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Thread: Telephoto zoom recommendations and options.... Canon v Sigma

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    Telephoto zoom recommendations and options.... Canon v Sigma

    Hi Guys,

    This is a longish post, so please bear with me.

    First, a bit about me. I've had my EOS 7D for about a year having well and truly out-grown various point and shoot cameras. I purchased this with the 18-200 3.5-5.6 IS kit lens as I was a little unsure as to exatcly which length lens I would require and this gave a great range when starting out. My main photographic subjects are horses (competing in various equestrian disciplines both indoors and out), motorsport and birds (both perched and in flight). I've noticed that 200mm is too short at times, particularly for birding.

    During the first year I have also purchsed a nifty-fifty and been lucky enough to borrow a friends 70-200mm f2.8L a couple of times. I had my heart set on a new example of this lens (mark II) and started saving. I'm now in a position to part with my hard earned cash and buy some new glass however have been weighing up some options and would like to know your thoughts.

    Scenario 1
    Purcahse Canon 70-200 2.8L IS II USM and a 1.4x or 2x teleconverter. There are a number of reasons I like this lens; mainly the speed for indoor events, but the weather sealing is nice piece of mind for dusty places and the odd rain shower. The teleconverters will provide that extra reach I currently wished I had when birding.

    Scenario 2
    For the price of the above combination I can comfortably buy a Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM AND a Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM and still have enough change to buy a nice backpack to put it all in and perhaps a monopod or tripod.

    So I'm a bit torn between the 2 options above and would love to hear your feedback and ideas. I'm not a professional so the L series lens might be "wasted" on me, however in most other facets of my life I'll buy the best quality I can afford, regardless if it seems excessive at the time. The Sigma scenario will provide a more versatile suite of lenses immediately and also give me the option to upgrade at a later date.

    Looking forward to your replies.

    Thanks,

    John.

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    Member Adrian Fischer's Avatar
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    +1 Scenario 2.
    ______________________________________________

    Adrian Fischer
    Brisbane, Australia

    Gear: Nikon D80, D300, Nikon 35mm f1.8, 50mm f1.8, 85mm f1.8, 105mm f2.5, 18-200 VR, 70-200 VR, Sigma 28-70mm f2.8, Sigma 50-500, Tonkina 12-24 f4, SB-600, various YongNuo Strobes, various umbrellas, 6 x 300w studio flashes, various softboxes, reflectors, stands, transmitters and receivers.

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    are you serious? Shelley's Avatar
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    hmmm, tough I think. I am fortunate to have just acquired the 70-200 is 2.8 II and its a beautiful lens (only have had for a few days) - it took me two years to get it, I am also a birder and I didn't want it for birding and would not be my first choice for birding (my opinion - others may disagree), but I have the 400 5.6L for birding. For birding you do need 400mm minimum. As birding is my main genre in photography I put the 70-200 down the list, I do portraits as well which I felt the 24-70 was more suitable before I got the 70-200. So that was my reasoning and method of acquiring my lens stockpile . Also, I may have that disease L lens lust....

    The question of sigma versus canon is often asked and really you can only decide for yourself and read the for and against's each. I am not so much against Sigma, but have chosen to follow the path of canon lens, as I have been very happy with my purchases and prepared to pay more and wait.
    Shelley
    (constructive criticism welcome)

    www.shelleypearsonphotography.com


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    There's nothing wrong with the sigma 70-200 HSM, youll probably need the sigma TC's to match to it. I would say that you might be able to notice a slight IQ loss compared to bramd wide open, but not much in it

    Youll always find the 70-200 short for birds, even with a TC
    Darren
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    I have similiar interests to you and I bought the canon 70-200 f2.8 because I felt it was perfect for horse events - main interest eventing - and find this fantastic.

    This lens is also great to use indoors for dresssage and showjumping as the ability to use the larger aperture means that lack of light is only occasionally an issue.

    Weather proofing was also a huge concern for me as let's face it, rarely do you get perfect weather at horse or motor bike events - freezing and raining or hot and dusty - so I felt for the $ outlay I wanted to be sure that the lens was tough, robust and was not a 'princess' in regards to weather. (This doesn't mean I don't look after the lens or treat it roughly or carelessly.)

    My thoughts were also that I would like to take some bird shots and like you I thought I would buy a teleconverter, either 1.4 or 2x. I have done heaps of research and waited patiently for the 2x III to be released with the intention of buying it to use with my lens. Well......the jury is still out..........most reviews, forum comments, articles etc agree that there is no difference in image quality when using the 1.4 . There is a huge amount of discussion/disagreement regarding the 2x...........from reading it seems to me it depends on the subject and how fastidious you are about sharp, sharp image quality. Birds do not appear to be the best subject for the 2x if you want perfect as good as it gets sharpness. I have decided to hire both teleconverters and give them a go. I would love the 2x to be the answer to my prayers, but I am not sure it is. The 1.4 sounds great but seems expensive to extend from 200 to only 280. (Mind you I will probably buy it anyway as I am desperate for more length! )

    I have been attempting birding shots but 'keepers' are few and far between (more because of my shortcomings than issues with the quality of the lens). I have learnt heaps and have become more adept at stalking the birds and most images are clear enough for me to identify accurately the birds. However I have been HUGELY frustrated by not been able to fill the frame and be close enough to the subject using the 200. The consistent advice given by birders to all on the forum seems to be - GET CLOSER!

    I do not regret buying the 70-200 f2.8 - fantastic with horses/sports etc and is giving me a great deal of pleasure with birds but it really, for me is too short for serious birding.

    I have some interesting websites with results of testing for the different converters saved to my favourites - happy to pass them on if you message me - I don't know how to add a link or I would do it here.

    I have started saving again - I will probably stick with canon - I would love the 500mm f4 and in the future may look out for a 2nd hand one - or just keep buying tattslotto tickets.

    I know nothing about the Sigma lens but have seen some lovely photos on this forum by Sigma fans.

    As far as your comments about the L series been wasted as you are not a professional.....well I don't think good glass will ever be wasted... the more you use the gear the better you will get......pretty frustrating to find your skill is better than the lens- leaves nowhere to go but to buy something else! If you find you don't use the 70-200 (Really doubt that as so good for your other interests) then you could always sell it and from looking at the 2nd hand market this particular lens sells extremely well and if looked after appears to lose little value.

    I guess, as others have said - personal preference but I do understand your conundrum very well.

    Good luck with your decision.

    Cheers Lal
    Last edited by la lumiere; 22-03-2011 at 3:43pm.

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    I have two sigma lenses - a prime and wide angle zoom. I have had no problems with either lens. But as a general principle, I buy 3rd party lenses for focal lengths for which I only have infrequent use. For work which I do a lot, I use Canon lenses - overall, they feel more solid and reliable and I like the image quality.

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    I have the earlier 70-200mm F2.8 and a Kenko 1.4 x TC and it works a treat, also consider that it's APS-C so times your effective field of view by 1.6 to give you focal mm length. I.E 70-200mm + 1.4 gives me 280mm add the effective focal length x 1.6. = 448mm @ 200mm.

    You could pick up a early series 70-200mm F2.8 IS L + what ever lens you think. There is a lot of happy AP regs with the canon and 120-400mm Sigma (See Reviews Forum Sigma Lens 120-400 I think PH005 started it, or look under his posts, and or Mark Chap) With a $2500.00 budget.

    The Sigma 100-300mm F4 (http://www.sigmaphoto.com/shop/100-3...-apo-hsm-sigma) is also a great option, one I'm considering at the moment. This lens has been recently replaced by the 100-300mm F2.8, so the F4 is coming down in price. The later F4 carries the "DG" made for Full Frame cameras, so on the 1.6 APS-C 160 - 480 and no need for a Tele convertor, If you add the TC to a "L" 70-200mm F2.8 it stops to min F4 anyway. The is a link under the Canon forum with comments on this Sigma 100-300mm F4 lens, I started it last week. Good info there.

    The birding side, as most above have said, 400mm +, the Canon 300mm F4 L is a 480mm EFOV on your body and at the mo in OZ "www.qualitycamera.com.au" for example is around $1600.00. (If you look under my posts, theres a shot I took of a Kookaburra at nearly 100 foot away using my 50D and the 300mmF4 L Canon handheld, give you an idea of IQ.

    The Sig 100-300 or the 70-200 would be my pick. For birding, again you need another specialist lens, spend the good dollars on the older, but still bloody good Series 1 70-200mm F2.8 IS L, and then save a small amount more and buy a better prime. Also the money you save straight up will go toward a sturdy momopole to hold that heavy glass up for long periods of time, believe me, it helps. Also get the good tripod, you wont regret it.
    They call me "Blue" it's a red head thing.
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    My $0.02

    I have the 70-200 2.8L and the x1.4 I also have a 100 - 400L 4.5 -5.6 I have a 50D and 5D2.

    I think you have 2 quite different needs here I agree with la luminere that for the horses the 70-200 is a great choice and a lens that you will find attached to your camera much more than any other. However, for birding you need to be pushing the 400+ region and even with the x1.4 you will be on the short side (unless you are patient and like camo clothes or portable hides). With a 400 you will have the effective zoom of 640 and that is starting to get easier. The drop in speed / requirement for more light comes into play but better that than capturing a spec in the distance.

    I am a massive fan of the Canon lenses but in this case I cannot help but think your scenario 2 would be the way to go, including getting a tripod.
    Last edited by fess67; 22-03-2011 at 9:12pm.

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    A. P's Culinary Indiscriminant mongo's Avatar
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    for horses and motorsport you need a 70-200. For birds you need a 400m +

    Mongo's advice get a sigma 70-200 and make sure it is the "macro" version (sharper than non-macro ) and get a canon 400 f5.6 L second hand with a second hand 1.4 converter - in fact, buy all of these second hand. If you know what you are doing - it will be absolutely no problem.
    Nikon and Pentax user



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    Thanks for the advise guys. I'm still torn . Looking forward to reading some more.

    I'll start to put the feelers out for 2nd hand gear and see what is out there.

    Cheers!

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    Theres some good lenses on 'cameramarket.com.au'

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    The 70-200 mkII carries the extenders well but wouldn't recomend itwith the 2x as a full time replacement for a proper 400mm. Image quality is pretty good for static shots, but the AF speed suffers, which brings in a greater number of missed shots of any moving subject. OK in an emergency though. With the 1.4x it's very good. Great image quality & little loss of AF speed, but that only gets you near 300mm. Eventually in your kit it would be nice to have a good 70-200 and a longer lens at 400 ish. Why not keep the 18-200 you have now and throw in a canon 100-400 ? it's a great all round longer lens, plenty use these with good results for birding etc. Then later on look at replacing the 18-200 with a good short zoom around 17-50 or 17-55 and a good 70-200. You'd end up with a great kit to cover pretty well all bases.

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    How about the Sigma 70-200 plus the EF 400L f/5.6 - which is a well know birding lens due to it's great resolving power and it's light weight. Personally I think you want an L lens out in the bush because it is more weatherproof. I've used the 400L to shoot surfing and I fell in love with the lens.

    Another way to save $$$ on your 70-200 is to just get the EF 70-200L f/4 (non-IS). These are way cheap.

    I wouldn't recomend using a teleconverter.
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    Thanks for your feedback guys. I am going to check out the second hand market for some "L" lenses. I am a bit worried that the 100-400 is a bit short for some birding, but with a bit of patience I think I will be right. Worst case, it can always be sold on again in a few months if I don't take to it.

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    very interesting thread, I have been going around in circles on zoom lenses for a while. I would seriously consider the canon 70-200F4 IS or the 2.8 for your outdoor horse show stuff and then look at something longer for birding. They canon 70-200 both offer a very fast focus system and weather sealing and will beat the Sigma in that regard. For me that is pretty critical.

    I was seriously considering the 70-200 F 4 IS USM and the 100-400L, but ended up with the 70-300L. If the 100-400L was weather sealed, had better IS, was a bit cheaper for an old lens and had faster focus system I would have bought it. Ultimately the 70-200 is too short for my needs and I use the 100macro for that portrait type stuff, its an awesome lens.

    The dof at 300 and 5.6 is plenty to isolate a bird and and obviously longer zoom is better. But exactly what birds are you aiming for?
    Little birds can easily be approached and for me anyway, fast focus speed is very important. With the detail the 7D can extract from a big file its easy enough to crop a bigger file. Chasing birds in flight is certainly easier if the focus system can keep up

    these were all taken with 70-300L
    http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...ID-help-please

    http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...ah-s-in-flight


    I love the 70-300L its easy to carry around, but at times I can see the need to more reach. Not sure where to go from here. Maybe the 400 5.6 USM.
    Canon Powershot S70, Sony A 100+twin lens kit and GN36 flash, Canon 7D 15-85, 50mm 1.8, Canon 100 2.8L IS Macro, Canon 70-300L, 1.4* Kenko PRO 300 DGX, Canon 430EX II

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    Ausphotography Veteran Speedway's Avatar
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    I have a 7D and the 18-250 Sigma which I use for Go Kart racing and find it Quite good, (would love the 70-200 2.8 but it is way out of my price range). I also have the 150-500 Sigma for birding and have no complaints.
    Keith.
    Keith

    Canon 400D Gripped, Canon 7D LCD Timer Gripped, Canon 70-200 f2.8L is ii. Canon 2X iii Extender, Canon 50mm 1.8, Sigma 150-500, Sigma 18-250, Sigma 17-50 F2.8, Sigma 10-20, Tamron 90mm Macro, Yonguno YN460 & 460ii Speedlights and a Hanimax TZ 1 Flash, Wireless Triggers ,LED Macro Ringlight, Extension Tubes, 3 tripods, 2 monopods, PS Elements 5 & 10, PSP9 and canon s/ware, various filters and other photographic paraphernalia all packed in a computrecker backpack + 3 smaller bags and an aluminium case.

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