Saturday, 8 May 2010

New Lens - Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 APO DG Macro

In case you didn't know from the number of times I've mentioned it, I got another new lens this week!

The first thing I noticed about the lens is its sheer size and build quality.

New Lens NormalNew Lens - 300mm ZoomNew Lens - Fully ExtendedNew Lens - Fully Extended & Hood

This lens is a bit of a beast compared to my neat-and-petite 50mm. The zoom lens would definitely win in a fight. The build quality is much better as well - it's heavier, with a metal mount instead of a plastic one, and all the parts feel much more robust. The above shots don't really show it, but fully extended with the hood on, it's at least as long as my arm. Considering my camera is one of, if not THE smallest DSLR on the market, it's somewhat disproportionate and makes it really front-heavy.

I mentioned in a previous post what I was intending to use the lens for. I didn't want to wait until France to take it for a test drive, though, so I went for a wander towards the park.

As mentioned previously, this lens has two main functions: zooming in to things further away (duhh), and as a make-shift macro lens.


This was purely a test shot and I was pleased at how close I was able to get. I don't think this is a bad shot and it bodes well for my trip to France; being able to get close enough to the players to make out some decent detail.

In terms of the macro function - it's not a true macro lens as it doesn't manage a 1:1 magnification, but if you zoom in further than 200mm and flick the macro switch on the side of the lens, it allows for a minimum focus distance of 95cm, as opposed to the normal 150cm, meaning you can replicate the close-up shooting of a real macro lens by getting closer to your subject and zooming in really far as well. A real macro lens (for example Sigma's 105mm f/2.8 dedicated macro lens) produces this result by allowing for a super-close minimum focus distance of around 30cm (in combination with the long length).


Me being typically me, I was testing the lens at its extremes, and I was pleased with the results. With the 50mm the closest I could get to these flowers was this:


I like the different perspective the lens offers.

The biggest issue I have with it (and this isn't a problem with the lens so much as me needing to modify the way I shoot) is that you really need a tripod to get a steady shot at the longer end. Every minor movement of your hand is magnified massively when you're zoomed in so far.

What did surprise me more than anything else was how sharp this lens is. Even at 300mm I felt like it was much sharper than my other lenses.



So overall I feel like it was money well spent, and I just need to practise with it so I know its strengths and weaknesses and how best to shoot with it. I also need to take the lens hood out with me and learn when I need to use it; the front glass of the lens is much bigger than my 50mm, and where the 50mm is recessed, this zoom lens is right out there, so there's a lot more potential lens flare. Putting on the hood will mean I need to change settings a little too, so it's all a learning process.

I'm also looking forward to experimenting more with the macro side of things. It offers an interesting perspective on otherwise mundane items:


You can see that the depth of field on this isn't too bad even though the aperture only opens as far as f/5.6 at 300mm.

So I guess it remains to be see how much this new lens gets used overall, but for now I am very happy with it.


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