Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 EX DG OS HSM S Canon and Nikon mount lens review: Prime image quality in a zoom?

By Kevin Carter - Friday October 25 2013

Lens Review
Introduction | Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S a new reference for telephoto zoom | Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S Canon lens performance | Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S Nikon lens performance | Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S Canon versus competition | Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S Nikon versus competition | Conclusion
Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 EX DG OS HSM S Canon and Nikon mount lens review: Prime image quality in a zoom?

Sigma’s has recently revamped the 120-300mm f2.8 DG OS HSM as new high-grade Sports series model. It’s a promising combination offering far more flexibility that a 300mm f2.8 prime yet at $3,599, it’s close to half the price of a prime. Read on to see how well this unique lens performs.

A large aperture 300mm is an essential lens for sports and action photography, but the f2.8 versions are expensive. What’s more, they’re not particularly versatile, making the cost of ownership all the more difficult to justify.

Before the introduction of large aperture 80-200mm models in the 80s, fixed focal length primes such as the 180mm and 200mm f2.8 models were hugely popular but that’s no longer the case.  Telephoto zooms may have replaced those models, especially now that modern designs are close to matching the optical quality of the primes, but the 300mm f2.8 has endured for decades.

At first blush, the full-frame Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 (Nikon mount, Canon mount) looks like a promising option. And, at around $3,600, it’s just 50-60% of the price of a 300mm f2.8 from Canon or Nikon. Not only that, but it could also replace the 70-200mm f2.8 for certain applications.

This new model is a revamp of the 2010 iteration, which added stabilization and weather-sealing to the ultrasonic motor of the original, and boasts Sigma’s new high-grade exterior finish, as well as a new focus limiter option. Internally, it adopts the same complex construction of 23 elements in 18 groups, focuses to an unusually close 0.15-0.25m and weighs in at a not unreasonable 3.39Kg (119.6oz).

Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S a new reference for telephoto zoom

Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S Canon lens performance

Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S Nikon lens performance

Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S Canon versus competition

Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S Nikon versus competition

Conclusion