Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX Vs. Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L 1st impressions
This is by no means a scientific comparison,. It is more my personal impressions and observations.
*** EDIT*** Original tests were performed on a 10D. I have made a few edits to this review as I have become more familiar with the Canon lens.
1st,. let's look at the ergonomic and handling characteristics.
Overall Build Quality: Tie
Both lenses give an equal impression of overall build quality being top notch.
Weight: Winner, Sigma.
The Canon definitely feels heavier!
Controls: Winner, Sigma.
The focus ring and the zoom ring on the Sigma are smoother and more tactile. The focus ring is much larger on the Sigma and the rubberized texture more pleasing to the fine touch. When I use the lens with Manual focus as a macro with rings, this is a help.
Personally I prefer the direction of the Sigmas clockwise rotation to increase zoom magnification to Canons counter clockwise. This is totally one persons opinion,. Leaving this an easy 50/50 as to who prefers what.. but to me there is some logic to turning the ring UP to INCREASE magnification.
The focus gauge window on the Canon is taller, where as the Sigmas is wider. The print on the Canons is bolder larger type. Meters are white on black but feet are green on black making the feet unreadable. Sigma,. Both meters and feet are white on black,. But this creates confusion, as you don't instantly know which is which. I give equal ratings to the zoom mm increment marks, white on black for Sigma and Black on white for Canon. Both legible.
The Canon's Biggest Ergonomic "issue"!
The Focus limit switch, IS switch and manual Vs. AF switch are ALL too "proud" they stick out and essentially get bumped into the wrong position 100% of the time the lens is picked up. This is a common complain with this lens and I am no exception. (interestingly the OLDER 100-400mm IS does NOT suffer the same problem. Pity Canon changed these switches with the newer 70-200mm lens )
Accessories: Winner, Sigma.
The Sigmas lens collar can be removed from the lens while the lens is mounted to the body. The Canons cannot. I found this out while the Canon was mounted on my monopod,. I wanted to remove the camera quickly and went to open the collar it doesn't open. However,. The two collars seem about equal in strength,. And the Canons is marginally easier to rotate.
If you have not seen a Sigma EX lens hood,. Then you should. Compared to the flimsy items that Canon is selling the, Sigmas are made of far better materials. Not thin flimsy plastic,. But solid chunks of molded hard plastic that have a built in flat rough texture that will not reflect light as much as the shiny Canon hoods. Also the bayonet mount on the Sigmas seem much more solid.
Canons included nylon case seems a bit more spiffy, but I like the Sigmas hunter green over the Canons really weird 1960s moon launch silver??? Blech.
Note: that for this test both lenses were used hand held and the Canon's Image Stabilization was always ON
Viewfinder Image: Winner, Canon.
On my 10D, the image in the viewfinder seems brighter with the Canon.
Overall ergonomic impression: Winner, Sigma.
As a general side by side, many of the details above,. Zoom ring, focus ring and especially weight, the Sigma seems an easier lens to pick up and shoot with hand held. The Canon is a LOT heavier than I was expecting. It is nearly 8 ounces heavier than the Sigma.
Compare this to the Sigma 50-500mm EX Zoom,. Which weighs in at 58 ounces,â€¦ which means it is only 6 ounces heavier than the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS.
...Remember, the 50-500mm requires a trailer,... so at 51.2 ounces the Canon could benefit from a roof top cargo rack at the least!
Image Stabilization: Winner, Canon.
This is the first IS lens I have owned. I have had occasion to use a few others briefly,. But in most cases I was shooting from a tripod anyway. This is gives the Canon a clear, undisputed advantage over the Sigma. The question is how much is it worth. There are IS features built into cameras that cost one quarter the cost of the 70-200mm IS,. So I am not sure why it needs to come at such a premium. There is a $700.00 or so price difference between the two Canon versions of this lens. And yet the new IS version of the 300mm f/4 costs no more than the old non IS version did?
Image Stabilization is a boon indeed. As my image quality comparison is in fact only at the beginning stages,. I cannot yet offer my opinion on how much it affects the performance of the lens. But I can tell you it is amazing. I am sure there will be many conditions under which the IS will be a great advantage.
AutoFocus Speed: Canon! (for now)
From my initial use,. it seems to me that the IS function slows down the Canon from a cold start. But this does not change the fact that the Canon focuses faster. The Sigma with it's HSM is no slouch,. but the Canon wins hands down. IMHO the Canon is the fastest focusing Zoom I have ever used
Autofocus Accuracy: Stand Still Tie?
This really has surprised me. If there was anything I expected to be a lock it would be the Canon AF Accuracy. As it turns out, the Canon is no more perfect than the Sigma. Which in this case for both is excellent!
On The MkII Since writing this review I have attained the 1D MkII The differences become more significant with the focus tests on a MkII body. The 10D it seems does not have the "nards" to fully realize the potential of the Canon's focus speed and accuracy.
AutoFocus tracking: Canon, Canon, Canon
The Canon simply rules here. This lens is Canon's best Zoom lens at focus tracking. Period. On the MkII it is positively unreal. Keeping up with some of the best Primes, no mean feat for any Zoom.
Please Note: A few months back I reported some odd AF accuracy problems with the Sigma that seemed to crop up out of no where. Upon further investigation,. I realized that all issues disappeared when the UV filter I was using was removed. Since then no problems at all. For this reason both lenses I am using in the field with no filter (being VERY careful )
Image Quality: NO WINNER . Yet!
I have used the Canon far to little so far to say which I find has better image quality. What I can say at this point is that the two lenses are EXTREMELY close! In fact,. on the one side this is what I was expecting,.
...but in my heart of hearts I was hoping that the Canon would blow my mind in the same way that my first experience with a fast telephoto Prime lens did.
Well it did not. So the improvement, if any, is marginal at best. The Canon is sharper wide open. Here is the noticeable difference, but by f/4 they are too close to tell.
Below are four images taken the same day with both lenses. (although the sun was setting fast so the lighting does change)
For now I leave it up to you to decide which is taken with which lens.
Can you tell?
**Just adding some example images to check out:
From the EF;
Some performance samples