Sigma 18–200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM: All for Nothing?

 
Sigma 18–200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM

Sigma 18–200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM

Improved stabilisation, a lot of zoom, but after promising so much, can the Sigma 18–200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM deliver? Neha Mutreja finds out.

The whole idea of finding all the necessary qualities in one place is something that has always been appealing to human psychology. The same obviously goes for most enthusiast photographers, who are always looking for the ideal superzoom lens, something that can be used to shoot several genres of photography.

This is probably why every company manufactures several lenses of this type, and constantly updates them, as well. The Sigma 18–200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM is an upgrade of a previous lens manufactured by the same company. While holding this piece of equipment, I wondered if this lens would really gave me the freedom to shoot almost all the scenes that my eye can see. With this thought in mind, I started using the lens on a Canon EOS 500D.

Features
Loaded with Optical Stabilisation, the lens is designed for APS-C sized sensor cameras. In 35mm parlance, the lens gives a field of view similar to a 29–320mm lens, a vast range indeed.

The lens incorporates the company’s new ‘F’ Low Dispersion glass elements, which is believed to have performance similar to fluorite glass. It also has Super Low Dispersion glass elements that are supposed to minimise colour aberrations. Finally, a Super Multi-layer Coating aims to reduce flare and ghosting.

A Hyper Sonic Motor ensures quick, silent autofocus, which did ensure a smooth shooting experience in most lighting conditions. It was only in low light conditions that I found the performance to be slightly slow. Since focusing happens internally, the front element does not rotate, thus making it easy to use a polarising filter.

Handling
The rubberised grip on the zoom ring adds to the pleasant handling experience of this lens. It has proper distance scale markings and also has a zoom lock that is meant to prevent zoom creep. I used the 18–200mm to shoot a wide range of subjects inside my hostel, while travelling and even tried to use it at a concert. The only constant irritation I had with it was that it does not allow you to override focus manually.

Performance
My impressions of the lens were completely spoilt after the shoot got over, The lens does not score any marks on sharpness, and results in soft images at almost all focal lengths. The centre-to-edge definition is good only at f/8, before and after which, the results are nowhere close to other superzoom lenses in the market. Despite the advanced optical construction used, high contrast areas in photos show both purple and green fringing.

The lens does a decent job in controlling flare, and the bokeh is quite pleasing, due to the use of a seven-blade diagram. The company claims a four-stop advantage in terms of stabilisation. This works fine in most cases, but suffers at the telephoto end of the lens. Vignetting is quite prominent when shooting at the wide end, but it is well controlled at other focal lengths.

Conclusion
Over the years, we have seen that superzoom lenses rarely perform well, simply because they try to do much at one time. It is quite difficult to produce a lens of such a large focal length, while keeping the quality high. But of late, we have seen some trendsetters in this arena, such as the Nikkor 28–300mm VR (for full frame cameras) and Tamron 18–270mm II VC, which have scored extremely high ratings in our test charts.

This Sigma lens, unfortunately, follows old trends, and gives mediocre quality. Its overall handling and build is quite good, which is why we were expecting quite a lot, but the problem lies in the most important aspect for any lens—sharpness.
Moreover, at Rs. 34,900, it is almost as expensive than the Canon proprietary version! The main reason for buying a third party lens would be a much lower price tag, so quite clearly, Sigma has missed a trick over here. We would recommend you to stick to the manufacturer’s lenses or simply buy the Tamron 18–270mm II VC, which gives a larger zoom range and better quality, at a lower price.

Sigma 18–200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM

Sigma 18–200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM

Final Ratings
Features
Convenient zoom range, no manual override
15/20

Performance
Decent control over flare, poor sharpness
24/35

Build Quality
Metal mount, reasonably sturdy
20/25

Ergonomics
Distance scale markings, zoom creep switch
13/15

Warranty & Support
Two-year warranty
2/5

OVERALL: 74%
Value For Money: 1.5/5 stars

Who Should Buy It?
No one, really, unless they donot mind spending extra money on a soft lens.

Why?
Its quality is inferior to other superzoom lenses in the market. You would rather stick to a proprietary optionor invest in the new and excellent Tamron 18–270mm VC.

Tags: Neha Mutreja, Test, Telephoto lens, Lens review, april 2012, Sigma 18–200mm f/3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM, Superzoom lens, convenience, tamron 18-270 VC