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Gear Reviews

Sigma’s New 18-300mm ‘All-In-One’ May Be The Best Travel Lens Yet | Photo Plus 2014

By Anthony Thurston on November 5th 2014

When thinking as a professional photographer, it can be easy to overlook variable aperture all-in-one lenses. In general, we prefer to stick to constant aperture zooms when we aren’t getting artsy with our primes. That said, lugging around multiple F/2.8 zooms lenses on a vacation is not ideal.

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This is where lenses like Sigma’s new 18-300mm F/3.5-6.3 come in. These aren’t like your grandma’s 18-300mm all-in-ones either. Despite their variable aperture nature, they can still produce beautiful and, dare I say, professional imagery when used in ideal conditions. I had the chance to sit down with Sigma at PhotoPlus 2014 this last week and had a first hand look at the 18-300mm. Here are my initial impressions.

Initial Impressions on Sigma’s New 18-300mm F/3.5-6.3

At first glance, it would be easy to dismiss this new lens from Sigma as a glorified kit lens for those people wanting an all-in-one option. It looks like one, its focal range is like one, its variable aperture is like one. But this is not your average all-in-one zoom.

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While talking with Sigma about this new 18-300mm F/3.5-6.3, they made sure to highlight that they included their highest quality glass elements in this lens, where similar lenses from other manufactures skimp on the elements utilized in this sort of lens. The result is simple, better than average image quality in a small, lightweight package that is ideally suited for vacation and travel photography.

Obviously, this lens is not meant to replace your 24-70mm, 70-300mm, or 300mm for your professional purposes, but do you really want to lug those lenses around with you on your trip to the Bahamas? The size and weight savings alone make this lens a better option, but when you add in the exceptional image quality (for a lens of this type), it really makes it a no brainer.

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Not only does the lens make sense from a size and IQ perspective, but it also has OS (Sigma’s form of Image Stabilization) and offers a 1:3 macro ratio, making it a true all-in-one solution.

[REWIND: First Impressions Of Sigma’s New 150-600mm Sports Lens]

Now about the price: you can have this in your arsenal for under $600, making this a wonderfully affordable lens and within the reach of most consumers in the market. That said, it is also a bit more than comparable lenses in its class, but when you consider the IQ produced through those high quality SLD and FLD elements, it makes it a worthwhile investment in my estimation.

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I personally don’t have a ton of use for a lens like this as I don’t travel terribly often, but I am hoping to get my hands on one to review further. If you would like a more detailed review of this lens, let us know in the comments below and we will get on it! Special thanks to B&H for sponsoring our coverage of PhotoPlus – without their support it would not have been possible.

In the meantime, if you are interested in this lens for an upcoming vacation, it is in stock and available now over on B&H for $579 – a killer deal for what may be the best all-in-one vacation/travel lens on the market today.

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. David Blanchard

    You probably should have mentioned that this lens is for Canon APS-C cameras only. Wonder if that will change over time.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      David, Sigma is making this lens for Nikon/Sony and I believe Pentax as well as Canon. Just, as per usual with Sigma, the Canon version comes out first.

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  2. Derek Schwartz

    I had a Tamron 18-270 and thought it was a decent lens for what it was. As you say, not better IQ than pro lenses, but a decent travel companion. I’d love to see a review on this new Sigma.

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  3. Dre Rolle

    Pretty interesting, so combining this with a professional portrait lens (or 2) could be a viable way for someone just starting out to venture into a industry and have all/most of their bases covered (for a lot cheaper). Or would you recommend just skipping it if you are aiming to do work for say an ad agency (couldn’t think of another market). It’s probably a no but I just figured I’d ask.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      No Dre, I wouldn’t recommend this for any sort of professional work unless it was your only option, and even then I would probably just say to wait until you could afford what you actually need.

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    • Dre Rolle

      Thank you Anthony….(that was really quick)

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    • John Cavan

      I generally agree with Anthony, but having said that, the average consumer is much less fussed about the issues with lenses like this than the professional. I have yet to see that average person pull out a loupe and start examining the corners for critical sharpness…

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  4. Greg Silver

    I think this would be a great walk-around lens. Very versatile!

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  5. Brian Erickson

    Interesting. I haven’t ever really heard of a nice lens that has this wide of focal range. I’m curious to try it some time.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Just to be clear, I am not saying this is the best lens ever or anything like that. It will still be outperformed by your 24-70mm and 70-200mm F/2.8 lenses, but as far as all-in-one travel zooms this could be the best I have tried yet.

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