Sigma 120-300mm F/2.8 DG OS HSM S Lens Review

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This 2.5x zoom lens features a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture, the process of silent focusing and optical image stabilization. It falls into Sigma’s 'Sports' lens series and is particularly interesting since the zoom range is similar to that of a 70-200mm lens with a 1.4x tele-converter equipped, while still maintaining a fairly rapid f/2.8 maximum aperture in the zoom scope. It fits with the Canon, Nikon and Sigma cameras and is priced about $5,400.

Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM S lens

Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM S lens

Features and processing

This lens certainly isn’t lightweight; it is over three kilograms when putting it on the scale. However, this lens is quite easy to keep on hand for a short time and it balances well with the Canon EOS 5D MKIII used for the testing process. The lens is polished with matte black and has an anti-shock design.

This lens certainly isn’t lightweight

This lens certainly isn’t lightweight

The HSM motor supplies the focusing mechanism silently with the power and the autofocus process is extremely fast and accurate if considering it in the time aspect. Adjusting the focus manually can be applied at any time by turning the focus ring, which is able to reduce the vibration well making manual adjusting process become great when applied.

Focusing varies depending on the zoom setting between 150cm and 250cm.

Focusing varies depending on the zoom setting between 150cm and 250cm.

Focusing varies depending on the zoom setting between 150cm and 250cm. This can cause problems if the recomposing process uses the zoom next to the closest focus stop. The focusing process takes place inside and 105mm filters can be equipped, although the additional cost of the filters in these sizes might prevent a lot of people from investing in them.

With optical stabilization activated, and to be careful when shooting, the sharp manually shooting pictures are likely to lie around half the time at low shutter speeds of 1/20 sec. However, this can vary fiercely from person to person due to the size and weight of the lens.


At 120mm, the sharpness in the center of the frame reaches the great levels of maximum aperture. Obviously towards the edges of the frame are a little worse at this setting, this reduced level remains the good clarity. Lowering the aperture down between f/5.6 and f / 8 gives the results of excellent sharpness across the frame in this focal length.

Zooming to 180mm affects the sharpness results across the frame a little at maximum aperture, with that the clarity at the center reaches great, while quite good levels of clarity are obtained to the edges of the frame. Lowering the aperture to between f/4 and f/8 is to create great sharpness across the frame at this focal length.

Finally, at 300mm, the overall sharpness drops down, but the lens still can be used at all apertures. At f/2.8 the sharpness is very good across the frame. With the aperture stopped down between f/4 and f/8 sharpness is over great across the whole frame.

Rating image chromatic aberrations

Rating image chromatic aberrations

How to read our graphs

The blue column stands for the indexes from the center of the frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them, we will have the red weighted column.

The conventional column on the left side is to show the resolution level of the actual image. The higher the column is, the better the quality of the camera lens is.

In this article, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5D MKIII using Imatest

Chromatic aberrations are well controlled throughout the zoom range, peaking towards the edges of the frame at 25mm and maximum aperture. Here, the coloring includes 0.7 pixels, which can be seen along high contrast edges if the image is printed in large sizes, or cut out taken from the edges of the frame.

Rating the image sharpness

Rating the image sharpness

How to read our graphs

High chromatic aberration given the remarkable range or create a halo effect around sharp edges around the image. It can be handled by the software. High chromatic aberration offers a remarkable range or a halo effect around sharp edges around the image. It can be handled thanks to the software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, ultra-low dispersion, etc.) to minimize the problem, so their prices are often much higher.

In this article, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5D MKIII using Imatest.

As you might expect from a telephoto lens with a fast aperture, falloff towards the corners edges can be detected quite easily. Even with that the corners are at 1.3 stops darker than the image center at 120mm and 1.8 stops darker at 300mm, this level is pretty low for a lens of this type, and the visually unified lighting process is really obtained with the aperture stopped down to f/5.6 throughout the zoom range.

Distortion is very slight at both ends of the zoom range; it will be hard to detect with the naked eye; Imatest tried to discover only 0.0225% barrel distortion at 120mm and 0.959% pillow distortion at 300mm. These low levels of distortion should rarely need to be adjusted, but if they repeat then they should be adjusted a little, as the distortion pattern is consistent across the frame.

A hood that is provided with the lens does its job perfectly is to shade the lens from extraneous light that might cause the reduction of sharpness or the glare. The contrast is quite good, even when shooting in the bright sunlight.

Test images

The sample images come from the product.

The sample images come from the product.


Although there is no other lens that can be compared directly with the optical lenses from Sigma, even when it is compared directly with 300mm f/2.8 lens, it still represents sustainable value for money. For instance, the price of the Canon f/2.8 300mm lens is at about $7,500, and the price of Nikon is about $6,000. Although both lenses have higher optical performance, but neither of them has the convenience of the zoom and the Sigma lens is a reasonable choice for less expensive pocket-books.

Those who keep an eye for a bargain will find that the previous version of this lens can still be selected from the retailers for around $2,700. The old versions are almost identical to the latest versions, except that it does not stand out with the latest updated exterior design.


Although the performance of this lens is not an absolutely excellent model that is similar to fixed super-telephoto lenses of Nikon and Canon; it does not necessarily lag behind all. Add to the flexibility created by the zoom and it would still be a very attractive alternative to the fast super-telephoto lens of the camera manufacturers.


·         The sharpness is good.

·         CA is low.

·         The design is amazing.

·         Optical Stabilization

·         The focusing process is quick.

·         Very good value for money


·         The focusing distance is close and variable.

Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM S Specifications


·         Lens Mounts: Nikon F; Canon EF; Sigma SA


·         Focal Length: 120mm - 300mm

·         Angle of View: 8.2° - 20.4°

·         Max Aperture: f/2.8

·         Min Aperture: f/22

·         Filter Size: 105mm

·         35mm equivalent: No Data

·         Internal focusing: Yes


·         Min Focus: 150cm

·         Stabilized: Yes


·         Blades: 9

·         Elements: 23

·         Groups: 18

Box Contents

·         Box Contents: No Data


·         Weight: 3,390g

·         Height: 291mm

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