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| p.1 #1 · Sigma EX 120-300/2.8 OS, first impressions |
My initial impression is, "Wow! Very nice." Overall lens construction is excellent. Manual focus and zoom rings are smooth and a bit stiff (as they should be, esp. for new); no hysteresis or 'deadzone' slip. No weather sealing rubber gasket at lens mount. Lens body has very close-fitting components. I'll use a TT raincoat in the rain. Same as for my 'weather sealed' L lenses. Plastic hood is a bit 'plasticy', but then it is plastic; it's light and should be OK. I added a 6" Hejnar general-purpose A-S rail with "backstop" to the tripod mount foot, and it's pretty solid. The back edge of the tripod mount foot is flat and perpendicular to the sides of the foot. As discussed elsewhere, a two-screw tripod mount foot would be even better. For anybody who cares, it has a 9-bladed "outie" diaphragm. The earlier non-OS was an "innie" niner. As posted back in Feb 2012*, it works with Canon EF 1.4x III and 2x III Extenders.
It weighs virtually the same as my EF 200/1.8L, but it feels a lot less awkward. The EX has much better balance on a 1D-series body - not nose-heavy like the 200/1.8L. I could shoot handheld all day with this lens on a 1D body, but I'll probably use it on a monopod most of the time, because I'll often shoot with at least one other body (70-200/2.8) on a shoulder strap. Speaking of shoulder strap, the EX lens does not have strap lugs. It's a bit too heavy to hang off the camera strap lugs. I'll probably put a simple nylon webbing sling/strap (aka hero loop) around the 'neck' of the tripod mount foot, and use a carabiner to clip it onto a cross-body sling, for both handheld and monopod use (keeps the monopod from falling over while you shoot with the other lens).
Here's a few first impression example photos. I'll post four, two-panel images. All at 300mm focal length. In each case, the top panel shows a 100% crop view of the area highlighted in red in the bottom panel, which is the PS CS6 Navigator window. These screen captures of RAW file images, with auto-contrast as the only PP (no sharpening). A little more PP for contrast and sharpening would make these images "pop" a lot more.
The first image is on a 1DX with no Extender, at very close to the 2.5m MFD for 300mm; handheld at f/2.8, 1/250 sec, ISO 800, indoors in moderate ambient light.
The following three images are on a 1DIV with 1.4x III Extender, on a monopod, at f/8 (lens set at f/5.6), ISO 800, and 1/2000 sec for the second and third image (from the same RAW file), and 1/4000 sec for the fourth image.
The lens appears to have very well-controlled CA (as mentioned in many reviews). Sharpness with a 1.4x III Extender varies from stinking sharp in the center to pretty darn sharp in the corners. Of course, this is just day one. Now I have to go and do something that I'll actually get paid for.
The air is pretty humid here today (not uncommon, around here), and so there are definite atmospheric effects apparent in the example photos. Despite this, I believe that you can see the high performance of this lens. Maybe I'll post some 1951 USAF lens test chart results later. You think you've heard complaining...
Anyway, you get what you pay for. IOW, TANSTAAFL.