Hardware Review: Sigma 18-250

First off, my apologies at the sudden absence on Friday – it was a day off, but not so much as a podcast recording that should have taken 30-45 minutes took 2 hours so my plans for the day were pretty much canned after that.  But anyway, on to the subject of today’s post:  The Sigma 18-250mm lens review!  You read that right – Sigma has a lens that covers the range of 18-250.  This allows you to go from relatively wide angle shots at the 18mm end to zooming pretty far in at 250mm on the opposite end.  But, is the quality really there?

I took the lens through its paces over the weekend and here’s what I found out about the Sigma 18-250!  In the interests of full disclosure, I should also note that this was actually requested by myself for review, and that I am not being compensated in any manner by the good folks at Sigma.  So, this is, in fact, a loaner and I am required to send it back no later than June 26th.  Since I will be busy next weekend, decided I should get the review shots done with this weekend so the lenses can be shipped back on schedule.



  • Weight – this has a nice solid feel to it.  With I think a total of 13 elements in here, it’s no surprise that it doesn’t feel the slightest bit flimsy.  The weight adds a certain durability, but I still took things carefully as this is only on loan from Sigma for the purposes of this review.   Compared to the 70-200, it certainly felt heavier, but I am not sure what the comparative weights are.  All in all though, I think the weight is a good thing.
  • Noise – Excellent!  My prior experience with Sigma is my own 70mm Macro, which does not have the HSM (hypersonic motor).  That thing is NOY-ZEE!  This, on the other hand, rivals the USM operation of Canon lenses.  Compared to the 70-200L glass I own, the two are pretty close to each other in terms of silence in operation.  The test I did for this was switch focus to manual, then take the lens all the way out to the opposite end of its last focus point.  I then switched it back on to AF and listened for the motor operation.  Sure, I could hear it when listening, but man was it quiet!
  • Range –  This is without a doubt, my most favorite element (bad pun) of this lens.  The fact that I could go from wide angle work to close up work with such ease makes this an ideal lens for things like photo walks (which are becoming more and more popular), or for just a go-to lens on a regular basis without having to switch out.
  • OS – Optical Stabilization – the equivalent of IS on Canon lenses.  While I don’t own a Canon IS lens for direct comparison, I will say that it went a full stop faster than my 70-200mm CanonL f4.0 did at the same focal length/light.  In a day and age where fast glass is becoming pretty much the standard, I would say this meets the mark.
  • Size – This lens is remarkable compact – standing at almost half the height of my 70-200 comparison lens.  Think about that – a wider range of zoom and half the length.  I can store this vertically in my bag, saving precious cargo space for other accessories and accouterments.  Alongside would be the 70mm Macro, the 10-22mm, lensbaby, flash and other such items.  Very tempting for that reason alone.
  • Feel – The signature brushed metal feel of Sigma lenses is present here and it just exudes “cool” and “professional”.  No bells or whistles, no fancy L rings or anything, just brushed smoothness.  Gotta love it!
  • Image Quality – The bugaboo, the real deal, the end result – the pictures!  So how does it stack up?  Pretty well actually, but rather than wax on, I’ll just share some images I took for you to judge the IQ – just remember to distinguish IQ from compositional quality!  🙂  Here’s the results…

A little zoomed in at 50mm

A first glance of the Sigma at 18mm

Full zoom at 250mm

The Sigma at 18mm

The Sigma at full zoom (250mm)

Sigma detail and sharpness

Another detail shot


  • Weight – Yes, I am listing weight as both a pro and a con – the weight did get to me after a while of shooting on the 40D.  While it’s durability is not in question at all, the heaviness can get on your wrist and forearm.  I should put this qualifier out that I am still recouperating a tender arm from our move last July, which I am for the most part over, but it still flares up with extended use.  So, things like shooting for a day can wear on me. Lighter is always better, but if I had to choose between durability and lightness, the former would win every time.  Take what you wish from this con then…’nuff said.
  • Cost – It retails at B&H for $529, which is always a big price tag to swallow no matter what you are buying.  Then again, when you look at a comparable lens from Canon that has the OS/IS built-in, the Canon counterpart goes for almost twice that at $1025 (and you still don’t get the same range of focus).  While it may be a lot to pay on first glance, you really are getting quite a bit of bang for your buck.

Truth be told, I couldn’t find much else to nit on.  I also liked the fact that they made this lens so you can put the lens hood on while also leaving the cap able to attach.  Don’t ask me why, but I like that…  Believe it or not, the lens also performed fairly well with portrait work too.  I did a few test shots with yours truly as the subject and even got one I liked!   So, would I recommend this lens?  Absolutely!  To see a complete gallery of photos I took this weekend, including the portrait ones, and even a few of the moon last night with a TC attached), follow this link:

Sigma 18-250 Gallery of Images

Well, that should be enough content for the day (I know, my reviews are long-winded), so get out and shoot (with a Sigma if you like! 🙂 ), and we’ll see you back here tomorrow.  Happy Shooting!  Don’t forget – would love to hear reader thoughts and ideas for product reviews – let me know in the comments or via email!

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15 comments for “Hardware Review: Sigma 18-250

  1. June 8, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Nice review of the lens. I’ve never actually used a Sigma lens before. I’ve always stuck with Canon lens until recently when I picked up a Cosina 18-35mm for $80! Still undecided what I would do in the future but more than likely I will stick to the Canon L-series. Who knows though… I may see a deal on a Sigma I cannot pass up and give one of them a go.

  2. June 8, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Is it available for Nikon mount? I have two other Sigma lenses – the 10-20mm and 70-300mm and I’m very happy with them.

  3. June 9, 2009 at 2:00 am

    Good review Jason – that’s a neat focal range. I only have one Sigma lens and its the 100mm macro. Its excellent and if the build quality of your review lens is anything like my macro I’m sure it’s a must.

  4. Ed
    June 9, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Great review. I like the quality aspects more than the need for a light weight. On thing, did you notice any lens creep when pointing the camera up or down? Does the lens extend to 250mm when carrying over your shoulder?

  5. Tom Phillips
    June 11, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Lens creeping?

    We have a canon EF-S 18-200 that creeps bad and my wife does not like it.

  6. June 11, 2009 at 9:41 am

    I actually didn’t experience any lens creep – and that was a neat feature that I should have mentioned – the Sigma 18-250 has a lock switch that you can click to prevent lens creep from happening – very cool!

  7. Tom Phillips
    June 11, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Thanks for the fast response! One more

    Does the lock only work with the lens closed like canon or can you lock it in any position during zoom?

  8. June 11, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Good question – I didn’t think to test that beyond the wide angle setting at 18mm – will check tonight to see if that lock works in multiple positions…

  9. June 18, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Very interesting to read the review about the Sigma 18-250 lens, I use a Nikon D80, which I find very good, with a Sigma 18-200 none os, and get good results, throughout the full focal
    range, I did try the new Sigma 18-200 OS a while ago and was very dissapointed, no where near as sharp as my std sigma 18-200, I also tried the Nikon 18-200VR and found that also was poor in sharpness throughout, and zoom creep was a pain as it has no lock like the Sigma’s
    have. The sample photo’s shown, are they straight from the camera without any alterations
    what so ever? this is something I often wonder as it is never said one way or the other.
    Best regards, Jim Barr.

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