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Old Mar 2, 2010, 1:24 AM   #1
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Default Sigma 135-400 first impressions

Got the lens today but not until after dark so I haven't had the chance to test in in the field. But from what I have done with it inside I'd say it was worth the money and then maybe more since I got what I consider a great deal on it. I'll try and post some comparison pics but it seems sharper than the Tokina wide open. Might not be quite as sharp stopped down but using flash I can't really stop down the Tokina with it's longer minimum focus so that will have to wait. At 300mm it looked better than my Tamron but that was in low light so I have no idea if I focused well. Of course that is the problem with old glass on a DSLR so I'd say the Sigma is probably better anyway. Not seeing the lens creep issue I've read about unless the lens is pointed pretty much straight down. Hood makes it worse but I usually carry my camera flat so I don't see this as an issue. Low light focus, and focus in general is a bit wonky at times. Hell, I can manually focus it way faster at times and may do so. Also at 400mm I'll have to learn to be very precise about the focus point, something I haven't had to worry about. All in all a good first lens for me as I tend to shoot nothing shorter than 200mm most of the time. And here I didn't even know this lens existed in a 4/3rds mount until a couple of weeks ago. Better late than never....

John
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Old Mar 2, 2010, 5:02 AM   #2
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As an owner of a 135-400mm, I'm looking foward to seeing some of your images and impressions, especially at the long end of the range.

Have fun with it!

Zig
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Old Mar 2, 2010, 11:52 AM   #3
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As an owner of a 135-400mm, I'm looking foward to seeing some of your images and impressions, especially at the long end of the range.

Have fun with it!

Zig
Hopefully I'll have some time this week to get some bird shots or at least something outside. Maybe it's because I had low expectations but so far I've been impressed with the lens. It'll be interesting to see just how much better your e-30 image processer is compared to my old e-500. I know your camera focuses way better, I may have to upgrade if the slow focus is a problem in the field.

John
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Old Mar 3, 2010, 1:21 AM   #4
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Default First shots

Had time today to snap a few shots. Only this towee would cooperate, the chickadees flit too much and the ducks of all sizes and shapes were hiding where I was. All shots were done hand held at 1/160 with flash because of really poor light. Shot wide open as well. Focus is an issue and at some point I may have to choose between losing a shot or doing it manually. Seems to work best if I focus at 200mm then zoom to 400 rather than trying to focus at 400mm to start with. Anyway, not going to win any awards but as a very affordable zoom lens I'm impressed with the quality. Some sharpening would help but i wanted to post samples straight from the camera, or close to it. All have had curves adjustments but that is all. Anyway the first is at 281mm the second at 352 and the last at 400mm. I don;t see any real difference in the quality of the three, certainly not the noticable softening at 400 I have read about. I tried a couple of 400mm zooms on lichen but the reults were not that good. Too hard to control the focus and compared to the Tamron I usually use it was really soft. No biggie, that's not what this lens is for.

John
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Old Mar 3, 2010, 2:09 AM   #5
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Here's a PP version of the 400mm shot. I'm sure someone better at it than me could wring more out of this shot but compared to above I'm pleased with it. A few simple steps and this lens can produce pictures that pop. Only complaint is that the bokeh isn't as good as my Tokina, or any of my old glass. For the type of use it'll get I'm sure I can live with that.

John
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Old Mar 3, 2010, 7:57 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by jelow1966 View Post
Hopefully I'll have some time this week to get some bird shots or at least something outside. Maybe it's because I had low expectations but so far I've been impressed with the lens. It'll be interesting to see just how much better your e-30 image processer is compared to my old e-500. I know your camera focuses way better, I may have to upgrade if the slow focus is a problem in the field.

John
After owning both the E-500 and the E-30, My own observations are that the E-500's jpeg files tend to come out of the camera a little 'cleaner'. But thats at the expense of losing a fair bit of detail. The E-30's jpeg files, at first glance (IMHO) don't look as clean- BUT, the sensor and processor capture a lot more detail that you can work with. I've had a chance to process both sets of files using Adobe ACR 5.6 plug-in and have found that the E-30 files just have more detail in them.

When I got the E-500, I used the settings suggested by Wrotniak on his site Wrotniak.net. With the E-30, I set the noise filter to low and pretty much let the camera do the rest at the default settings.

While the AF system is clearly better than the E-500's, if you're going to continue to use legacy glass, rather than upgrading to the E-30, you might want to consider the E-3. The OPV is significantly larger which would be a big plus. I believe you can also buy different focusing screens for it (another plus). It employs the same AF system as the E-30 while being weathersealed and dustproof.
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Old Mar 3, 2010, 9:41 AM   #7
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...you might want to consider the E-3. I believe you can also buy different focusing screens for it (another plus).
Hi, Zig

Just wanted to note what Katz Eye Optics says about their focusing screen for the E-3 and E-30 (quoted from their web site):

"Because of the design of the E-3/E-30 light metering system, the use of a split prism focusing screen will have noticeable effects on exposure results with this model. The KatzEye™ focusing screen has been designed to control these effects to the extent possible, but the user should be aware that exposure compensation will be required in some circumstances."

Also:

"The focusing screen in the Olympus E-3 and E-30 is not designed to be changed by the user. Although the KatzEye™ screen is a direct replacement for the original and no modifications or calibration are required, the actual procedure to change the screen is difficult and should not be attempted by the average user. Because of this, installation instructions and tools will NOT be provided. Since the KatzEye™ screen is a direct replacement for the original, any camera repair shop that works on Olympus cameras should be able to handle the installation."

Katz Eye will do the install for $65 but at this point you're looking at some $200 for the new screen.

I thought about it a while ago and decided that you can get a different focusing screen for the E-3 only if you have a lot more disposable income than I do. 8-)

Ted

PS: There are other vendors of focus screens that are less expensive than Katz Eye but they do not provide the above warnings so caveat emptor.
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Old Mar 4, 2010, 1:23 AM   #8
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After owning both the E-500 and the E-30, My own observations are that the E-500's jpeg files tend to come out of the camera a little 'cleaner'. But thats at the expense of losing a fair bit of detail. The E-30's jpeg files, at first glance (IMHO) don't look as clean- BUT, the sensor and processor capture a lot more detail that you can work with. I've had a chance to process both sets of files using Adobe ACR 5.6 plug-in and have found that the E-30 files just have more detail in them.

When I got the E-500, I used the settings suggested by Wrotniak on his site Wrotniak.net. With the E-30, I set the noise filter to low and pretty much let the camera do the rest at the default settings.

While the AF system is clearly better than the E-500's, if you're going to continue to use legacy glass, rather than upgrading to the E-30, you might want to consider the E-3. The OPV is significantly larger which would be a big plus. I believe you can also buy different focusing screens for it (another plus). It employs the same AF system as the E-30 while being weathersealed and dustproof.
I've been thinking about the E-3 for the exact reason you mention, the viewfinder, since I first read about it. I'm sure it would help a huge amount with my focus issues. The weather sealed thing is a plus as well since one of my favorite subjects is water, on plants, by itself etc. I don't feel comfortable with the e-500 in the rain.

As for the lens, I'd say the better detail certainly shows up in your pics compared to mine though being handheld probably softened mine a bit. As i play around with the lens more I can see I will have to reconsider my love of only legacy glass and become more flexible in my approach. Not that I will ever go strictly digital, just no need to with macro, for me anyway.

John
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Old Mar 4, 2010, 7:03 AM   #9
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Hi, Zig

Just wanted to note what Katz Eye Optics says about their focusing screen for the E-3 and E-30 (quoted from their web site):

"Because of the design of the E-3/E-30 light metering system, the use of a split prism focusing screen will have noticeable effects on exposure results with this model. The KatzEye™ focusing screen has been designed to control these effects to the extent possible, but the user should be aware that exposure compensation will be required in some circumstances."

Also:

"The focusing screen in the Olympus E-3 and E-30 is not designed to be changed by the user. Although the KatzEye™ screen is a direct replacement for the original and no modifications or calibration are required, the actual procedure to change the screen is difficult and should not be attempted by the average user. Because of this, installation instructions and tools will NOT be provided. Since the KatzEye™ screen is a direct replacement for the original, any camera repair shop that works on Olympus cameras should be able to handle the installation."

Katz Eye will do the install for $65 but at this point you're looking at some $200 for the new screen.

Ted
Hi Ted,

Thanx for the clarification. I was always under the impression that the E-3 had the capabilities of using different focusing screens. It must be the E-1 that I was thinking of.

I knew the e-30 and other E-XXX series cameras were sensitive to metering issues if you changed the screen. I bought one on EBay for the E-510 and found that, while being extremely easy to install, the metering was pretty inconsistant. In the end, I just re-installed the OEM screen and forgot about it.
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Old Mar 4, 2010, 4:10 PM   #10
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Hi Ted,

Thanx for the clarification. I was always under the impression that the E-3 had the capabilities of using different focusing screens. It must be the E-1 that I was thinking of.

I knew the e-30 and other E-XXX series cameras were sensitive to metering issues if you changed the screen. I bought one on EBay for the E-510 and found that, while being extremely easy to install, the metering was pretty inconsistant. In the end, I just re-installed the OEM screen and forgot about it.
Yeah and it's too bad that the Oly E-3/E-30 DSLR design doesn't let us change focus screens like the OM film cameras (and most others) did.

The only reason I knew about this was because I was interested in a classic split-image focus screen on my E-3 just to do MF fine tuning of images. So I checked out Katz Eye and was floored by the fact that it's not practical. (Although I do appreciate the fact that Katz Eye was honest.) I had figured that at some point I could see myself eating the cost of installing the Katz Eye screen but not if it screws up the exposures - life is complicated enough without that...

Ted

Last edited by tkurkowski; Mar 4, 2010 at 4:16 PM.
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