Sigma 28-200 3.8-5.6 UC Aspherical A-mount lens review by Miranda F

reviewer#29666 date: Aug-23-2016
sharpness: 3
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 2
overall: 3.4
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP24MP24 MP36MP36 MP42MP42 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:Sony 18-55mm DT SAM II
Sony 55-200mm SAM
Minolta 28-100mm D
Tamron 28-200mm aspheric.
Lots of other Minolta lenses
price paid:£45 UKP
positive:well built, good in MF
Very low CA and PF
negative:Soft, especially at 200mm
spherical aberration and coma
strong ghosting and veiling
sticky zoom ring
long MFD (1.5m) limits close-up possibilities
comment:This lens is a late film-era super-zoom which has been superseded by more recent hyper-zooms with much wider zoom ranges. Is it worth buying s/h?
It is compact and well-built, without the loose plasticky feel of Minolta’s cheaper lenses, and though Sigmas are known for breaking their AF drive, my copy AFs well, though a trifle noisily. The focus ring is wide and much more pleasant to use in MF than the thin ring on many Minoltas, but the zoom ring on my copy is very stiff, particularly going long.
Optically the IQ is mixed. There’s some sight bowing at the edges at 28mm but not enough to bother me; CA & PF are very well controlled – almost invisible except at 100% crop, and if you frame your shots fully the results are clear and bright. Unfortunately the lens is quite soft, especially at full length, and is let down by significant spherical aberration and coma which reduce contrast quite badly on writing, number plates, etc. The coma also creates some pretty horrid bokeh (eg on light filtering through distant trees).
I would expect some flare or ghosting from the large front element (the ‘hood’ supplied is more of a front-element protector than a real lens hood) and this proves to be quite bad, giving a large semicircular ghost with sun just off-scene and so much veiling the lens wouldn't AF! Par for the course on older lenses, perhaps, and fine if you shield the sun with your hand, but not good with multiple light sources indoors or at night. The Minolta 28-100mm works much better in the same scene despite it's similar vestigial 'hood', AF-ing just fine and with enough veiling to give atmosphere (if that's what you want) without killing the image.
I did some back-to-back tests of this lens against the silver Minolta 28-100mm D and the Sony 18-55mm and 55-200mm DT lenses, on real-world subjects (treetops around 30-50 feet away and vehicles 100-200 feet away, which I feel give more representative results than test cards), and the Minolta 28-100 was sharper everywhere. In fact the Sigma at 200mm was no better than the Minolta at 100mm with digital zoom – less jpeg artefacts but more blur. The Sony 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses are a huge amount sharper at all comparable focal lengths, as expected, as well as being almost free from ghosting and veiling.
So is it worth buying? Obviously the latest hyperzooms are better in most respects including focal range, but at the time of writing they’re a lot more expensive. It is probably not as bad as you would expect from the previous reviews here; my copy of this lens was certainly much better than my copy of the Tamron 28-200 (which was awful), and produced some nice pictures. If you want a 28-200mm zoom, don’t expect to crop heavily, and don’t want to pay more than 50 pounds/dollars/Euros then it is a good choice, but I’d suggest you try the Minolta 28-100 D which is even cheaper and rather better. For me (in particular for photographing trains which is what I need this all-in-one range for) it was no improvement over the Minolta so I returned it.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 6
  • sharpness: 3.42
  • color: 3.67
  • build: 3.67
  • distortion: 3.50
  • flare control: 3.17
  • overall: 3.48 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania