As promised (and when I promise something I always do, but sometimes it takes some time) some more information on the Sigma 120-300 f2.8 OS.
A while ago I bought this lens to replace my Canon 100-400L because I wanted the constant f2.8 and with the addition of a 1.4x convertor I still have a pretty long lens with a constant f4. Now being that it is a Sigma will some people drive to the point that they will not buy it, so I decided to add a small notes to my review (which was pretty positive) from a while ago, you can read that one here. Now let’s be honest, what’s a better place to test drive such a lens than the zoo, so when we had a day off with my family we decided it was time to visit “Beekse Bergen”, this is a great zoo including a real auto safari in which you drive through several areas with animals walking around free.
Most of the day I shot with the Sigma 1.4x convertor attached.
Wide open I was not 100% satisfied with the images, but when closed down starting at f5 the quality was very nice and on f5.6 even razor-sharp (better than with the Canon 100-400L wide open on 400mm). Also with the Sigma 2x convertor the quality was more than acceptable with real good images starting at f7.1
It’s one heavy lens, I connected my (much beloved) blackrapid strap to the tripod mount and that way wearing the camera/lens all day was a breeze. You can also carry it around by holding the tripod mount in your hand, but the blackrapid makes it much easier.
Also important, how many images do you get that you can keep.
Well to be 100% honest, most images that were not keepers were my own fault, you can’t really expect a 600mm shot to be sharp on 1/90 of a second when an animal moves around 😀 But overall all the images that needed to be sharp around 95% of the them were within my specs of sharp and that means between WOW sharp to sharp.
The image stabilization of the Sigma rocks.
It’s without any doubt at least 1-2 stops better than the Canon version, and it works flawless, especially with the 2x convertor it’s a must, and yes I’ve shot some 600mm shots handheld that were pinsharp (on f8), however I did stop with that because on the first place the animals were rather close in most cases, and secondly I could not 100% judge everything on the backLCD and I did not want to take the risk.
4. AF speed and follow
Ok, I can show you some more animal shots (and I will), I can even show you a 100% crop (and I will) but one of the most important things (for me) is how well does the AF perform and how does it track. Now with the 5DMKII this was always a problem, even the best lenses could not keep up with our following topic, sports it was ok but it was most of the time OOF, OK,OK, OOF, OK, OK, OOF etc. with the 5DMKIII everything has changed, with sports I’m getting more like OK,OK,OK,OK,OK, slightly OOF, OK,OK,OK so the AF system of the 5DMKIII rocks, however…. how does it keep up with some of the most difficult things to shoot. Birds of prey from very close during a bird show.
Now let me make one thing clear, shooting these kind of birds in the wild is a challenge, finding them and framing them, for me that’s easy because I was visiting a bird show, HOWEVER, do realize that these birds are really close and they ARE FAST, and I’m NO experienced bird shooter and the Sigma is HEAVY, plus there are people sitting next to you, in front of you etc. and the Sigma is long (and did I mention HEAVY) so I also had to make sure I did not hit my neighbor unconscious while panning. Considering everything, and taking into account the show was not long I was more than impressed with the Sigma. Most of the shots were between 95%-100% sharp on a scale were 90% is acceptable sharp. I know this probably says more about the 5DMKIII than the Sigma but it’s nice to know it can keep up.
Overal I’m more than happy with the Sigma.
It’s a bit of trouble to carry it with you, but the blackrapid is awesome for that, it’s a bit large and heavy but hey it’s f2.8 lens !!!
Without any doubt I can advise anyone to buy one.
To be complete I’m even thinking about selling my Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS which I love, the only reason why I will probably not do it, is because I use that lens a lot for my “work” photography (model/fashion/portraits) and flying with that lens is ok, I don’t see me carrying the Sigma abroad in MY case.