Pros: 28-200mm zoom, relatively affordable, no perceived chromatic aberration, clear image quality, fast auto focus.
Cons: Stiff zoom adjustment ring, little bigger and heavier compared to the latest compact models.
What is it and why did I buy it.
So far I have had Pentax and Minolta cameras and bags full of lenses to go with them. Usually I have to have at the least a 50mm lens for general-purpose shots, and a 70-210mm zoom lens for longer range shots. However, when I recently purchased my first Canon SLR camera, the EOS 10D, I had the need to purchase compatible lenses. This time I was determined to buy one of those do-it-all lenses I had read so much about. These are the ones that are capable of wide angle shooting, as well as medium range zoomed in shots. I started my comparison shopping with Canon EF lenses. Soon I found that since EOS is such a popular line of Canon 35mm cameras, there were many third party brands that manufactured EOS mount compatible lenses. The brands I used for comparison shopping were Canon, Tamron, Sigma and Phoenix. Canon brand lenses are obviously more expensive. The Canon EF 28-200mm lens sold for approximately $360. The other brands were all selling for $180 to $300. The Phoenix lenses were the most inexpensive. After speaking to some friends in the industry, I ended up buying the Sigma 28-200mm DL Aspherical hyperzoom with macro for $200. Since this was my first Canon compatible lens for use on the 10D camera, I knew it would get a significant amount of punishment. Hence the need to keep the cost down.
Design and specifications.
The lens housing is all black and 3.4 long by 3.1 in diameter. When extended to the 200mm focal length, the lens measures 5.5 long. The zoom ring is located near the camera body and the manual focus ring is located near the objective lens. To the left side next to the camera body is the auto/manual focus switch. The objective lens is fairly large and capable of accepting 72mm size filters. It also came with in included bayonet type detachable petal hood, which can be reverse mounted for storage. A lens hood is very important because it provides multiple functions. It prevents stray light (from beyond the subject area) from entering the lens, which can cause light flares and ghost images. This results in improved contrast and image quality. It prevents raindrops and dirt from getting on the lens, ensuring clean first shots. It also protects the front barrel from impacts against various objects in real world active use.
Other specifications are as follows:
Lens Construction: 17 elements in 13 groups,
Zoom System: Rotary,
Field of View: 12.3-75.4 degrees,
Minimum aperture: F22 - F45
Minimum focusing distance: 19.7 in, at all focal lengths,
Maximum Magnification: 1 : 4.1
Weight 18.2 oz
Whats included in the box.
- 28-200mm lens,
- Front and rear lens caps,
- Petal lens Hood,
- Instruction manual and warranty card.
This has to be single biggest advantage of buying this lens. So far a typical photographer would have carried a 24mm or28mm lens for wide angle shots, a 50mm lens for general purpose shooting, and a 70-210mm telephoto zoom lens for long range work. This lens combines all three into one lens. So you dont have to carry multiple lenses along and you dont need to keep changing between lenses during a shoot. It allows you to focus your energy and time in more important things such as frame composition, scene layout and unique perspectives. Basically enjoying your hobby. At the 28mm setting, you can take gorgeous wide angle shots. This is a great setting for capturing scenery, or groups of people. You can zoom gradually all the way to 200mm for super sharp close up images.
Capable of Macro Photography.
The manufacturer claims the minimum distance required for focusing is 19.7 inches. As I am typing this review, I pointed the camera towards my computer monitor, set the lens at 200mm and manually focused the camera. I was amazed that it brought all the text sharply into focus from only 11 away. I didnt believe it but I took out my Stanley Powerlock measuring tape, and confirmed the 11 distance between the lens and the monitor. Next I wanted to check out the image detail. So I took a close-up shot of Daphne, my wifes cat. Again the detail was stunning. You can actually see the individual hairs sticking out of her little furry ears.
Asherical and SLD lens elements.
The rear lens element has an asperical lens. This type of lens is better suited to deliver exceptionally sharp zoomed in shots. It also helps in reducing the total number of optical lens elements required, thus reducing size and weight. It also reduces lens flare caused by extraneous light from sources beyond the frame. The forward lens element has a Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass. This helps reduce chromatic aberration, or purple discolorations on the frame as well as the overall contrast and sharpness.
Internal Focusing Mechanism.
This mechanism moves only the internal lens elements. This allows for a shorter minimum focusing distance thus enabling sharper macro image captures. In conjunction with the Canon EOS 10D, I found the auto focusing very responsive and extremely quick. It also was relatively quiet.
Although I found it quite easily manageable, this is an older lens. Sigma has since introduced a compact 28-200mm compact lens. They now also have the 28-300mm versions of this lens available.
Stiff Zoom Ring.
I found the zoom ring to be very smooth thru 2/3rds of it travel up from 28mm. At 80mm it starts getting progressively stiffer. It gets even stiffer if you are shooting with a vertical attitude. For example a plane flying overhead.
No Zoom Lock Switch. (creeping lens)
Another quirk about the zoom is that between the 28mm to 100mm zoom settings, the lens tends to creep under its own weight. If the camera is either pointed at the sky or the ground, the lens starts to either retract to the wide angle setting, or extend to the 200mm zoom setting, all by itself due to gravity. You have to hold the zoom ring to prevent it from automatically turning. This can get annoying when you are ready to take the shot, but all of a sudden you find yourself in the wrong zoom setting.
My wife needed to visit a newly developed apartment complex on the Hudson river waterfront, to take some pictures and get information for her real estate business. Since I needed to test this lens with my new EOS 10D camera, I volunteered my services. While she was in the management office, I started walking by the marina where all the boats were parked and started shooting. I captured images at the various focal lengths of 28-35-50-80-135 and 200mm. I tried both auto and manual focus modes. I focused in on hungry geese who sadly thought I was there to feed them. Some military choppers flying down the Hudson river, and of course the NYC skyline. In all I took over 50 images. Of these, only three were slightly out of focus and that happened because the camera has shutter priority over focus lock confirmation. All the rest of the images were stunning. I even compared similar images at different magnifications, to check for any signs of chromatic aberration, lens flares or edge distortion. There was one image of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge that showed some minor signs of edge distortion but only at extreme zoom-in on the PC. And that shot was taken at 200mm and from over 8 miles away without a tripod. It is fair to say that I was very impressed with this lens. Im glad I did not spend almost twice as much for a similar Canon lens.
The Bottom Line:
This is an affordable and convenient do-it-all lens for consumers and hobbyists. However, professionals will probably prefer to have a set of specialty lenses for different photography needs. Before purchasing, I would suggest you to also consider the compact 28-200mm model, and the 28-300mm models as well.