By Scott Umstattd
Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM Lens Review:
If you are getting serious about your photography and want to upgrade from your standard kit lens this is a lens you need to consider.
If you are a serious amateur or professional photographer and are tired of carrying around the heavier and more expensive lenses in this focal range, you may want to consider this lens.
I no longer have the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC lens. I sold it to get the Canon EF 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens. I am pleased with the Canon 15-85mm but there are some areas where the Sigma 17-50mm outperforms the Canon 15-85mm.
Build Quality - A huge reason to love this lens is its build quality. I feel it would pass my theoretical brick wall test where I throw a lens against a brick wall to see if it shatters (I do this test only in theory because it would be stupid to do this to a lens). The Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 feels strong enough to survive this imaginary test, although I doubt it would work very well afterwards. Another huge advantage of this lens is its size and weight. It's a small lens and does not weigh you down after a full day of shooting. This alone is a great plus considering it has a constant f/2.8 aperture.
Image Quality - The pictures from my Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC were sharp across the board. I expected pictures at f/2.8 to be soft, but they weren't. Images got sharper after stopping down the exposure a few stops but this is common with almost every lens. This lens takes great pictures with good color rendition.
General Use - This is an excellent general purpose lens. With its constant f/2.8 aperture it makes for a great portrait lens. This is an area where the Sigma 17-50mm surpasses the Canon 15-85mm. The Sigma, in my opinion, makes for a better portrait lens. The bokeh may not be as pleasing as some of its Canon counterparts, but you have to be a pixel hunter to notice. And you have to pay twice as much to get that bokeh (background blur). It's also a great low light photography option for those moments when light has abandoned you. Additionally, it makes for a great landscape lens as well.
Auto Focus - The Sigma 17-50mm EX DC OS HSM focuses fast and silently thanks to its HSM (HyperSonic Motor) technology. Even in low light situations the Sigma 17-50mm surprised me with its ability to lock in and focus.
Lens Distortion - Images can be distorted in wide angle lenses when used at their widest focal length. While this is true for the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 its distortion is minimal and well controlled. If you feel it is a problem, this is something that can be fixed with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
Price - This is why you should buy this lens. Yes, Canon lenses may be better. But they cost twice as much and, in my opinion, you get much more for a lot less with the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM.
Image Quality - I only mention image quality again in the con section because if image quality and in particular bokeh is a major concern for you then you may want to consider a Canon L series lens which remains the best in class. However, you will pay twice as much for that bokeh. And the truth is when you shoot with Canon L series lenses you do get excellent colors and better overall performance.
Manual Focus Ring - When you are focusing manually, the smaller focus ring can be hard to find and manage at times. While the Canon lenses damper when you hit the end of the focal range, the Sigma 17-50mm simply stops. If you are not aware of this and careful in your use, the manual focus ring can get damaged. But being aware of this and acting accordingly can prevent such damage.
Weather Seal - This is an area where I wish the Sigma was a little better. Again, with Canon L series you are getting lenses that are weather sealed to prevent moisture and dust damage. As with any lens, take care of it and it will take care of you.
Talk is cheap. Here are some pictures taken with my Sigma 17-50mm EX DC OS HSM lens and a Canon D30.
The Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM is a great travel lens. Its lightweight and small size is impressive with a constant f/2.8 zoom lens.
Colors can pop with the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM lens.
Taken from Diamond Head in Hawaii. I said it was a great travel lens.
The Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM traveled to Colombia for some work with Cafe Campesino Fair Trade Coffees.
The Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM is a great all around wedding lens.
More popping colors from the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM lens.
I dropped my Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM right before this shot. It fell from about three feet and didn't suffer any damage.
The constant f/2.8 aperture is great when moving from outside to inside. Low light photography can be easily managed.
Another shot from Diamond Head in Hawaii.
The Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM is a great street photography lens that is great for portraits too. This is street and portrait photography in one.
My Canon EF 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens just doesn't cut it for wedding photography. Here, the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM shows sharp focus even in low light. A pop of flash from my external flash helped too.
This is a great lens, especially if you are working within a tight budget.
Even if budget is not a concern this is still a great lens to have. It takes great pictures and its constant f/2.8 aperture makes it a great choice for low light photography.
If you are looking to improve your photography by stepping away from a kit lens, the Sigma 17-50mm EX DC OS HSM is a lens that should definitely be considered. This focal range makes it a great all around lens option for landscapes, portraits and indoor sports.
I highly recommend the Sigma 17-50 EX DC OS HSM lens.
More Lens Options
If you are looking for a lens in this general focal range you also may want to consider these other lenses.
I hope this lens review has been helpful. Got any experience with the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM lens?
Please leave comments and feedback below.