Review Sigma AF 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM (C APS-C)
Is the Sigma 50-150 mm f/2.8 the best kept secret in lens country? It might be. The Sigma 50-150 mm F2.8 APO EX DC OS HSM is only suitable for SLR cameras with an APS-C sensor. If you use this lens on a camera with a full frame sensor, then you get some vignetting at the edges. That a lens is only suitable for APS-C is becoming more common. The same is true for all Canon EF-S lenses. What the Sigma 50-150 mm so special, we will tell you in advance, are the good optical performance. This lens would be released in 2013, then it would definitely be a member of the Sigma Art family. In fact, the Sigma 50-150 mm f/2.8 is both in terms of image quality and zoom range, the perfect partner for the Sigma 18-35 mm f/1.8 Art.
Sigma AF 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM @ Canon 650D
Sigma AF 50-150mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, 400 ISO, f6.3, 1/125 s
At first, a 50-150 mm zoom range sounds a bit odd. The high brightness in combination with the longer focal length ensures that on a camera with an APS-C sensor can create enough background blur to isolate a subject from the background. The high sharpness at f/2.8 in combination with a nice woolly bokeh almost suggests that a picture is made with a camera with a full frame sensor in combination with a pricey 70-200 mm f2.8 lens. The partial enlargement above of a wolf in front of zoo fence is an example of that. The distracting fence virtually disappears in the background.
In terms of construction there is nothing to criticize about the Sigma 50-150 mm f/2.8. It's professional level, although the lens looks less modern than a lens from the Sigma Art series. The mount is, of course, made of metal. The lens is sold including a lens hood, a tripod mount and a lens pouch. The first version of the Sigma 50-150 mm f/2.8 came out in 2006 and was not yet equipped with optical image stabilization. We tested the 2011 version of this lens, including image stabilization. This lens is equipped with Sigma's Optical Stabilizer function (OS) with which a profit of 4 stops can be achieved, according to Sigma.
The drive of the auto focus works generally well. However, there were a few pictures among those taken in practice, where the combination of lens and test camera did not focus well. In all cases, the pictures were taken only after the beep of the review camera confirmed that the AF was working. The front lens does not rotate, thanks to internal focusing, during focusing. This lens is also a pleasure to use without autofocus. Both the zoom ring and the focus ring turn smoothly and are nicely padded.
Sigma AF 50-150mm f/2.8 @ 95mm, 400 ISO, f2.8, 1/2000 s
We tested the image stabilization at a focal length of 50 mm. A picture made at a shutter speed of 1/13 sec with image stabilization was as sharp as a picture made with a shutter speed of 1/50 sec without using the image stabilization. That's a profit of 2 stops. At slower shutter speeds, the profit increases to 3 stops, but pictures taken with image stabilization also become less sharp.
On this point, the Sigma 50-150 mm belongs to the very best. If you visually compare pictures made with the Sigma 50-150 mm with those made with a much more expensive Canon 70-200 mm f/2.8 L lens on a Canon 650D, you probably won't see any difference in sharpness and contrast. The sharpness already from maximum aperture is beautifully even: sharp from corner to corner. If only all lenses were as good.
Vignetting Sigma AF 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM
The Sigma 50-150 mm is a relatively large lens and that pays off in terms of vignetting. At no focal length or aperture will you suffer from vignetting. Very good!
Sigma AF 50-150mm f/2.8 @ 150mm, 100 ISO, f5.6, 1/320 s
Click on the image above for a 100% crop
As with most zoom lenses the distortion ranges from barrel-shaped to light pincushion-shaped. At the shortest focal length the distortion can be visible in architecture shots. At focal lengths above 80 mm, that's no longer the case.
On the Sigma website are the MTF calculation charts for the Sigma 50-150 mm. The MTF charts for Sagittal lines and Tangential lines are not only high, but also close to each other. The latter can be an indication of a nice, quiet bokeh. That is indeed the case here. Both our test shots of the standard bokeh-setup and our practice shots showed a very nice, quiet background blur. In terms of bokeh, this is one of the better zoom lenses for a camera with an APS-C sensor. That makes this lens perfect for portraits and it also delivers very attractive nature pictures. At maximum aperture, the bokeh shows a small edge.
On most sections the Sigma 50-150 mm f/2.8 does in terms of image quality as well as the modern Sigma Art lenses. Flare is the exception. If you shoot directly into a bright light source, ghosts appear as a consequence of internal reflections. Standard use of the included lens hood is recommended.
Chromatic aberration Sigma AF 50-150 mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM
Six SLD glass elements correct for chromatic aberration and ensure high image quality throughout the entire zoom range. Chromatic aberrations are indeed corrected well at all focal lengths.
Sigma AF 50-150mm f/2.8 @ 150mm, 400 ISO, f2.8, 1/200 s
Conclusion Sigma AF 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM review
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you store the files in the camera as jpg, with all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
Pure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens when the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera.
High image quality: high sharpness, low vignetting, no chromatic aberration
Built-in image stabilization
Includes tripod collar, hood and pouch
Only suitable for APS-C
Visible distortion at 50 mm
Sensitive to flare
Is the Sigma 50-150 mm f/2.8 the best-kept secret in lens country? Hopefully, not anymore. In terms of construction and finish, this lens is at a professional level and gives nothing up to the Art series lenses. It’s a relatively large and heavy lens, but you get very high image quality in return. This lens in terms of image quality is comparable to the famous Canon 70-200 mm f/2.8 II L lens. From maximum aperture, there’s both a very high sharpness and a nice soft, woolly bokeh. In comparison with the Sigma Art lenses, the Sigma 50-150 mm f/2.8 is more bothered by flare. If you actually use the included lens hood, you won’t notice any in practice. The Sigma 50-150 mm F2.8 APO EX DC OS HSM in terms of image quality is the perfect partner for the Sigma 18-35 mm f/1.8.
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.