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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 22 Nov 2013 (Friday) 12:00
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Sigma 100-300 f4 just awful

 
Limbwalker
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Nov 22, 2013 12:00 |  #1

After saving up for quite a while to buy a decent tele zoom, all the while scouring reviews at the expense of getting enough sleep, I finally decided that the reviews I had been coming across for the Sigma 100-300 f4 were just too good to ignore. I was trying to avoid dropping $1K+ on a 100-400L, so based on the nearly universal stellar reviews for this lens, I bought one last week and it arrived last Saturday.

After trying to exercise SOME degree of discipline and finish the chores around the house I had started that morning (gotta keep the wife thinking the camera gear isn't more important to me than her honey-do list :D ), I unboxed the lens and matching 1.4x converter and hooked them up to my 50D for some tests.

The first lens I bought for this body was a good clean, used 55-250 IS that I got for $150. I discovered that little gem is a VERY good lens, despite how inexpensive it is. So that would be the "control" so to speak.

I went out in the back yard with some mixed shadows/sunlight under my trees, and started taking pictures of a cedar bird house I have mounted on a tree trunk about 35 feet away. This was a great test target, since it had really good detail in the aged cedar sides, and was sitting in a location and condition I'd expect to encounter when photographing wildlife outdoors.

Well, the only reason you spend money on a lens like this is to be able to get useable images wide open, right? Well, let's just say the shots at f4 stunk. They just stunk. No other way to put it. Softer than cotton, noticable CA, poor contrast, etc. I was shocked at how bad they were. I was expecting a LOT more.

After a bit, I had mounted the lens on a sturdy tripod, and took images at f4, f5.6, f8 and f11 of the birdhouse. I then took a few hand-held wide open at f5.6 with my 55-250 IS lens for comparison.

In short, the 55-250 kicked the Sigma's butt. I was having to stop that Sigma down to f8 to even compare to the cheap Canon, and even then the contrast wasn't as good. Plus, I was hand-holding the canon at 1/125, and the Sigma was on a tripod with a 2 sec. delay!

Well, after another day with basically the same results, I boxed up the lens and TC and returned them.

This was a lesson learned, but also the reason I bought from a reputable used camera store - because I knew they had a great return policy. Had I bought this lens on feebay, I'd be the proud new owner of a $600 boat anchor right now.

So, still saving. It looks like that 100-400L will be in my bag eventually anyway.

Just wanted to share that experience for anyone looking at reviews of that Sigma 100-300 f4 and thinking it can keep pace with top lenses for less. Unfortunately, at least the copy I had, could not.

John


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Limbwalker
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Nov 22, 2013 12:04 |  #2

Here are some photos for comparison.

First is the Sigma wide open at f4
Then the Canon wide open at 5.6
Then the corresponding crops for each.


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Limbwalker
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Nov 22, 2013 12:05 |  #3

Crops -


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Limbwalker
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Nov 22, 2013 12:06 |  #4

At f8 the Sigma is acceptable, but at f8 the canon is absolutely tack sharp.

Not sure if I got a really bad copy of the Sigma, a really good copy of the Canon, or both.


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Lbsimon
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Nov 22, 2013 12:14 |  #5

One of the reasons why the lens was soft could be that it required some calibration specifically to your camera. I had a lens that was almost perfect on one camera, but required -9 auto-focus microadjustment.


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Limbwalker
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Nov 22, 2013 12:29 |  #6

lbsimon, I was aware of the focus microadjustment, and wanting to remove that from the equation, I manually focused the 100-300 and turned off the AF. The images got progressively sharper from f4 to f11, so that tells me it wasn't a focus issue. The images at f11 were as sharp as my canon lens at f8 (still lacked the same contrast though). But yea, I thought of that. I was hoping that's all it was because I wanted to keep this lens.


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gabebalazs
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Nov 22, 2013 12:31 |  #7

Looks like a bad copy indeed.


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Lbsimon
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Nov 22, 2013 15:14 |  #8

Limbwalker wrote in post #16472150 (external link)
lbsimon, I was aware of the focus microadjustment, and wanting to remove that from the equation, I manually focused the 100-300 and turned off the AF. The images got progressively sharper from f4 to f11, so that tells me it wasn't a focus issue. The images at f11 were as sharp as my canon lens at f8 (still lacked the same contrast though). But yea, I thought of that. I was hoping that's all it was because I wanted to keep this lens.

Then I am glad you got rid of it!


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Fernando
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Nov 22, 2013 15:21 |  #9

That looks like motion blur to me but obviously I can't say for sure and if it was on a tripod then that would make no sense.

Did you test it with TC on and off?

Either way, you didn't like the results and it went back already. Looks like a good choice.


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Snydremark
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Nov 22, 2013 15:28 |  #10

Was that bare lens or lens + TC to get to f/4? I'm. not familiar with that lens.

If it was with the TC, that coyld very well be part of the problem. When you mount a TC you are placing another bunch of glass between the camera and subject that can affect how the light hits the sensor. So, you've now got three things that can be out of alignment with each other.


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Invertalon
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Nov 22, 2013 15:33 |  #11

That looks very bad! I would have returned it in a heartbeat.


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ESMcBlurM3
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Nov 22, 2013 15:33 |  #12

Bummer your's isn't working out. I'm very happy with my copy. Noticeable better than the 55-250 I used prior.


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ed ­ rader
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Nov 22, 2013 15:45 as a reply to  @ ESMcBlurM3's post |  #13

there are many tales of woe among sigma owners. it's like playing Russian roulette with half the chambers loaded.


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tomj
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Nov 22, 2013 15:52 as a reply to  @ ed rader's post |  #14

You won't regret the Canon 100-400 when you finally get it.


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Limbwalker
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Nov 22, 2013 20:44 |  #15

The image above is without the TC. I actually was pretty impressed with the TC, and really couldn't tell any difference between the lens with or without it when I shrunk the 420 5.6 down to match the image size of the 300 4 native lens. So the TC was definitely not the problem

Glad some folks like their copy. Wish I could have said the same!

Fernando, if it was motion blur, then I'm not sure how. I had it on my 3221 Bogen tripod with large ball head and 2 sec. shutter delay. I wasn't even touching the camera when the shutter fired - an already very unlikely scenario putting the odds in the favor of the Sigma. But even hand-held the 55-250 canon was keeping pace, if not flat-out outperforming it.


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Sigma 100-300 f4 just awful
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