Saturday, January 4, 2014

REVIEW: SIGMA USB Dock 1.0

SIGMA USB Dock
SIGMA USB Dock

Canon and Nikon and other cameras these days are aware of their lenses and can store settings in the cameras to help get the most of out of the lens. Typical data stored in the camera about the lens includes Micro AF adjustments (to combat back/front focusing errors), vignetting compensation, and more. The problem with this technology is that it only works with the camera makers lenses, so SIGMA came up with a brilliant solution to combat this limitation – the USB Dock!

The way the USB dock works is that you screw your lens on to it the same way you’d mount your lens to a camera. With the dock attached and plugged into your computer you can use the free SIGMA Optimization Pro software to program custom features for your lens that will still work when attached to your camera.

This is a brilliant idea and I’m happy to see SIGMA push the limits on what can be done with lens programming as well!

Video

Here’s a video that demonstrates how it is used:


Click on the CC button to turn on the subtitles. Keep in mind that lenses are referred to as objectives in Europe.

SIGMA Optimization Pro Software

The following screen shots were taken from version 1.1 while attached to the new SIGMA 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM | S lens (review coming soon). It also works with the Sigma 35mm Art Series I already tested on this blog.

SIGMA Optimization Pro Software - Click for a larger view
SIGMA Optimization Pro Software

Click for a larger view
Focus Setting shown with 4 zones for 4 focal lengths on the 120-300mm lens

Canon calls these Micro AF adjustments


Optical Stabilization Settings


AF Speed Settings

Click for a larger view
Focus Limiter Setting
– helps with focus hunting when you know you’ll be in a limited range


Customization switches on lenses like the 120-300mm
can be programmed with different settings - SWEET!

USB Dock FAQ

To learn more about this dock, visit http://www.sigma-global.com/download/en/faq.html.

Conclusion

Canon cameras have some of this functionality built in for their own lenses, but what SIGMA has done is gone above and beyond by offering more control. What’s more the ability to do it from the PC on a per lens basis with multiple focal lengths and zones within each range is very powerful – but also very dangerous. In the wrong hands this gadget could really mess up a lens performance so I’d call this a power user/tech geek tool only.

It’s a nice piece of hardware for a reasonable price, so if you own a SIGMA lens – especially a sports lens like the new 120-300mm then I suggest picking it up!

Where to order

Click here to learn more or order the SIGMA USB Dock (for Nikon, Canon and SIGMA) on the B&H web site. My friends at Amazon have it available here.

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