by Jack Howard
When traveling as light as possible while maximizing versatility, an all-in-one zoom lens like the new Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 Macro is a great choice. This recently redesigned lens is built specifically for DSLRs with the smaller APS-C sensors, and now adds 1:2.9 macro capture for even more flexibility and creativity in an even more compact package than its predecessor (which we explored in detail last summer.) From wide angle to supertelephoto and macro for close-up details, this one lens is ready for just about any adventure.
To bullet it out, here’s why this optically stabilized superzoom is a great choice for many photographers.
- This lens is an impressive combination of reach, range and versatility in a single multi-tasking piece of glass that can do just about everything from wide landscapes, to telephoto wildlife, macros (1:2.9 max magnification), short tele portraiture, and help make a strong shot of most situations you’ll want to shoot on your adventures, without ever having to swap lenses.
- This APS-C specific lens is a 13.8x optically stabilized zoomer that weighs in at just a pound plus an ounce with a field of view range comparable to about a 28-400mm on a full-frame camera. That’s a whole lot of lens in a compact 3.5 inch long package!
- When travelling with young children and all the gear kids require, there’s just not room for a big, dedicated camera bag any more.
- Maximum versatility in tight quarters. Helicopter tours, and lighthouse climbs are but two examples of tourist activities that can be amazingly “cozy” situations where it isn’t necessarily possible or practical to try to switch lenses to make different shots.
But this multitasker makes some smart tradeoffs to be very adept in many types of photography in its small, economical package. And when you bump the street price of the 18-250mm up against some of the more specialized lenses, you start to realize that it’s a very capable tool that can be put on your SLR and be ready to capture great photos of pretty much anything you can see through that viewfinder, from sweeping vistas to to distant sports and wildlife action in one easy-to-handle lens.
The OS in the name of the Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM stands for “Optical Stabilizer,” indicating that this lens features floating lens elements that sense camera motion and react in the opposite direction to dampen and counteract slight camera movements–meaning that you can very often safely hand-hold shots at shutter speeds slower the the inverse of the shutter speed (1/250 for a 250mm focal length, for example) and still achieve sharp shots.
Briefly, in practice, Optical Stabilization lets you make sharper shots at slower shutter speeds without always having to anchor your camera on a tripod or monopod. So, even though the maximum aperture at 250mm is a bit on the slow side at f/6.3, you can switch OS on, and slow down the shutter speed to get a properly exposed frame, instead of having to crank the ISO way, way, high in dim lighting conditions.
At all focal lengths,the autofocus is very quick and accurate, thanks to the hypersonic motor, including locking on to macro details when zoomed all the way to 250mm for maximum magnification. And it is also much more quiet while achieving sharp focus than the last version. And of course, all the features that make this a excellent all-in-one for still shots also mean it is amazingly versatile when mounted aboard a DLSR with HD video capture. All in all, it’s a whole lot of lens in a compact, well-constructed package.
Check out this video for a quick rundown of the features and specifications that make this lens a great all-in-one option.
And be sure to check out this interview with pro photographer Walter Arnold, who shot the photos for the magazine ads for this new lens for his take on the build and feel of this lens.