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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Review of the Sigma Zoom Master 35-70mm f/2.8-4

General


Today's review was made when I gave myself a challenge: what's the cheapest lens I can get on Ebay that I can actually put on my Nikon and shoot with it? Well, the Sigma Zoom Master 35-70mm f/2.8-f/4 of course! I got it for free, it came with a film camera some time ago. I suspect the seller simply used it in lieu of a body cap. But is this lens worth anything more than that? Let's find out

With plenty of sun and stationary subjects, it works

Pros/Cons

+ cheap. Very cheap. Even if you actually have to buy one, it usually goes for less than $20
+ decent f/2.8-f/4 aperture (certainly better than the ubiquitous f/3.5-f/5.6 in modern AFS zooms)
+ reasonable build quality (again, compared to modern plastic-it's-fantastic lenses)


- we've seen worse in terms of optical quality, but not by much. Resolution is decent, but there's distortion, vignetting, and I personally found the bokeh to be atrocious
- manual focus at f/2.8 (or even f/4) isn't something I'm too keen on doing
- ultimately, what's the point?

Intended Users

Great for:
  • as a body cap for a camera you're selling
  • as paperweight
  • looks nice on the shelf


Not for:
  • any DX user, period.
  • any FX user who can live with the marginally slower aperture of the Nikkor AF 28-80mm (autofocus and better optically, not to mention wider and longer)
  • any photographic purpose, really.

Final Verdict

This isn't a serious review, as you might have guessed by now. Or rather, the review is serious but the lens, alas, cannot be taken seriously in 2017. It was perhaps a decent option for its time, but this time is now long past. Why would you spend even that small amount when with about the same money (or $30 tops) you can get something with autofocus and a wider/longer range? Fair enough, you lose a bit on the aperture, but then again, the difference between f/2.8 and f/3.5 (or f/4 and f/5.6) isn't really that important when you have cameras going over ISO 25600.

What are my options?
Very easy. If you're a DX user, don't waste your time with such things. The plain vanilla 18-55 is miles ahead of this dinosaur. It probably came with your camera, but if not you can get it for peanuts (used here, new here). If you can spend a little bit more, take a look at the 18-105 (used here, new here).

If you're an FX user and you want something dirt-cheap, as I said the Nikkor AF 28-80mm is pretty good bang for ~$30. If you can invest a little bit more, the Nikkor AF-S VR 24-85mm is probably all most people would need - get it used here, new here.




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