Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 HSM & 70-200mm f2.8 HSM Review

This has been a long time coming, but I finally got around to putting together a review of my two newest lenses and to help save time, I thought I would review them together. The new glass from Sigma is definitely giving the competition a run for it’s money. I’m not going to cover all the tech specs of these two lenses here, you can read that on Sigma’s website. I’m going to give you a practical review of what would matter to you if you were considering adding one of these lenses to your camera bag.

Build
Both the 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses are from Sigma’s EX line, which means they are built to stand up to use and abuse. The lenses feel very well built and I have no doubt that they will stand up to harsh shooting conditions. The zoom ring on the 24-70mm lens seems a little stiff at first, but once you shoot with it for a few days you feel it relax a little bit… to the point where it gets comfortable. Even still, lens creep is not an issue at all. Both lenses feel right at home on my D90. Even the 24-70mm which requires an 82mm filter!

Optical Quality
There were a lot of complaints about Sigma’s previous 24-70mm non-HSM lens and it being very soft when wide open. I haven’t had the chance to compare the two, but the new Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 HSM lens is sharp as a tack at f2.8. I have noticed that it does get soft once you go beyond infinite focus. However, that’s to be expected. All fast lenses exhibit some softness when they are wide open.

The Sigma 70-200mm lens is tack sharp throughout the zoom range at f2.8 and it just keeps getting better as you stop down the lens. The Bokeh is amazing and very soft and creamy. I love it! Both lenses have excellent contrast and color. I’m very impressed with the optical quality of both of these lenses.

Auto Focus
Since both the 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses feature Sigma’s HyperSonic Motor (HSM), the autofocus is very fast and very quiet. I’m excited to put them side by side with their Nikon equivalents and see how the two compare. I haven’t experienced any autofocus hunting in low light with either lens.

Price
You cannot beat these two lenses for the price. You can pick both of them up from B&H Photo for less than you can buy the Nikon 70-200mm lens. The 24-70mm lens sells for $899 and the 70-200mm lens sells for $799. If you’re a serious amateur or even a pro, both lenses are a viable option.

Uses
The 24-70mm lens is a great lens for landscapes or walking around. It serves as a good portrait lens too, but that’s where I really like to use the 70-200mm lens. It compresses the background really well when you’re racked out to 200mm and the perspective for portraits is great! The 70-200mm lens is also great for wildlife (if you’re close enough) and sports.

Features I Like

  • I love the fact that you can open the tripod collar on the 70-200mm lens and remove the lens from it. This is VERY convenient if you have the lens mounted on a tripod and want to hand hold your camera on short notice.
  • I dig that you don’t have to take out a small loan to get great glass!

Features I Don’t Like

  • On the 24-70mm lens, the zoom ring turns the opposite direction of Nikon’s lenses. So to zoom, you turn the ring counter-clockwise instead of clockwise. This bothered me at first a little, but I’m over it now. It’s like second nature to me.

Overall, if you want really great (fast) glass at a reasonable price, these two lenses may just be your ticket. Price, build, optics, and function are just incredible. I think I’ll have these lenses for quite some time and there may be more Sigma lenses in my future!

Now for some examples!

Image above shot with the Sigma 70-200mm HSM EXII Lens

Image above shot with the Sigma 24-70mm HSM Lens


Some Recent iPhone Photos: Back to Basics

My iPhone has become one of my favorite cameras because I always have it with me. It has also reminded me that as a photographer I must be able to see the image. Fancy digital cameras make life pretty easy on us. A simple camera (like the one found on the iPhone) keep me on my toes and keep me thinking about composition and light.

Here’s a couple of recent photos from a baseball game I went to with my family:

I processed both of the photos with CameraBag, which is an AWESOME little app for the iPhone that you can pick up from the App Store for about $3.00.

Challenge yourself to focus on the basics, such as light and composition, and I guarantee that your photos will improve.

That’s it for me today, but I’ve got more coming up this week… including a couple of long-overdue gear reviews for you! Stay tuned!


Mpix & Zenfolio: The Dynamic Duo!

So you already know that I’m a huge fan of Mpix and Zenfolio. I was recently featured on the Mpix blog for a couple of tweets I sent their way. I thought I would wrap the week with a quick tidbit about each of them. In fact, I can even save you a few bucks. Yes, that’s right. I said I could save you a little money.

Zenfolio


Mpix
A fellow photographer from San Diego, Carey Schumacher of Barefoot Memories posted a very cool tutorial on her blog about what kind of paper to order your prints on from Mpix. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I thought I would share her post with you.

See? I told you it would be short and sweet! I hope that you enjoy your weekend and get some shooting in too! Have a great one and I’ll see you guys next week!


Don’t Forget the Details!

Here’s a quick tip to keep in mind when you are out shooting: don’t forget the details! Details? What details? Details help tell the story of what you saw. They may seem insignificant, but they are really important. I picked up that little tip from reading Joe McNally’s two books. An editor once told him to always shoot the details.

If you want to get a better idea of what I’m talking about, take a look at the work of any successful wedding photographer. They shoot lots and lots of detail shots and there is a lot to be learned by viewing their detail shots. Even if you don’t shoot weddings, at a minimum you will get an idea of what types of subjects to seek out for your detail shots. Shooting dancers? Think ‘shoes’. Guitarist? Think ‘fingers’. I think you’re getting the idea here.

So next time you’re shooting a portrait session, an event, a birthday party, or whatever else you may be shooting, remember the details!

That’s it for today. I hope you guys are having a great week and no one’s been working too hard. The weekend is almost here so don’t forget to back up your photos!


iPhone & Photo Apps: Who Needs Photoshop?

I really love my iPhone. It’s with me everywhere I go. I don’t have to carry it around my neck or in a separate bag. I always have a camera with me. Here’s a few of the latest images I’ve captured with my little wonder of modern technology:

My kids waiting for our table at breakfast on Father’s Day.

Some really good advice…

Messing with a co-worker…

Plain and simple, I love having a camera with me all the time. I use it quite often and nowhere near as much as Chase Jarvis, but I know I’m having the same amount of fun he is.


For the Best Prints, Go With Mpix!

I’ve order quite a few smaller prints from Mpix and I have been absolutely thrilled with them. But it was only a few weeks ago that I ordered some larger prints and I can’t tell you how impressed I am with the quality. I didn’t really expect anything but the best from them, however I couldn’t believe how sharp and crisp my 16 x 24 and 20 x 30 prints were!

My wife had wanted a large print of the Point Loma Lighthouse to hang on the wall in our entry hallway. I ordered a 20 x 30 print of it and bought a frame from IKEA. I took a picture of the finished product with my iPhone (photo above).

Mpix not only produces the best products, they also have excellent pricing and their turnaround time is unbelievable! They truly live up to their motto: “Shoot today. Upload tonight. We ship tomorrow.” They have made a customer for life outta me and I highly recommend them to ANYONE who wants the best prints money can buy.

You can read more about Mpix here.