens. With massive lenses of this caliber, always support the camera and lens combination via the lens body, rather than the camera body. The lens looks and feels extremely solid. Its length is almost as long as the Canon 300mm f/4 L lens. As with the Canon lens, the flower-shaped hood makes the Sigma lens even longer. The lens comes with 77mm filter threads to accommodate your favorite filters.

The lens also came with a tripod support for mounting on tripod. The tripod support is rotate-able just like the Canon 300mm f/4 L lens. However, I found that, when hand-held, the tripod collar gets in the way while zooming with the zoom ring. My only remedy is to wrap my hand around the tripod support and adjust the zoom ring with my fingertips. A person with smaller hands may want to rotate or remove the collar while handholding the camera set-up.

The lens adjustment rings are well designed and use up almost every inch of the lens body surface. The manual focus ring is massive and takes up the whole front section of the lens. Manual focus adjustment feels extremely smooth. Sigma's HSM auto-focus is extremely quiet, smooth, and fast. It is only slightly louder than Canon's USM auto-focus technology.

The images produced by the lens are extremely sharp. The lens seems to produce pictures that are less warm and less color saturated than my Canon 300mm f/4 L. So, I performed a test by taking pictures of the same subject with the two lenses. The pictures are composed of the same subject taken from different distance to show the same magnification on film. Then pictures are developed and printed from the same roll of film. When I place two pictures from the two lens, side-by-side, I could not tell the difference between the two pictures. And I could not pick out which picture was taken by which lens. In fact, I guessed that the more saturated picture was shot with the Canon 300mm f/4 L lens. But when I looked at the frame number on the back of the prints, I found that the picture was actually taken with the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX HSM lens.

Overall, this is an excellent lens. It is the only lens I take with me to shoot roller-hockey games. Based on my experience, the focal length of the Canon 300mm f/4 L lens is too long to use at a roller-hockey game. With the fast action of the sport, a zoom lens is needed. At 200mm, the lens is about long enough to cover the rink. And at 70mm, the lens is short enough to catch the action when it occurs right in front of me.

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