Sigma 300 mm f2.8 APO DG HSM telephoto lens
I hadn’t used a 300 mm f2.8 lens before this test, so I was looking forward to reviewing Sigma’s new model. Presentation was up to the company’s usual high standard, and in the box I found a carrying case with strap, inside which was the lens with a removable hood, a rotating tripod collar and an internal filter holder,
complete with clear and polariser filters.
However, there was no strap for the lens and no eyelets on the lens itself, so I assume that when the lens is attached to the camera, it is meant to be carried using the camera strap. Its weight hanging down would, I feel, put a strain on the camera mount, and I’d be happier holding the lens while it was over my shoulder so as to reduce any strain. Another feature I missed was an image stabiliser system;
perhaps one will be included on later models, as it is on other lenses in the Sigma range.
Still, the 300 mm lens looked and felt good, but what about actually using it? I knew there would be Common Terns still present at my local reserve, and as the wind was from the right direction the birds would be approaching on a good flight path for photos. Sure enough, within minutes a tern flew past with a fish – and the auto focus failed to lock on, because I didn’t get the sensor in the right place. It doesn’t matter how good the equipment is if the photographer lets it down!
I settled in place and waited for the next bird, this time managing a series of shots. The auto focus was fast and quiet and, with the images looking good on the camera screen, I continued photographing, finding the lens easier to use the more I practised. It was a sunny day and I enjoyed being able to hand hold it rather than having to use a tripod. Compared to my own 300 mm f4 lens, this one was far heavier, but still light enough to hand hold, even if I had to keep pausing to rest my arms.
Looking at the images on my laptop, I was impressed by the colours, contrast and sharpness. The lens had performed well, but the day had been perfect for photography, with good light enabling me to use fast shutter speeds. The next test for the lens would have to be on a dull day.
I didn’t have long to wait and a few days later I was positioned at a feeding station in suitably cloudy conditions. Soon a ragged-looking Blue Tit posed on my hastily arranged perch. At f2.8 the image was very bright through the viewfinder, even in the dull light, and with the lens wide open I was able to use a shutter speed of 1/100th-1/160th second. If I had been using my f5.6 zoom lens I would have had to shoot at 1/40th second, which is so slow it is virtually impossible to keep anything steady.
Again I was very happy with the images when I viewed them that evening. The lens had been a pleasure to use and I was sorry to pack it up in the box for return. Just an image stabiliser and a carrying strap would have made it even better.
Size: 214.5 mm (without hood)
Weight: 2,400 g
Focal length): 300 m
Close focus: 2.5 m
Guarantee: 2 years (in UK)