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Gear Reviews

Initial Thoughts On Sigma’s 120-300mm F/2.8, a Sports Photographer’s Dream

By Anthony Thurston on February 26th 2014

I have had the pleasure over the last 3 1/2 weeks to have Sigma’s latest 120-300mm F/2.8 to play with for review. I am still putting together my full review, but today I wanted to share my initial thoughts on this lens that I would describe as a sports photographer’s dream lens.

The Sigma 120-300m F/2.8 DG

Sigma-120-300mm-f2.8-DG-OS-HSM 650px

The Sigma 120-300mm F/2.8 is Sigma’s only lens currently in their “S” or Sports category of their Global Vision line of lenses. It is a lens that covers relatively close subjects with a 120mm focal length at the wide end and farther away subjects with the telephoto abilities of a 300mm at the far end. It is all tied together nicely with fast maximum aperture of F/2.8, putting it in direct competition with really expensive prime lenses such as the Canon 300mm F/2.8 IS II.


Build Quality

This lens is an absolute tank, simple as that. Its mostly metal construction gives it a weight that I was simply not expecting, having shot with “heavy” lenses such as the Canon 300m F/2.8 (this felt much, much, heavier). This is not necessarily a bad thing, but something that you should be aware of. This is not a lens that you will be able to hand hold for long periods of time. I have shot an entire high school football game hand held with the Canon 300mm F/2.8 before, and I wouldn’t even think about attempting it with this lens.

Sigma_120-300mm_slrlounge-8708 Sigma_120-300mm_slrlounge-8710 Sigma_120-300mm_slrlounge-8713

The styling is sleek and resembles the rest of the Sigma Global Vision line of lenses. Overall, I am very impressed with the build quality of this lens. It doesn’t just look quality, it feels like quality too.


Initial Thoughts & Impressions On Performance

In addition to looking like a quality lens, the Sigma 120-300mm also performs very well, based on my initial testing. I have had the opportunity to shoot both wildlife and sports with this lens – the two things it is designed for – and I loved it in both situations.

Still, I did notice a slight discrepancy with the stated 300mm focal length. When compared directly with a Canon 300mm F/2.8, I noticed that the Sigma at 300mm was actually a little wider than the Canon. See what I mean, below:

Sigma_120-300mm_slrlounge-9474 Canon 300mm F/2.8 shot on Canon 6D

Sigma_120-300mm_slrlounge-9475Sigma 120-300mm F/2.8 shot on Canon 6D

As you can see, the Sigma is not quite tight on the sign as much as the Canon is. Not a huge issue to me, as it is still very close (and that the Sigma is half the cost of the Canon), but it is worth noting if you are interested in this lens.

For wildlife, this lens offers a great range, being able to shoot animals close to your car (or blind), as well as animals off in the distance. But the weight I mentioned earlier comes into play here because it makes it harder to quickly react to fast moving animals – such as birds in flight.


On the sports front, this lens is an absolute dream. I was shooting at an MLS preseason game last weekend and I did not even take the Canon 300mm out of its bag, I enjoyed using the 120-300mm so much. It was convenient to not have to switch from the large lens to a smaller lens on my other body as often as I normally do when using a 300mm prime.

Timbers #8 Diego Valeri Timbers #37 Maximiliano UrrutiI have to send the lens back on Thursday, but I’ll have one more chance to shoot with it tonight at another MLS preseason event with the Portland Timbers. It will be hard to let this lens go, I have grown really fond of it over the last month and really wish that I could afford the $3500 price it commands. Be on the look out for my full review sometime next week, possibly after WPPI is over.

[REWIND: 5 Tips For A Better WPPI Experience]

What questions do you have for me regarding this lens? I would love to be able to address as many of them as I can in my review, so please leave any questions, or specific things you want to know about in the comments below and I will make an effort to respond as well as include them in my full review.

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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jeff Morrison

    It is a great lens i got it last week…

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  2. Joven

    Where is the final review?

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  3. Harold

    70-300 f2.8 would have been so much nicer to see . Still looks great. I film adult hardcore porn and this lens would be a fantastic addition to our outdoor segment

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  4. Matti P

    It is FF.
    Would like to get one for Pentax K-mount..

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  5. FF

    Is it weather sealed?

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  6. EJ

    How much will it cost?

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  7. Bryan

    want one!!!!

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  8. Dale

    How fast does it focus when tracking a moving object in AI servo mode … especially one coming towards you or going away from you at speed?
    Also, how fast does it snap back into focus if it loses the subject and you need to refocus?
    The Canon 300 & 400 F2.8 both work really well in these areas.

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  9. Bob Heathcote

    I’d be surprised if was parfocal but just wondering how far out of focus does the AF get when you zoom? A video clip would be great so . I’m speaking for video purposes. The color and contrast look to be a little less compared to the Canon but that can be a good thing as it is easier to add that later than undo it, especially in video.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Great question, I will try and get a video clip testing that for you before I send it back tomorrow.

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