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Old Jul 21, 2005, 1:16 PM   #1
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Hi everyone - I would like to ask for some help with a lens decision.

A little background - I am using a D70 body and currently have the kit lens that came with it and an older 75-300 F4.5-5.6 autofocus Nikon lens from a previous body which I sometimes combine with an old 1.4 tamron tc. I don't have great hands and find I need to keep the shutter speeds up around 1/400 to 1/500th on the 300mm end and stop down a bit to get crisp handheld images and this obviously takes a lot of light. One of my main enjoyments is to walk the trails where available and capture pictures of the birds and animals I run across. Otherwise I have a couple of places where I have permission to enter the land and wait for my victims to come to me. In either case dragging the tripod through the brush is a real pain. By the way whitetail deer are the largest animals I would run across while doing this with most being much smaller in size. I consider myself a snapshot shooter who wants crisp, sharp images. I live in the middle of nowhere, Kansas and camera stores with knowledgeable salespeople are few and far between.

At first I got all excited about the Nikon 80-400 VR until I figured out it was kind of out of my price range, and I read it was considered the slowest focusing lens ever made, as well as being 'old' technology VR wise. Then I saw the Sigma 80-400 OS EX. It was close enough to my price range I thought I could handle the purchase and still eat. After trying to look at images taken with this lens over the internet it seems many of them are a bit soft so apparently either the lens design is a bit soft, the OS part moving around makes the image soft, or people shoot with much slower shutter speeds than recommended and try get away with it. I do understand OS does nothing for a moving target but I had hoped it would 'cure' my hand shake. Of course I spent so much time trying to check this lens out it seems to be discontinued now but if anyone could fill me in on it's true capabilities I would appreciat it. If the OS truely does work and gives you an extra couple of stops with crisp results maybe I can find a used one.

The sigma 50-500 seems to have some benefits such as greater zoom range and hsm but I can not see myself hand holding that much lens at less then about 1/800 so I would be back to high noon sun when everything I want to shoot is sleeping in the shade around here or I'll still be dragging around the tripod. Is that a correct assumption? Once again I have seen some really nice images from this lens and some that are soft. Luck of the draw as to which lens you get when you order one as to whether it's sharp or soft?

Obviously I had my heart set on the Sigma 80-400 until I looked at some results from it. I really hope I didn't get to see it's best work so anyone who has one please chime in good or bad, especially the ability to hand hold at lower shutter speeds and still achieve sharp clean images. Maybe again it's luck of the draw as to whether you get a good one or a soft one? Otherwise if there is no magic silver bullet (OS) then I'll keep dragging the tripod around when there are any clouds in the sky and continue to search for that perfect answer.

Thanks in advance for your help,
(I'm going to take up drugs - it's a less expensive addiction...)
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Old Jul 21, 2005, 2:05 PM   #2
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Here is a sample image done with the Sigma 80-400 by Lin Evans,
There are a few more samples using that lens in that forum.

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