Sigma Lenses vs Canon Lenses

by Enche Tjin on September 18, 2008

Many people believe that Sigma, a third party photography manufacturer merely produce lenses that are inferior to Mbrand name such as Canon or Nikon lenses. While some of them are true, but there some Sigma lenses are better in term of built quality, optical quality and zoom focal length.

Some Sigma lenses are engineered to fill the gap that Canon or Nikon lenses does not have. In this post, I try to categorized the lenses based on similarity on specification:

Wide angle and prime lenses

Wide angle and prime lenses

In wide angle prime category, Sigma has 8mm circular fish eye that Canon does not have, while Nikon has 10mm. In standard prime category, new Sigma lens 50mm f/1.4 is regarded the best standard prime in the market. The build construction is excellent but the trade off is the lens is a heavier and bulkier. (Related article: Sigma 50mm mini review).

Sigma also has quality 30mm f/1.4 lens, which is better than Canon old 28mm f/1.8 and 35mm f/2. Canon has 35mm f/1.4, but the price is way above the reach of prosumer.

Sigma Telephoto Prime Lenses

Sigma Telephoto Prime Lenses

In Telephoto prime category, Sigma only has 3 lenses, however, they are a lot more affordable than Canon or Nikon collection.

Sigma wide and standard zoom lenses

Sigma wide and standard zoom lenses

In Standard wide to telephoto zoom lens, Sigma compromises image quality to affordability. Many of Sigma lenses in this category tend to be significantly cheaper. For example the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8, a popular general zoom lens, is $700 cheaper than Canon’s counterpart. The problem is, the Sigma rarely supply standard zoom lens with optical stabilization or image stabilization. But if you have camera with built-in stabilization (Sony, Pentax, Olympus), then you don’t have to worry about it and get a bargain deal.

Sigma Telephoto and Macro Lenses

Sigma Telephoto and Macro Lenses

In telephoto zoom, Sigma strategy is to put out long zoom lenses and recently equipped with OS (optical stabilization) to combat hand shake. Massive focal length offered by Sigma is unmatched by Canon or Nikon.

Some Sigma telephoto zoom focal length that you might not find in Canon or Nikon: Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8, Sigma 120-400mm, Sigma 100-300mm f/4, Sigma 150-500mm OS, 80-400mm OS and the BIGMA, 300-800mm.

In the macro lenses, price and focal length are about the same for both manufacturer, so my recommendation is go for Canon’s or Nikon’s.

In conclusion: Sigma offers many cheaper alternatives, but it does not translate on lower build and image quality. Sometime it is worth the money to get Sigma, especially Sigma with the label EX. These EX lenses tend to have a great built and image quality. Sigma is also well known in manufacturing standard prime such as 30mm and 50mm. In some focal length such as 100-500mm range, Sigma has great collection with affordable price and mechanic that you won’t find in Canon and Nikon’s lens collection.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Al April 15, 2010 at 2:20 pm

I’m looking at the Sigma 100-300 mm f/4 and the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 for shooting sports.

Any opinions?….I heard the Sigma hunts a little when focusing (could be a problem when shooting action) however the Sigma also has 1 lower stop that remains the same throughout the range of the lens.

Any feedback is appreciated.


Enche Tjin April 15, 2010 at 3:13 pm

I use Sigma 100-300mm f/4 HSM for soccer and football couple years ago. My impression of this lens is heavy (best with monopod). Also worth to mention that Sigma zoom is counter clock-wise while Canon lenses’ zoom is clock wise. So it may takes a while for you to get used to it.

I don’t have problem with f4 because I usually shoot outdoor sports with plenty of light. 300mm in APS-C camera provide good reach.

Image quality is very good although not as sharp as Canon 70-200mm f/4 IS USM (probably on par Canon with 100-400mm.). Image is a bit warmer and the bokeh is soft and nice.

Focusing speed is good enough for sports, but it is not as snappy as 70-200mm f/4 IS USM.

I haven’t used Canon 100-400mm lens so I can’t comment on it. But I think the AF and image quality is on par (because 100-400mm USM is older version, it is not as fast as Canon 70-200mms)

Al April 15, 2010 at 7:07 pm

thanks very much for the feedback!

виктор December 17, 2011 at 10:25 am

А Sigma50-200мм очень классный объектив, только что то о нем мало кто наслышен.

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