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Old Nov 10, 2005, 12:57 AM   #1
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Lens feedback / inquiry

I'm in a bit of a tizzy and I could use your expertise.

First and foremost I own an EOS 300D with kit lens EFS 18-55mm and an EF 50mm/1.8. My target budget for a new lens is about $500-$600 CAD. I have no need for IS so I'm only interested in getting the most lens for my buck.

Originally I was looking to get a tele zoom lens. I had my eye on the Sigma 70-300 APO DG Macro, which has decent contrast and average sharpness. However the slow lens scares me somewhat. I've never used a lens in this range so I'm curious as to how difficult it can be to use under varying light conditions. I do own a tripod, but I'd be happier knowing it isn't a total requirement =). Handheld at 300mm (480mm equiv), a shutter speed of 1/500 will require some heavy duty ISO support to make up for the lack of light from the lens. More-so if I should stop down to f/8 to achieve better quality from the lens (I don't know what advantages there are since Sigma's MTFs are for wide-open only). Anyone care to enlighten me?

Although now I'm thinking that unless I shell out a minimum of a grand, I won't really get a decent tele zoom lens. So perhaps I should focus on a better all-around workhorse lens. Portraits, landscapes, domesticated wildlife, 90% of the stuff I do. While the kit lens is optimal for this kind of stuff, having a slightly better zoom and faster lens would be nice; especially for portraits & bokeh. I looked at some of the standard-zoom lenses such as the Sigma 28-105 f/2.8-4 and Canon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 but they have serious drawbacks; especially considering the price/quality ratio compared to the Signal 70-300mm APO DG Macro. In fact, most of the Sigma MTF charts I looked at in this category were frightening, even with the EX series. Canon lenses on the other hand seem to focus more on providing IS rather than offering a faster lens, which I would prefer to have. For example, the EFS 17-85 and EF 28-135 looked really good until I saw the price, which of course is primarily due to the IS. But I don't know. To me, spending $500 for an f/4 lens is much more useful than an f/5.6 lens with ~3 stops of IS. I suppose if I have no choice, the 28-135mm lens does seem to fit the quality bill. Any feedback or experience you care to share?
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Old Nov 10, 2005, 11:55 AM   #2
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TheGhost wrote:
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(I don't know what advantages there are since Sigma's MTFs are for wide-open only). Anyone care to enlighten me?
IMO they did this to simplify the graph for the casual consumer - It's the worst case when wide open, why clutter up the charts since it only get better from there? (i.e. the curves are always higher when stopped down)

The 100-300 f/4 EX looks quite decent:
(and you're only using the lens to about ~13)

--> there's not much room to squeeze two other curves in the higher band
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Old Nov 10, 2005, 2:04 PM   #3
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What's wrong with a little clutter?? :-)

Indeed the Sigma 100-300mm EX lens looks good, alas it's as I mentioned. Unless I throw down a minimum of a grand (which I am not yet ready to do =), I only serve to hurt myself later with an el'cheapo lens. That's why I figure for my price point I should perhaps be looking for a better walk about lens instead of a tele zoom. The EF-S 17-85 or EF 28-135 would be really nice if they came in f/4 variants instead of f/5.6 with IS, but I don't know. I fear IS may cause more harm than good or I end up hardly ever using it because of the conditions I put myself in. But I suppose worst case f/5.6 at 135mm with IS is more likely to take a good shot (though subject won't be as large) in low light vs f/5.6 at 300mm with no IS.
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Old Nov 10, 2005, 4:08 PM   #4
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TheGhost wrote:
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What's wrong with a little clutter?? :-)
Nothing, at least if you are a Canon 300mm f/4L...

--> The Canon have room wide open because the curves are lower @ f/4 to squeeze in the MTFs @ f/8's - The sigma 100-300 f/4 MTFs on the other hand are almost as high wide open as the Canon closed down to f/8!!! :lol:

Check the non-DG version of the 100-300 EX: it's priced incredibly low to clear the inventory. IMO this lens is a steal especially if you compare it against a 70-200 f/2.8 plus a 1.4x TC:
http://www.sigma4less.com/sess/utn;j...00300F4CA%3D29




Quote:
The EF-S 17-85 or EF 28-135 would be really nice if they came in f/4 variants instead of f/5.6 with IS, but I don't know.
There's always the new EF 24-105 is f/4L... Alas it's also in the $1K ballpark :?

I have the EF 28-135 IS USM and it's quite a sharp lens, but IMO its construction is less than desirable. At least it's inexpensive so there's you go!
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Old Nov 10, 2005, 4:24 PM   #5
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What do you have against the Sigma 70-300 f/4-5.6 APO DG Macro (beside non-HSM)???

For a $200 lens this wide open MTF looks quite good to me too (up to 13mm):
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Old Nov 10, 2005, 8:47 PM   #6
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It's not the quality of the lens I find questionable, but rather its maximum aperture. I don't know if I'll be regretting myself in the future if because some photo I need to take at the 300mm end will end up either under exposed or naturally exposed but with a lot of camera shake or motion blur. F/5.6 works ok for shorter lenses since the maximum shutter speed required to eliminate camera shake is a lot less, but with tele zoom lenses the same is not true. I don't know what to expect from it.

Some of the shots I saw on PBase with the Sigma 70-300mm APO were ok, but there were some pretty blurry shots (camera shake) because they used a lot slower shutter speed then they should have in order to maintain proper exposure. But again, I don't know for sure. In the end, I just want something I won't regret later =P
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Old Nov 10, 2005, 10:30 PM   #7
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Do you consider what to do with it?

dont even bother if you're going indoors

If it's outdoor photography just don't hope for a cloudy day / nighttime and you're good to go!

i always keep thinking about getting the 70-300... but the non hsm is a turnoff...

instead i'm aiming for the 120-300! good stuff, right NHL?
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Old Nov 11, 2005, 1:01 PM   #8
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BoYFrMSpC wrote:
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instead i'm aiming for the 120-300! good stuff, right NHL?
The 100-300 f/4 EX pro-series is definetly much better and faster than the 70-300 APO DG Macro!

IMO this is the same issue facing the folks deciding between the 70-200 f/4 and the 70-200 f/2.8 - There's always the price and weight penalty for the faster lens but this is a highly personal decision... It all depends on the shooting situations and whether one needs the high precision AF sensors on the camera enabled or not

One thing that I'm quite certain (now that I've experienced the EF 100-400L for sometime) is the autofocus on the 120-300 EX is extremely fast and it's ideal for action shoots not that it's not good @ fashion/outdoor portraits as well:
http://photo.net/photo/nikon/300-2.8.html :-)
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Old Nov 11, 2005, 11:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Do you consider what to do with it?
For a tele-zoom, I would only use it outdoors. Mostly for wildlife, things I simply cannot get with my 18-55. Although it was sometimes fun trying to chase the birds:? I would also hope to be able to do some sports photography with it. Nothing major league, but something along the lines of skiing, swimming/beaches/volley ball and in varying weather conditions. Although from the reviews I read over the week and the photos posted online, I realize now that L-series or EX tele lenses are the way to go, but I am not yet serious enough into the business to treat myself.

So I figure my best alternative is to get a replacement for my 18-55 as its way to short on the zoom and not as sharp as I would like it to be. Then later when I'm ready to shell out the funds, I'll just get a nice 2.8L or EX tele-zoom. Although finding an ideal standard zoom has proven no easier. Most of the fast lenses are to short on the focal range, and the ones that are ideal are made of poor optics or are slow. If the EF 24-105mm f/4L would have come without IS at a more affordable price, I would buy it in a heartbeat. Alas…

Right now I'm keen on the EF 28-135. Tomorrow I'll be going in to the local camera shop to sample some lenses out.
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