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Old Oct 29, 2005, 9:11 PM   #1
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I am considering these two lenses:

Canon EF 100-400 F4.5-5.6L USM IS vs. Sigma 120-300 EX IF HSM

Any thoughts between these two lenses. I will be using it for wildlife, birds mostly.

Thanks,

Steve
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Old Oct 30, 2005, 5:51 AM   #2
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torresmd wrote:
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I am considering these two lenses:

Canon EF 100-400 F4.5-5.6L USM IS vs. Sigma 120-300 EX IF HSM

Any thoughts between these two lenses. I will be using it for wildlife, birds mostly.

Thanks,
Buy both... and you'll be happy with either one (as I did)

The Canon has IS which is quite nice when you're shooting stationary birds under the cover of shaded trees and the Sigma is a very fast action lens which bangs into focus almost instantly on moving subjects because of the high-precision AF sensor on the camera which is enabled @ f/2.8 or less...

I tried to measure theses two lenses objectively - The Sigma does not go to 400mm, so I set the Canon to 300mm in order to compare apple/apple (vs apple/orange), but I ran into several issues:
1. The ISO-12233 test chart that I used is too fine in resolution - Unless I bring this test chart very close to the Canon 100-400 so that it can focus on a single pattern, the camera just won't lock AF in single-shot mode AF. The Sigma on the other hand just bangs into focus instead regardless of where the test target is placed because of the previously mentioned high precision AF sensor
2. At 300mm f/5.6 the Sigma EX is closed down 2-stops from f/2.8 which I don't think is fair to the Canon L which is @ wide open.
3. We already know how sharp the Canon is @ 400mm based on it's MTF. For the Sigma you're also compounding the effect of a teleconverter which manifests itself not so much in sharpness but in CA... Although I can get pretty nice shots all the way to 600mm with a 2x teleconverter:






I like the 100-400 in term of handling because the lens is lighter and the 'push/pull' design (all my film lenses were 'push/pull') which IMO is quicker to zoom than a zoom ring (the unintended consequence is the weight will be shifted) - The Sigma is more modern in design: there's only 1 screw stop for the lens shade vs at least a dozen of screws with the Canon which makes it harder to manufacture... (costlier too since someone must fasten all theses various sized screws at numerous places on the lens barrel)

The Sigma metal lens shade is locked into place by a hand tightened nut - The Canon shade is easier to fall off as the plastic stop wears out as you rotate this in and out enough times. The tripod clamp is also more convenient on the Sigma since you can remove it easily whether the lens is mounted or not... On the Canon one needs to remove the lens from the body to take the tripod clamp off - kind of a pain in the behind when it's already on a tripod (I know the tripod/monopod base is removeable on the Bogen, but that just add extra weight to the lens) :-)

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Old Oct 30, 2005, 6:15 PM   #3
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Thanks for the comparison. I like the speed of the sigma, the fact that it focuses so quick. I just hesitate to go with an aftermarket lense for my 20D. BTW nice photo, was that taken with the sigma or canon?
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Old Oct 30, 2005, 9:29 PM   #4
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torresmd wrote:
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... BTW nice photo, was that taken with the sigma or canon?
It was with the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 EX maxed out @ 600mm with a 2x teleconverter
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Old Oct 31, 2005, 3:21 AM   #5
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I wouldn't be worried about using Sigma. They are a very reputable brand and have excellent image quality! I have a Canon camera and all Sigma lenses.
http://www.pbase.com/fstopjojo/lenstests. Not your lens, but just a few tests between Sigma and Canon.
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Old Oct 31, 2005, 6:30 AM   #6
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torresmd wrote:
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I just hesitate to go with an aftermarket lense for my 20D
Here's an example - I shot this image on purpose @ f/1.4 to get rid of the background clutter with a genuine 100% Canon EF 50 f/1.4 that everyone here praise, it's made of metal and of higher quality than the newer 50mm f/1.8 - Notice the blue CA's (I know it depends on lighting)?




IMO the newer designed Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX will eat this lens alive... :idea:



As to the anecdoctal evidences that some lens need to selected for the right copies, or send in for calibration all I have is this to say - Repair works are costly and time consuming for any companies: Manufacturers do their best to minimize warranty repair and strive to get the products right the 1st time out the door through proper tooling rather than spend money doing instrumented repairs work after distribution (think of your sophiticated car and any grease monkey who might work on it)

There's no doubt in my mind that some lenses will go bad with age or through shipping, but don't confuse 'flatness' of focus vs not focusing. A camera will always tries to focus the lens through its optical path just like you would see through the lens and adjust the focusing ring manually. "Flatness" of focus is different in that some parts of the picture(usually the center) is in focus while others are not (like opposite sides/corners of the frame). Now this will require adjustment to the lens elements which is where the warranty repair come in:
The Canon's are guaranteed for 1-year, but I believe the Sigma EX warranty is 4 to 7 years longer depending on where you buy! :?
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Old Nov 1, 2005, 12:13 PM   #7
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I just read on naturescapes.net that Sigma 120-300 is only 260mm. For wildlife I will take slower but longer lens any time of the day. It you don't need IS (Sigma)then better option would be 400mm f5.6 prime. With 1.4xTC, you at 560mm.
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Old Nov 1, 2005, 12:14 PM   #8
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NHL - What size paper to print your resolution chart? I think it will be a good test subject to compare my 100-400 against my 400prime. What do you think? Are there specific charts for different lens?
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Old Nov 1, 2005, 2:42 PM   #9
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I use 11x17" paper, since the correct size is 240x400mm (i.e. 8x10 would be too small)...
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Old Nov 1, 2005, 3:36 PM   #10
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Thanks.
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