Finding the right zoom lens for wildlife photography is not easy or cheap. Sigma has been making some really great lenses that fit Canon and Nikon mounts that are often up to 50% less in price and the quality is excellent. I was particularly tempted by this  variable 2,8 zoom lens that has been creating quite a stir amongst sport and wildlife photographers. It is something that neither Nikon or Canon have in their arsenals and it was great to put it on test on a recent trip to Botswana.

Sigma120-300

What I like about the lens

Its relatively light on the shoulder, weighing in at just over 2kg. Considering that baggage  is often limited to 15kg on charter flights the weight is a big issue. I think its a great lens for people that do not manage the weight of bigger zoom lenses that can weigh 4kg and upwards.

At R42,00 the cost is almost exactly half that of the Nikon 200 – 400 which is the obvious contender if you are a Nikon user.

As a wildlife photographer its great to be able to switch from 120 for wide shots and then to 300 for portraits at the twist of a wrist. So often animals move quickly and you need to change to a wider option.

With the 1,4 converter, at an effective f4, you can shoot in low light and also enjoy shallow depth of fields which is great for close ups.

The focus was fast and accurate. The stabilizer also seemed to work very well.

The lens stays fixed in length no matter the zoom and does not suck in dust like some prosumer lenses that have telescoping actions.

A great value lens with great optics.

What I did not like.

Not much — although if I had to say something I found the zoom action (it works opposite to my Nikon lenses) a little awkward.

It is a tad bit short on the zoom for birding without a converter.

 

Facts about The Sigma 120-300 F2.8 DG HSM OS

New coating reduces Ghost and Flare
The new multi layer lens coating and lens design reduce flare and ghost, which is a common problem with digital cameras and also creates an optimum color balance through the entire zoom range.

Hyper sonic motor
The AF drive for Sigma SA, Canon and Nikon cameras is equipped with a silent, responsive and high speed HSM , which also provides full-time manual focus function.

Inner Focusing and Inner Zooming
Since focusing and zooming do not change its overall length, this lens is easy to hold and use. In addition, since the front of the lens does not rotate, a circular polarizing filter can be easily attached and use.

Converters

By adding an APO tele-converter, which is sold separately, you can use this lens as a 168-420mm F4 AF tele-zoom lens with a 1.4x tele-converter, or as a 240-600mm F5.6 AF ultra-telephoto zoom lens with a 2x tele-converter.

Price 

R42000 in South Africa. Available through Cameraland who are agents for Sigma in South Africa

Images below taken with 120- 300 lens of the same subject with the same lens setup.

at 300 mm

at 300 mm

at 120 mm

at 120 mm

at 420 mm with 1,4 and cropped

at 420 mm with 1,4 and cropped