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Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM and Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG IF HSM

Canon’s and Sigma’s 24-70mm f/2.8 offerings

I thought it could be interesting to centralize the questions I’m most often asked, and of course try to answer them. Here we go!

Will Sigma make a full-frame 24-70mm f/2 lens?

A Sigma 24-70mm f/2 DG lens has been rumored since the introduction of a certain fixed-aperture APS-C zoom. All wishful thinking aside, can we realistically expect it?

Let’s start with a quote from Sigma’s CEO Kazuto Yamaki regarding the strategy against Canon and Nikon:

The basic idea is better optics, and with an affordable price — that’s the basic idea. It depends on the product, of course, but we are trying our best to achieve that goal. [1]

Now apply that goal to a “mere” 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, and Sigma has already a big challenge to face. In particular, the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is very hard to beat. Reaching the same optical quality but selling the lens at a lower price would be a great achievement.

Going from f/2.8 to f/2 is not just twice as hard as the single stop difference suggests, especially when you have to deal with a zoom that goes from very wide angle to short tele. Some aberrations and other optical nasties increase tremendously.

In the end, it would be impossible to come up with something that is not compromised in some way, or obnoxiously large and expensive. What about a shorter zoom range? Well, it would have to be significantly shorter to help, to a point that the lens would lose most of its raison d’etre.

Speaking of which, Kazuto Yamaki was once asked about a possible full-frame 24-50mm f/1.8 lens. See what he replied:

We might do, but not with the quality that we would like or at least not with good performance at maximum aperture. [2]

And the interviewer to add:

None of the current 24-70mm f/2.8 zooms are excellent to the level he aspires to achieve. Only the latest Canon version, he says bluntly when talking about competition, is really good. [2]

Overall, I think it says it all about the odds of ever seeing a Sigma 24-70mm f/2 DG lens. If f/2.8 is challenging, f/2 is simply a no-go.

 

Any news for a Sigma 135mm f/2 (or f/1.8) Art?

Not really news, but it should indeed be in development… and maybe even at a late stage. Kazuto Yamaki stated something interesting about 135mm prime lenses.

There have been a lot of requests concerning that type of lens. It used to be a very popular device; now it is not so popular anymore. Still there seem to be an increase of interest in it and, as I’ve already said, we want to have a full line-up of lenses so definitely I would like to launch it as soon as possible and include in our offer. [3]

Encouraging, isn’t it? Well, this was said two years ago, so either Sigma is taking the time to make a fantastic lens, or they changed their plans since then.

That would be unfortunate. In the current lens line-up, only zooms cover this focal length, among which a non-Global Vision 70-200mm f/2.8 and a Global Vision 120-300mm f/2.8 monster that is unlikely to attract many portrait shooters… but none of them is fast enough anyway. The 85mm focal length is served with a good and recent EX lens. So, all things considered, releasing a 135mm f/2 before a new 85mm f/1.4 makes a lot of sense.

Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar

Hopefully Sigma is taking the time to make something as good as this.

 

Will Sigma make full-frame E-mount lenses, and/or offer their DSLR lenses in E mount?

While this is not a definitive answer to the first part of the question, the below quote from Kazuto Yamaki (September 2014) makes something clear:

For now, we have no development plan for this series. [4]

Committing to the A7 series means R&D for a brand new, dedicated lens line. Probably not the kind of investment Sigma is willing to make, at least not for now, and the recent interviews with Mr Yamaki don’t show any evidence of Sigma changing their plans. In any case, we’re not close to seeing full-frame E-mount Sigma lenses.

Offering the existing DSLR lenses in E mount could appear as a solution, but Sigma is not particularly keen to do so.

 

Will Sigma make a Sony A-mount version of the 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Sports?

It’s not planned, so… don’t count on it.

Sigma makes efforts to make most of the Global Vision glass for Sony DSLRs. However, it seems that producing A-mount versions of the 150-600mm S (and 120-300mm S) would be a burden, requiring too many mechanical changes to make it worth it, financially speaking.

Additionally, Sony didn’t show great commitment to their Alpha DSLRs lately, which is not encouraging for third-party manufacturers.

Sony Alpha a99 and Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG HSM Sports (fake)

We will probably never see this combination for real…

 

Will Sigma keep using the 1:1:1 Merrill-type Foveon sensor?

I don’t think they will. When trying to think from Sigma’s standpoint, this definitely sounds like a step backwards. Sigma and their Foveon division have been working on the “more advanced” Quattro sensor for years, so they most probably stopped improving what is now the older Foveon.

The good news is, they may eventually go full frame (see here and here).

Sources

[1] Interview with Imaging Resource — April 2014

[2] Interview with Quesabesde (in Spanish) — October 2014

[3] Interview with LensTip — November 2012

[4] Interview with Focus Numerique (in French) — September 2014

  • EarlFargis

    I contacted Sigma USA regarding the availability of the 150-600mm Sports lens. They were kind enough to give me a quick response. They expect some next month and they should know how many by early January. Of course, not knowing how many pre-orders are outstanding it won’t really tell me much, I suppose.

    It’s guaranteed to be a Sigma-less Christmas for me though I did get their new 1.4 teleconverter that’s useless without a Sigma lens.

  • NightPhotographer

    I am buying into Canon just because there is no good 135mm f2 for Nikon. I do this with reservations since Canon sensor is prehistoric. How likely is it to see the Sigma 135mm f1.8/2 in the near future?

    • Florent – SigmaRumors

      Huh, hard to say. The most concrete thing we have about such as lens is what Mr Yamaki said in November 2012. I think the next announcement will rather take care of the wide FOV, but on the other hand there’s also a real gap (no fast lens) in the 100-200mm range, and if Sigma has something ready, they will show it. If it’s not announced in January/early February then go for the Canon. It’s not like if it was a bad lens 😉

  • EarlFargis

    Well, if you get any questions on the availability of the new Sigma 1.4X Tele Converter TC-1401 for Nikon my pre-ordered one was shipped today by Amazon. Unfortunately, it’ll collect dust until my Sigma 150-600mm Sports lens ships and I don’t expect it for months. 8^(

  • SimenO1

    I would suggest dropping the 24-70/2,0 and in stead cover the three classical focal lengths 35-50-85 with a zoom. They could split the line like they did with the 150-600 and make a high end 35-85/2,0-2,8 Art an affordable 35-85/2,8-4,0 Contemporary full frame kit-lens.

    Constant aperture is waste of glass at the wide end.

  • animalsbybarry

    As a Sony user I realized lond ago….after directly asking several sigma reps…that Sigma will probably never make a 150-600 sport in A mount, only the contemporary version.
    If I want the sport I will need to buy a different mount and camera, buy the contemporary version, or find some other currently unknown solution.
    The reluctance on Sigma’s part to release mtf charts on the contemporary version is extremely frustrating to me as I would like to compare the two lenses to figure out what I will be doing.
    The other. Unanswered question is even though Sigma has not yet anounced plans to make new TCs for Sony mount are they likely to do so?

    • EarlFargis

      It could be a case of not wanting to scare off early 150-600mm Sports adapters like me paying roughly double for the Sports version which Sigma says is close to the Contemporary version in IQ. Is weather sealing worth ~$1,000? You could very well be laughing at me in the coming year! It could also be the Contemporary is still getting design tweaks since I’m not aware of any announced ship date.

      Teleconverters are a thornier issue. I got notification of the new Sigma 1.4x (for Nikon) shipping today and there’s no indication of an a-mount version nor do they currently sell the previous version (still on their web site) in a Sony mount. I’ve had good luck with cheap used generic teleconverters for my a65 but reviews I’ve seen of them indicate pixel peeping they are edged out by Sony’s.

      The one thing Sigma teleconverters have going for them is AF at f/8. I had no luck AFing my generics with my Tamron 200-500mm.

      • animalsbybarry

        The more I hear about this new Sony camera the more I suspect more hype than substance.
        The latest slant on the rumors suggest only a 46mp bayer sensor.
        That would be a far cry from the revelutionary game changing camera Sony is hyping.
        Of course we are still only talking about rumors and anything is possible……maby the game changing tech will be late 2015 or 2016..or 2017..or….

        • Jeffry De Meyer

          What camera is sony hyping? Everyone fell out of their chairs when we found out about the image stabilisation they announced a day later.

          There is a boat load of BS floating around the Internet about canon and sony.

          • animalsbybarry

            A9

          • Jeffry De Meyer

            As far as I know Sony hasn’t said anything about an a9, speculations and rumors on SAR.

            The image stabilization thing was just to point out how little we know of what is going on

          • EarlFargis

            No, Sony hasn’t said anything about the a9. SAR can be reasonably accurate on Sony mirrorless body rumors; fairly inaccurate on a-mount ones.

        • EarlFargis

          I’m way behind on SAR. My interest in Sony slacked off. I could care less about mirrorless and that’s about all SAR is about. I’m waiting for eBay to crash from all the SAR fanboys dumping their barely touched a7, a7R, and A7S geek toys they were gushing about last month so they can churn bodies to the next great boring a7II rectangle from Sony.

          Go back 6 months and a 46mp Sony a99 (yes, I’m know your talking about an a9 mirrorless) might have given me a stiffy. Now? I’m satisfied with my D800. I’m sure I can sit out the next year, probably 2. Like I’ve said, I’m thinking getting used bodies from all the body churners looking forward. Bodies depreciate so quickly any more, especially Sony mirrorless which churn every 6 months or so.

          Sensors are like Intel chips were in the ’90s to mid-2000s. Incrementally bump the performance – MHz in this case – to bleed nerds of their retirement savings since they can’t resist constantly upgrading their toys. Sony can keep profiting with minor pixel density bumps until, like Moore’s law petering out, they won’t be able to pack them tighter. Then maybe you’ll get your layered tech and real change you can believe in.

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