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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Wildlife Talk 
Thread started 17 Jan 2016 (Sunday) 11:43
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Super Telephoto Lens Comparison

 
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John ­ Koerner
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Jan 17, 2016 11:43 |  #1
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I had made another thread topic on super-telephoto lenses, but decided to upgrade it by clearly distinguishing between high-end super-telephoto lenses, mid-level lenses, and entry-level lenses.

IMAGE: http://www.thenaturephotographer.club/forumposts/2016/January/sigmonster.png
HIGH END: "The SigMonster"
The Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6 EX DG APO IF HSM has to be considered the the most all-encompassing, overall greatest single investment option among high-end zooms

The important categories covered were Reach (#1), Resolution, Bokeh, Color, Contrast, LaCA, LoCA, f/stop, Price, and Weight.

This is an extremely-long article, so if folks want to cut to the chase here is how it breaks down:


There has been no technical review of the 300-800, of which I am aware, but it is essentially considered peerless.

Of course, there is room for disagreement as to the interpretation of the facts, how they apply to each person's unique needs, etc.

What's also interesting is even LenScore and DxO Mark have differing views on the technical strengths of many lenses. For example, while LenScore holds the Canon 200-400 in the #1 zoom spot, with the Nikon 200-400 in the #2, and the Sigma 120-300 in the #3, the DxO mark places the Sigma 120-300 in the #1 spot (external link). Regardless, I go with the LenScore ratings because they test all lenses across the same sensor, which I feel gives the most reliable, unbiased indication.

Keep in mind that all of these high-end zooms are either on a par with, or exceed, the Zeiss 100mm macro in virtually every category ...

If anyone wants to read the full article (external link), it is a click away.

Hope it is interesting ... and helpful.

Jack



  
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Tom ­ Reichner
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Jan 18, 2016 23:08 |  #2

Hey, Jack!
I did read your entire review - thanks for compiling that!

I am interested in knowing more about your experience with each lens:

How much time you spent shooting with each one of the lenses you reviewed.
What types of subjects did you shoot with each lens?
Under what conditions (especially lighting) did you use each lens?
Did you use the lenses side by side, shooting the same things at the same time with all three lenses, or did you take each lens out separately and shoot under different conditions with each one?

Any further information about your personal experience with the lenses would be a very helpful addition to the review you wrote.

.


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Lyn2011
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Jan 18, 2016 23:52 |  #3

Very interesting. I'm a bit curious how the new telezooms of Fujifilm and Panasonic perform, although the camera's are a different story ofcourse.
Would there be a comparison in the near future with these lenses?




  
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John ­ Koerner
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Post edited over 3 years ago by John Koerner. (2 edits in all)
     
Jan 19, 2016 09:43 |  #4
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Tom Reichner wrote in post #17863893 (external link)
Hey, Jack!
I did read your entire review - thanks for compiling that!

Hi Tom.

Thank you for reading it :)


Tom Reichner wrote in post #17863893 (external link)
I am interested in knowing more about your experience with each lens:
How much time you spent shooting with each one of the lenses you reviewed.
What types of subjects did you shoot with each lens?
Under what conditions (especially lighting) did you use each lens?
Did you use the lenses side by side, shooting the same things at the same time with all three lenses, or did you take each lens out separately and shoot under different conditions with each one?
Any further information about your personal experience with the lenses would be a very helpful addition to the review you wrote.

Tom, I have no personal experience with any of the lenses I wrote about, except the Sigma 150-600 S.

I will soon have personal experience with the Sigma 130-300, as I just placed an order for it with B&H.

The information I compiled was based on cross-referencing many sites, creating tables displaying the already-available data, features, advantages, and disadvantages of each lens in such a way that I myself (and anyone who cares to read it) can see these features/advantages/di​sadvantages displayed and compared also ... hopefully as a useful tool.

If you have a problem with the fact that I haven't personally used each and every lens in this juxtaposition, then here are are your useful options:

  • Buy each of these lenses yourself, use them side-by-side for whatever number of weeks/months/years that suits you, and then write your own review--so that you, personally, can be completely satisfied with the findings--and then I will come up here and dismiss your post to a couple of lines by saying, "Yeah, but Tom, those were your copies of those lenses. Different copies might yield different results," and then I will demand that you do a test with multiple copies; or

  • You can scour the net for the reviews, stats, and already-published technical information on each lens, and write your own article on the subject (which you will ultimately find to be factually-identical to mine), but where you might rate them differently based on your own needs. (And which I already encourage the reader to do.); or

  • You can simply appreciate the article I already did take the time to create, juxtaposing the various lenses together (in easy-to-read Table format) :lol:

So pick your poison, Tom, and thanks again for taking the time to read the article I took the time to compile.

Jack



  
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John ­ Koerner
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Jan 19, 2016 09:47 |  #5
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Lyn2011 wrote in post #17863920 (external link)
Very interesting. I'm a bit curious how the new telezooms of Fujifilm and Panasonic perform, although the camera's are a different story ofcourse.
Would there be a comparison in the near future with these lenses?

I am glad you found the post interesting :)

However, I regret to say that, no, I won't be comparing these other lenses, but thanks for asking.




  
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Tom ­ Reichner
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Jan 19, 2016 11:49 as a reply to  @ John Koerner's post |  #6

Hey, Jack!

Thank for getting back to me by responding to my questions.

I currently own one of the lenses in your review - the "Sigmonster".
I also have used the other two - the Canon 200-400/560 and the Sigma 120-300.
My experience with the Sigmonster is extensive, while my use of the other two has been limited and sporadic.

I was interested in comparing my own experiences with these three lenses to your experiences with them; the conclusions you drew were somewhat different than my own, and different from other full time nature & wildlife photographers whom I know and who have used all of these lenses. Whenever something is different from what is normally reported, I want to learn more about the exceptional findings, as they might indicate a different type of usage or usage under different conditions, and that is something that I would indeed find interesting. That is why I was interested in learning about your experiences with the lenses.

Congratulations on the purchase, and soon to be acquisition, of the Sigma 120-300mm. I will be interested in learning about your experiences with this lens once you have had a chance to use it extensively.

.


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

  
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John ­ Koerner
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Jan 19, 2016 13:28 |  #7
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Tom Reichner wrote in post #17864449 (external link)
Hey, Jack!
Thank for getting back to me by responding to my questions.

Sure thing, Tom, I appreciate the feedback.


Tom Reichner wrote in post #17864449 (external link)
I currently own one of the lenses in your review - the "Sigmonster".
I also have used the other two - the Canon 200-400/560 and the Sigma 120-300.
My experience with the Sigmonster is extensive, while my use of the other two has been limited and sporadic.

This is very interesting to learn.

However, since you haven't taken the time to elaborate on your findings, nor provide any details, there's not much to go on or discuss.


Tom Reichner wrote in post #17864449 (external link)
I was interested in comparing my own experiences with these three lenses to your experiences with them; the conclusions you drew were somewhat different than my own, and different from other full time nature & wildlife photographers whom I know and who have used all of these lenses. Whenever something is different from what is normally reported, I want to learn more about the exceptional findings, as they might indicate a different type of usage or usage under different conditions, and that is something that I would indeed find interesting. That is why I was interested in learning about your experiences with the lenses.

I am interesting in your experiences, the time put in, the camera you used behind the lenses, as well as the names and published opinions of those "full-time nature & wildlife photographers" to whom you refer.

That is one of the things I tried to do in my article was cite my references, rather than make empty, limited, unverifiable statements.

For example, I know of no hard-line rating system that has actually rated The SigMonster, so I cited several references (at the bottom of the table) of pro photographers who have used it for many years, and who took the time to compose their published opinions/reports. I even communicated with LenScore to ask about if they've rated it, and Richard indicated that he had not, but intends to do so at some point.

What I like about LenScore is they test their lenses on the same custom, 200 mpx sensor that far out-resolves any commercial grade offering. IMO, this provides greater uniformity/reliability in findings than some guy who tests one lens on a Canon 5D and another guy who tests a second lens on a Nikon D810. Because of the vast disparity in cameras/sensors used, the reportings are thereby invalid and not properly-compatible.

LenScore has various custom-made mounts to fit all lenses over the same sensor, and tests all lenses overtop of this unchanging sensor, which (again) is why I prefer to them over (say) a PhotoZone review ... that still has results of Canon lenses overtop of a 20D and tries to compare them to other tests over a 5DSr.

Which brings us to my point: are you still using the EOS 50D as a camera to form your opinions?

Are you comparing the results you get with the original SigMonster or the more modern SigMonster with updated elements?

Are you comparing the results of the SigMonster on your 50D with results of a collegue's 200-400 overtop a 1Dx?

All of these details are material to a valid analysis, of which you have provided no meaningful clarification.


Tom Reichner wrote in post #17864449 (external link)
Congratulations on the purchase, and soon to be acquisition, of the Sigma 120-300mm. I will be interested in learning about your experiences with this lens once you have had a chance to use it extensively.

Thank you.

I started with a 50D in 2008, but quickly got rid of it for the 7D.

The 7D has become yesterday's news, and I didn't like the results of my Sigma 150-600 on the 7D, so I feel the quality I was (not) getting was as much the fault of the 7D as anything else.

I have recently made an upgrade to the Nikon D810 and have a pre-order for the Nikon D500.

I am hoping to upgrade some of my own results, and have been mulling over several different lens options to go with (and was excited to share some of my findings with a blog post to be helpful to others).

I stand by my statement that no 2 lens purchases will give any nature photographer more of a gamut than the Sigma 120-300 and the Sigma 300-800, with corresponding scores at/near 1000 pretty much across the board.

What's interesting is that LenScore (external link) scores the Sigma 120-300 slightly lower than the Canon and Nikon 200-400s, but according to DxO Mark (external link) it rates slightly higher.
(Again, note how I cite my references ;))

What is indisputable seems to be at they're all in the same high-end ballpark, optically, noticeably-superior to other zoom lenses.

What is also indisputable is that that Sigma 120-300 ($3,599) is half the price of the Nikon 200-400 ($6,996.95) and roughly 1/3rd the price of the Canon ($10,999.00), while offering something neither offers, which is f/2.8 versus an f/4.0 max.

These are the facts. How each person interprets/uses these facts is up to them, their budget, etc.

If I could afford an $11,000 lens, I might go with the Canon 200-400.
(However, I may come to the decision that $11,600 would be better-spent on a Sigma 120-300 and a SigMonster 300-800).

If I was a Nikon shooter, I might go with the Nikon 200-400 for the extra reach ... or I might decide that I could drop the extra 100mm in reach, gain an extra 2.8 f/stop, and keep the extra $1,400 in my pocket going with the Sigma.

I can't make decisions for everybody, but I can (and have) presented the strengths/weaknesses of each lens, so that each unique person can come to their own conclusions.

Again, hope to see some useful additional comments (rather than veiled nitpicking).

Jack




  
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Tom ­ Reichner
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Jan 19, 2016 16:05 |  #8

John Koerner wrote in post #17864636 (external link)
Again, hope to see some useful additional comments (rather than veiled nitpicking).

I am quite concerned that you may have interpreted some of my comments as "veiled nitpicking", due to the fact that only one member besides myself has replied to this thread thus far, and that member's commentary was quite short.

If you think I have in any way nit-picked anything you have said, then please tell me what it is that I said that you see as "veiled nit-picking". I do not like any "veiled accusations" at all, and am very pro-active in defending all of my statements whenever I feel that they have been criticized.

In other words, if you have any problem whatsoever with anything I have said here on this thread, then please be an up-front guy and tell me exactly what your problem is so that I respond appropriately.


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

  
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Jan 19, 2016 17:04 |  #9

Wow, great job of flaming the only guy who responded who has experience with the lenses in your review....


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Post edited over 3 years ago by johnf3f. (2 edits in all)
     
Jan 19, 2016 17:16 |  #10

The only one of these lenses I have any "Hands On" experience with is the Sigma 300-800mm (Sigmonster) and I thought it was pretty good or very good if you factor in the price compared to the Nikon/Canon (which I own) 800mm primes.

I would be interested to hear Tom's experiences. We have had a little banter or two in the past but he knows his stuff. I would interpret his comments as being out of genuine interest - I have not found him to be someone out to score points.

P.S. Thanks for the information on these lenses John Koerner.


Life is for living, cameras are to capture it (one day I will learn how!).

  
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John ­ Koerner
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Jan 19, 2016 21:42 |  #11
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Tom Reichner wrote in post #17864846 (external link)
I am quite concerned that you may have interpreted some of my comments as "veiled nitpicking", due to the fact that only one member besides myself has replied to this thread thus far, and that member's commentary was quite short.

Tom, even Ray Charles could see the veiled derision in your posts.

If you want to feign a halo now, I don't have the time for it, sorry.


Tom Reichner wrote in post #17864846 (external link)
If you think I have in any way nit-picked anything you have said, then please tell me what it is that I said that you see as "veiled nit-picking". I do not like any "veiled accusations" at all, and am very pro-active in defending all of my statements whenever I feel that they have been criticized.

My responses were as clear and upfront as they get.

The truth is, I've asked you several key questions, and you've not responded to any of them.

So please don't preach to me about being "upfront" ... when you have been as evasive as possible.


Tom Reichner wrote in post #17864846 (external link)
In other words, if you have any problem whatsoever with anything I have said here on this thread, then please be an up-front guy and tell me exactly what your problem is so that I respond appropriately.

Tom, I would say you have the problem, and it is called hypocricy.

Essentially, you claim a great deal of experience with these lenses, but have said nothing useful about them after 3 posts here.

You have asked me to write (with extreme detail) every aspect of my experience with these lenses, while you provide nothing of your own.

When you man-up and provide honest, useful answers every question I've asked you in Post 7, I will be happy to provide sincere responses.

Until then, this is not a productive use of my time.




  
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John ­ Koerner
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Jan 19, 2016 21:46 |  #12
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Sgt. wrote in post #17864927 (external link)
Wow, great job of flaming the only guy who responded who has experience with the lenses in your review....

You are very confused as to who is doing the flaming.

I asked Tom to be more specific about his experiences, the cameras he's used behind each lens, to cite all those pros who have used "every" lens I put up there, and he didn't respond.

I answered every question of Tom's sincerely, and asked him several questions to which he has not yet provided a single answer.

Now, he is wanting to travel down an infinite digression or pointless dialogue, rather than provide any clarity of even a single, useful statement.

I refuse to walk down that road.




  
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John ­ Koerner
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Jan 19, 2016 22:00 |  #13
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johnf3f wrote in post #17864955 (external link)
The only one of these lenses I have any "Hands On" experience with is the Sigma 300-800mm (Sigmonster) and I thought it was pretty good or very good if you factor in the price compared to the Nikon/Canon (which I own) 800mm primes.

Hi John.

What camera did you use in back of it?

In my review (external link) (below the first table) I cited several actual, published reviews of the SigMonster where photographers compared it to 500, 600, and 800 mm primes. (Many of the original reviews are older, but you can also click on the B&H photo link to the product and see many other reviews that are current.)

Many stated the quality of images from The SigMonster was virtually indistinguishable from primes, up until around 700 mm.

Most cited any image problems with user error. Even Lens Rentals (external link) said this: "Even in the shop soft images have been 100% because of user error – it requires excellent technique and some practice."

I have personally seen the difference in quality between my Sigma 180mm macro and the Canon 180 macro, and it isn't even a contest, so I am hopeful about my Sigma 120-300 I have on order.

Will probably purchase The SigMonster in a year, if all goes well.


johnf3f wrote in post #17864955 (external link)
I would be interested to hear Tom's experiences. We have had a little banter or two in the past but he knows his stuff. I would interpret his comments as being out of genuine interest - I have not found him to be someone out to score points.

I would love to hear Tom's actual experiences myself.

I have asked him to provide them, but unfortunately he has not bothered to answer a single legit question I've asked him ... and I am not the type to ask twice.

As for Tom's responses being "genuine," I have been a fraud investigator since 1988, and I know sincerity (and its lack) when I see it.


johnf3f wrote in post #17864955 (external link)
P.S. Thanks for the information on these lenses John Koerner.

Sure thing. I will keep adding as I go ...

Have a good night,

Jack




  
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Jan 19, 2016 22:29 |  #14

It's kind of hard to determine the attitude behind an online post. For that reason, I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt or at the very least, observe how they have handled things in the past.

I don't really want to take sides here because I appreciate the time and effort Jack put into his article. That said, I've read many of Tom's posts over the years and he's someone whose posts I've come to value.

Most of us don't have the luxury (read: budget) of buying the real expensive lenses to try them all out. For that reason, we have to rely on the testing of others..... as well, as the first hand knowledge others can give us. Take me, for instance...... my dream lens is the Canon 500mm f/4 IS II... why? Because I've seen so many people using them and have seen many images posted here on POTN that excite me. I've also read several birding books where the Canon shooters in said books used this particular lens. I can't afford one at the moment and I have one lens to buy before I can start saving up for it (the 24-70 f/2.8 II). I may have to sell one of my custom Petros acoustic guitars to be able to buy the 500, but I have two of them, so that might be just fine with me.

Anyway, I would like to see Tom's experiences detailed on this thread... not to cause a problem but to hear his experiences and those he knows who have used the lenses listed above.


Kim (the male variety) Canon 1DX2 | 1D IV | 16-35 f/4 IS | 24-105 f/4 IS | 100L IS macro | 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II | 100-400Lii | 50 f/1.8 STM | Canon 1.4X III
RRS tripod and monopod | 580EXII | Cinch 1 & Loop 3 Special Edition | Editing Encouraged

  
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Post edited over 3 years ago by johnf3f. (2 edits in all)
     
Jan 20, 2016 14:00 as a reply to  @ John Koerner's post |  #15

Hi Jack!
The last time I had a play with the "Sigmonster" was in Sept 2014 with my 1DX on the back. Conditions were very good and the images looked nice enough to me. Unfortunately I didn't have my Canon 800 F5.6 L IS with me (as I was doing landscapes afterwards) so I couldn't do a direct comparison. Note I only tried it at 800mm as I have little use for the zoom function.
In adverse conditions I would expect the Canon to perform better and the AF was definitely slower but it is a significantly cheaper lens (£4400 less in the UK) so that must be considered.
Whilst the AF was not as good as I am used to it should still be a very workable lens, though I have not tried one under field conditions - which is where we really need to know how it performs!

"As for Tom's responses being "genuine," I have been a fraud investigator since 1988, and I know sincerity (and its lack) when I see it." I only worked at Fraud Investigation (for one of the world's biggest banks) from 1999 to 2010 (I just loved catching the little so and so's!) but I think (and have found in the past) that Tom was not having a go. We shall see.


Life is for living, cameras are to capture it (one day I will learn how!).

  
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Super Telephoto Lens Comparison
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