Playing with the Sigma 50-100mm f1.8 Art Lens

I recently acquired a Sigma 50-100mm f1.8 zoom lens, part of the company’s Art lens series. At first blush, a 2x zoom ratio seems pretty limited, but two things set this Sigma apart from other zooms. The first is the optical quality, which is outstanding. The second is the f1.8 maximum aperture, which can be used throughout the zoom range. As others have noted, this lens effectively replaces several prime lenses, including 50mm, 85mm, and 100mm, plus anything in-between. This particular Sigma targets DX sensor cameras, making it an excellent fit for my Nikon D500, giving it an effective reach of 75mm – 150mm (full-frame equivalent). Given Nikon’s  seeming lack of interest in high-end DX lenses, it’s great to see Sigma step up to bat for DX users.

The downside to having an f1.8 telezoom is weight. The 50-100 f1.8 comes in at a whopping 1631 grams (57.5 ounces) including lens hood, lens cap, and B+W clear filter. Nearly two pounds of lens means carrying this around could be a chore, but since I can leave out several primes, the added weight won’t be too much of a problem. The Sigma 50-100mm f1.8 is a big lens as befits its optical quality and speed. Check out what a Nikon D7200 looks like with this lens mounted.

Sigma 50-100mm f1.8 on a D7200
That’s one big piece of glass.

The lens offers a few additional quirks. The most noticeable oddity is the permanently attached tripod collar. Some feel that it gets in the way of lens handling, but that doesn’t seem to be a big issue in my brief usage so far. The other quirk may be a bit more problematic: the Sigma isn’t weather-sealed. So shooting in inclement weather means a return to wrapping your lens in a plastic bag.

That’s Great, Loyd, but How the Sigma 50-100 f1.8 Shoot?

I popped the lens onto my Nikon D500 and took it for a morning spin in the back yard. This is all pretty casual shooting, so please don’t hold me to any high compositional standards! Using this Sigma reminds me of how it used to be when I used the Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8. The camera plus lens balances more forward so you can’t casually fire off shots with one hand. This forces you to compose a bit more carefully, which may be a good thing for most of us. While I didn’t really have time to try out any action photography, Barkley running down the sidewalk suggests the lens would do pretty well.

Shooting a moving animal with the Sigma
Barkley trotting

Mostly, though, I shot flowers in the backyard. Minimum focus distance is a tad over three feet, at 37.4 inches, so you can’t get too close to your subject — but the relatively long focal length mitigates that somewhat. I shot at a variety of f-stops, ranging from 1.8 up to f8. Bokeh in particularly looks great; being able to shoot at f1.8 is fabulous.

Shot with the Sigma 50-100 f1.8 on a cloudy day
Bokeh experiment

Check out the gallery below for more detail.

Ultimately, the real test for this lens for me is whether I really carry it around. I can surely use it as a portrait lens at home, but this would have been a terrific lens when I shot cosplay with the Nikon D500 at Wondercon. This has the potential of replacing several lenses in my current lens kit, including the 85mm f1.8 and possibly the 70-200 f4. However, the weight has me a little worried, so I’ll just have to give it a whirl. It sure looks like a fun lens, though, so I’m looking forward to taking it out.

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