Sigma has been in the business for a while. Their products were usually pretty solid, but their quality had never been super consistent. You were very likely to find a couple bad eggs when you picked up a lens of theirs.
That was the past.
Sigma has done a tremendous job revamping their lens line. The glass is the same, which is fine since sharp copies of Sigmas have been excellent, but the main upgrade is the company's quality. The chances of getting a lemon have dropped off since Sigma has upgraded their stuff. Not only that, but the build quality and visual quality have improved dramatically. The new lenses look pretty sexy with a nice mix of matte and shiny blacks.
I'm a proud owner of Sigma's new 35mm f/1.4. Its a wonderful lens. I've always wanted to snag a prime, but couldn't justify the Canon L series price tag for one. Well, I waited for any bugs to get worked out after release and the internet to drown in reviews before I finally trusted Sigma's new product line and bought one. I'm incredibly pleased. So much so, that I plan on getting their new 120-300 f/2.8 OS HSM to help me cover sports and wildlife.
One major announcement that Sigma has made to go along with this new line of lenses is a USB dock that allows photographers to customize and upgrade the firmware of their lenses. This is important because Sigma reverse engineers other company lenses in order to produce their own. So to stay up to date with newly introduced camera bodies, firmware updates are required. Now it'd be one thing if Sigma just made the dock for these updates, but they went above and beyond. They've allowed for some incredible customization of the lens through the software attached to the USB dock. Here's a video showing it off.
So to recap, the USB dock allows you to:
- Tweak microadjustment for specific focus distance ranges. This can also be done at various focal lengths, specifically zoom lenses.
- You can adjust the focus accuracy vs speed.
- You can limit the focus distance both near and far.
- You can adjust the steadiness of the Optical Stabilization (OS).
Holy crap, talk about incredible. The first point is probably my favorite because it allows users who don't have 5D MarkIIIs and 1DXs to program microadjustment values at the polar ends of the zoom range and also focal lengths in between! This is more customization than those new Canon bodies which only have control at the far ends of the zoom range, and better than the older bodies which only allow 1 value to be entered. This is super powerful.
Sigma just hit a home run with the USB dock connector. And at $60, its not badly priced for what you get. Granted, this is only compatible with Sigma lenses but that's not a terrible thing. Sigma has really stepped up their game by providing excellent quality lenses that are performing competitively and sometimes better than their Canon L counterparts. Sigma is currently cheaper than Canon (whose prices have skyrocketed lately to much chagrin), has a 4 year warranty versus Canon's 1 year, and they've now made it so their lenses are more customizable.
Sigma, my wallet and engineering background thank you. Canon, take notes and adjust accordingly.