User Tag List

Thanks useful information Thanks useful information:  4
Results 1 to 18 of 18

Thread: First Impressions: Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 DG OS HSM ‘S’ (new model)

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    01 Jul 2012
    Location
    Gold Coast
    Posts
    397
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    First Impressions: Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 DG OS HSM ‘S’ (new model)

    Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM 'S' for Nikon


    I am fortunate to have recently purchased this lens from My Camera Focus. I received a good deal from John and paid $2,900 which included a USB dock (yet to arrive) and is Aus stock, so get Sigma warranty. There are several reasons why I wanted this lens. First, it’s a 2.8. The Nikon and Canon versions are $6,000+, so for half price this lens is already a great bargain, especially if the lens turns out to be even 75-80% of the quality of the big primes.

    It should be noted there are no direct competitors to this lens – it is the only zoom lens of this nature. Obviously the optics are not going to be as perfect as a prime, however for this trade off we get versatility. The wide aperture allows for a variety of teleconverters, so in theory I have a lens from 120-600mm using the 1.4 and 2.0 times teleconverters.

    My second reason for purchasing this lens is because my previous telephoto was an old 70-210 variable aperture from the late 80s (full of fungus too). The reviews of the previous OS version of this lens was that its optics are very good (centre sharpness close to Nikon/Canon primes) so I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes with my D800.

    Finally, I wanted this lens to take advantage of the new Sigma USB customisation modes. I can update the firmware, alter the focus speed (from ‘accuracy priority’ to something along the lines of “absolute speed holy hell priority”), focus limiter distance, OS settings (how stabilised the image is in the viewfinder) and most importantly, AF fine tune. Regarding the focus adjustments, you can adjust the focus not only for each focal length (120-300), but also at each distance (2.g. @ 2.5m, 10m, 25m, 30m and infinity) for each respective focal length. It will take a fair while to make the appropriate adjustments at each focal length and distance, but I’d imagine it will be worthwhile. You can also store separate adjustments for use with teleconverters too.

    History of the Sigma 120-300 f2.8
    First for some history of the Sigma 120-300mm 2.8. The first model did not have any optical stabilisation, average optics, weather sealing and poor AF. Needless to say, Sigma released the second model which came with OS, improved AF and redesigned optics. Unfortunately the electronics were prone to failures – everything from AF to OS failing at a very high rate (Lens Rentals have much commentary on this). So, while the optics were very good, the electronics were letting it down big time. This prompted Sigma to release a new version only a couple of years from the last – the ‘Sport’ model which I have purchased. The new ‘Sport’ model shares the same optics however apparently redesigned electronics, improved weather sealing and USB dock compatibility.

    The new ‘Sport’ model
    Regarding the electronics, I hope they are more reliable – indeed I imagine that was the reason why Sigma released this model so quickly after the previous. The chassis has been redesigned with a different texture (metal foot), improved weather sealing, in addition to a return to a metal lens hood (with twist knob lock thing).

    Included in the new lens is a much needed focus limiter with three settings – full, 10m-> infinity, close -> 10m. Distances can be customised by the user using the USB dock. There are also two OS modes (again customisable) and a 3 position “Custom” switch (C1, C2, Off) which means a user can set each to a particular task – e.g. one for fast sport/wildlife, another for smooth focus etc and the default for everything in between. These custom settings might seem a bit of a gimmick, but I can see them being quite useful for in the field.

    Regarding price, I purchased this for $2,900. The previous model is retailing for about ~$2,200, so for an extra $700 you’re getting apparently improved electronics, focus limiters, build quality and USB customisation. I think the price increase is about right and will no doubt decrease in time. It’s worth getting this version, although if you’re budget conscious you might be able to pick up the previous version on special.

    First impressions
    This lens is heavy. 23 elements in 18 groups will do that and puts it up to a hefty 3.4Kg. For comparison, the Nikon and Canon 300mm 2.8’s are about 2.9Kg. Fortunately I have a decent monopod to help out.
    Now the build quality is right up there. It feels just as solid and well manufactured as any pro spec Nikon/Canon lens. Aesthetically, it’s a large lens – you won’t be inconspicuous as it is larger than the 300mm 2.8 primes (although the Canon/Nikon hoods consume a larger volume than the Sigma’s). I was pleased to see a rubber gasket at the mount to aid in weather-sealing.

    Image quality can be hard to measure. I can sit here shooting test charts and pixel peep (which knowing me I’ll probably do just a little bit :P ) but the real test is what images I get off it in the field. I’ve only had about a day of shooting, so see the images at the end of this post which I think speak for themselves – it’s awesome. Not many technical reviews out there of its sharpness resolution, so for now I will rely on the previous version’s results where centre sharpness at 300mm 2.8 is pretty much ‘excellent’ and approaches Nikon and Canon 300 2.8s. The midframe starts to drop off a bit but still achieves ‘very good’ and the corners are ‘fair’ to ‘good’. If you’re shooting on DX forget about the corners. I’m using a D800 so every flaw will show up, but considering I intend on shooting wide open with the lens for the most part the corners should be blown out due to DOF anyway so I am not that concerned. We’ll see though!

    Focusing and zooming are both smooth with the right amount of resistance. It’s a quite a thick lens, so you won’t be getting a grip right around the barrel. I’m yet to have a fiddle with the AF speed, but the default setting is okay – a cycle from close to far is apparently to Lensrentals 0.9 seconds. When the focus limiter of 10m-infinity is engaged, it speeds up considerably and is capable of handling BIF shots (see below). I really need to work on my technique since I have never owned such a heavy and long (mm wise) telephoto before, but for now it seems to be pretty good.

    I must admit, I haven’t used the OS yet. I’ve done a bit of reading which suggests OS/VR/IS is only useful for when your shutter speed is below 1/500th as that is the Hz limit of the stabilisation itself. Not sure if that’s actually true, but in any case since I was shooting above 1/1000th OS wasn’t necessary anyway, so I’ll leave it off unless I need it.

    Summary
    I have only had this lens for two days – not enough time to really understand nor experience the lens. I can’t wait to put it through its paces over the coming weeks.

    For now, however, my first impressions are bright. The bottom line is there are no direct competitors for a 300mm 2.8 zoom lens – it is in its own category. However, for arguments sake the closest competitors are the 300mm 2.8 primes from the big brands. Fact is, this lens can produce stunning results for a fraction of the price of the big brand lenses. For someone who cannot afford $6-7k for a Canon/Nikon 300mm 2.8 this is your only real option. But like most third party vs Canikon questions is does come down to whether you want to pay for the absolute best – a subjective question each individual must consider for themselves.

    I am yet to receive the USB dock from John as they haven’t been delivered by CR Kennedy yet. I am looking forward to getting it as I’m sitting on about -15 AF adjust already (going off my trials in the field) so once I get it I am technically able to do AF adjustments in the -40 -> +40 range (20 units each way on the camera and another 20 units each way on the USB dock). The fact that you can make adjustments for each focal length at each distance (total of 16 adjustments) means gone are the days where you need to send your lenses + camera body to the manufacture for adjustments.

    I’ll continue to update this thread with my experiences and sample images where relevant.

    See below for the first images from this lens.

    270mm @ 2.8, 1/200, OS on, SOOC
    DSC_8035.jpg

    Above ~100% crop
    DSC_8035-1.jpg

    300mm @ 2.8 , 1/4000, ~90% crop. Focused on left surfer. Even 300mm is not really enough for surfing, thankfully I have a 2x TC coming next week.
    DSC_8079.jpg

    300mm @ 2.8, 1/4000, ~90% crop.
    DSC_8116.jpg

    300mm @ 2.8, 1/1000, full frame. I was sitting down on the rocks/grass area of Burleigh Heads point and did NOT see this snake all of 1.5m away from me having a sleep. I got up real fast...pays to look at your surroundings!
    DSC_8084.jpg
    Last edited by Sifor; 22-06-2013 at 6:59pm.
    Cheers, Troy

    D800; AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G; AF-S 50mm 1.8G; SB-910; || 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM 'S'; APO Teleconverter 2x DG || Phantom 2; H32D Gimbal; 5.8Ghz FPV LCD GS

  2. #2
    Member
    Threadstarter

    Join Date
    01 Jul 2012
    Location
    Gold Coast
    Posts
    397
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    300mm @2.8, 1/800, ~95% crop.
    DSC_8179.jpg

    300mm @ 2.8, 1/1250, ISO 320,~100% crop.
    DSC_8192.jpg

    250mm @ 2.8, 1/400 SOOC.

    DSC_8048.jpg

    As above, 100% crop.
    DSC_8048-1.jpg

    I think given most of the above shots are almost 100% crops, I think it shows the lens is doing an admirable job wide open. I'm looking forward to improving my birding technique (so I can get closer!) and picking up a 2x TC.
    Last edited by Sifor; 22-06-2013 at 7:53pm.

  3. #3
    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
    Join Date
    04 Jun 2006
    Location
    the worst house, in the best street
    Posts
    7,701
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Good to see it's working pretty much OK for 'ya Troy.

    This is one of the main lenses I have on my to do list, and having had a quick play with Tamron's 70-200/2.8 VC recently, I was half tempted to spend the money put aside for the Sigma, on the Tammy lens!
    But I was strong and the 70-200VC lens went back into the box .. with my thoughts very much focused on this lens in the near future.

    Someone recently posted a blog on how well the USB puck seems to do a decent job of tweaking the lens to taste, so this of course is a major selling point for some of the newer Sigma lenses now available.

    Would be good to read any follow up once you receive your USB puck too.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


  4. #4
    Member
    Threadstarter

    Join Date
    01 Jul 2012
    Location
    Gold Coast
    Posts
    397
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Yep once I receive the USB dock I'll post updates on its features. Also, I have a Sigma 2x TC coming soon, so next weekend I'll have to try it out and will report back.

  5. #5
    Member
    Threadstarter

    Join Date
    01 Jul 2012
    Location
    Gold Coast
    Posts
    397
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Bad news, two weeks in and the AF system has died. Sometimes it wont even manual focus... I think this is called "focus slipping". Basically it sounds like the gears aren't connecting properly to move the elements.

    I've contacted John from MCF and will see what happens. Since it's only two weeks, I really just want a replacement, really don't want to be passed on to CRKennedy for repair....

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    13 Jul 2013
    Location
    Olympic Park
    Posts
    33
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Great lens, shall see about build quality

    I have now used this lens for about two weeks already, its sharp all the way to the edge, focus is accurate most of the time and i believe my skills are the limitations of this lens. What i do have issue is that the lens have a bit of play with my Nikon D600. Not sure if you are currently experiencing similar problems, i might just bring it back to *removed- read site rules 3* and let them have a look. Its not serious but abit annoying. Will post link to Flickr when i have uploaded the photos, very new to this forum and not sure how to attach photos yet.

    Thanks
    Last edited by ricktas; 14-07-2013 at 8:36pm.

  7. #7
    Member
    Threadstarter

    Join Date
    01 Jul 2012
    Location
    Gold Coast
    Posts
    397
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Are you experiencing some wobble between the lens and the body mount? If so, mine also has a bit of play... I was concerned at first, but then I put my Nikon 24-70 on and it also moved a bit (although not to the same extent).

    I wouldn't worry unless it's some serious movement.

  8. #8
    Member
    Join Date
    13 Jul 2013
    Location
    Olympic Park
    Posts
    33
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    yea i am. It doesn't bother me while hand holding the camera, but when have the lens on the tripod or monopod, i won't want to move the whole set just by turning the camera, if that make sense haha.I have attached some photos i took today with this lens. BTW how did you go with the replacement?
    Attached Images Attached Images

  9. #9
    Member
    Threadstarter

    Join Date
    01 Jul 2012
    Location
    Gold Coast
    Posts
    397
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Lovely shots, I have a replacement from CR Kennedy being delivered by them either tomorrow or Wednesday, so glad no hassle..

  10. #10
    Ausphotography Irregular Warbler's Avatar
    Join Date
    12 Jul 2012
    Location
    Rockyview
    Posts
    1,959
    Mentioned
    9 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    In respect of the loose/wobbly fit, I'd take a look at whether you have loose screws in the lens. If the mounting plate is removed, you'll find the the rear section of the lens with the focus switch on it, is attached only by three tiny, tiny screws. I forever had a problem with my 50-500 where these would become loose allowing the lens to become very loose on the body. I was forever tightening these as I was afraid to use locktite in case the screws couldn't be loosened for service. It's a simply operation to remove that plate and then find, and tighten those screws. If you're game, give it a try. You'll need a jeweler's phillips head screwdriver and string fingers.

  11. #11
    Member
    Join Date
    13 Jul 2013
    Location
    Olympic Park
    Posts
    33
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Hi Warbler, I have nikon 80-200 f2.8 which i did open up the back socket and played around with, unfortunately it did not go as well putting everything back in.now i just have a 80-200 which have a faulty aperture ring sitting on my desk. I wouldn't do this to the sigma, will bring it in to the store and let them have a look.

  12. #12
    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
    Join Date
    04 Jun 2006
    Location
    the worst house, in the best street
    Posts
    7,701
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Most of my lenses have a very slight amount of play in them .. what I'm assuming is referred too here as wobble .... and the amount of play is variable across every lens.
    All my Nikon lenses have some slackness in the rotation of the mount, and the oldest of the lot .. the 180/2.8 seems to have the least slack.

    Only two of my lenses don't have any play in the mount, and they are the Tammy 28-75/2.8 and the Sigma 50/1.4.

    I don't think that a small amount of rotational tolerance between lens and camera mount will cause you any problems ... it doesn't seem to affect any of my lenses that have it(compared to the two that don't).

  13. #13
    Member Iscariot's Avatar
    Join Date
    03 Jan 2013
    Location
    Hurstville
    Posts
    126
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Great thread your results mirror mine to a degree from teh weekend. I think I need a bit more practice before I start to get some solid resuts and get a little closer to target.

  14. #14
    Ausphotography Irregular Warbler's Avatar
    Join Date
    12 Jul 2012
    Location
    Rockyview
    Posts
    1,959
    Mentioned
    9 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    Most of my lenses have a very slight amount of play in them .. what I'm assuming is referred too here as wobble .... and the amount of play is variable across every lens.
    Yeah, I wasn't referring to rotation but being able to move the front of the lens sideways, back and forth on the mount. That's what I thought he meant by wobble. A little play in the twist doesn't seem to matter much.

  15. #15
    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
    Join Date
    04 Jun 2006
    Location
    the worst house, in the best street
    Posts
    7,701
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Warbler View Post
    ...... but being able to move the front of the lens sideways, back and forth on the mount. ......
    Oh! .. ok, I don't have that(sort of).

    That is, even tho the lenses have some slack in rotational play, none of my lenses have any sideways movement at the base of the lens where the lens mounts to the camera.

    I have a couple of lenses that have lens tube wobbles, and again this is common for lenses that extend with either zooming or focusing .. but apart from that, none of my lenses have that sort of tolerance issue .... in a sideways manner.

    From what I can gather of the Sigma 120-300 lens, it's a sealed unit and the outer lens tube doesn't extend in any way .. it's both internal focusing and zooming.

  16. #16
    Member
    Join Date
    13 Jul 2013
    Location
    Olympic Park
    Posts
    33
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    Oh! .. ok, I don't have that(sort of).

    That is, even tho the lenses have some slack in rotational play, none of my lenses have any sideways movement at the base of the lens where the lens mounts to the camera.
    I guess what i mean by play is the slight twist between the lens and camera, so the camera body while attached to the lens can be rotated left and right for about half a mm( cant really measure it, but not that much).
    While i dont have any lens that wobbles left to right,i did drop my tamron 24-70 2.8 vc on sunday, the lens tube which entends out does seems to wobble while i slightly shake the lens. But then again i did drop it side ways, besides that the lens stilll works perfectly.
    Last edited by supaxui; 15-07-2013 at 4:24pm.

  17. #17
    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
    Join Date
    04 Jun 2006
    Location
    the worst house, in the best street
    Posts
    7,701
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by supaxui View Post
    I guess what i mean by play is the slight twist between the lens and camera, .......
    Yep, I think this small amount of rotational slack is 'normal' .. in that it doesn't affect optical performance in any way .. and as I said all of my Nikon lenses have this, and most of my non Nikon lenses(which outnumber the Nikon lens arsenal) also have this small slack.

    If you look at the body's mount you will see a small protrusion about 2mm in diameter at about the same position as the lens release tab(ie. about 3 o'clock position as you look into the camera body).
    On the lens, there is a small recess that accepts this small protrusion(in the camera mount). This system is the way in which Nikon's F-mount locks the lens into place on the camera.
    If you push on the lens release tab you will see this protrusion also follow the lens release tab as it's pushed in.

    My guess is that every lens will have slightly different tolerances in the small slot that accepts the lens lock tab.
    That is, if the diameter of the cameras lens lock tab(the actual protrusion) is eg. 2mm, then the lenses recess needs to have an ever so slightly larger diameter to allow for a non interference fit.
    If the lenses recess is 2mm, there is a chance that the locking tab may not actually slot into the lenses locking recess, so I'd hazzard a guess that the lens makers will allow for this.

    Without this lens locking system, the lens would be allowed to completely rotate around 360° ... and I strongly suggest you NEVER try this with an actual lens as lots of stuff will break off the rear of the lens.

    I have various adapters and stuff which allow for this motion without breaking anything on the camera.

    I'd also hazzard a guess that even the same lens type from the same manufacturer, but made in a different batch build may show differences in this rotational play.

    That is, where my Tammy 28-75/2.8 and Sigma 50/1.4 have no rotational slack at all .. I reckon that if I try any other Nikon mount lens of those two lenses .. they may show some rotational play on the camera.

    Also for a bit more useless info to go with this unimportant info .. I have three cameras(D70s/D300/D800E) and all the lenses behave as identically as is possible with respect to this rotational play.

    That is(my assumption again) .. that Nikon's manufacturing specs and tolerances must have the small diameter pin protrusion at some exact diameter across all cameras in their camera lineup ... at least over the last 9 years or so anyhow. Whatever the size of the lens lock pin is on my camera(s) .. must be exactly the same on your camera too.

    ie. this rotational play must be a lens dependent (non)issue.

    And seriously don't ever allow your lens to rotate past the locking position. You'll break off electronic contacts, possibly break the camera aperture indexing ring .. and god knows what else damage would be done.

    oh! and sorry to hear about your lens mishap. I have this lens, and is an extremely capable lens at that too. with mine set to 70mm, I can just force(gently force) the extended barrel into a millimeter of shimmy, but just shaking the lens whilst extended doesn't show any slack at all ... and my lens is basically as new as it gets ... very little work in the 4 weeks or so I've had it(maybe 100-200 images in total).
    Last edited by arthurking83; 15-07-2013 at 5:03pm.

  18. #18
    Member
    Threadstarter

    Join Date
    01 Jul 2012
    Location
    Gold Coast
    Posts
    397
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Just thought I'd post a link to sample crops of the new lens vs the canon 300 2.8: http://www.the-digital-picture.com/R...mp=0&APIComp=0

    Pretty damn good I must say.

    Also, comparing to the previous OS model, it looks like they must've done something to the optics...especially in the corners: http://www.the-digital-picture.com/R...mp=5&APIComp=0

    CR Kennedy are stopping by my house tomorrow to swap the lens, so all good on that front.. hopefully I just had a lemon copy as the optics are phenomenal and to be let down by poor AF would be a real shame.

    Edit: just had a look at the sigma vs nikon at 600mm... wow: http://www.the-digital-picture.com/R...mp=3&APIComp=0
    Last edited by Sifor; 16-07-2013 at 8:20pm.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •