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Thread: Upgrading Lenses- Hard Decision

  1. #1
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    Upgrading Lenses- Hard Decision

    Well I've finally decided that I would like to move up from my entry level telephoto and move into some bigger and better glass. I currently have Canon's 55-250mm EF-S IS lens, which has served me well for a year and I have learned a lot on that lens. However, I am now looking for a little better quality, both in photos and in build. I am considering four lenses at the moment, each with pros and cons. These four lenses are the Canon EF 100-400L IS USM, Canon 70-200mm f/4 L USM, Sigma 150-500mm OS, and Sigma 120-400mm OS. The 100-400 is a bit over my budget, but I would consider stretching the budget if it blew all the other lenses out of the water in terms of quality. The 70-200 is a great value but lacks IS and is a bit short on range. The 150-500 sigma is in my price range, but reviews have labeled it as soft and I am concerned with the min range of 150mm. Finally, the Sigma 120-400mm is almost a perfect price for me with good range, but the reviews are mixed. Have any of you guys used any of the above lenses? Do you have any suggestions? Thanks as always!!

    Alex

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    Why not the 70-200L IS f/4? I've never had a 100-400, and the vast majority of my spotting is through the 70-200.

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    Because for that price, I'd prefer more range.

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    Senior Member gonzalu's Avatar
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    For low price and range, the 50-500mm Sigma "Bigma" is considered by many to fit the bill for aviation. You see the lens a lot at airshows. It is not stellar but some are willing to live wit hthe shortcomings.

    Unfortunately, if you want absolute quality, you have to pay for it. YOu can pay for it once, or you can pay for it over and over and in the end have a $4,000 lens that costs $2,000 .. Just save your money and get the best lens regardless of price. I have lenses that are over 15 and even 20 years old and still perform admirably because they are and were the best. Think it through a lot.

    One option I suggest a lot, while it is not flexible it is suberbly sharp and small and not as expensive and that is a

    300mm f/4 + a TC 1.4x

    It will give you magnificent 300mm and superb 420mm of focal length.

    As Mark said, the 70-200mm is a great choice and mated to a TC can give you lots of flexibility yet retain great quality.

    IS is useful but I almost never use it unless shooting below 1/500th sec. On Nikon it causes VR blur... anyway, to your question. Think of your shooting. If shooting in bright sun, most lenses will work fine. As the light gets challenging, the faster lenses will prevail. Focal length is what defines a Zooms overall value. If it is genuinely sharp at both ends wide open, it will be expensive, no way around it. It costs a lot of labor time to polish the aspherical glass elements that will give the higher quality. A low priced super zoom will never match the hgh quality of the exotic manufacturer lenses. Some will argue, so you should decide by yourself ... rent lenses from Lensrentals or Borrowlenses and test for yourself...
    Manny Gonzalez
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    Senior Member megatop412's Avatar
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    You should ask Fasil about the 150-500, he uses the Canon mount version and gets good quality, I use the Nikon mount and get good quality. Of course you'll not get the IQ of pro glass. But, the more expensive glass comes with greatly restricted flexibility, which I am unwilling to do without. Nothing like being in the middle of changing lenses to have that rare paint go by. For the little bit of softness with the Sigma, getting the shot is more worth it to me. If I start getting paid to do this I would sing a different tune.

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    Thanks for the info manny and megatop.

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    Senior Member NickPeterman's Avatar
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    It gets a bad reputation, but I have had my EF 100-400mm for almost 4 years now, and it has been a stellar performer. I also have a 400mm Prime, and while it is better at 400mm, sometimes a prime doesn't let you get the shot you really want, at least in my experience. Some places having that much lense will let you know what brand of sunglasses the FO wears, but that's about it. Can't say much about the Sigma, I have used a 70-200, and while it was a cracking lense, that little reach was a dealbreaker for me.

    Just some thoughts...

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    Administrator Landing Lights's Avatar
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    I gotta say, I love my 100-400L. I did a lot of research before I purchased it, looking at many of the same lenses you are. I would suggest looking at the used market for whatever you buy. If you learn how the various marketplaces rate their used gear, you can watch for one that is at the quality level you desire to become available. B&H, Adorama, and Lens Rentals sales arm LensAuthority.com are all respectable. I knew I wanted a lens in excellent condition, and ended up ordering one from B&H that was in such good condition that pretty much the only sign that it was used was that it was a 2002 serial number.
    Ben Granucci, Wappingers Falls, NY
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    Senior Member NIKV69's Avatar
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    I was considering the Bigma but will prob buy the 70-200 2.8 VR. Much better even with TC on it and if I need more zoom I have my 300 prime with the TC which is tack sharp.
    'My idea of a good picture is one that's in focus and of a famous person doing something unfamous.' Andy Warhol

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    Senior Member tlabranche's Avatar
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    I had the Sigma 'Bigma' for a little while. At the time, I was using a crop body for aviation and the reach was incredible. However, I noticed some softness and it wasn't as good with contrast as the Canon 100-400 that I later exchanged the Sigma for. Today, I use my 100-400 on a full frame body and I am extremely satisfied with its performance. Since I do aviation shooting less than other types, this lens offers me a great flexibility and the price point was not that bad. My only gripe is that it is a slow lens in low light, but every lens has its drawbacks. Whenever the airshow season starts again, I will rent a 400 or 500mm prime when I go to shoot one. They are both so heavy and cumbersome, that I wouldn't tote them around enough to justify buying one. The 100-400 is always in my bag.
    Timothy LaBranche

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    Senior Member NIKV69's Avatar
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    Just pulled the trigger on the 70-200 2.8 AF-S VR. WIN!
    'My idea of a good picture is one that's in focus and of a famous person doing something unfamous.' Andy Warhol

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    Senior Member gonzalu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NIKV69 View Post
    Just pulled the trigger on the 70-200 2.8 AF-S VR. WIN!
    Congrats, Nick. One heck of a lens. I use it daily :) VR-I I assume?

    I am getting rid of my VR-I to buy a VR-II if anyone is interested.
    Manny Gonzalez
    Thrust Images | General Photography | R.I.P. Matt Molnar 1979-2013
    BRING BACK THE KJFK/KLGA OBSERVATION DECKS

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    Senior Member NIKV69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gonzalu View Post
    Congrats, Nick. One heck of a lens. I use it daily :) VR-I I assume?

    I am getting rid of my VR-I to buy a VR-II if anyone is interested.
    Yep! Ebay yours, you will get top dollar.
    'My idea of a good picture is one that's in focus and of a famous person doing something unfamous.' Andy Warhol

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