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Author Topic: Sigma lens for birding?  (Read 4601 times)

CarlTN

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Sigma lens for birding?
« on: February 05, 2013, 03:17:42 PM »
Anyone have experience using the latest Sigma 50-500 OS for birding?  I am thinking of renting one to use on my XXD crop body.  I realize there are other better prime supertelephotos for this, but I've wanted to try this lens for a while, since it is within my budget to purchase...and the cost of rental is less too.  Also I like the idea of the 10x zoom range.  I've read many of the lens' faults, but I'm keeping an open mind.  I've tried the Canon 500 f/4 in the past, and never could get it to AF accurately (using AFMA), or even to manually focus sharply at all with Canon's version iii 1.4x TC.  Not sure why, but I do know it was an optical problem...because even when I manually focused the live view image at 10x, it was never razor sharp, before the shutter was ever engaged...nor was the IS engaged.  The tripod was a relatively sturdy carbon fiber, but admittedly not the "best".  The lens was tested and they found nothing wrong.  No doubt the new version is much better.  Not that I'm implying the Sigma would be optically better, either, of course...but I digress. 

Even if you haven't used this Sigma lens specifically for birding, please feel free to tell me some of your experience.

The birds will be mostly small at distances from 15 to 50 feet, some will hopefully be robins near the ground at a greater distance.  I own a decent carbon fiber monopod which is rated for 50 pounds.

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Sigma lens for birding?
« on: February 05, 2013, 03:17:42 PM »

Don Haines

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Re: Sigma lens for birding?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2013, 05:20:17 PM »
I did a side by side test of a bunch of long zooms...... Sigma 50-500, sigma 120-400, sigma 150-500, and canon 100-400....

My test target was a liscence plate acrosss the street from the store. Rating them best to worst for resolving power I got Sigma 120-400, canon 100-400, sigma 150-500, and sigma 50-500. I bought the 120-400.

Last year at work we were looking for a long lens. We borrowed a canon 100-400 and a canon 400 f5.6 and I brought in my sigma 120-400. The test target was a licence plate, and the order best to worst for resolving power was Canon 400 f5.6, sigma 120-400, and canon 100-400.

The sigma 120-400, canon 100-400, and sigma 150-500 were all fairly close.... you had to pixel peep to compare. The sigma 50-500 was noticeably the worst, and the 400 f5.6 was noticeably the best.

When I bought I was seduced by the extra versatility of a zoom lens over a fixed lens..... but I shoot the 120-400 mostly at the 400 range of the scale... If I were to buy now I would get the 400 f5.6.
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wickidwombat

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Re: Sigma lens for birding?
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2013, 07:50:53 PM »
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crasher8

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Don Haines

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Re: Sigma lens for birding?
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2013, 09:02:45 PM »
there can be only one! :P

http://www.juzaphoto.com/article.php?l=en&article=64


what lens?


I wouldn't even bother following the link.... it's gotta be a picture of Sigzillia.... only $25,000 or so.... and apparantly does NOT come with sherpas...
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steven kessel

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Re: Sigma lens for birding?
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2013, 09:03:51 PM »
I own both a Sigma 150-500 and a Canon L series 100-400.  I bought the Canon after I'd used the Sigma for a while, thinking that it would give me upgraded sharpness.  I'm very happy with the Canon lens.  However, recently, I sat down and took a really close look at some of the photos I'd taken with my Sigma and I was surprised at how sharp they are.  That's caused me to rethink whether I really made an improvement going to the Canon lens.

Jim K

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Re: Sigma lens for birding?
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2013, 10:54:56 PM »
A local pro I shoot birds with at times with had a Canon 100-400. Borrowed a Sigma 50-500 from another pro, used it for a few months, really liked it and bought one for himself. Returned the borrowed one and sold his 100-400. I did a quick look through his blog and couldn't fine a mention of it but he obviously liked it better than the 100-400. Sorry.

I still like my 100-400 but then I'm not a pro.
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Re: Sigma lens for birding?
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2013, 10:54:56 PM »

crasher8

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Re: Sigma lens for birding?
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2013, 11:04:22 PM »
there can be only one! :P

http://www.juzaphoto.com/article.php?l=en&article=64


what lens?

What lens is what you say after seeing the model….
I wouldn't even bother following the link.... it's gotta be a picture of Sigzillia.... only $25,000 or so.... and apparantly does NOT come with sherpas...

surfer57

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Re: Sigma lens for birding?
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2013, 11:28:55 PM »
I have the Sigma 120-400 and am very happy with it. I would like to have a prime 400 but do not have the funds and I have found this lens more than sharp enough. Fast focus as i shoot primarily surfing with a lot of movement in front of and behind the subject. No real complaints honestly other than I with it were faster.

wickidwombat

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Re: Sigma lens for birding?
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2013, 11:36:55 PM »
there can be only one! :P

http://www.juzaphoto.com/article.php?l=en&article=64


what lens?


I wouldn't even bother following the link.... it's gotta be a picture of Sigzillia.... only $25,000 or so.... and apparantly does NOT come with sherpas...


sheesh tough crowd today
and the link is good its actually a pretty good review :)
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Renegade Runner

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Re: Sigma lens for birding?
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2013, 12:43:03 AM »
I own the Sigma 150-500mm.  Not a bad lens and the photos it takes if your subject is standing still.  The problem starts when you try to photograph fast moving subjects such as birds.  AF is slow in my opinion.

I used this lens today.  Posted some pics below.  Shot with 6D @ 400mm.
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Renegade Runner

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Re: Sigma lens for birding?
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2013, 12:44:49 AM »
6D @ 500mm and 1/2500
Rebel T1i, EOS 6D, EF 24-105, EFS 10-22, MP-E 65, 100 2.8, EF 100 2.8, 70-300 L, Sigma 150-500

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CarlTN

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Re: Sigma lens for birding?
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2013, 02:20:43 AM »
You guys are entirely too helpful!  Thank you all so much!

Don, very useful info, and I thank you.  I’ve rented the 400 f/5.6, I liked it, it AF’d in extremely low light, which surprised me.  But it didn’t zoom.  Basically you’re trying to convince me that the 50-500 is crap.  It might be working…darn your hide!  But I thank you anyway :-D

Yes Wombat, but I only use that lens on my iPhone :-D  The cost of renting it is like $1200 for 4 days or something.  I think the cost of shipping it is an additional $4000.  I might have to reinforce my monopod with epoxy glue and tissue paper…
 
Steven, it kind of sounds like you fell prey to the snob appeal of the white lenses.  I like them too, and own one, but am not blinded by them.

Jim, I’m not a “pro” birder either.  Interesting anecdote…

Surfer…yes faster aperture would be nice…but then that becomes much more serious money…and nobody makes a lens that is a next logical step above it.  The 120-400 seemed to have a bad wrap when it first came out.  It looks like it would be fine, but I don’t think I can rent that one.  Also I wanted to be able to go up to 500mm.  (“This one goes to eleven”…hahaha).

Renegade, the problem with your pics is they aren’t sharp enough or pretty enough…JOKING…they’re lovely, thank you!  I see that rich Sigma color that I like…However, I don’t think I can rent the 150-500.  Could I rent yours?  Kidding of course…How are you liking your 6D?  You could just lend me the 6D and we could forget the lens…haha! 

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Re: Sigma lens for birding?
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2013, 02:20:43 AM »

Apop

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Re: Sigma lens for birding?
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2013, 04:17:33 AM »
I wonder if the person who tested the 50-500 tested the OS version, it should be sharper then the non-os version , and Before i purchased the 50-500 OS 2 years ago I had read many reviews which said it was sharper then the 150-500.

Also he states that the canon 100-400 is less sharp then the sigma 120-400, which surprises me

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=113&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=7&API=0&LensComp=683&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=4&APIComp=0

Thats the 100-400 and 150-500 at 400mm, i doubt the 120-400 that sigma has is that much sharper then the 150-500

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/39554709 , here people discuss the 150-500 and 50-500

http://www.lenstip.com/244.4-Lens_review-Sigma_50-500_mm_f_4.5-6.3_APO_DG_OS_HSM_Image_resolution.html

'''Quote''  The Sigma surpasses noticeably the 150-500 mm OS model here, which, on going from 400 mm to 500 mm, had a lot of problems with reaching similar results. What’s more, even after significant stopping down to f/11 the 150-500 mm model at the maximum focal length barely brushed against the usefulness level. The Sigma 50-500 mm OS doesn’t have any problems with exceeding it and, after all, its focal length range is a lot wider.

When you compare the tested lens to the Sigma 120-400 mm OS we see a very similar situation. The Sigma 50-500 mm OS at 400 mm fares better than the 120-400 mm OS model and additionally we get a useful 500 mm at our disposal.

How does the Sigma compare with its most dangerous rival, the Canon 100-400L? With the Sigma we get a wider range and a bit better stabilization but this device is a little bit more expensive. As far as the image quality is concerned, the Sigma loses…the Canon at 400 mm is not only faster but also fully useful up to the maximum aperture. Near f/8 it has results at the level of 35 lpmm and it should be emphasized that it was tested on the sensor of the EOS 20D. The Sigma reaches 36 lpmm but only on the 50D’s sensor with 15 million pixels. If we tested the 100-400L on the 50D we think for the combination of f/8.0 and 400 mm it would exceed easily the level of 40 lpmm. The 400 mm focal length is definitely better in the case of the Canon. The Sigma, however, boasts 50 mm and 500 mm focal lengths for a change which the Canon lacks…

"Quote"

I hope you can make your decision !, I would personally go with the 100-400 that canon has,
My sigma 50-500 OS had so much dust inside the lens after only 2 weeks, the autofocus was not 'that' fast,
But being able to zoom from 50-500 was great...

Hard decision
« Last Edit: February 06, 2013, 04:25:09 AM by Apop »

Rienzphotoz

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Re: Sigma lens for birding?
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2013, 05:59:31 AM »
I own the Sigma 150-500mm.  Not a bad lens and the photos it takes if your subject is standing still. 
I have the 150-500 OS and I agree with Renegade Runner completely.
I had the original 50-500 (non OS) about 4 years ago, sold it to buy 100-400 L IS, sold it to buy 150 - 500 OS as I wanted a bit more reach ... of these 3 lenses I prefer 150-500 OS for its reach (but I don't use it as much as I used to, coz our local zoo closed for renovation, which will take 3 to 5 years to complete).
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Re: Sigma lens for birding?
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2013, 05:59:31 AM »