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Old Oct 9, 2011, 3:42 PM   #1
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Default Decisions about my Bigma

I have had a Bigma for a couple of years and have been able to capture some great shots with it. Since owning the Bigma I have also acquired the DA*300 and the AFA 1.7x. Since I use both lenses for wildlife , I am considering selling the Bigma and maybe trying to find a FA*300 f4. It seems to be more versatile than the DA* 300 when using teleconverters and I believe the IQ is comparable if not better. Anyone have any experience with the FA*300 and different converters?
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Old Oct 12, 2011, 4:08 AM   #2
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Hi Gary,

Welcome to the forum!

I've used the FA*300 f4.5 for about 5 years, and it's easily my most used lens, usually with the 1.7x AFA. Since it's a screw drive AF lens, it also plays well with quality 1.4x TCs like the discontinued Tamron F 1.4x PZ AF MC4 and the Kenko 1.5x PZ AF SHQ MC4 work well with it as do the currently available Vivtar 1.4x and Promaster 1.7x. The Sigma EX 1.4x APO will fit and works well with the FA* 300, but for some reason the newer model, the EX 1.4x APO DG does not mount nor does it work correctly -- I have no idea why, and I'm taking the word of a trusted poster on another forum for this -- we have quite a few years of history between us. . .

I personally have the Tamron and Sigma EX APO (pre DG) in 1.4x and the 1.7x AFA. I use the AFA easily the most, either of the 1.4xs to get that extra 1/2 stop of max aperture and I still want a bit more reach, and the lens by itself if light gets really low, and I can sacrifice the reach for the extra stop of max aperture. Between the 1.4x TCs, I like the build quality of the Sigma, but feel that the IQ of the Tamron is a very fine touch better. The gears in the Sigma also seem tighter, and I feel that this slows the AF a tiny bit. The AFA is by far the fastest focusing, but the limited focusing range can make the process take a bit longer, but I like the focus limiting aspect of this, so I tend to use the AFA whenever possible. I don't feel that the extra magnification hurts the IQ much, if any, compared to the 1.4x TCs.

Personally, I don't use 2x AF TCs as I've not found any that give me acceptable IQ, and at f9, it's doubtful that it has any possibility of AF except in the brightest light.

The FA* (and the F*, which shares the same optical formula) 300 f4.5 is a bit smaller and lighter, as well as 1/3 stop slower in max aperture due to its 67mm front element (compared to the 77mm front elements on the f4 versions). A brief test comparing them when the DA* 300 f4 first came out showed me that the DA* was a touch sharper wide open, but the difference was miniscule. The DA* also focuses closer for tele macro stuff -- @ 4' as opposed to @ 6'. The longer Minimum Focusing Distance is okay with me though, as the birds I normally shoot rarely get closer, so it's not really a handicap to me.

The FA* does not have a tripod ring while both the DA* and F* do. I have not found this a handicap since I shoot my FA* handheld pretty exclusively, and I have a tripod ring from another lens (Tamron SP 80-200 f2.8 LD Adaptall 2) that fits if I need it. Apparently the tripod ring for the Canon 80-200 2.8 available on ebay also will fit, so it's not a big deal in any case.

The FA* disengages the screwdrive when you pull back the focusing ring to switch from AF to MF on the lens. The F* needs both the focus ring pullback and switching the camera body from AF to MF to disengage the screwdrive. The FA* has an aluminum bayonet hood that's a little fiddly to mount, but it's much more durable than either the bayonet hood on the DA* or the integrated hood on the F*, and it's also longer and more effective than the F* hood.

Bottom line -- the FA* is a bit more versatile than the DA* since you can use screw drive TCs to AF, and you can thus get 420mm f6.3 with AF in addition to 300 f4.5 and 510 f7.7 with the 1.7x AFA. having this lens, I've never had any inclination to buy a Bigma, though it's a very good and versatile lens. If you don't have a problem using fixed FL ultra teles, it's a very good performing lens at 300mm and beyond.

You can find samples (mostly with the AFA) in the following posts:







If you look up the threads I've started in my profile by clicking on my nickname in this post, you can find quite a few more. . . probably with samples all the way back to the DS. It's been my favorite lens for quite a while. . .

Again, welcome to the forum, and if you have any other questions, feel free to ask. I don't frequent the forums as much as I used to, so an answer might take a few days. . .


Last edited by snostorm; Oct 12, 2011 at 4:18 AM.
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Old Oct 18, 2011, 9:08 PM   #3
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Thanks for your detailed info Scott. I have also been considering the Tamron 300 F2.8 or the 400 F4 as an alternative. I cannot see paying $1600+ for the new Bigma when I feel that better IQ is available for half the price with these lenses.
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