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Old Sep 19, 2010, 6:46 PM   #1
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Default Tokina 80-400 vs Sigma 135-400 (+120-400 DG OS HSM)

Scott (Snostorm) once asked for a comparison between these two lenses - the Tokina is significantly smaller and lighter than the Sigma 135-400, and thus preferable as a walk-around lens. As result of a disappointing performance of a recently acquired Tokina in Pentax mount, I had to do one. I also have the Tokina in Minolts/Sony mount, which is better than the one in the Pentax mount, but not as good as the Sigma. all 3 are used, but the Pentax mount Tokina looks brand new (but is the old one without the tripod mount, while the Minolta one is newer with the mount, but both are ATX, not the II model). All exposures with flash and all at 400mm, where I use them most).

Tokina/Pentax (K20D)

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Tokina/Minolta (Sony a350)

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Sigma/Pentax (K20D)

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I have recently posted a couple of threads of squirrel pictures in the Pentax DSLR forum, one with the Tokina (today) and one with the Sigma (about a week or so ago).
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Last edited by penolta; Nov 24, 2010 at 9:29 PM. Reason: title change for added material
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Old Sep 19, 2010, 8:27 PM   #2
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thanks for comparison, the sigma definitely looks more pleasing to my eye, even though it appears some of the shadow detail may be harder to draw out
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Old Sep 22, 2010, 10:24 PM   #3
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I took the Pentax mount Tokina to the US distributor for what I thought would be a cleaning and got back a repair estimate of $159.18 for replacement of a damaged triplet (lens)! What was even more disturbing was this statement (at variance with everything else I have read about film/dslr lens compatibility:

"This unit was designed for film cameras. Digital cameras require a different optical formula than that of film cameras, and you will not get the same performance from a lens designed for film on a digital camera. Therefore, some problems might be experienced even after repairing the lens, such as front or rear focusing issues, these cannot be corrected."

The lens looked brand new, visually seemed OK, and I didn't use it right away, so it is beyond the seller's 7 day return period. Cost was $353.80. Ebay has a buyer protection policy, but I don't yet know if it will apply. What would you do (I have contacted the seller)?

Edit: The seller has agreed to a return and refund. There is no assurance in the above cautionary statement that the lens would perform satisfactorily, so I think it is not worth the chance.

And how do I make lemonade out of this lemon at $512.98 a glass?
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Old Sep 24, 2010, 10:37 AM   #4
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If i were you id send it back and let it be someone else's problem. You know the seller will resell to someone less knowledgeable and still get his money, and someone will possibly think the tokina lens is garbage and never buy a single one again. I wouldnt say its garbage, but obviously not up to par with its competitors from the tests shown. It does give good info that down the road, another deal on a tokina will be pretty sweet, as you can expect it to perform even better than this one. But for repair costs and what not, Id stick with the sigma you have already as it looks to be a very nice sharp lens with good contrast and punchy coloring/little to no fringing. Im assuming youve already spent the money on those lemons long ago, so its capable of still mass producing that free lemonade for you, without the bitterness! (edit: I do know the term but Im just having fun playing back with your analogy )


Edit: I do want to mention that It is my belief that the repair facilities are reading out of a script when they say, this lens is made for film or dslr only. While I can see this being relatively true in some aspects, I do not think it'll cause as severe problems as they mention as the mechanics of the camera are the same. To me thats like saying this seat is suitable for a carriage but not a car. Well if it sits two, and its comfortable, and theres space, why not plop right down? Perhaps another bad analogy, but I'm thinking at this point the repair facilities are expected to quote these things to try to turn you on to buying their new DSLR product line, as the company would rather make money off repairing their new products after you spend money on them rather than something thats ten years old or more. Just my opinion as Ive heard others state similar things but still found the lenses to perform just fine. Maybe someone else can shed more light on this than I.

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Old Oct 20, 2010, 6:00 PM   #5
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A word of warning: this lens is now up sale sale from the same seller - if you are interested you should ask if it has been repaired. (s/n is visible in one of the photos), but pm me first for the seller and serial number for verification. Adequate time has elapsed for him to have gotten a repair - since I sent him the documentation, I don't think he would risk another return.
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Old Oct 20, 2010, 6:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by penolta View Post
I took the Pentax mount Tokina to the US distributor for what I thought would be a cleaning and got back a repair estimate of $159.18 for replacement of a damaged triplet (lens)! What was even more disturbing was this statement (at variance with everything else I have read about film/dslr lens compatibility:

"This unit was designed for film cameras. Digital cameras require a different optical formula than that of film cameras, and you will not get the same performance from a lens designed for film on a digital camera. Therefore, some problems might be experienced even after repairing the lens, such as front or rear focusing issues, these cannot be corrected."

The lens looked brand new, visually seemed OK, and I didn't use it right away, so it is beyond the seller's 7 day return period. Cost was $353.80. Ebay has a buyer protection policy, but I don't yet know if it will apply. What would you do (I have contacted the seller)?

Edit: The seller has agreed to a return and refund. There is no assurance in the above cautionary statement that the lens would perform satisfactorily, so I think it is not worth the chance.

And how do I make lemonade out of this lemon at $512.98 a glass?
Hi penolta,

I somehow missed this thread the first time around.

Anyway, I think the Sigma looks better than my Tokina at 400mm, where it's a bit softer --

Regarding the statement from the service center -- I believe that this is a standard caveat that they paste on any document they send out referring to any pre digital optimized lens. I got the exact same paragraph on the paperwork that accompanied the Tokina 20-35 AT-X Pro that I had sent in because I couldn't to get it to focus correctly. I'm sure that it's a CYA thing. . .

Thanks for doing the test. If I had more use for an xx-400 zoom, I'd be looking at the Sigma as it appears to be an improvement over both the Tokina and the previous Sigma 135-400. . . but as it is, the Tokina works well enough for the amount I use it.

. . . And a general thanks for taking the time to alert potential buyers to the possible problems with a lens that's out there for sale.

Scott
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Old Oct 27, 2010, 6:37 PM   #7
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Penolta,

I have looked at a Sigma 120-400 mm lens. I have a Pentax 55-300mm (one of the early ones) and I'm very happy with the quality. I've taken pictures of bird....ie: seagulls, Northern Hawk Owl, etc... with this lens set at 300 mm and I'm blown away by the clarity, colour reproduction ...considering it's a consumer lens.

The Sigma , both by it's price ($ 1100.00 + CAD) and weight and general robustness of construction seems impressive.

But I wonder how sharp it is at the upper range...say 350 to 400 mm.

If at 400mm, it matched the Pentax 55-300mm in picture quality, I would consider this lens.

The question sounds a bit strange I know, asking whether a lens at a higher level, compares with a lower quality lens.
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Old Oct 27, 2010, 7:45 PM   #8
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Penolta,

I have looked at a Sigma 120-400 mm lens. I have a Pentax 55-300mm (one of the early ones) and I'm very happy with the quality. I've taken pictures of bird....ie: seagulls, Northern Hawk Owl, etc... with this lens set at 300 mm and I'm blown away by the clarity, colour reproduction ...considering it's a consumer lens.

The Sigma , both by it's price ($ 1100.00 + CAD) and weight and general robustness of construction seems impressive.

But I wonder how sharp it is at the upper range...say 350 to 400 mm.

If at 400mm, it matched the Pentax 55-300mm in picture quality, I would consider this lens.

The question sounds a bit strange I know, asking whether a lens at a higher level, compares with a lower quality lens.
Funny you should mention that. My 135-400 has no damping when pointed downward and zips all the way out with a thud. Just this afternoon I queried Sigma about a repair, but they no longer have parts or service for it. They did, however, offer me a trade-in on the 120-400 for $705 (streets for $900 currently). This is tempting, especially as it has HSM, but it weigh 4 lbs. The 135-300 takes pretty good pictures, and weighs "only" 2 1/2 lbs. With my K20 and grip, the package is 5 lbs. I am a hand held bird shooter (tripods are too limiting, but I do sometimes carry a monopod), and 6 1/2 pounds would be a bit much at my age and size. The HSM might be worth the extra weight if I knew how well the lens performs at full extension, but the lens would have to be significantly better than the one I have - perhaps someone who has one will chime in.

I could request a quote on another lens, but the 150-500 is even bigger and heavier, as is the 50-500, but that one is not HSM and is listed as discontinued, anyway.

The question re the Pentax 100-300 is not strange at all, considering its quality. I prefer it as a walkabout to the Sigma because of its light weight, but sometimes I need the extra reach.

For anyone who hasn't seen them and wants to see what it can do, my most recent postings with the Sigma are as follows (bear in mind they are all hand held and post processed):

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...ing-guard.html

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...tale-tail.html

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...-mountain.html
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Old Oct 27, 2010, 10:34 PM   #9
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Funny you should mention that. My 135-400 has no damping when pointed downward and zips all the way out with a thud. Just this afternoon I queried Sigma about a repair, but they no longer have parts or service for it. They did, however, offer me a trade-in on the 120-400 for $705 (streets for $900 currently). This is tempting, especially as it has HSM, but it weigh 4 lbs. The 135-300 takes pretty good pictures, and weighs "only" 2 1/2 lbs. With my K20 and grip, the package is 5 lbs. I am a hand held bird shooter (tripods are too limiting, but I do sometimes carry a monopod), and 6 1/2 pounds would be a bit much at my age and size. The HSM might be worth the extra weight if I knew how well the lens performs at full extension, but the lens would have to be significantly better than the one I have - perhaps someone who has one will chime in.I checked out the Sigma 120-400 at a camera store. I didn't take it outside, just tried it out inside the rather roomy shop.
I also was surprised at the size and weight of the 120-400. I usually don't use a mono pod or tripod for bird pictures, just the camera body....lightweight KM (K2000) or heavyweight K10D with battery grip and extra battery...lens on both bodies is my 55-300mm.

I find either camera with the 55-300 mounted, relatively easy to carry around and use. However I was wondering about that Sigma 120-400...as to how difficult it would be to carry around and use...hand held....as I found it very heavy.


I also spend a lot of time, especially in the winter taking pictures of wildlife, birds, etc. I have taken bird pix using a monopod with my KM body, SR turned off . The birds in question were two rather lethargic and X-large Canada Geese.....no rapid movement here.....just disinterested stares, while they contentedly ate duckweed.


The pictures were about the worst I've taken. I finally got frustrated with the monopod, switched the SR on, turned up the ISO, put the KM on shutter priority and picture quality returned.
No more monopod.

I could request a quote on another lens, but the 150-500 is even bigger and heavier, as is the 50-500, but that one is not HSM and is listed as discontinued, anyway.I know a woman who has a 150-500 and takes great pictures but has the lens/camera mounted on a tripod at what seems to be all times. I can understand that as you say the 150-500 would be even heavier then the 120-400.

The question re the Pentax 100-300 is not strange at all, considering its quality. I prefer it as a walkabout to the Sigma because of its light weight, but sometimes I need the extra reach.That's my practice and my desire. At this point I'm hoping that Pentax introduces a 400 mm + , F 5.6 lens...kind of like the Canon 400 mm F 5.6 L lens which is an excellent lens at a price that is competitive with the Pentax 300mm...in Canada anyways.

For anyone who hasn't seen them and wants to see what it can do, my most recent postings with the Sigma are as follows (bear in mind they are all hand held and post processed):

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...ing-guard.html

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...tale-tail.html

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...-mountain.html
Thank you for posting the pix....give me an idea of what the lens can do.
Les
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Old Oct 30, 2010, 6:23 PM   #10
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My 135-400 has no damping when pointed downward and zips all the way out with a thud. Just this afternoon I queried Sigma about a repair, but they no longer have parts or service for it. They did, however, offer me a trade-in on the 120-400 for $705 (streets for $900 currently). This is tempting, especially as it has HSM, but it weigh 4 lbs. The 135-300 takes pretty good pictures, and weighs "only" 2 1/2 lbs. With my K20 and grip, the package is 5 lbs. I am a hand held bird shooter (tripods are too limiting, but I do sometimes carry a monopod.

I could request a quote on another lens, but the 150-500 is even bigger and heavier, as is the 50-500, but that one is not HSM and is listed as discontinued, anyway.
I decided to take them up on their offer. The reviews are impressive, and show significant IQ improvement over the 135-400 at 400mm, and focuses faster with HSM. I considered the 150-500, but the 120-400 is 2 inches shorted, several ounces lighter, focuses closer with better close up ratio, has somewhat higher IQ, and takes smaller filters which I already have. I shipped the old lens off this morning.
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