Best lenses for the Canon EOS Rebel T5 / 1200D: Best performing zooms on a budget

By Kevin Carter - Wednesday June 04 2014

Lens Recommendations
Introduction | Best performing zooms | Best wide angle zoom | Standard zoom: Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM C | Best performing telephoto zoom and super zoom models

Standard zoom: Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM C

The stabilized Sigma 17-70mm was the first model in the firm’s new “Contemporary” series – cosmetically it looks similar to the Art series. At $499, is not cheap exactly but it is good value. It has the same coverage as a 27-112mm on a full-frame camera and is more versatile, travel-friendly that its 18-35mm f1.8 sibling, though that’s relative.

This model like so many others is a better performer at the shorter end of the zoom range, with sharpness dropping off at maximum aperture at the longer focal lengths. Stopping down to f5.6 from 35mm up restores the sharpness to similar levels and across the field.

Compared with the pricier Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 EC DC OS HSM and the rival Tamron SP 17-50mm f2.8 Di II XR VC Aspherical IF stabilized models, the cheaper Sigma 17-70mm acquits itself well in terms of sharpness, albeit not quite matching the peak sharpness levels of the Tamron.  Some distortion and vignetting are inevitable in a zoom like this but neither are really troublesome, and most impressive of all, lateral chromatic aberration is very low indeed. Only the Tamron comes close in CA suppression but that model’s poor edge sharpness at full aperture counts against it, in our overall scoring, and could be a barrier at the price.

The revised Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4 C series zoom has relatively good uniformity at full aperture but sharpness drops away at the longer focal lengths. Faster more pricey rivals have good center sharpness but require stopping down to improve edge sharpness, particularly the Tamron.