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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 03 Apr 2013 (Wednesday) 09:26
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Sigma 120-400 vs. numerous lenses

 
JohanBorjesson
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Apr 03, 2013 09:26 |  #1

Still trying to hit the nail in the coffin with a wildlife lens but can't seem to come down to a decision. Focus will be on birds, squirrels and other animals I might see. I have a Canon 60D.

Sigma 120-400/4,5-5,6 ($900 new)
Canon 100-400/4,5-5,6 L USM IS ($2077 new, $1500 used) I have to save up many more months to get this one
Canon 300/f4 L IS USM ($1700 new, $1200-1300 used) But there is one guy selling it as low as $900 but I'm unsure on that one

I have always been a little afraid of primes because I think that I will not always need the fixed focal length, a zoom can be very nice to have especially if some birds or whatever decides to come closer than you'd think.

I forgot to say that I will add a 1.4x TC to the Canon prime if I decide to get that one.

What do you guys suggest?


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*Jayrou
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Apr 03, 2013 09:42 |  #2

There's a pretty good review on the Sigma comparing with the others HERE (external link)

He wanted for different applications though, but I thought it was good, when I was looking for a longer focal length it nearly swayed me to the Sigma but I ended up with a 400 5.6.


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amfoto1
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Apr 03, 2013 10:02 |  #3

I use the 300/4 IS with a 1.4X TC.... That gives me two really useful focal lengths that are easily handheld.

This was shot with the 300/4 on full frame 5DII, so you'd actually see more "reach" using it on your 60D (1.6X)...

IMAGE: http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2762/4020576990_bccb834338_o.jpg

This was done with 300/4 plus 1.4X (Canon, Mark II) on 5DII...

IMAGE: http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6081/6107916074_afbb0a7751_o.jpg

This is the 300/4 alone on 7D (same crop as your 60D, of course)....

IMAGE: http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6186/6107897912_7a41f76dfc_o.jpg

And this is the 300/4 plus 1.4X on 7D....

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8062/8188386737_929f2d414d_z.jpg

One nuance of this lens is that it tends to have a little magenta cast in strong highlights. If a problem, it's easily fixed in post processing. IMHO, it wasn't a problem so I didn't fix it in the catchlight in the eye of the hawk, above...

IMAGE: http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2801/4020587780_e945696bea_o.jpg

The zooms will be more versatile or convenient and offer just slightly less reach than the 300/4 + 1.4X. I've been looking at the 120-400 myself, to use for sports in reasonably good lighting situations (until the Canon 200-400/4 1.4X is finally released... and I win the lottery). The Canon 100-400 doesn't really appeal to me, I'm just not a big fan of push/pull zooms (other folks really like them, so this is just me).

There are also the Sigma 150-500 and 50-500.... Both are larger, heavier. The 150-500 is only a little more expensive than the 120-400. The 50-500 usually sells for about the same as the Canon 100-400. (I notice that you are in Sweden and the prices seem quite different there)

The ideal might be Sigma 120-300/2.8 OS with a quality 2X teleconverter. That would cover a lot of bases in a single lens! Of course, it's double the price of the 100-400 or 50-500. It's also the largest and heaviest of this bunch.

There is no such thing as "too long" a telephoto for birding. If you have a 400mm, at times you'll wish you had 500mm. If you have 500mm, there will be times you wish you had a 600mm... 800mm, etc.

Sigma is in the process of selling out the current version of the 120-400 OS, 120-300/2.8 OS and possibly some of the other lenses mentioned... They are revising their entire lens line right now. AFAIK, the main difference will be the new lenses can be user programmed to fine tune focus performance and will have a new finish. Optical formulas, AF system, and OS performance don't seem to be changing so image quality might not be effected at all.

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Snydremark
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Apr 03, 2013 10:06 |  #4

My recommedation is the 100-400; it's not cheap but it is a wonderful, all-around wildlife lens. Is there a reason you've excluded either of the Sigma xxx -500 zooms from the list? If you're budget constrained, you can easily get 95% of the performance of the 100-400 for (usually) less money.


- Eric S.: My Birds/Wildlife (external link) (7D MkII/5D IV, Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5, Canon 24-105L f/4 IS, Canon 70-200L f/2.8 IS MkII, Canon 100-400L f/4.5-5.6 IS I/II)
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JohanBorjesson
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Apr 03, 2013 10:08 |  #5

amfoto1 wrote in post #15786589 (external link)
I use the 300/4 IS with a 1.4X TC.... That gives me two really useful focal lengths that are easily handheld.

This was shot with the 300/4 on full frame 5DII, so you'd actually see more "reach" using it on your 60D (1.6X)...

QUOTED IMAGE

This was done with 300/4 plus 1.4X (Canon, Mark II) on 5DII...

QUOTED IMAGE

This is the 300/4 alone on 7D (same crop as your 60D, of course)....

QUOTED IMAGE

And this is the 300/4 plus 1.4X on 7D....

QUOTED IMAGE

One nuance of this lens is that it tends to have a little magenta cast in strong highlights. If a problem, it's easily fixed in post processing. IMHO, it wasn't a problem so I didn't fix it in the catchlight in the eye of the hawk, above...

The zooms will be more versatile or convenient and offer just slightly less reach than the 300/4 + 1.4X. I've been looking at the 120-400 myself, to use for sports in reasonably good lighting situations (until the Canon 200-400/4 1.4X is finally released... and I win the lottery). The Canon 100-400 doesn't really appeal to me, I'm just not a big fan of push/pull zooms (other folks really like them, so this is just me).

There are also the Sigma 150-500 and 50-500.... Both are larger, heavier. The 150-500 is only a little more expensive than the 120-400. The 50-500 usually sells for about the same as the Canon 100-400. (I notice that you are in Sweden and the prices seem quite different there)

The ideal might be Sigma 120-300/2.8 OS with a quality 2X teleconverter. That would cover a lot of bases in a single lens! Of course, it's double the price of the 100-400 or 50-500.

There is no such thing as "too long" a telephoto for birding. If you have a 400mm, at times you'll wish you had 500mm. If you have 500mm, there will be times you wish you had a 600mm... 800mm, etc.

Thanks for an excellent post Alan. Those images are absolutely stunning. Alot of people suggested the Sigma 150-500 but I've read too many reviews and what not about it being too soft in the long end and it's also heavy.

I think I might just go with the 300+1.4 and if I am not happy with it and realise I need a zoom, I will have a good re-sell value on it.


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JohanBorjesson
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Apr 03, 2013 10:08 |  #6

Snydremark wrote in post #15786595 (external link)
My recommedation is the 100-400; it's not cheap but it is a wonderful, all-around wildlife lens. Is there a reason you've excluded either of the Sigma xxx -500 zooms from the list? If you're budget constrained, you can easily get 95% of the performance of the 100-400 for (usually) less money.

Read my post above.


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huntersdad
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Apr 03, 2013 10:17 |  #7

I had the 100-400 and 120-400 in the past, so I'll comment on both.

The 100-400 was my least liked lens by far. While superbly built, the IS system is outdated and the AF always seemed too slow for me. Wide open, it was always slightly soft, stopped down it got better quick. It does have a focus limiter, which is something the Sigma sorely misses. No way I would add a 1.4x on this without a 1D body.

The Sigma is also built well. OS system is head and shoulders above the 100-400's, while the AF is slightly faster. Again, a little soft wide open, stopped down much better. Zoom function is the twist style vs. push/pull, which I preferred, but some people like the push/pull. No focus limiter, which is only a problem if you lose focus on moving subjects - then it's hard to get back on them and continue the action.

For my money, the answer for wildlife situations, would be the 400 5.6. Smokin' AF speed, super sharp wide open and light. You do have to pay attention to your SS a little more since it lacks IS, but no biggie. Additionally, it is cheaper than the Canon 100-400 but only slightly more than the Sigma.

I can't comment on the 300 f/4 as I have never owned one, but if you get that to add a TC, you might as well have just bought the 400 and saved some coin on the TC.


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JohanBorjesson
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Apr 03, 2013 10:42 |  #8

huntersdad wrote in post #15786628 (external link)
I had the 100-400 and 120-400 in the past, so I'll comment on both.

The 100-400 was my least liked lens by far. While superbly built, the IS system is outdated and the AF always seemed too slow for me. Wide open, it was always slightly soft, stopped down it got better quick. It does have a focus limiter, which is something the Sigma sorely misses. No way I would add a 1.4x on this without a 1D body.

The Sigma is also built well. OS system is head and shoulders above the 100-400's, while the AF is slightly faster. Again, a little soft wide open, stopped down much better. Zoom function is the twist style vs. push/pull, which I preferred, but some people like the push/pull. No focus limiter, which is only a problem if you lose focus on moving subjects - then it's hard to get back on them and continue the action.

For my money, the answer for wildlife situations, would be the 400 5.6. Smokin' AF speed, super sharp wide open and light. You do have to pay attention to your SS a little more since it lacks IS, but no biggie. Additionally, it is cheaper than the Canon 100-400 but only slightly more than the Sigma.

I can't comment on the 300 f/4 as I have never owned one, but if you get that to add a TC, you might as well have just bought the 400 and saved some coin on the TC.

So you would recommend the Sigma? Now I just realised that the used 300 prime was the non-is version and I am not really into buying a lens that old. It's just so hard, would I be happy with the Sigma? I really can't tell.


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JohanBorjesson
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Apr 03, 2013 10:46 |  #9

And this guy on 500px has excellent images with the Sigma, most people seem to do when it is stopped down to around f/7 or f/8. And I will be outside during daylight so using that aperture should not be a problem for me.

http://500px.com/Mlade​n_Janjetovic (external link)


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Snydremark
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Apr 03, 2013 11:27 |  #10

Check around on the bird forums here; outside of the big primes, there are a handful of lenses that the regulars, primarily, use and come away with amazing photos:
Canon 300 f/4 (w or w/o 1.4x TC)
Canon 400 f/5.6
Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6
Sigma 50-500/150-500 f/4-6.3

There's a good reason those lenses get used so much and as long as you find one of those that works for your budget and your shooting, you really aren't going to go wrong. There are other lenses used to great effect, but those above are the predominant ones, that are within a normal mortal's reach. After those, you get into the big prices of big glass.

So, short answer, yes, unless you find a specific quality lacking after trying one of the Sigmas, you ought to be able to be happy with one.


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Apr 03, 2013 11:34 as a reply to  @ JohanBorjesson's post |  #11

Dear Johann,

Since several respondents have mentioned the Sigma 150-500 OS HSM I will suggest that you consider it as well.

I will also suggest you consider a used lens regardless of brand. While I don't know the market for used lenses in Sweden here in the US it is pretty easy to find a 150-500 Sigma in excellent condition for less than 75% of the new price, currently that is $ 1019.00 USD. Likewise used 120-400 Sigma's also seem to sell for around 75% or less of new.

I purchased a lightly used copy of the that lens from a board member here on POTN and I am very happy with it. While it is rather heavy I find that when it is mounted on my gripped 20D it feels well balanced and is easily hand-holdable down to reasonable shutter speeds such as 1/250. With the IS and some more practice I think I can go a little slower when needed.

I am happy with the images it provides as well. I'll be the first to admit that my skills and techniques do far more to limit the output of the lens than the lens does to limit my photographs. I know I can improve my techniques and I am confident that the lens will not be a limiting factor for my hobbyist use.

Regards,

Tim Murphy :)


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Apr 03, 2013 12:27 |  #12

here's an article comparing the sigma 120-400OS, 150-500OS, canon 100-400L, and the old bigma
http://www.juzaphoto.c​om/article.php?l=en&ar​ticle=50 (external link)

i bought the 150-500OS, i'm happy with it...it does need light though, and I typically use it stopped down...I'm hoping to buy a new body which i think will help yield me probably double the amount of keepers i can pull off now

i recently made a set with some of my images on flickr, it's here if you want to check it out...still trying to add more to it
http://www.flickr.com …01841754/with/8​611141965/ (external link)


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JohanBorjesson
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Apr 03, 2013 12:52 |  #13

DreDaze wrote in post #15787073 (external link)
here's an article comparing the sigma 120-400OS, 150-500OS, canon 100-400L, and the old bigma
http://www.juzaphoto.c​om/article.php?l=en&ar​ticle=50 (external link)

i bought the 150-500OS, i'm happy with it...it does need light though, and I typically use it stopped down...I'm hoping to buy a new body which i think will help yield me probably double the amount of keepers i can pull off now

i recently made a set with some of my images on flickr, it's here if you want to check it out...still trying to add more to it
http://www.flickr.com …01841754/with/8​611141965/ (external link)

That's another thing that might bother me when shooting birds who are up in trees and also squirrels. Considering you gotta stop down to around f/8, will it be an issue you think? It's a big difference between 5.6 and 8. But I will be outside during the daylight but there are places where the sun just can't come through fully.


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stickan
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Apr 06, 2013 10:26 |  #14

Hej Johan!
Why not get a EF 70-200/2,8 IS II USM and a TC 1,4 or TC 2,0 to that one...as an option. I got a such 70-200 ver. II and its sharp as...=)
Hej från Stig


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JohanBorjesson
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Apr 06, 2013 10:34 |  #15

stickan wrote in post #15797017 (external link)
Hej Johan!
Why not get a EF 70-200/2,8 IS II USM and a TC 1,4 or TC 2,0 to that one...as an option. I got a such 70-200 ver. II and its sharp as...=)
Hej från Stig

I am actually onto this trail (70-200/f4 L non-IS). I have been thinking and it might not be such a bad idea to get the 70-200 with a 1.4 TC because as I said I will be using a bird feeder to get comfortable, let the birds and squirrels (and other animals in rivers I can get close to and so on) come to me.

It's also a versatile lens which I can use for more than wildlife, like street and so on. It should also be a very good lens for zoo's. When I feel I am comfortable I can just save up for a 300/f4 L IS, that would take only a few months so I have plenty of time to play around with the 70-200, and I would have the 1.4 TC already as well which is a good thing.


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Sigma 120-400 vs. numerous lenses
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