Sigma APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM review: The right compromises for a high-end telephoto

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.3
  • Design: 6.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 7.0
  • Image quality: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Sigma APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM has the fast f2.8 aperture of in-house competitors, but not their high price. It delivers effective image stabilization, as well as solid sharpness, bokeh, and durability.

The Bad It lacks weather sealing, and the autofocus falls a step short.

The Bottom Line Versatile, sturdy, and built with high-quality optics, the Sigma APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM offers a good value, although it's not exactly cheap.

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SLR owners looking to upgrade lenses often must choose between their camera maker's lenses and less expensive third-party models that often aren't as good. But the solid competence of Sigma's $1,250 APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM makes this lens a great compromise of high quality and good value.

Sigma's fast telephoto zoom is image-stabilized, optically strong, and sturdily built. I tried the Canon version on a full-frame EOS 5D Mark III, where the zoom range is versatile enough to handle indoor portraiture, outdoor architecture, and plenty more.

The Sigma APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM has side-mounted switches to choose between manual focus and autofocus and to pick the image-stabilization mode.
The Sigma APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM has side-mounted switches to choose between manual focus and autofocus and to pick the image-stabilization mode. Stephen Shankland/CNET

There's strong competition here from the big boys in the SLR market. From Nikon, there's the $2,400 Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II and the new $1,400 AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR . From Canon, there's the $1,100 EF 70-200mm f/4L IS and $2,500 EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, both built like tanks and optically superb.

The Sigma 70-200mm is best of both worlds: the wide aperture of the higher-end f2.8 models at the price of the lower-end f4 models. The sharpness isn't quite up to the standard of the in-house telephoto zooms, and you won't get things like in-camera correction of vignetting and chromatic aberration that only work with first-party lenses. But the lens is quite competitive for its price.

I shot everything from dinner parties and speeches, where I appreciated the wide aperture's usefulness in dim light, to nature and architecture scenes, where the lens' sharpness across the whole frame when stopped down came into its own.

Optics are good, with reasonable center-frame sharpness at f2.8 and terrific performance at f8. Vignetting at f2.8 is definitely noticeable, but as with sharpness, it's often mostly a nonissue: you're often shooting wide open to deliberately blur out the background. Distortion is manageable, and chromatic aberration is pleasantly low.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 APO EX DG HSM OS FLD Large Aperture Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital DSLR Camera

Part Number: 70-200mm f/2.8 Nikon
MSRP: $2,470.00 Low Price: $1,199.00 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Lens Aperture f/2.8
  • Weight 3.2 lbs