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Old Oct 15, 2008, 3:58 PM   #1
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Jim C. asked me to give feedback regarding the Sigma 17-70 lens as a general "walk-around" lens. I just got the lens today and took a few shots with my Canon 20D - however I will give a quick review.

First of all, I bought it from Sigma4less for $379 plus shipping which was a pretty good deal. They shipped the lens on time, good condition, no hassles.

The build quality of this lens is very good (similar to my Sigma 10-20). The lens mounts overly tightly on the 20D body, but not alarmingly so. Initial the zoom is a little on the stiff side but I suspect it will loosen up a little over time. The finish is a pebbly black with rubber treading on the focus grips - standard for Sigma.

The weight of the lens is a little heftier than my Sigma 10-20. I'd say this lens is about as heavy as you'd want to cart around for a "walk around" lens.
The zoom range is excellent. The 17mm feels "just right" at the wide end, the the 70mm at the tele end is quite a bit of reach. You could easily pick out a person in a crowd 40 or 50 feet away at 70mm.

The lens surface is almost flush with the end of the lens. Makes you wonder if you should buy some sort of filter to protect it (I won't - I live life dangerously).

The autofocus is fast enough, not overly noisy. Definitely not
USM fast, but fast enough. The focus is a little trickier in Macro mode - you have to play with it to pick out the right subject. Realistically, within an hour or two you too could be a "macro master" with this machine. Very easy to take beautiful flower pictures - and with practice - really great macros.

As far as picture quality goes, I would say at 17mm the lens is sharp but not breathtakingly so. At longer focal lengths sharpness is good. The tonality of photos out of the camera is very good - little adjustment needed (not as "perfect" as Tamrons I've used that literally need no adjustment). Barrel distortion is noticeable at the wide end, which is typical for this type of lens.

All in all, this lens is a series of compromises. Reasonably low price, very good build quality, good sharpness, nice zoom range, good but not excellent autofocus speed, very handy macro function that can make anyone a "macro master".

Will this lens blow you away? I don't think so. Will you be pleased? Yes. Is it a useable "walk around" lens - I think so. However, you get what you pay for. This lens is not expensive so it won't compare with more expensive offerings. Nor will it do anything excruciatingly well - but it will work as a reasonably priced "walkaround" lens and probably spend a lot of time on your camera body as your "work horse".
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Old Oct 15, 2008, 4:00 PM   #2
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Cropped photo.
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Old Oct 15, 2008, 4:02 PM   #3
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wildflowers.
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Old Oct 15, 2008, 4:07 PM   #4
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I framed this one up poorly but I like how it handled the detail of my dog's fur, her eyes, and the background. This lens renders tones nicely for sure.


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Old Oct 15, 2008, 5:11 PM   #5
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Thanks Terry. BTW, if your "ears are burning", I mentioned the thread you started about a walk around lens in another thread here (since one of our members with a Pentax dSLR was also considering this Sigma):

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/fo...mp;forum_id=94

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Old Oct 20, 2008, 10:32 AM   #6
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Here's another photo I took over the weekend. This is after another hour with the 17-70.
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Old Oct 20, 2008, 10:35 AM   #7
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Here's a night photo:
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Old Oct 20, 2008, 10:40 AM   #8
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Shot of a lion. This lens does a nice job with colors, whites:
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Old Oct 20, 2008, 10:42 AM   #9
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Roses. 17-70 has nice color rendition.
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Old Oct 27, 2008, 11:01 AM   #10
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Sigma 17-70 update:

I've had this lens a few weeks now and have managed to take several hundred photos with it.

Definitely you have to get used to this lens to get the most out of it. The macro is probably the biggest learning curve, as the potential is there to take great shots - but it takes a while to get the hang of macro.

The 17-70 is just a tad on the heavy side as a walk around lens for my Canon 20D. I found myself walking around supporting the lens in one hand, as it's a bit heavy to hang around the neck.

The lens works pretty well in low light. I was able to take some pretty cool outdoor night shots and indoor restaurant shots - wide open.

The 17-70 renders colors really well. Very pleased with the rendition and "snap" of the colors.

This lens does not feel like a pro lens however. What it does feel like is a very good amateur lens.

I'm beginning to think that the best "walk around" lens is not a lens at all for a DSLR, but instead a second pocketable camera or very light camera like a Canon SX10 or something like that. These all-in-one cams tend to be very light, and you can own one for the price of lens for a DSLR. Plus they take great video. And your not worried about taking them on airplanes or getting them stolen like an expensive DSLR rig.

I'm still glad I purchased the Sigma 17-70. I really don't think my photography has progressed to the point that I have exceeded this lens. This lens is a little like a ferrari - it takes a while before you can get your skills up to the level of the lens (to be honest - lol).

So would I recommend the Sigma 17-70. Yes I would. It's a great weekend lens. However I would not consider a DSLR and Sigma 17-70 as something I'd want around my neck 8-16 hours a day on an extended vacation (unless you have a very strong neck!).
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