Anyone starting out in photography has to explore how to build out a lens collection, especially if they want to work professionally. Canon’s RF mount system has a lot of great features, like lightning fast autofocusing and control rings for flexibility, but unfortunately the L series lenses can be prohibitively expensive for new professionals and hobbyists, myself included.
I’ve followed leaders in the camera review space like Dustin Abbott and Chris Frost for awhile, and they’ve detailed the strides Sigma and Tamron have made over the years as reliable third party professional lens makers. As such, I was thrilled for the opportunity to try the EF version of the Sigma Art series 24-70 DG OS lens.
Their Art series is their higher end line with what they describe as superior optics, and in this case the OS in the model number refers to optical stabilization.
Note that I am using the same Meike EF-RF adapter I’ve referenced in previous articles.
Packaging and “What’s In The Box”
Aside the obvious lens caps that always come with any lens, Sigma did two things I find worth mentioning.
First, they included a nice lens case that’s padded and rugged on the outside, zips open on the top, and makes for a convenient way to store and carry the lens. No other lens I’ve gotten has included something like this, and it’s a nice first impression for Sigma.
Secondly, they include a lens hood like Tamron does. This may not seem like much, but I find it worth noting because Canon only includes lens hoods with their expensive L series professional lenses; with all of their consumer grade lenses you have to buy the hood separately on your own. And worse yet, their lens hoods are a ridiculous $40 price for a simple piece of plastic.
After experiencing that with a few Canon lenses in a row, it’s nice to get a lens from a manufacturer that actually sees including a lens hood as an obvious move.
The Build Quality of Sigma’s 24-70 Art
Quite simply, the build quality is excellent. This is easily the most premium feeling lens I’ve used yet, and I’m impressed at the professional look and feel. Given that this is meant to compete with L glass for Canon, any concern one may have about third party being a “cheap” alternative is immediately dispelled when holding it.
The focus ring and rotation of the zoom ring are both very smooth — though it’s worth noting that Sigma employed a rotation that runs opposite to the rest of Canon’s RF lenses directionally. I don’t have a big preference in direction myself, but some might.
The one con here that’s unavoidable is that this lens is heavy!
It’s long, especially with the EF-RF adapter, and you definitely feel the weight of this lens versus smaller options like the nifty fifty I’ve done street photography with.
The inclusion of a toggle switch for auto and manual focus is always nice to have, as well as a switch for the lens stabilization.
Optically, this lens is a huge step up from the RF 24-105 kit lens I started with on the EOS R. I always found the kit lens to be disappointingly soft — despite numerous online reviews claiming it was sharp for a zoom lens. And the variable aperture of that lens requiring f7.1 at higher focal lengths really felt limiting.
I found myself shooting exclusively with primes to avoid the softness of that lens, and was pleasantly surprised at the Sigma Art in that regard as a zoom lens.
In landscape shots I took with the Sigma Art 24-70 I immediately appreciated the extra detail. Cityscape shots looked really crisp, with detail in each of the individual windows from quite far away pleasantly surprising. Even from my 35mm and 50mm primes on f8 don’t reliably produce this level of detail. (Note that they are not L glass.)
I also visited the Science Center that week, and got some very nice shots of animals there.
Some sections of the visit were a good test of low-light performance, where the f2.8 and lens stabilization came in handy. Several of the shots didn’t come out well, but that had more to do with the inevitable issue of slow shutter speeds and moving animals than the autofocus system struggling in low light as sometimes happens with lenses.
In this case, I didn’t find that the autofocus hunted much in low light, only struggling somewhat on the fish tanks or glass exhibits, but I’ve noticed that with many cameras and lenses before.
In general, I find the autofocusing speed and accuracy to be excellent. When recording video there is a quiet yet audible sound as it focuses back and forth. It’s certainly quieter than most of my other lenses, but isn’t silent. Then again, of course, this lens isn’t marketed as a video lens.
For photos, the autofocusing in my opinion gives you everything you’d expect.
A Great Bonus Kit By Focus Camera
I received this lens from Focus Camera, LLC on Amazon. What I find exciting about their offering is they include a brand new Sigma Art 24-70 lens, but with a kit full of bonus items to build out your kit — at the same price as you’d normally get just the lens for!
This bonus kit includes:
- 2 Sandisk Pro 64GB SD cards
- A camera sling bag
- A travel pouch with lens dust blower, wipes, and spray
- A small tabletop tripid
- The Sigma USB Dock
This is great for hobbyists and new professionals building out their kits, and since none of these cost you any extra it’s a no-brainer.
The Sigma USB dock in itself is normally $50 and this allows you to make focus adjustments and update any Sigma lens’ firmware.
The Sigma 24-70 Art lens is an excellent entry into professional level lenses, combining beautiful image quality with a focal range that covers the majority of typical settings.
It could easily be a lens you keep on your camera the majority of the time. The only reason you might not is its weight and the preference for a smaller walk-around lens.
As an alternative to far more expensive L series RF glass, I think the Sigma Art series is well positioned for serious hobbyists and professionals alike.