Third-party lenses can offer superb value for money in comparison with their first-party rivals from the major DSLR camera brands; Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax.
In this buying guide we look at twelve of the best Sigma lenses for DSLR that are currently available. Sigma have a proud history of offering excellent value with their lenses, with many of their offerings being stellar performers. This guide looks at a variety of lens types, from primes, to wide-angle, telephoto and travel zooms.
Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6
The Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM Lens is an ultra-wide angle lens aimed at crop sensor DSLRs. Available in mounts to fit Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax, when mounted on a crop body it delivers an effective focal range of 15-30mm.
This lens is up against stiff competition from Canon and Nikon, who both have excellent ultra-wide zooms of their own. Whilst managing to keep the price to a minimum, Sigma have delivered a very solid lens with this 10-20mm. The Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM takes 77mm filters, and boasts an effective HSM autofocus system that is silent and accurate.
The build quality of this lens is excellent, the image quality, whilst not quite on a par with the more expensive lenses from Canon/Nikon, is extremely good for a lens at this relatively low price. If you want an inexpensive ultra-wide zoom for your crop-sensor DSLR, then this Sigma is an attractive option.
Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX DG
The Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 AF II DG HSM Lens for Canon Digital SLRs is a high-quality ultra-wide angle lens aimed at full frame cameras. If mounted on on a 1.5 or 1.6 crop camera this lens still provides reasonably wide coverage at around 18-36mm, although if you want the widest possible Sigma zoom lens for your crop camera you may well be better off with the 10-20mm.
The build quality of the Sigma 12-24mm is super-sturdy, mainly thanks to the amount of metals used in its construction, this has a slight impact on its weight (670g), but that’s nothing to worry about in real world use. On a full frame camera a lens of this weight feels reassuringly well-balanced.
The Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX DG is available with mounts to fit Pentax, Nikon, Sony, Sigma and Canon, and is an excellent potential partner for full frame DSLR users.
Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro
Released in 2013, Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM Lensis a general purpose zoom lens that comes in mounts for Nikon, Canon, Sigma, Sony and Pentax. This lens is for crop sensor DSLR bodies and as such will provide a range of 27-112mm (for Canon), or 26-105mm (1.5 crop Nikon and other bodies).
The Sigma 17-70mm has a fast aperture of f/2.8 when wide open, and a maximum aperture of f/4 when fully extended. Build quality is excellent, high quality plastics give a smooth and classy finish. This lens features Sigma’s image stabilisation technology (OS), which helps alleviate the effects of camera shake when shooting hand held.
For a lens at this low price the optics are superb, good sharpness across the range, reasonable background blur is very achievable at f/2.8. When you also consider the macro capabilities this really is a remarkable general purpose lens that sits at a very tempting price.
Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM
The Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM is one of the world’s fastest zoom lenses. Released in late 2013, the f/1.8 aperture is constant through the zoom range. This lens is aimed at APS-C sensor DSLRs for Canon, Nikon and Sigma. When mounted on a APS-C crop DSLR body the Sigma 18-35mm will deliver an effective focal range of around 28-50mm, making it a great general purpose lens.
At that length it could be effectively used for landscapes, street and travel photography, and with the f/1.8 you can also use for portraiture. This is a high-quality and versatile lens. For such as fast lens the weight is only 810g, this is again very helpful if you’re going to use this as a ‘walkaround’ lens. To keep the weight at this relatively low level this lens is primarily fashioned from plastics, but the build quality is still of a high standard.
Image quality is outstanding, with great colour and contrast throughout the range. The only slight negative with this lens is that there is no built-in image stabilization; but the fast f/1.8 really helps compensate for it.
It is difficult to compare this to any Nikon or Canon alternative, as they simply don’t have a zoom lens this fast. One thing is for sure, if you want a high-quality general-purpose zoom for your DSLR, then this Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 is a very serious contender.
Sigma 18-50mm F2.8-4.5 DC OS HSM
The Sigma 18-50mm F2.8-4.5 DC OS HSM is a general purpose zoom lens aimed at APS-C crop sensor DSLRs from Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony.
Build quality is more than acceptable, with a very solid feel for a lens of this budget class. As an ‘OS’ image stabilised lens the Sigma 18-50mm offers a helping hand when it comes to handheld and low-light shooting. Focusing is reasonably rapid, mainly thanks to the HSM motor, although it can be known to hunt a little in lower-light conditions.
Image quality is very good for a entry-level zoom, although corner sharpness can be compromised towards the shorter end of the focal range. Distortion is mostly well controlled, vignetting and chromatic aberration are all too present at times, but can be easily corrected in your choice of post-processing software.
This is a far from perfect, but still usable little zoom lens, any imprecations present can surely be forgiven at this ultra-low price point. With the fast aperture and image stabilisation this lens has, it offers features that other starter kit zoom lenses sadly lack.
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM
The Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM is aimed at full frame DSLR bodies and sits at the top of the tree of Sigma’s regular zoom lenses. This lens is available in mounts to fit Nikon, Canon, Sony, Sigma and Pentax.
At this mid-range focal length this is a lens that is truly general purpose, great as a travel lens, street photography, landscapes, with the speed of the lens also rendering it effective for portraits and low-light photography.
This is a well refined lens with solid build quality, and a large f/2.8 aperture that is constant across the zoom range. Images are super-sharp at the centre, with a lovely background blur available when used at f/2.8. This lens takes 82mm filters, which is a pain if you have other lenses and filters with the more common 77mm sizing.
The Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM is up against some stiff competition from Canon and Nikon in this range. Whilst it isn’t on a par with the likes of the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8, it is an awful lot cheaper and will appeal to DSLRs users who want a premium zoom without such a premium price.
Sigma 24mm f/1.8 EX DG Aspherical Macro
The Sigma 24mm f/1.8 EX DG Aspherical Macro is primarily aimed at full frame DSLRs, although may be used on crop bodies, on which it will offer a focal length of around 35mm. This is a wide-angle macro lens with superb optics, and a minimum focus distance of just 7 inches.
This really is a very versatile lens, at this focal length it can be used for landscape and urban photography, with the fast aperture and low-light performance also offering possibilities for event and music photographers. Background blur is of excellent quality due to the nine curved aperture blades.
The Sigma 24mm is a high-quality prime lens that is available with mounts to fit Canon, Nikon, Sony and Sigma DSLRs. It can be considered something of a bargain, particularly when you consider the optical performance and build quality offered at this relatively low price.
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM
The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM is a fast fixed-length prime lens aimed at DSLRs with APS-C crop sensors. On a 1.6 crop Canon body if offers an effective range of 48mm, on the 1.5 crop bodies (Nikon, Sony, Pentax) it delivers a focal range of 45mm. This puts this lens directly in the general purpose/everyday category.
This is a lens that will equally be at home on the street, for portraiture or photojournalism. The rapid f/1.4 aperture enables excellent performance for hand-held photography in low-light conditions. The other main benefit of course being the ability to create an effective background blur or bokeh effect.
As a prime lens at this level the Sigma 30mm f/.4 has super-sharp optics, it doesn’t quite have the build quality of some rival lenses from Nikon or Canon, but it also cost a lot less than those premium alternatives.
The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is available to fit Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony and Sigma cameras.
Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM
Released in 2012, the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM is a prime lens primarily aimed at full frame cameras. It is available with mounts to fit cameras manufactured by Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax and Sigma. If mounted on a crop body it offers a focal length of 52.5mm for Nikon DX bodies, and a 56mm length on an APS-C (1.6 crop) Canon body.
The optics of this lens are remarkable, not only matching the already very impressive 35mm offerings from Canon and Nikon, but also out-performing them in some areas. Auto-focusing is accurate, rapid and very accurate. Build quality is very good, but maybe not quite on a par with its Canon and Nikon counterparts.
Sigma have really produced the goods with this 35mm F1.4 DG HSM, it comes highly recommended and is a serious alternative to the 35mm offerings from Canon/Nikon/Sony.
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM
Announced in 2008, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens is a fast prime lens that can be effectively used on both full frame and crop sensor DSLRs.
When mounted on a full frame camera this lens provides a classic focal length of 50mm, on a crop sensor body it offers an effective 75mm, which can act as a short-range telephone, ideal for portraits (particularly when the fast aperture is considered), and also some photojournalism/street-based work. The large f/1.4 aperture also makes this lens an ideal candidate for indoor and low-light photography.
For a 50mm prime this is a relatively large and heavy lens, and one that takes 77mm filters, which again is uncommon for a fixed-length lens of this type. The upside to the weight is that the build quality is excellent, with a real high-quality feel and finish.
Image quality is excellent, images are a little soft at f1/4 (but still more than usable), but things improve rapidly at f1/.8 and beyond. The quality of background blur/bokeh is also excellent, as you would expect of a prime lens of this class.
The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens is is available with mounts to fit Nikon, Canon, Sigma, Sony and Pentax DSLR bodies.
Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 EX DG OS HSM
Announced in 2010, the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 EX DG OS HSM is a telephoto lens that offers image stabilisation (via Sigma’s Optical Stabiliser system) and a large maximum aperture of f/2.8. This lens is available for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax and Sigma mounts.
The Sigma 70-200mm is primarily aimed at full frame cameras, but can be used on crop sensor DSLRs, indeed, those users may actually enjoy the ‘extra reach’ offered by the crop factor. On a crop body this lens delivers an effective focal length of 105-300mm.
This lens takes 77m filters, a general pro standard size, so could be a good fit if you already have filters of the same size from other lens you may have with this fitting size. Optics are excellent across the range, if a little soft at times at f/2.8, auto-focusing is fast and silent, as you’d expect for a Sigma lens with HSM.
Whilst not weather-sealed like some equivalent lenses from Canon or Nikon, build quality is very solid. This is an excellent image-stabilised telephoto lens that is pretty much impossible to beat on value.
No lens with equivalent range and features from Canon or Nikon exists at the price of this Sigma, so if you’re after a good quality telephoto lens on a more limited budget, the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 EX DG OS HSM could be the solution for you.
Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro
The Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro is aimed at full frame DSLRs from Canon, Nikon, Sony and Sigma. This is a true macro lens at a classic focal length, but is equally at home being used for portraits and much more.
Featuring Sigma’s optical stabilisation (OS) technology, which is a great help when shooting handheld and in lower light conditions. The addition of the OS technology does render this a relatively heavy lens, in comparison with previous versions of this lens, but the benefits more than make up for it.
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This lens also boasts a fast f/2.8 aperture, which whilst also aiding low-light shooting, also produces highly effective background blur/bokeh. Whilst a little soft in the corners at f/2.8, images are generally very sharp, with superb colour and contrast. The Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro is a robustly built and high-performing prime lens, and comes highly recommended at this price point.