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Old Feb 20, 2010, 12:43 AM   #1
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Default Sigma 180 Macro in tele mode (4 imgs)

Hi All,

Most of the shooting I've been doing is just practicing handholding slow shutter speeds indoors, so there's been nothing to post.

I got the Sigma EX 180 f 3.5 Macro to use as a second tele as well as a 1:1 macro when I'm out birding. It's big and heavy, compared to a 100mm macro, but (especially coupled with the F 1.7x AFA for 306mm f6) I figured it can serve as a handheld second camera without sacrificing much IQ from the FA*300/4.5 -- at least that was the thought. . .

I had just updated the firmware in my K-7 to the new v 1.03, and wanted to see if it would make any noticeable difference in the operation of the camera, so I took the 180 out to the Nature Center and left the limiter on at the normal tele focusing range. The birds were skittish, and without a TC I couldn't get close enough to get anything worthwhile, so I settled for a squirrel shot. This is cropped to 8x10 vertical from a landscape frame.



I went inside and shot some of the critters through glass. The best was this one, taken from about the non macro range minimum focusing distance (so it's at about 1:2.5) with the popup flash.



These last two are a of a captured Screech Owl who's blind in one eye. I had to shoot through a pretty heavy 3/4" mesh screen, and was surprised that it didn't show up in the shots as far as I can see.

These were shot at @ 3-4 ft, available light, ISO 1000, handheld at 1/80 and 1/50 of a second, so there's some noise degradation of the feather details, but they came out pretty good, IMO. I cloned out some visible screening from the top of the frame and only cropped the frame to 8x10.





I'm encouraged by the tele performance of the lens by itself -- we'll see what happens when I pop a TC on it and try to shoot some wild birds. . .

Scott

Last edited by snostorm; Feb 20, 2010 at 1:04 AM.
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Old Feb 20, 2010, 1:16 AM   #2
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You must be getting really steady, to have shots at 1/80 and 1/50 with that long of a lens. These sure look very good!

I upgraded my firmware also (I usually do) and managed a clear shot taken with my 100 mm macro lens at 1/25 sec. The picture isn't particularly interesting, but it sure amazed me that it wasn't impossibly blurry. Don't know if the steadiness is a one-off thing (got lucky) or if the firmware has made a big difference.
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Old Feb 20, 2010, 2:43 AM   #3
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snostorm, you have really given us some neat shots... utter fine detail and good composition...great colours, I just love these owl shots... for some reason, the first owl shot is worth mounting and displaying... love it.. REALLY hope to see more. Many thanks, indeed.

Ned
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Old Feb 20, 2010, 2:52 PM   #4
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A sharp lens in some capable hands - great color rendition as well. Will look forward to seeing more from you with this lens!!
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Old Feb 20, 2010, 8:39 PM   #5
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I'm impressed.

Patty
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Old Feb 20, 2010, 8:51 PM   #6
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Outstanding Scott!
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Old Feb 21, 2010, 2:48 AM   #7
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Scott, how close were you to the owls... do you have any idea what mm. you used at the time.... again, the expression of the owls, the colour, lighting... you would be a bird-photography celebrity if you ever visited Finland.

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Old Feb 21, 2010, 12:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
I had just updated the firmware in my K-7 to the new v 1.03, and wanted to see if it would make any noticeable difference in the operation of the camera
Scott, obviously the lens performs well as the excellent images attest, but what is your impression of the upgrade - do you feel it made a difference?
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Old Feb 21, 2010, 11:44 PM   #9
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Hi Harriet, Ned (twice), mole, Patty, GW and penolta,

Thanks for looking and taking the time to comment.

Harriet -- I've been practicing quite a bit with the DA50-200 and DA 18-250 indoors. Not the fastest lenses, but that's the point. . . to get some slow shutter speeds and see what I can do to improve handholding technique. I don't shoot anything important, so there's nothing to post.

My goal is to get a reasonable percentage of shots with little or no evident camera shake at 2 stops down from the 1/FL "rule" with SR on -- as I've found that this is more often than not where I have to shoot in the field.

Every year it seems to take more preparation to get ready for the birding season. . . (I need a smiley with a crutch. . .) Hopefully the weather will become more inviting in a couple of weeks. . .

Ned -- Thanks for both of your comments. The little Screech Owl is a very cooperative subject -- very expressive, and though it stands pretty still, it changes expression often -- like a good model should. . .

I was about 1-1.5 m away shooting a 180mm lens, but this is a very small owl, probably only 12-13cm tall. I actually try for the different expressions in my bird shots, and try to get a feel of their behavior while shooting them. For me, that's a lot of the fun in bird shooting, and with a great source like penolta here on this forum, I can actually find out why they do some of the things they do. . .

mole -- about the colors -- I actually shoot jpegs in "natural" mode, with contrast, saturation, and sharpness at their lowest settings, then PP to bring them back up to where they should be. For me, this helps prevent clipping for blue, yellow, and red birds in sunlight -- of course, this wasn't the situation here, but it allows me to control the output better. Probably not the most common approach, but it works for me. . .

GW and Patty -- Thanks!

penolta I've been curious with all the talk on other fora about "hidden" firmware tweaks, and I've yet to notice any, but I was a bit surprised that the ISO 1000 owl shots were as clean as they were since they were not exposed to the right as I usually try to do in any higher ISO situation.

I've been pretty successful at shooting at about 2 stops under the 1/FL rule (at the lens' true FL), so I don't know if they made any adjustments to the SR system, as these were within that limit, so I don't know. . .

. . . and I don't have any FA LTD lenses, so I can't speak to any lens aberration correction issues which is what this firmware update was all about. This is the first time I've updated the firmware from the original, so I went directly from v1 to v1.03. So far, I'm seeing a possible decrease in luminosity noise, but that might be a bit of wishful thinking. Some direct testing between the K20 and K-7 this winter had been showing about a 1/2 stop difference, but now it seems to be less, and with the K-7's lower levels of chroma noise, I'm hoping that this will make a difference in the field -- though it's a small one -- I'll take any advantage I can get. . .

BTW, I'm not one to complain about the "weak" high ISO performance from the K-7's sensor. I've always been very impressed with it -- despite the very impressive high ISO performance of some of the newer sensors. . .

A few more comments about this lens -- I'm finding the bokeh to be very smooth and pleasing, regardless of aperture, and I've yet to see any CA/PF anywhere on any of the shots I've taken so far -- pretty impressive! At tele distances, it's just a tiny bit soft wide open, but seems to be tack sharp at f4.5 or smaller, and I can certainly live with that. I'd shied away from Sigma lenses for years after a few QC problems in the past, but I'm slowly becoming a believer. . .

Scott
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Old Feb 22, 2010, 11:36 AM   #10
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Have this lens cast a damper on your lust for an A* 200mm Macro? Say yes, that's what I need to hear.

Kjell
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