This lens, in combination with the 70-200mm covers around 90% of my lens needs. It’s sharp, covers a decent range, goes nice and wide, has a fast f/2.8 aperture and to top is all has Optical Stabilizations (OS – Sigma’s version of VR). Not quite as important with wide angle than with longer lenses, but it has proven useful at certain times. All of this is in a package that is smaller, lighter and a fraction of the cost of Nikons 17-55mm f/2.8 lens, which lacks VR. The 17-50mm f/2.8 definitely punches above it’s weight.
This is a ‘real world’ review, I focus (pun intended) on how the lens works for me. I don’t shoot walls, I don’t shoot test charts, and I won’t be filling the page with 100% crops from the very edge of the frame. This is my lens, I bought it full price, and I still own it.
If you are looking for a review that covers the minutiae of every single feature, then I am afraid you are in the wrong place. If you want to see some images shot by an ordinary person with this lens, in ordinary use, then read on.
I got mine from Amazon here.
I have found this lens to be fast and sharp, although there is some distortion which is to be expected of a wide angle zoom. This distortion is only noticeable if you shoot something with lots of straight lines, and is usually quite easy to fix in Lightroom.
Bokeh (the quality of out of focus backgrounds) is good, however you will get better bokeh by using a longer lens and shooting from further away.
There is some minor light falloff towards the corners when shooting wide open, especially against a fairly flat background, but this is trivial to fix in Lightroom.
Whilst arguably less useful in a wide angle lens than it is in longer focal lengths, I have found the excellent OS in the Sigma, coupled with the fantastic low light performance of the D7100 enables me to shoot in light so dark it is hard to read! The slower shutter speeds are less of an issue with a wide angle lens than with a telephoto, but by bumping the ISO a touch, and ensuring the OS is on, I can shoot in many more low light situations than with my old D90 and an older non OS lens.
It’s smaller and lighter than the Nikon 17-55 f/2.8, but it is not a lightweight lens. That said, for an f/2.8 zoom it is relatively light, and the ability to keep shooting at a reasonable shutter speed and ISO is worth it over the cheaper kit lenses, to me at least. 17-50mm is an almost ideal range for a wide zoom on a DX format camera.
You have to flick a switch on the lens to switch from Autofocus to manual focus, whereas with many of the newer lenses will allow instant override by just using the focus ring. I have found that with the super accurate AF of the Nikon D7100, I have no real need for this. The only time I set the lens to MF is when shooting the night sky. Manual focus is smooth but it goes from near to far focus in around 1/8 of a turn, so not a great lens for manual focus. You can get accurate MF, but you need a delicate touch.
Off-brand lenses don’t generally keep their value as well as those from the camera manufacturer, and there is no doubt in my mind that this lens will be worth not a lot on EBay in a few years. This does not bother me, I bought this lens to use, not as an investment. I have had lots of use from it, and will continue to do so.
It’s wrong compared to the Nikon lenses I use, turning in the opposite direction. It’s not a major problem, but if you are switching between this lens mounted on one body, and a Nikon lens mounted on a second body, it’s easy to turn the zoom ring and find you are zooming out, rather than zooming in.
For a fairly wide angle zoom, the 17-50mm f/2.8 represents good value for money, offering good optics, f/2.8 and OS in a more compact package than the Nikon alternative, at a price point that is several hundred pounds cheaper than the Nikon.
For those looking to move up from a kit lens, but who don’t want to spend more than the price of their camera body on a lens that cannot be used on a full frame camera should they upgrade, this Sigma should certainly warrant consideration.
You can check the latest price of this lens on Amazon here.