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Cameras, Lenses and Accessories: Discuss Sigma 170-500 or 120-400 OS or other?...Right, just had my first weekend of surf photography with my Canon 400d and the Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 APO DG ...
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Old 27-09-2010, 12:19   #1 (permalink)
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Sigma 170-500 or 120-400 OS or other?

Right, just had my first weekend of surf photography with my Canon 400d and the Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 APO DG Macro lens that came with it. The lens performed perfectly well and seems great for photographing at a shorter range but I can already see I'm going to need a lens with more clout as the action is often a long way off!

So I'm looking for a bigger telephoto lens, but don't want to spend the earth (£500 absolute max for a used lens), at the moment I'm considering the following:

- Sigma 170-500mm f5-6.3 DG APO
- Sigma 120-400mm f4.5-5.6 DG OS HSM

Now the 170-500 seems to be a bit cheaper, has more range and I've seen quite a few happy reviews from users - but the 120-400 comes with image stabilisation and is also compatible with the sigma 1.4x/2x teleconverters (which it appears the 170-500 is not?) meaning I can get some cheap extra range in the future if needed which may be a real bonus.

What are your views on the above lenses and would you suggest any other options given the amount I'm looking to spend?
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Old 27-09-2010, 15:04   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma 170-500 or 120-400 OS or other?

Not used either.

Would note that the 500mm is getting slightly slow at the top end, depends what you use it for and in what conditions. Although it will of course be faster than the 400 with an converter on it.

I guess from your comments you can't add a teleconverter to the 300mm you've already got. At that price I can't suggest anything else really.

You may want to try them out physically at a shop, so you get a feel for their size and holding. It will also maybe help you work out if the IS is going to be needed. If you're using a tripod it won't be an issue, but when handholding longer lenses it becomes more important.
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Old 27-09-2010, 19:50   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma 170-500 or 120-400 OS or other?

I have not used the 170-500 lens but i have got the 120-400 and i think this is a good value lens so far the images i have taken with it i have been pleased with. The IS is a bit noisy, but the value for money, this lens is worth it.
Good luck with whatever you choose.

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Old 27-09-2010, 20:41   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma 170-500 or 120-400 OS or other?

We have a couple of members who shoot surfers - one (I think) in South Africa, the other in the West country.

From memory, I think they used 600mm lenses - sometimes with a converter

If I can remember/find them I'll post up their names so you can check out their shots. They also might have exif available too so you can see the focal length.

I'd go for the longest prime I could afford and use a monopod. I don't think that having a zoom facility is so useful for surfers as you will likely be using it at the top end most of the time. You can always get a converter later too.
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Old 27-09-2010, 20:53   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma 170-500 or 120-400 OS or other?

GS Gary shot some surfers here

http://www.pixalo.com/community/spor...tml#post242805

But he is not one of the two guys I'm trying to find. No EXIF in these shots either.
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Old 27-09-2010, 20:57   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma 170-500 or 120-400 OS or other?

Right - the South African guy is Twiggs. Here is is personal gallery and there is EXIF available in the shots I checked

Twiggs Gallery - Pixalo Photo Gallery
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Old 27-09-2010, 21:10   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma 170-500 or 120-400 OS or other?

Can anyone remember the guy from the West country who used to post surfing shots? He had his own website and linked from that (I think) so nothing in the gallery.
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Old 27-09-2010, 21:32   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma 170-500 or 120-400 OS or other?

Take a look at the Tamron 200-500mm
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Old 27-09-2010, 21:40   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma 170-500 or 120-400 OS or other?

Right - I think he is 360 Photography. Can't find any posts with pictures in them, but here is his Welcome Post.

His web site is here

360 Photography cornwall surfing photos for surfers of all abilities

If you check out his 'about' page he says he uses a 600mm and sometimes uses a 1.4x converter, or a Sigma 50-500mm. However, looking at his Welcome Post, it looks as if he has gone from the 50-500 to the 600mm lens.
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Old 27-09-2010, 21:55   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma 170-500 or 120-400 OS or other?

I have the 170-500 in Nikon fit,used it in the bird hides,but as said it is very slow at the top end,and you truly need a bright day for it to be of any use.

I think the best advice has come from Graham and a prime is needed for the best shots.
I know the zooms are great for framing,but you do pay a price in aperture and IQ
If you still want a Zoom ,the 120-400 with OS and a 1.4 adaptor are IMHO are an option over the 170-500.
By the way I have the Sigma 1.4 and 2x adaptors and the 2x SLOWS everything down so much you would need an aperture of around F/3 for it to be any use.

The image quality drops off very quickly as well,so You should stick to you're thought of the 1.4
There is a way to put a converter on the 170-500 by the way, but it's not recommended as if you drop back to 170 you RAM the lens into the converter
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Old 27-09-2010, 22:35   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma 170-500 or 120-400 OS or other?

Personally use the Sigma 150-500mm OS and have managed the odd reasonable image (prefer it to the Canon 100-400mm IS) and have no probs with a Kenko pro300 1.4x TC, so I'd probably suggest that. Really need to use it at max of f/8 and the OS is somewhat jet-like in noise levels (but effective) and the AF is snappy

Having said that I've recently acquired a Sigma 500mm f/4.5 EX which is exceeding nice!
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Old 28-09-2010, 09:01   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma 170-500 or 120-400 OS or other?

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Having said that I've recently acquired a Sigma 500mm f/4.5 EX which is exceeding nice!
You can go right off people you know, VERY jealous am. I'll have to drink less
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Old 28-09-2010, 13:10   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma 170-500 or 120-400 OS or other?

Thanks for all the advice guys, but it is now a little late - I already had a low bid placed on a 170-500mm f5-6.3 DG APO on ebay and ended up winning it at around half my budget price for a lens!

So it looks like I will be using that to get me started and see how I go (at least its a cheap start to this sort of distance photography!). I can imaging that as suggested I will end up finding it too slow and not great in lower light, so in the long run I think I may end up heeding your advice of buying a 300mm prime and a converter.

Thanks for your help guys, will let you all know how I get on when I get a chance to use it
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Old 28-09-2010, 16:13   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma 170-500 or 120-400 OS or other?

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will let you all know how I get on when I get a chance to use it
Be good if you would, I'd be interested to see some output from that lens as seems fair value for money to me.
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Old 28-09-2010, 18:47   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma 170-500 or 120-400 OS or other?

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Originally Posted by 2legtripod View Post
You can go right off people you know, VERY jealous am. I'll have to drink less
LOL! And food - sell the house, the kids, the wife.......

Quote:
Originally Posted by Treacle View Post
Thanks for all the advice guys, but it is now a little late - I already had a low bid placed on a 170-500mm f5-6.3 DG APO on ebay and ended up winning it at around half my budget price for a lens!

So it looks like I will be using that to get me started and see how I go (at least its a cheap start to this sort of distance photography!). I can imaging that as suggested I will end up finding it too slow and not great in lower light, so in the long run I think I may end up heeding your advice of buying a 300mm prime and a converter.

Thanks for your help guys, will let you all know how I get on when I get a chance to use it
TBH, I think you've done the right thing - at least you'll get a taster of getting closer to your subject and it'll give you valuable experience in working to get the best from your gear

Hopefully, I've got to the stage where better lenses pay off - which is why I'm beginning to acquire those better lenses. But I'll admit that it's tempting to now be lazy and rely on not really thinking about my shots and allowing the better equipment to 'carry' me - without me getting what I really could get out of the shot!
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Old 01-10-2010, 04:00   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma 170-500 or 120-400 OS or other?

I think you'll regret it. The 170-500 isn't called the coffee grinder for nothing. It's slow, noisy, has no stabilization and needs lots (and lots) of light. I never got a decent image with mine.

I use the 150-500 OS and, for a reasonable price, it turns in images which are comparable to the Canon 100-400, often better. It gave good performance on the Sigma SD14, too, so when I had it converted to Canon I was well pleased with it on the 5D.

I'm not trying to be unduly negative, just trying to prepare you for the disappointment I experienced.

Good luck, anyway and happy shooting!
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Old 01-10-2010, 09:26   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma 170-500 or 120-400 OS or other?

OK, thanks for letting me know. From my research of user reviews on the net it seems that there are real mixed reviews of this lens, some really rate it as a good lens considering the cost, others like yourself don't. I wonder whether there is alot of variance in different examples of this lens?

The overall view from what I have seen is that it is capable of producing good sharp images if the technique is right, but is a bit slow and poor in bad light. I guess I will find out soon when I receive it!

I do quite fancy the 150-500 OS and it does seem to get decent reviews from users - if things don't work out with the 170-500 it might be my next step.
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Old 05-10-2010, 19:43   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Sigma 170-500 or 120-400 OS or other?

I use the 120-400 OS and have been pleased with the results. If this helps
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