SoCalBob 4:39am, 20 March 2010
The OS image stabilization feature that Sigma has incorporated into this new lens is a huge benefit. About 75% of all my photos over the last 6 years have been taken with three different Nikon consumer grade VR zoom lenses, and I think I can safely say that Nikon's VR technology is the gold standard in in-lens image stabilization technology.

The great news is that Sigma's OS in this lens appears to work just as well as Nikon's VR feature. Okay, the Sigma doesn't have an Active mode like Nikon, but that's really not a big deal.

And (as they say), now for the bad news. Sigma's OS consumes battery power at a rate you might find a bit alarming if you've never used a lens with image stabilization before. And it's a significantly bigger power hog than Nikon VR lenses. Here's why:

Sigma's OS motors turn on just as soon as you half-press the shutter release (like Nikon). However, the Sigma OS motors stay on, and image stabilization remains active, for one minute after the camera continues to meter the exposure (or until you turn the camera off). In normal shooting situations, that can add up to a lot of time when the OS feature is draining power from the camera's battery while you're not actually shooting pictures.

Nikon's VR feature operates a little differently in a way that consumes a lot less power. Like the Sigma, Nikon's VR motors are activated by half-pressing the shutter release. But the VR motors in Nikon lenses turn off just as soon as you take your finger off the shutter release (whether you took a picture or not). Nikon's method is more efficient in terms of power consumption, but with the Sigma you usually won't have to wait 1-2 seconds between shots for the image stabilization to kick in like you do with Nikon VR.

All in all, the different methods represent a tradeoff, each with advantages and disadvantages. But if you use the Sigma lens a word to the wise is, CARRY A SPARE BATTERY just in case. You're probably going to need it.
speed_scribe 7 years ago
Bob, I believe the OS stays on for one minute plus the auto meter shutoff time that's set in the D(0 menu.

Mine is set for eight seconds, so whenver I depress the shutter halfway, the OS stays on for 68 seconds once I've released my finger.
SoCalBob 7 years ago
Yes, you're right about that. I have the auto meter shutoff on my D90 set at 8 seconds too, and just checked the OS cutoff time.

No wonder the battery drains so quickly when I'm using OS.
I noticed this right after I got mine. I just shut off the OS after taking the shot. Just have to remember to turn it back on before the next shot.
I seem to get another 70-85 shots per battery charge this way.
speed_scribe 7 years ago
Well, I checked the price of a second battery - it's only $40, so that isn't as bad as I thought.

Plus at the shorter focal lengths, OS isn't necessary all of the time.

But my main concern was the wear of the electronics / mechanics within the lens if the OS stays on that much.

The lens is so darn sharp I don't think anyone should exclude it from consideration based on the OS.
SoCalBob 7 years ago
Nikon-branded batteries for all their current DSLR models are relatively inexpensive, as you say -- in the neighborhood of $40. Very good quality non-Nikon batteries are also available for less. Just be VERY CAREFUL of where you buy them.

The gold standard in reliable online retailers, B&H Photo Video, offers "generic" camera batteries at a considerable saving, and based on personal experience I can highly recommend them. B&H chooses their suppliers very carefully, stands behind their products, and you can save some money on a battery that's as good as the brand name.

For example, B&H is selling a Pearstone EN-EL3e battery for $29.95 compared to $39.24 for the same Nikon-branded battery.

A $10 saving for essentially the same battery.
SoCalBob 7 years ago
That's certainly an effective way to deal with the "problem," if you want to call it that. I have just resigned myself to the fact that Sigma's OS puts a heavy load on the battery in the camera, so I carry a couple of spares.
speed_scribe 7 years ago
That's a great tip on the battery, Bob. Thanks.

As you point out, there's an advantage to the Sigma OS staying engaged - that being no lag time on subsequent shots.
SoCalBob 7 years ago
Turning OS off after taking a shot as Rich Frollini suggests, is one way to get around this rapid battery drain. Of course, the problem with that is remembering to turn it back on for your next shot. So I just leave the OS on, shoot as I normally do, and simply carry a spare battery (which I always do anyway).

And, as speed_scribe says, "The lens is so darn sharp I don't think anyone should exclude it from consideration based on the OS." How true! As long as I know how the OS functions and why the battery is draining so quickly, I have no problem with it -- and also appreciate the fact that there's no lag time waiting for image stabilization to kick in between shots.
MadCrash 7 years ago
If you're shooting from a tripod, no IS is needed (given that you have a decent tripod.) Otherwise you should always have an extra, charged, battery with you.
SoCalBob 7 years ago
Good point to emphasize. In fact, OS should always be turned off when you're shooting on a tripod.
Elvenlord Elrond 7 years ago
A few comments about the canon mount version:

There are two points here: The OS motors being switched on, and the OS being active. The motors and the difference can be heard when you put your ear directly on the side of the lens.

The OS is only active while metering/shooting, like one would expect. And probably like on most other stabilization systems.

The motors are switched on right after turning on the camera, and as noted above, are turned off after a minute of being unused. They will be turned on for every shot/metering even if the OS is set to "OFF". I assume, they're needed to put the stabilization elements in a "correct" position and hold them there.

So even in "OFF" this lens drains the battery.
torbus PRO 7 years ago
Canon says my battery on 550d will make me shoot about 440 shots. I shot almost 400 the other day with this lens and the OS on all the time. I still have shots left (the battery indicator still say it’s full), so the OS can’t drain that much.
BobsHaero 6 years ago
with my 550D i have to say i am in the same situation as torbus. i usually get two or three shooting rounds before my battery dies, for about 7-8 hours, OS always on, 400-500 shots, and whenever i don't use this lens, i have live view always on, cauz i got only 1980s lenses and i use LV for finetune focusing..i always have a second battery fully charged with me, but..i've never ended up using it in just one session..but maybe it's just me being lazy and not working so much=)
SoCalBob Posted 6 years ago. Edited by SoCalBob (admin) 6 years ago
After having this Sigma lens on my camera about 80% of the time for the past year and a half, I'm finding the same thing as you and torbus. That is, the supposedly horrible battery drain caused by Sigma's OS system is totally overblown and really much ado about nothing.

With my Nikon D7000, I've found that any additional drain on the camera's battery due to the Sigma's OS system isn't even noticeable compared to when I'm using Nikon VR lenses, or lenses without any form of image stabilization.

I bought a spare battery for my D7000 just in case, but I've never needed it. Now I just rotate the two in and out of the camera to keep them both fresh.
syrgrad91 5 years ago
I know this is an old post, but thought I'd chime in. My battery usage seems negligible whether I'm using OS or not. Honestly, I've never tested it although I've never gotten the claimed 1000 shots from my D7000, and I use the Sigma as my primary lens. That being said, I've never run low enough on power to be too concerned. My bigger issue is that my D7000 has a nasty habit of easily being bumped back to the on position when I place it in my camera bag. If I don't pull the battery entirely, or at least turn off OS, there's a good chance the battery will be drained as I found out this morning. The OS on the Sigma 17-70 sucks battery power even when the camera is idle sitting in a camera bag. Thank goodness I've held onto my old D50. As usual, it came through for me.
PhotoHop Posted 4 years ago. Edited by PhotoHop (member) 4 years ago
This lens drains your battery just sitting in the camera bag?
Dang, I just bought one, will be here in a few days, and now wish I hadn't....
SoCalBob 4 years ago
No, don't worry. It won't drain your battery just sitting in the bag (most people I know turn their cameras off when they put them away).

The extent to which the OS system drains the battery isn't nearly as bad as some folks have made it out to be in posts above even while you're using the camera anyway. And I really like the fact that I don't have to hesitate for a couple of seconds after half-pressing the shutter to wait for the OS to kick in when I hesitate for several seconds between shots.
Phil C58 PRO 4 years ago

Totally agree Bob. I've never had cause for complaint about battery usage with this lens on my D90. in fact i sometimes change batteries just for the sake of it, not because it's needed.
brev99 PRO Posted 4 years ago. Edited by brev99 (member) 4 years ago
I really cannot determine which lens uses my batteries more because I am always fiddling with reviewing my pics, using live view, processing raws, etc. I just always have a spare.
SoCalBob 4 years ago
I'm in the same boat as you, Laurence.
SoCalBob Posted 4 years ago. Edited by SoCalBob (admin) 4 years ago
"... I sometimes change batteries just for the sake of it, not because it's needed." Same here because I know that lithium ion batteries like to be "exercised" (put through repeated charge/discharge cycles) without being completely depleted.

I have two batteries for my D7000 and have never completely exhausted one during a day of shooting with any lens, including the Sigma. I routinely swap out the battery I've been using after a day or two of shooting and charge it, even when it still has 60-65% of its capacity remaining. That gives me two fully charged ones when I go out the next time.

Remember, lithium ion batteries do not develop a memory like the old nicads.
PhotoHop 4 years ago
Thanks for the positive replies. I'm feeling a bit better now. And I have spare batteries too.
I know my D90 can go forever on a charge. In fact I've never ran out of power, even during an airshow that I shot 3400 shots using my 70-300mmVR
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