Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 30

Thread: Sigma 400mm lenses

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Within earshot of MD-80s who don't "Over fly Prospect Park to the extent practical"
    Posts
    1,517

    Sigma 400mm lenses

    I'm looking at the Sigma 135-400 DG lens as a possible upgrade option. It's about the same price as the Canon 70-300 IS, but it goes all the way to 400mm. I'm not terribly concerned about the lack of IS, because whenever I need a telephoto lens in low light, I'm on a tripod anyway. It's fairly small and light (compared to the Canon 100-400L, which I really am not a fan of due to size, or the Sigma 80-400 EX, which is like the 100-400L without USM). I'd primarily use this lens for plane-spotting.

    This would be a great lens at the price if the image quality is acceptable. The guy at B&H told me it's similar to the Canon 70-300 IS, but I've heard mixed reviews. And it's hard to tell from reviews, because so many people use it wide open and complain about how soft it is, whereas people like us are quite satisfied at f/8.

    Does anyone have this lens? Would you recommend it? Any better alternatives in the same price range (~$500)? Or should I just stick with the cheapo 70-300 until I can afford the 100-400L?

  2. #2
    Administrator PhilDernerJr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Queens, NY
    Posts
    12,470

    Re: Sigma 135-400 f/4.5-5.6 APO DG Aspherical lens

    First, I'm always weary of reviews that I hear from people in store or anywhere outside of our hobby. It's tough for their experiences to apply to us because what we do is very different. We often shoot something large, far, moving fast, coming towards and then past us. I can't think of many forms of photography that compare.

    When light is good, your shots may well be crisp for you to not need IS on your lens because of a nice, easily attainable 1/500th shutter speed. However, IS helps not only with a clear image, but also in tracking what you're taking a photo of. On those very windy days, or days where it's cold and my hands are not 100%, the IS helps me track the subject and keep it centered in the frame...reducing the amount of cropping needed.

    I'm not saying this because I have money, because I don't. But I will always, always urge people to hold out for a little longer to spend a few more bucks on better equipment. Once you're spending hundreds of dollars on camera equipment, you're already investing a good chunk, and you might as well hold off a little to save up a few more bucks to get the next best piece so that you do not sell yourself short.

    So, I say hold off. The 100-400 will always be the ultimate spotter's lens, and a staple in the camera bag.
    Email me anytime at [email protected].

  3. #3
    Senior Member NIKV69's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    IFP, ISP, JFK, IGM, SAN, VCV, LGA, LAX, SEE, LAS
    Posts
    4,258

    Re: Sigma 135-400 f/4.5-5.6 APO DG Aspherical lens

    Phil makes a good point when researching what lens to buy don't listen to any store employees. They may have knowledge but more times than not you know more than them and they are trying to make a sale. Stick to the advice of good photogs.

    After reading your post I am going to assume we are talking about shooting aviation in good conditions. So the F/4.5-5.6 will be ok for this. Now excluding IS (because it basically is there to just combat camera shake) I am also going to assume we are talking about holding the camera perfectly still. I am also going to assume your shutter speed is correct. I don't subscribe to jacking up the shutter speed to freeze the action but Phil had a good nuetral 1/500th. Now all things considered I would think the Canon glass would give you the better result. I happen to like my gear to be as heavy as possible so I can't help you with the weight but if your on a budget and want everything in one lens Phil is right get the 100-400.
    'My idea of a good picture is one that's in focus and of a famous person doing something unfamous.' Andy Warhol

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Within earshot of MD-80s who don't "Over fly Prospect Park to the extent practical"
    Posts
    1,517

    Re: Sigma 135-400 f/4.5-5.6 APO DG Aspherical lens

    Yeah, I know I should ask people with similar photography habits instead of people in the store. Which is why I posted here :)

    It's not so much that budget is a limiting factor for me. In a few months, I can come up with the money for the 100-400 L. But it is a lot of money, and I'll feel a lot better about spending it if I know it's really the right thing.

    I am aware of the fact that the 100-400 L is <deity>'s gift to aviation photography. But I don't like the idea of using a lens that heavy handheld. My arms are going to get tired and I'm not going to enjoy using it after an hour. Enjoyment takes priority over quality for me. And it happens that the smaller 400mm lens is both of lower quality and much cheaper. At the very worst, it's a significant step up from what I have.

    (Side note: both Sigma lenses have a twisty zoom, which I like better than Canon's push-pull.)

    But! Tonight, I saw someone using a monopod. That could kill many birds with one stone. A monopod is much less cumbersome to carry around than a tripod, which is important since I don't own a car. Photography-wise, either I won't miss the IS because I'll have something to steady my camera, or I won't mind the weight of the 100-400 L because I'll have something to support it. And if I get a pan/tilt head or a ballhead, I'll be easily able to follow the plane. Good idea?

    (Now that I think about it, I should probably buy a monopod anyway. It would be useful on my city photography excursions.)

  5. #5
    Senior Member lijk604's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    4 air miles SE of ISP.
    Posts
    4,143

    Re: Sigma 135-400 f/4.5-5.6 APO DG Aspherical lens

    Having been one who purchased a Sigma zoom in the past, I would reiterate Phil's comments. Wait for the 100-400L, you will NOT be disappointed. The lens is not THAT heavy or you would see all of us out there using mono or tri-pods. The group has been out for 4-6 hours at a time with the 1-4L and you never see anyone complaining about their arms hurting.

    Trust me on this next point as well, the IS is something that I thought I didnt need either, then once I got the lens with that wonderful IS, my keeper rate went from 50% to 90%. You will get used to the push-pull zoom quickly it's really not that big of an adjustment.

    As for the mono-pod idea, unless you are shooting still aircraft, forget it. You'll be the only one with the mono-pod, and when an aircraft you really want comes by, you'll be the guy smacking everyone else in the shins as you try and track it. j/k

    That's my 2 cents. Take it for what its worth.

  6. #6
    Administrator PhilDernerJr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Queens, NY
    Posts
    12,470

    Re: Sigma 135-400 f/4.5-5.6 APO DG Aspherical lens

    I also would recommend getting the American version of the lens, and getting the warranty with it. Both are very important for protecting your equipment.
    Email me anytime at [email protected].

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Within earshot of MD-80s who don't "Over fly Prospect Park to the extent practical"
    Posts
    1,517

    Re: Sigma 135-400 f/4.5-5.6 APO DG Aspherical lens

    Hm. I'll have to rent it a few more times and see how I feel about it...maybe I'll get used to the weight.

  8. #8
    Senior Member NIKV69's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    IFP, ISP, JFK, IGM, SAN, VCV, LGA, LAX, SEE, LAS
    Posts
    4,258

    Re: Sigma 135-400 f/4.5-5.6 APO DG Aspherical lens

    Well again the weight is somethng you have to decide upon. Phil raises another good point avoid grey market like the plague. As for the other things like preferring a push pull opposed to twist is another thing to consider. Try them all and make your decision.
    'My idea of a good picture is one that's in focus and of a famous person doing something unfamous.' Andy Warhol

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Within earshot of MD-80s who don't "Over fly Prospect Park to the extent practical"
    Posts
    1,517

    Re: Sigma 400mm lenses

    Yeah, I know about avoiding gray market stuff. It isn't cheaper enough to be a temptation, really. The US warranty on the Canon is one year; the Sigma 80-400 EX has a four year warranty. The grey market models have no warranty at all. For a $10 difference, is it really even a question? :)

  10. #10
    Senior Member NIKV69's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    IFP, ISP, JFK, IGM, SAN, VCV, LGA, LAX, SEE, LAS
    Posts
    4,258

    Re: Sigma 400mm lenses

    Well you have to consider something else in addition to the warranty. If you want to get your lens serviced outside of warranty Canon will not touch it. They don't deal with grey market in any way. For someone like me I don't let anybody but Nikon touch my stuff when it needs service other than dust cleaning and judging by how good Berger Bros did on my 70 looks like Nikon will do that too. You never know when you will need to have work done on your lens after the warranty expires.
    'My idea of a good picture is one that's in focus and of a famous person doing something unfamous.' Andy Warhol

  11. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    2,323

    Re: Sigma 400mm lenses

    Just wanted to chime in quickly because I noticed the "twist" versus "push/pull" factor. When Phil first put the 100-400 in my hands, not only did I think "MAN, this is heavy" but I was like "wow that is awkward feeling" with the push-pull since I was used to shorter twisty zoom lenses. Not 10 minutes later, I was used to it. Even though I use twist zooms still, once someone lent me a long lens which had the twist feature, and I thought that for aviation photography and the speed we have to zoom in an out while panning, the push pull is much more efficient. Obviously, this is just my opinion, but I wanted to share since I had the same viewpoint as you before I started using the 100-400. Also, I promise, you do get used to the weight. I have serious neck problems, and if I can let that thing hang around my neck for 10 hours, anyone can ;)

    Do what feels right for you, but any lens is gonna cost a good amount of money. I think we just want you to be satisfied and really happy with the final results!

  12. #12
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    8,285

    Re: Sigma 400mm lenses

    Adam I'm going to tell you the same thing I told you about your camera, either wait a bit and save the money or just make the investment and be done with it. I would not go with the Sigma, when you’re shooting 300mm to 400mm with no IS your shots are going to suffer. The price difference between the U.S versions of Canon's 100-400 and the Intl version is nil. Go with the U.S version.

    I'd also recommend seeing if B&H has any Canon Demos. My 100-400 is a Canon Demo and I saved about $200 off the normal price and it came with a full Canon Warranty. As for weight your not holding the camera for 8 hours straight so as for your arms getting tired, its not going to happen. More so your neck might start bothering you but then I'd recomend getting a weight reducing strap or just put the camera down.

    The 100-400 is the spotter’s choice lens other then a 2.8 70-200 with the extender. If you want the best results buy L glass and make the investment, you'll be glad you did in the long run. I know your eager to get out of the gate running but do it wisely and ensure you have the right equipment.

  13. #13
    Senior Member NIKV69's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    IFP, ISP, JFK, IGM, SAN, VCV, LGA, LAX, SEE, LAS
    Posts
    4,258

    Re: Sigma 400mm lenses

    Also, I promise, you do get used to the weight. I have serious neck problems, and if I can let that thing hang around my neck for 10 hours, anyone can
    One of the reasons I don't use the straps on my stuff. Remember one important thing. Any weight put on the front of your body puts a magnified strain on your back and neck. I actually don't understand how you guys with the 400 let that thing hang from your neck for any period of time. It can't be good. Also remember Adam that if you do use the strap you can let it hang on your shoulder to the side between shots which is must better.
    'My idea of a good picture is one that's in focus and of a famous person doing something unfamous.' Andy Warhol

  14. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Within earshot of MD-80s who don't "Over fly Prospect Park to the extent practical"
    Posts
    1,517

    Re: Sigma 400mm lenses

    I thought about the IS thing, and realized that with the amount of low-light photography I do outside of aviation, it probably doesn't make sense for me to buy ANY non-IS lens (except for a better walkaround lens, but I should start a separate thread for that).

    And as I mentioned above, total expenditure isn't really my concern. I don't mind spending money; I do mind spending this kind of money on something I'll be less than thrilled with. Stretching my budget a bit to get the 20D instead of the Rebel XTI, for example, was absolutely the right call; love at first click, if there is such a thing.

    But I'm not quite as in love with the 100-400 L. I played with the Sigma 80-400 EX (which is also image stabilized) in B&H on Tuesday, and I liked the feel of it better, but I have no idea how it will perform in real life. I'm inclined to think I'm going to get better photos from the 100-400 L, and the 100-400 L focuses a bit faster, but I never felt particularly limited by the focus speed of the Panasonic FZ50; you could get old and die waiting for that thing to find a distant target.

    Here's what I'm going to do: The first few weekends this year when we get some nice weather, I'll rent the 100-400 L. (Maybe even this weekend). I'll see if I get used to it. Then in the spring, when good weather over a long period of time easy to come buy, I'll buy the Sigma 80-400 EX from somewhere that has a liberal return policy (ie B&H). If I don't strongly prefer the Canon, I'll keep the Sigma. The price difference isn't significant at that level.

    Quote Originally Posted by NIKV69
    Also remember Adam that if you do use the strap you can let it hang on your shoulder to the side between shots which is must better.
    Good call! My shoulder can hold a lot more weight than my neck. A better strap is definitely going to be a good investment...the one I got with my camera is crap...does anyone have a preferred option? I don't care if it says Nikon on it :)

  15. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Oceanside
    Posts
    2,848

    Re: Sigma 400mm lenses

    I would recommend not going with the Sigma. I had purchased the Sigma 80-400 prior to purchasing the Canon 100-400. I had alot of problems with that Lens. Now it could of just been the copy I had, but I had serious focus issues between 300mm to 400mm. Eventually the optics got all misaligned and had to have the lens repaired. This all happend within 3 months of purchase. After the lens was repaired I ended up selling it and going with Canon. The Sigma is also heavier then the Canon. I do however also own the Sigma 70-200 2.8 which I think is an excellent lens.
    It's hard to take chances but sometimes it's better if you do

    http://www.southpawcaptures.com
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/southpawcaptures/
    On Twitter @southpawcapture

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •