My new Sigma 17-70mm lens

Another way of getting a photographer excited besides beautiful landscapes or objects and getting free trips in return of a travel story and photos (thanks to The Star Online travel tool recently launched) is by getting new equipment. I just got my new long-awaited Sigma 17-70mm lens last week at Berjaya Times Square where the annual Kuala Lumpur Photo Festival took place.

I've been wanting for this lens since June and because of many factors, I decided to put my purchase on hold until I get it at a really good price. Ranging from RM1,450- RM1,600 in the market, I thought I might as well get it if it went any lower. At the Photo Festival, I managed to find a booth selling it at RM1,330 and I just HAD to get it so off I went looking for an ATM machine which was working. Yippee! Now, I'll happily shoot to my heart's content until my next urge to get another piece of equipment!

Here's a review found in ephotozine website. It's too new for me to give my input just yet but perhaps the following review will help those wanting know a little more. (Besides I'm still figuring out how to get my pictures focussed. I get a number of them blurry. Also I'm not a techie!)

Focal Length 17-70mm
Construction 15/12 elements/groups
Angle of view 72.4┬║-20.2┬║ (SD format 1.7x crop)
Max Aperture f/2.8-4.5
Min Aperture f/22-f/32
Min focus 20cm/7.9inch
Max magnification 1:2.3
Filter size 72mm
Dimensions 79x82.5mm
Weight 0.455kg
Mount Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Minolta.

Build and Handling

Supplied with a petal shaped hood, the lens is finished in Sigma’s matt black finish and sports a metal mount. There is an AF/MF switch on the left of the barrel before the 35mm zoom ring, which carries a zoom lock to stop the lens extending during transport. I did not use it, as, although nicely torqued, the lens did not seem to creep during either use or transport. The zoom ring has 20mm of raised ribbing and is marked at 17, 24, 35, 50 and 70mm. As you zoom out to the 70mm mark, the lens extends some 40mm on a double trombone. With the extension, a reproduction ratio scale is revealed on the first tube, a nice touch.

Whilst not true Macro, only reaching a ratio of 1:2.3, this close focus capability of only 200mm is very useful.Double trombones are prone to play but there was none evident in this one and, along with the internal focus mechanism, means the front element does not rotate making filter use far easier.

Autofocussing is fairly quiet for a conventional motor and quick enough to cope with most uses, especially those that this type of lens will be put to. Probably helped by the wide aperture, there was virtually no hunting. Switchover to manual is achieved by the switch that frees up the 20mm manual focus ring, half of which has raised rubber ribbing and is marked with a distance scale in both metres and feet. The front element surround steps up to take the 72mm filters and a bayonet fit hood that has a positive click to hold it in place.

Optical Quality

This lens produced surprisingly good results throughout the focal range although as usual, they were best at the shorter lengths. The one exception being where distortion is concerned and that is by far the best at the longer focal length. At 17mm it measured –5.05% (barrel) whereas the longer end returned 0.32%(pincushion), undetectable by eye.
Resolution figures are pleasing, especially once the lens is stopped down by the odd stop or so and even wide open the visual results are encouraging.

Chromatic aberrations are kept well below the single pixel level throughout the aperture range and across the frame, a commendable performance. Combined with good contrast and the digital coating that Sigma now use to reduce incidences of flare and ghosting, neither of which reared their ugly heads, the lens performed well above the standard ‘kit’ lenses in this focal range.

Here are just a few shots I've taken so far:


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