In the end, I did take the plunge and acquired a Sigma 50-200 mm f4-5.6 DC OS HSM lens to fit my ever faithful Pentax K10D. After surveying a few online retailers, I plumped for Park Cameras where the total cost, including delivery, came to something to around £125. This was around £50 less than what others were quoting for the same lens with delivery costs yet to be added. Though the price was good at Park Cameras, I was wondering still about how they could manage to do that sort of deal when others don’t. Interestingly, it appears that the original price of the lens was around £300 but that may have been at launch and prices do seem to tumble after that point in the life of many products of an electrical or electronic nature.
Unlike the last lens that I bought from them around two years ago, delivery of this item was a prompt affair with dispatch coming the day after my order and delivery on the morning after that. All in all, that’s the kind of service that I like to get. On opening the box, I was surprised to find that the lens came with a hood but without a cap. However, that was dislodged slightly from my mind when I remembered that I neglected to order a UV or skylight filter to screw into the 55 mm front of it. In the event, it was the lack of a lens cap needed sorting more than the lack of a filter. The result was that I popped in the local branch of Wildings where I found the requisite lens cap for £3.99 and asked about a filter while I was at it. Much to my satisfaction, there was a UV filter that matched my needs in stock though it was that cheap at £18.99 and was made by a company of which I hadn’t heard before, Massa. This was another example of good service when the shop attendant juggled two customers, a gentleman looking at buying a DSLR and myself. While I would not have wanted to disturb another sales interaction, I suppose that my wanting to complete a relatively quick purchase was what got me the attention while the other customer was left to look over a camera, something that I am sure he would have wanted to do anyway. After all, who wouldn’t?
With the extras acquired, I attached them to the front of the lens and carried out a short test (with the cap removed, of course). When it was pointed at an easy subject, the autofocus worked quickly and quietly. A misty hillside had the lens hunting so much that turning to manual focussing was needed a few times to work around something understandable. Like the 18-125 mm Sigma lens that I already had, the manual focussing ring is generously proportioned with a hyperfocal scale on it though some might think the action a little loose. In my experience though, it seems no worse than the 18-125 mm so I can live with it. Both lenses share something else in common in the form of the zoom lens having a stiffer action than the focus ring. However, the zoom lock of the 18-125 mm is replaced by an OS (Optical Stabilisation) one on the 50-200 mm and the latter has no macro facility either, another feature of the shorter lens though it remains one that I cannot ever remember using. In summary, first impressions are good but I plan to continue appraising it. Maybe an outing somewhere tomorrow might offer a good opportunity for using it a little more to get more of a feeling for its performance.