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Sigma 120-400/4,5-5,6 vs Canon 100-400

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Old Sunday 10th January 2010, 19:13   #1
kristoffer
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Sigma 120-400/4,5-5,6 vs Canon 100-400

I plan on buying a Canon 40d or 50d soon, to have along my digiscoping setup. Reading reviews, and recently in a big test in a Swedish photograph magazine, it seems that the Sigma 120-400/4,5-5,6 DG APO HSM OS is a good buy.

It won vs the Canon EF 100-400/4,5-5,6 L USM IS in the last test I read. They thought that the Sigma had 2 steps better image stabilization and as good image, for half the money. Has anyone here tried this Sigma? I tried the Canon 100-400mm yesterday, a birder I met used it. I liked the trombone style zoom but not sure if it is worth twice the money. Thanks.
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Old Monday 11th January 2010, 10:03   #2
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I have only tried the Sigma OS zooms breifly in a camera shop but I was not impressed by either of them. The AF was noticably slower than that of the 100-400 IS and in my limited tests the IQ was not as good. I know three people who boght the similar 150-500 OS and all were very disapointed in the quality of the lens. One chap had to return it to Sigma for focusing issues on two occassion before finally giving up on it and trading it in against a big prime. The other two have sold theres and both have now gone to 100-400s. While the Sigmas clearly offer very good value I don't think that they can match the Canon for AF speed or fine image quality.
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Old Monday 11th January 2010, 10:22   #3
Roy C
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I have not owned either but from everything I have read the 100-400 is a far superior lens than either of the Sigma OS zooms.
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Old Monday 11th January 2010, 10:29   #4
paul goode
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I wonder if the magazine had some full page adverts for a certain lens manufacturer.....
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Old Monday 11th January 2010, 10:34   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paul goode View Post
I wonder if the magazine had some full page adverts for a certain lens manufacturer.....


though strangely I read a review in a very pro-Canon mag that raved about the 120-400 OS have gave it a higher score than the 100-400 or the 400 f5.6! I think that these reviews are often swayed by value as much as anything.
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Old Monday 11th January 2010, 11:18   #6
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yes, value might have been a huge factor. I dont like that, i want to know what one that has best iq, af etc.
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Old Monday 11th January 2010, 11:23   #7
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There's one of these in the classifieds at the moment at a good price. Also a Sigma 150-500. Still glad I bought a Canon 100-400L IS zoom, but if value is a major factor...

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Old Monday 11th January 2010, 11:25   #8
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EDIT :Scratch everything I had written. The review I found was of the 80-400, not the 120-400, so all my comments are null and void. Sorry.
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Old Monday 11th January 2010, 11:31   #9
SteveClifton
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdodd View Post
.
There is precious little value in a lens that is inadequate. It's just money wasted.
I completely agree, it's just that some people will never be able to afford 1300 for a lens, but 250 might be a possibility.

I admire your 'all or nothing' stance though. Personally I would rather wait to get what I really wanted. Didn't even do that though! Thank god for plastic!!

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Old Monday 11th January 2010, 11:42   #10
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EDIT :Scratch everything I had written. The review I found was of the 80-400, not the 120-400, so all my comments are null and void. Sorry.
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Old Monday 11th January 2010, 12:00   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdodd View Post
There is precious little value in a lens that is inadequate. It's just money wasted.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveClifton View Post
I completely agree, it's just that some people will never be able to afford 1300 for a lens, but 250 might be a possibility.

I admire your 'all or nothing' stance though. Personally I would rather wait to get what I really wanted. Didn't even do that though! Thank god for plastic!!
I agree with Steve on this, sure we all want the best gear but on a limited budget these cheaper options do offer very good value. Sure the Sigma might not be as good as the Canon especially wide open, but stopped down it can perform well. Sure the results might not be as good but it will aloow you to be taking photos, better that then not having a lens because you are still waiting months to save up for something better. If you buy well (especially secondhand) then going through a series of upgrade doesn't have to cost much and if it gets you out shooting sooner surely it's worth it. If we're being brutaly honest then for many the 100-400 is a compromise on what they really want.
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Old Monday 11th January 2010, 12:51   #12
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There is one for sale in the "For Sale" thing under the name of Dicky Greer ? A Canon 100-400 that is.

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Old Monday 11th January 2010, 17:19   #13
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Magazines often review under a criteria that's different for bird photography. For sports, concerts, etc fine detail wide open is maybe less important than having a better stabilisation system. And you're usually well stopped down for landscape photogaphy.
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Old Monday 11th January 2010, 17:38   #14
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Yes, they tested it on a motorcycle

Quote:
Originally Posted by Helios View Post
Magazines often review under a criteria that's different for bird photography. For sports, concerts, etc fine detail wide open is maybe less important than having a better stabilisation system. And you're usually well stopped down for landscape photogaphy.
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Old Monday 11th January 2010, 17:40   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by postcardcv View Post
. If we're being brutaly honest then for many the 100-400 is a compromise on what they really want.
Certainly true for me, it still wasnt cheap but alot more affordable than the 500mm f4 i really wanted.
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Old Monday 11th January 2010, 18:52   #16
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Owning the 150-500 ƒ6.3 OS, I can say that it makes for a good 400mm ƒ8 lens. Meaning you have to stop it down to get the CA under control, and you need to back off the max zoom in order to retain as much resolution as the lens can offer. I bought it shortly after it came out, during a brief rebate, so for $881 USD (shipping included) it was a steal for a good 400mm lens.

I haven't shot with the 120-400, but I assume you will need to do the same with both the aperture and zoom length to achieve best results, possibly giving you a usable 300-350mm at most.

As for the "value" vs "no-compromise" argument, it has sincere merit. My view, however, was like this: I wanted a lens long enough to get decent shots of small wildlife and to force me to learn good shooting technique. I didn't have anywhere near the funds for the 500mm prime I really wanted. So I bought the best value lens I could so I could start learning ASAP. Since then I have amassed a fair amount toward my future prime budget, but I still have a ways to go. In my opinion, there is no replacement for time, since once it's gone you never get it back. Therefore I'm at least shooting in the mean time while waiting for the big gun. On a positive note, once I do get that giant piece of glass, I'll hopefully know what to do with it, and not take it's quality for granted.
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Old Tuesday 12th January 2010, 22:16   #17
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I know you asked about about 120-400, but what about the 150-500? Only a bit more money for extra reach...
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Old Sunday 17th January 2010, 20:59   #18
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Thanks for all the input. It is interesting that the photo magazine in Sweden who tested the 120-400mm stated that it almost lacked visible CA, good for that price?

@Derekbez, I assumed that the 120-400 was smaller, but the difference might not be that big after all.
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Old Tuesday 19th January 2010, 19:27   #19
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Good comparison here: http://www.juzaphoto.com/eng/article...500_50-500.htm

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Old Tuesday 19th January 2010, 20:27   #20
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There is a favourable review of the lens by Andy Bright, in the Equipment Reviews section here on BF, followed by a brief but very damning user review. Seems opinions are divided on this lens.
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Old Wednesday 20th January 2010, 00:29   #21
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I did use a Sigma 50-500 (DG version) for about a year. I would have to say it is a very good lens. At 500mm (which is really more like ~460mm) it probably needs to be stopped down to f/8, especially if the subject is far away (e.g. more than 25-30 yards away).

In the end, I switched to EF 400mm f/5.6L (prime) since the Bigma was somewhat difficult to use hand-held and the 400mm L prime had much faster AF for tracking BIF.

For tripod/monopod use, the Bigma can be an excellent lens when there is enough light to stop down to f/8.

Here are some Bigma samples:

http://www.pbase.com/macshark/image/57854249

http://www.pbase.com/macshark/image/55832845

http://www.pbase.com/macshark/image/56028177

http://www.pbase.com/macshark/image/115112383

http://www.pbase.com/macshark/image/58171462

Note that these are from my early "birding" days so both the technique and pp are sub-par compared to some of the excellent content you see from other members of this site.

Last edited by macshark : Wednesday 20th January 2010 at 00:33.
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Old Wednesday 20th January 2010, 01:07   #22
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I have the Canon 100-400 and have no problems whatsoever. As with everything though, after a while you wish you had got something better so the best advice is get the best you can afford and if possible, ask for a demo with your camera and both lenses.
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Old Wednesday 20th January 2010, 19:04   #23
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dont make excuses for your earlier photos macshark I am new to the bird photography and personally think there super shots, inclusive of the background. mike
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Old Thursday 21st January 2010, 12:06   #24
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I use both the BigmOS 150-500 and the Canon 100-400 and prefer the BigmOS (better stabiliser, if somewhat loud, and as good IQ), even with the 1.4x TC added!
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Old Thursday 21st January 2010, 12:55   #25
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Very nice shots Mac.
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