In the ever-evolving world of photography, the search for the perfect lens is a constant pursuit. With countless options available, it can be a daunting task to find the one that meets your unique needs and preferences.
Two lenses that have garnered attention and praise among photographers are the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F2.8E FL ED VR and the Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S Nikon F (FX). As versatile zoom lenses, both offer exceptional performance in various situations, from capturing intimate portraits to freezing fast-paced action at sporting events, and even documenting the myriad details and emotions of special occasions.
As photography enthusiasts, we understand the importance of making informed decisions when investing in gear, which is why we’re diving deep into the world of these two remarkable lenses.
We’ll be exploring the ins and outs of the Nikon and Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses, comparing their performance in terms of sharpness, bokeh, distortion, and more, as well as evaluating their design, features, and usability.
By examining their strengths and weaknesses across different use cases like portrait, event, and sports photography, we aim to help you find the ideal lens that will take your photography to new heights.
So, buckle up and join us on this exciting journey as we dissect, compare, and contrast the Nikon and Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses, and discover which one will emerge as the ultimate choice for your photographic endeavors.
|Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F2.8E FL ED VR
|Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S Nikon
|Focal Range (mm)
|Nikon F (FX)
|Nikon F (FX)
When comparing the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F2.8E FL ED VR and the Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S Nikon, both lenses share similar specifications. They have a maximum aperture of F2.8, which allows for better low-light performance, faster shutter speeds, and lower ISO settings. Both are fixed aperture lenses, which means they maintain the same maximum aperture throughout the entire 70-200mm focal range, resulting in consistent image quality and performance.
The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL lens and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport lens both have a Nikon F (FX) mount type, making them compatible with Nikon full-frame DSLRs. Since both lenses share a lot of similarities, the key differences will lie in the lenses’ build quality, optical performance, and price.
Fixed aperture lenses like these are known for their better low-light performance, consistent image quality across the zoom range, and sturdier build quality. However, they are typically more expensive than variable aperture lenses.
Design and Ease of Use
|Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F2.8E FL ED VR
|Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S Nikon F (FX)
|Diameter x Length (mm)
|Filter Thread (mm)
The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport differ in size and weight, but share the same zoom method. The Nikon lens has a diameter of 88.5mm and a length of 202.5mm, weighing 1430 grams, while the Sigma lens is slightly larger and heavier, with a diameter of 94mm, a length of 203mm, and weighing 1805 grams. Both lenses feature a rotary (internal) zoom method.
In terms of dimensions and weight, the Nikon lens has an advantage in portability, balance, discreetness, storage, and lens swapping, as it is more compact and lightweight. This makes it easier to handle and carry around during shoots, blend into surroundings for candid shots, and swap lenses quickly in fast-paced environments.
Since both lenses use an internal rotary zoom method, they share the benefits of consistent camera balance during zooming, weather sealing, and a compact design that doesn’t change in size when zooming in or out. However, they may also share the drawbacks of internal zoom lenses, such as increased complexity in design, potentially higher prices, and a heavier weight due to the additional mechanics needed to maintain constant length.
Lens Mount and Barrel
The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL lens and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport feature distinct lens mount and barrel designs.
The Nikon lens mount is made of metal with a rubber gasket surrounding it to protect against dust and moisture. It can be detached separately, but caution is needed to prevent accidentally dropping the lens. As an F-mount lens, it is compatible with Z series mirrorless cameras using the FTZ adapter. In contrast, the Sigma lens mount is crafted from coated brass and features a rubber gasket, providing similar protection against dirt and moisture.
Regarding lens barrels, the Nikon lens combines a magnesium alloy construction with a plastic casing, striking a balance between lightness and sturdiness. The Sigma lens barrel is made of magnesium alloy, featuring a mottled black paint finish and an integrated tripod collar that can be rotated around the barrel. Its ergonomic design includes a smooth bevel, large spacing between the zoom and focus rings for ease of use, and a tapered slope in the center of the zoom ring for easy differentiation.
In general, plastic lens barrels are lighter and more affordable but less durable, while metal lens barrels offer greater durability and a premium feel at the expense of increased weight. Lens mounts can be made from various materials, including metal alloys, plastics, composites, and magnesium alloy, with each material offering its own unique advantages and disadvantages.
After comparing the lens mount and barrel designs of the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport lenses, it’s evident that both offer quality construction and unique features. However, the Nikon lens offers a balance of weight and durability with its combination of magnesium alloy and plastic materials, making it an appealing option for photographers who prioritize both portability and build quality. Therefore, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL lens has a slight edge when considering lens mount and barrel design.
Both the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL lens and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport offer similar levels of weather sealing to protect against dust, moisture, and light water splashes. Both lenses feature rubber gaskets at the lens mount, internal seals, and fluorine coatings on the front elements to repel dirt, water droplets, grease, fingerprints, and smudges.
Fully weather-sealed lenses provide better protection, durability, and performance in challenging environments compared to non-sealed lenses. However, they can also be more expensive due to the additional engineering and materials required.
Considering the weather sealing of both lenses, it’s difficult to determine a clear winner, as they both provide a comparable level of protection against the elements.
When comparing the rings on the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL lens and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport, there are several points to consider.
For the Nikon lens, the zoom ring is located at the front, while the focus ring is towards the rear. The zoom ring turns smoothly through 90 degrees, and the focus ring goes from close focus to infinity in about half a turn. However, some users describe the tactile experience as less than ideal, with the rings feeling as though they’re grinding against the lens housing. Additionally, the reversal of ring positions from the previous model may require an adjustment period for longtime Nikon users.
On the other hand, the Sigma lens has a larger zoom ring at the front and a smaller focus ring in the middle. Both rings feature a rubberized, ribbed design, providing a comfortable grip and easy distinction. The zoom ring has a bevel mid-way through it for added ease of use, while the focus ring is very smooth with a 144-degree rotation for precision work. The lens has a good grip and requires some effort to adjust the zoom ring, ensuring better control.
Overall, the Sigma lens offers superior ring design, providing better ergonomics, precision, and control. The rubberized, ribbed texture and the smooth yet well-dampened focus ring make it more comfortable and user-friendly compared to the Nikon lens.
The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL lens and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport both feature multiple switches and buttons that offer flexibility and control to photographers.
The Nikon lens is equipped with an AF/MF switch with A/M, M/A, and M settings, a focus limiter, an IS switch with Normal, Sport, and Off modes, and 4 customizable function buttons. The focus limiter allows photographers to limit the autofocus range, while the IS switch controls the VR system with various modes. The 4 customizable function buttons can be programmed through the camera’s menu or used with any DSLR in AF-L, AF-On, or Off modes, providing versatility and quick access to tracking subjects and locking autofocus.
In contrast, the Sigma lens has a focus limiter switch, an AF/MF switch, an optical stabilization switch with 2 different modes, and a Custom switch with Off, C1, and C2 options. The Custom switch can be used to configure the lens via Sigma’s USB dock. Additionally, the lens features several unmarked “soft” buttons on the barrel for easy access to a focus preset. The switches and buttons are positioned around the circumference of the barrel and are easily accessible. Some switches also have white background indicators for quick identification in poor lighting conditions.
In conclusion, both lenses offer a good selection of switches and buttons for enhanced control and customization.
The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL lens and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport differ in their filter thread sizes, affecting compatibility, filter options, and cost.
The Nikon lens features a 77mm front filter thread size, which is a common size for pro-level lenses. The metal construction of the filter thread is an upgrade from previous plastic versions, ensuring easy and secure attachment of standard filters such as rotating polarizers and graduated filters. The filter thread’s size and material make it compatible with a wide range of filters available at reasonable prices.
On the other hand, the Sigma lens has an 82mm filter thread size, larger than the more typical 77mm size found on competing lenses. This may result in more expensive filters, but the larger diameter can also help minimize vignetting and potential image quality degradation caused by stacked filters. The metal filter thread accepts screw-in filters and adapter rings, offering durability and reliability.
In conclusion, the Nikon lens has an advantage in terms of filter thread size, as the 77mm size is more common and offers a wider range of compatible filters at affordable prices. The Sigma lens, with its 82mm filter thread size, provides benefits in terms of reduced vignetting and image quality degradation but may incur higher filter costs.
The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL lens and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport lenses differ in the design and features of their lens hoods, affecting usability and protection.
The Nikon lens hood is made of plastic, offering a durable and lightweight finish. Its flatter top design allows for quicker lens changes compared to its rounded-top predecessor. The hood fits tightly on the lens and aids in reducing ghosting and flare, especially when shooting with the sun overhead. However, the hood can be expensive to replace if lost.
The Sigma lens hood is a semi-rigid plastic petal-shaped hood that provides significant protection from flare-inducing light, impact, dust, and moisture. It features a thin mold ribbed ring and rubberized rear section for easy grip during installation and removal. The hood has a push-button release and lock, making it easy to install, remove, and secure. However, the rubberized texture can attract dust and dirt, and the push-button mechanism may be prone to wear or malfunction over time.
In conclusion, the Sigma lens hood offers superior functionality with its petal shape, locking mechanism, and added grip features, providing better protection and usability. The Nikon lens hood is a simpler design that still offers effective protection against ghosting and flare but lacks the enhanced features and security of the Sigma lens hood.
The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL lens and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport each offer unique features in their tripod collars, affecting their functionality and ease of use.
The Nikon lens features a permanently attached tripod collar ring that can be adjusted for camera orientation without remounting the lens. The collar rotates continuously without clicks or stops, and the foot is removable. With two standard 1/4-20 tripod threads, it offers great balance with light or heavy cameras. However, it is recommended to swap the tripod foot for a third-party option from RRS or Kirk for an Arca-Swiss compatible quick release without adapters.
On the other hand, the Sigma lens sports a non-removable tripod collar with a locking knob for easy rotation and positioning. Its permanently attached collar has easy-to-feel detents every 90 degrees for precise mounting. The collar is compatible with both Arca-Swiss and standard tripod sockets, and the foot has a built-in Arca-Swiss compatible plate, enabling quick and easy mounting without a separate quick release plate.
In conclusion, the Sigma tripod collar stands out with its built-in Arca-Swiss compatibility and easy-to-feel detents for precise mounting. The Nikon tripod collar offers flexibility with its removable foot and continuous rotation but requires a third-party tripod foot for Arca-Swiss compatibility. Therefore, the Sigma lens tripod collar provides a more convenient and user-friendly experience overall.
Focusing and Optical Stabilization
|Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F2.8E FL ED VR
|Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S Nikon F (FX)
|Rotating Front Element
|Does not rotate on focusing
|Does not rotate on focusing
|Min Focus Distance
|Max Magnification (X)
|Full-Time Manual Focus
The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL lens and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport both exhibit impressive focusing performance, with unique features that cater to photographers’ needs.
The Nikon lens boasts ultra-fast and whisper-quiet autofocus performance, making it ideal for capturing instantaneous shots in low-light situations. With exceptional focus accuracy and repeatability, the focus ring moves smoothly, without any slack or play. This lens also features manual focus override and can focus from close to infinity in slightly less than half a turn. At 200mm focal length, it achieves a rapid 0.35-second focus time from infinity to 2m. Overall, the Nikon lens offers spectacular autofocus performance.
In comparison, the Sigma lens features a built-in HSM, providing a swift and quiet autofocus performance. Its autofocus speed can be adjusted between fast, standard, and smooth speeds. The lens allows fine-tuning for autofocus accuracy through 4 different zoom settings and a progression of 4 distances from the closest focus position to infinity. With manual focus override, a smooth focus ring, and a clear distance scale in both feet and meters, the Sigma lens excels in low-light situations. Additionally, its optical image stabilization enables users to shoot 4 stops slower than would otherwise be possible, resulting in quick, accurate, and reliable autofocus performance.
While both lenses offer exceptional focusing performance, the Nikon stands out with its near-instantaneous autofocus, making it ideal for fast-paced situations. However, the Sigma provides versatile autofocus speed options, which may appeal to photographers seeking customization and flexibility.
When it comes to optical stabilization, both the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL lens and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport offer distinct features to enhance image quality and minimize camera shake.
The Nikon lens features an effective image stabilization system, also known as Vibration Reduction (VR), that compensates for up to 4 stops. This updated VR system surpasses its predecessor, with fine-tuning that minimizes the need to disable stabilization when using a tripod. The lens offers three VR settings: Off, Normal, and Sport—the latter being ideal for tracking fast-moving subjects. The sport mode also minimizes vibrations, providing a stable viewfinder image. At various focal lengths, the Nikon lens’s VR is effective for approximately 3-4 stops of image stabilization, making it a reliable choice even at low shutter speeds.
On the other hand, the Sigma lens boasts optical image stabilization that also compensates for up to 4 stops, reducing handheld camera shake and improving low-light shooting. It offers 2 stabilization modes—one for general use and another for panning—plus a third mode prioritizing image stabilization at capture rather than in the viewfinder. The panning stabilization is slightly more effective than that of the Tamron lens. Stabilizing the viewfinder view makes it easier to time the shutter release with the perfect composition.
Both lenses provide exceptional optical stabilization performance, with the Nikon lens offering the advantage of a dedicated Sport mode for fast-moving subjects. However, the Sigma lens features a versatile set of stabilization modes catering to various shooting situations, including panning.
|Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F2.8E FL ED VR
|Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S Nikon F (FX)
|6 ED, 1 Fluorite, 1 HRI element + Nano Crystal & Fluorine coatings
|1 SLD + 9 FLD elements
Diving into the world of aberrations, we’ll explore how the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL lens and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport perform in terms of chromatic aberration, coma, and other optical imperfections.
The Nikon lens demonstrates impressively low levels of longitudinal chromatic aberration (LoCA) and only mild lateral chromatic aberration towards the corners of the image frame at 70mm. Coma is another area where the Nikon lens excels, displaying minimal coma at f2.8, a significant improvement over its predecessor. From f/4 onwards, coma becomes barely noticeable, ensuring sharp and clear images.
In contrast, the Sigma lens exhibits some chromatic aberration, with lateral CA present at various focal lengths. However, it’s worth noting that lateral CA can be easily corrected in post-processing by radially shifting colors to coincide. Axial CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes for different wavelengths of light, persists to some extent when stopping down, with the color misalignment effect increasing as the focus shifts.
The lens also presents some spherical aberration and spherochromatism, resulting in a slightly hazy, less sharp image quality at the widest apertures. Nevertheless, stopping down by one to two stops generally eliminates these aberrations.
In conclusion, the Nikon outperforms the Sigma in terms of aberration control, boasting lower levels of chromatic aberration and coma. The Sigma lens, while demonstrating some aberrations, can still produce excellent image quality when stopping down. Ultimately, the Nikon lens emerges as the superior choice for those seeking minimal aberrations and optimal image clarity.
Comparing the sharpness of the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL lens and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport, let’s dive into the details of their center and edge-to-edge sharpness performance.
The Nikon lens exhibits exceptional sharpness throughout, boasting high levels of center-sharpness and impressive edge-to-edge sharpness, even at wide-open apertures like f/2.8. As you stop down the aperture, the sharpness improves, with the sweet spot ranging from f/5.6 to f/16, depending on the focal length. While teleconverters may impact sharpness, further testing would be required to determine their effect.
On the other hand, the Sigma lens offers excellent overall sharpness, with outstanding center sharpness across all focal lengths. Corner sharpness is commendable at wider focal lengths, but may falter at longer focal lengths and larger apertures. Wide-open aperture performance is still quite good, but stopping down to f/5.6 or f/8 enhances the sharpness. The sharpest aperture varies with the focal length, but f/4 and f/5.6 generally produce crisp results. When paired with a teleconverter, the lens performs admirably with only minor reductions in sharpness.
In conclusion, both the Nikon and the Sigma lenses deliver excellent sharpness. While the Nikon lens showcases superior edge-to-edge sharpness, the Sigma lens still offers remarkable performance. Depending on your specific needs, both lenses can provide stunning image sharpness, but the Nikon lens takes the lead in terms of overall sharpness performance.
When comparing the bokeh quality of the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL lens and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport, let’s explore their ability to render out-of-focus areas and produce pleasing bokeh effects.
The Nikon lens shines in delivering stunning bokeh, thanks to its minimal vignetting and exceptional rendering of out-of-focus areas. Its iris diaphragm boasts 9 rounded blades, resulting in a more attractive bokeh. The highlights are well-behaved, free of onion rings, and display even light distribution. When used wide open, the lens creates large bokeh balls with evenly lit, perfectly circular point-light images that exhibit no coloration. Although the cat’s eye effect reduces bokeh ball size towards the corners and adds some nervousness in those areas, the lens overall creates beautiful bokeh highlights and effectively separates subjects from the background.
Meanwhile, the Sigma lens generates a smooth and elegant bokeh, with concentric rings around the borders of specular highlights and velvety centers. At wider apertures, there is a mild cat’s eye bokeh in the corners, but overall the defocused areas appear exquisitely smooth and creamy. The lens has an extremely well-rounded aperture with 11 diaphragm blades and is optimized for a smooth and natural bokeh effect, making it ideal for portrait photography.
In conclusion, both the Nikon and the Sigma lenses produce exceptional bokeh quality. While the Nikon lens excels at rendering out-of-focus areas and creating beautiful bokeh highlights, the Sigma lens delivers a smooth and natural bokeh effect, particularly suited for portrait photography. Choosing the superior bokeh quality ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences, but both lenses are sure to provide a pleasing and captivating bokeh effect in your images.
When comparing the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL lens and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport in terms of flare and ghosting, we’ll look at how they handle strong light sources and resist artifacts.
The Nikon lens is susceptible to flare and ghosting, particularly at the longer end when a powerful light source is inside or near the corner of the frame. However, using a lens hood and keeping the front element clean can help minimize these issues. The hood features shallower sides than its predecessor, decreasing the likelihood of intense light rays entering the lens. Although the lens does produce visible flares and ghosts when the light source is in the frame, these artifacts are small and more prominent than its predecessor, potentially necessitating cloning to tidy up the image.
On the other hand, the Sigma lens demonstrates excellent resistance to ghosting and flare, making it a reliable choice when shooting with a bright light source in the corner. Some corner shading may occur when shooting at the maximum aperture, but this can be easily corrected by stopping down or in post-production. Overall, the Sigma lens performs on par with the best available options in its focal length range, proving itself to be an exceptional optical instrument.
In conclusion, the Sigma lens has a clear advantage over the Nikon in terms of flare and ghosting resistance. While the Nikon lens is prone to these artifacts, the Sigma lens excels in handling strong light sources and minimizing unwanted flare and ghosting, ensuring consistently high-quality images even in challenging lighting conditions.
Comparing the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL lens and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport in terms of vignetting, we’ll discuss how each lens handles light falloff at different focal lengths, focus distances, and apertures.
The Nikon lens exhibits varying levels of vignetting based on focal length, focus distance, and aperture. At f/2.8, there is a 0.5 to over a stop of EV difference at the edges of the frame.
Vignetting is significantly reduced at close distances, but it can double at infinity, especially noticeable at 200mm. Stopping down to f/4 dramatically decreases these differences at all focal lengths, and at f/5.6, vignetting disappears entirely and remains minimal at smaller apertures. Overall, the Nikon lens has relatively low vignetting, which quickly reduces as you stop down.
On the other hand, the Sigma lens exhibits noticeable vignetting at wide apertures, particularly in the corners. However, stopping down the aperture to f/5.6 or higher diminishes vignetting to an almost negligible level. The amount of vignetting is significantly lower when using an APS-C camera rather than a full-frame camera. While vignetting can be easily corrected in post-processing, it is a consideration when shooting at wide apertures.
In conclusion, both lenses exhibit vignetting to varying degrees, but the Nikon lens is slightly superior due to its quicker reduction in vignetting when stopping down the aperture. Although both lenses experience some light falloff at wide apertures, the Nikon lens demonstrates better performance in mitigating vignetting at smaller apertures and across various focal lengths and focus distances.
Comparing the lens and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport in terms of distortion, we’ll examine how each lens handles barrel and pincushion distortion at different focal lengths.
The Nikon lens exhibits some distortion, starting with nearly 1% barrel-shaped distortion at 70mm and gradually transitioning to pincushion-shaped distortion up to about 1.5% at 200mm.
Distortion is easily correctable in post-processing software such as Photoshop or Lightroom. At 200mm, there is a noticeably higher level of barrel distortion, with 1.96% distortion exhibited, which is higher than its predecessor, the 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II lens. However, this can also be corrected in post-processing.
On the other hand, the Sigma lens exhibits some barrel distortion at 70mm, which transitions quickly to negligible pincushion distortion from 100mm upwards. The pincushion distortion becomes moderately strong at 135mm and slightly stronger at 200mm. Additionally, curvilinear distortion is present, but it is unlikely to be a major concern for most subjects and can be corrected easily with profiled lens corrections in raw processing software.
In conclusion, the Sigma lens has a slight advantage over the Nikon lens in terms of distortion. Although both lenses exhibit some barrel and pincushion distortion, the Sigma lens transitions more quickly to negligible distortion at longer focal lengths and maintains a more consistent performance throughout the focal range. While both lenses require post-processing to correct distortion, the Sigma lens offers a slightly better overall performance in this aspect.
The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL, being around $800 more expensive, is a more significant investment, but it offers advantages in portability, balance, and discreetness, thanks to its smaller dimensions (⌀88.5×202.5mm) and lighter weight (1430g). It also excels in sharpness, bokeh quality, aberration control, and vignetting reduction. Its fast and precise autofocus makes it perfect for fast-paced situations, and its build quality is noteworthy.
The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport, on the other hand, is more affordable and offers better ergonomics, control, and user-friendly features such as the superior ring design, lens hood, and tripod collar. It has an advantage in flare/ghosting resistance and distortion control, and its stabilization modes cater to a variety of shooting situations. However, it is slightly larger (⌀94×203mm) and heavier (1805g) than the Nikon lens, which might impact portability and handling.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for a lens with excellent optical quality, fast autofocus, and portability, and are willing to invest in a more expensive option, then the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 FL is the way to go.
However, if you prioritize user-friendly features, affordability, and versatility, then the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport would be a great choice, despite its larger size and weight. Both lenses are fantastic options, and your decision ultimately depends on your specific needs, preferences, and budget.