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Archive 2013 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout
  
 
alundeb
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


This is a small shootout with some zoom lenses covering the 180 mm focal length. I wanted to do it because I have too many of them, for different mounts, and want to know how they stand before deciding what has to go. For reference, I used the Leica APO-Telyt R 180 3.4.

The distance chosen was ~infinity, because that is where I most often use them.

In order to be able to compare these lenses for different mounts, I used the NEX 7 camera with adapters. I wanted to compare at both image center and edge, but issues with adapter decentering and field curvature made it more difficult than I thought, so for this time only the result as image center can be presented.

Raw files developed in Capture One Pro 7, with all noise reduction and sharpening set to zero. Exposure was fine adjusted in software to an equal luminance value for a bright grey patch. White balance was with identical setting for all images, this means that contrast and color is directly comparable.

Focus point was the roof on the yellow house, and focus criterion was maximum focus peaking in maximum magnification with the lens at maximum aperture. All series were shot three times with refocusing, and the results were very consistent. The whole image files were checked for possible front or back focus issues or focus shift, but such probems were not identified to any degree that would invalidate the results.

These are the contenders:

Leica APO-Telyt R 180 3.4
Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II
Canon 70-200 4 IS
Sigma 100- 300 4 APO HSM
Sony 70-300 4.5 - 5.6 G SSM
Nikon AF-S 28-300 3.5 -5.6 G VR

These are 100% crops mounted side by side, for a range of apertures. They can be opened in separate tabs if you want to swith easily between apertures.

Center f/3.4
Center f/4
Center f/5.6
Center f/8
Center f/11

Full image, resized

And embedded the results at f/5.6 so if you are lazy you don't have to open the links:










Aug 17, 2013 at 06:19 PM
Toothwalker
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


alundeb wrote:
This is a small shootout with some zoom lenses covering the 180 mm focal length. I wanted to do it because I have too many of them, for different mounts, and want to know how they stand before deciding what has to go. For reference, I used the Leica APO-Telyt R 180 3.4.


I prefer the Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II. I also like it better than the reference lens.






Aug 17, 2013 at 07:29 PM
alundeb
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


Toothwalker wrote:
I prefer the Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II. I also like it better than the reference lens.



Agree, that Canon lens is an outstanding lens. Unfortunately i have heard that there are copy variations. I cannot complain about my copy.

The biggest disappointment is the Sony 70-300 G, which was supposed to be class leading.

The Sigma 100-300 handles small apertures very well. That is important when I want to maximize DoF on the D800E.



Aug 17, 2013 at 08:59 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


Hi Anders.

Thanks for posting the comparison shots. The 70-200/2.8L IS II certainly is an outstanding lens.

Adapter decentering or asymmetry in adapter geometry is always a potential problem. I've converted my four Contax Zeiss lenses with Leitax mounts for my EOS cameras (28/2.8, 100/3.5, 35-70/3.4, and 100-300/4.5-5.6), and two of my Olympus OM (21/3.5 and 24/2.8). It makes a difference, especially on the wider lenses.

Thanks,
Jim

P.S. The Mamiya 645 A 200/2.8 APO would be a good reference lens, if you ever happen to come across one.



Aug 17, 2013 at 09:29 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


+1 @ thanks ... you pretty much confirmed what my experience has been with the Sigma ... f/6.3 - f/10 seemed to be it's sweet spot when you go long with it.


Aug 17, 2013 at 09:52 PM
carstenw
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


alundeb wrote:
The biggest disappointment is the Sony 70-300 G, which was supposed to be class leading.


It may be class leading for 70-300 lenses. At f/5.6 it is about wide open, so I am not surprised at the performance compared to the Canon f/2.8 zoom, which is in its sweet spot.



Aug 17, 2013 at 09:54 PM
alundeb
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


carstenw wrote:
It may be class leading for 70-300 lenses. At f/5.6 it is about wide open, so I am not surprised at the performance compared to the Canon f/2.8 zoom, which is in its sweet spot.


IMO, that is quite telling about the 70-300 class. The Sony 70-300 WO at f/5.6 is much softer than the Canon 70-200 F4 WO at f/4. At f/8 the Sony is only marginally better than the Nikon superzoom in the center. The Sony holds on much better across the frame than the superzoom though.



Aug 17, 2013 at 10:03 PM
sebboh
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


alundeb wrote:
IMO, that is quite telling about the 70-300 class. The Sony 70-300 WO at f/5.6 is much softer than the Canon 70-200 F4 WO at f/4. At f/8 the Sony is only marginally better than the Nikon superzoom in the center. The Sony holds on much better across the frame than the superzoom though.


any idea how the sony compares to the canon 70-300L?

thanks for the test!




Aug 17, 2013 at 11:06 PM
theSuede
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


I tried both the Sony and the Sigma on the A850, and the Sigma quite thoroughly demolished the Sony lens at all apertures and zoom/distances. But there's quite a weight/balance difference to weigh in too... The 100-300 is awfully "front-heavy" IMO. This helps short-period stability, but destroys long-time durability (of my shoulder muscles that is).

Earlier this week, I actually found something better than a known good sample Canon 70-200/2.8IS2 at 200mm F5.6-8.0 - a borrowed Nikkor 80-400 was slightly better all over the field at all distances past ~5m (didn't try any closer). The IS in the Nikkor seemed to mess some stuff up though, SOME of the images had a "leaning" focus plane where left-side focus was at ~50m and the far right side at infinity... (?). Turning the VR on and then back off on the tripod seemed to fix the problem.



Aug 17, 2013 at 11:10 PM
theSuede
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


sebboh wrote:
any idea how the sony compares to the canon 70-300L?

thanks for the test!



I've never shot them at the same time/same camera - but I found the Canon 70-300L very competent on the 5Dmk2. It's definitely a viable alternative to the 70-200F4IS.

If you already have an F2.8IS2, I'd recommend the 70-300L over the F4IS - for most people and usages that is...



Aug 17, 2013 at 11:13 PM
 

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Lee Saxon
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


Toothwalker wrote:
I prefer the Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II. I also like it better than the reference lens.


There's no doubt. I don't think that's a very telling comparison, though. 70-200 II is the latest-and-greatest big heavy halo product from Canon and the APO-Telyt (180/3.4) is an ultra-compact and absolutely ancient design. In fact, I expected it to lose worse than it did (OP has a better sample of the APO-Telyt than I).

I'd really love to see how my APO-Summicron (180/2) stacks up, though...



Aug 18, 2013 at 01:11 AM
philip_pj
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


Slow zooms are really trading off wide aperture performance against weight/cost/bulk. Why would anyone expect a mid price slow 70-300 to compare to the latest Canon 1500 gram pro zoom? The f8 crops brings them a lot closer, as that is the sweet spot for the slow zooms and the fast lenses are well on the way down. Horses for different racetracks!

A better shoot-out, i.e. one with equal size guns, would see Sony's latest 70-400 II in the fray, or conversely the slow cheaper C/N zooms - I had the N one and it was poor even on APS-C. The 70-300L looks good - then again, as it's 40% more expensive than the same config Sony, it should be.

I am also wary about adapters for this kind of pixel peeping exercise, another variable you don't need. Another good reference is the old Contax 100-300mm - slow but deadly at any aperture. How about Leica's 70-180mm?



Aug 18, 2013 at 02:20 AM
alundeb
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


sebboh wrote:
any idea how the sony compares to the canon 70-300L?

thanks for the test!



From what I have seen, but not personal experience, the Canon 70-300L is in a different league than the Sony. Optically superior by a large margin. It is also in a different weigth and price class.



Aug 18, 2013 at 05:49 AM
alundeb
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


theSuede wrote:
Earlier this week, I actually found something better than a known good sample Canon 70-200/2.8IS2 at 200mm F5.6-8.0 - a borrowed Nikkor 80-400 was slightly better all over the field at all distances past ~5m (didn't try any closer). The IS in the Nikkor seemed to mess some stuff up though, SOME of the images had a "leaning" focus plane where left-side focus was at ~50m and the far right side at infinity... (?). Turning the VR on and then back off on the tripod seemed to fix the problem.


The Sigma 100-300 has been my workhorse lens on the D800E, and I am thinking about getting the new Nikkor 80-400 G to replace it. The reports are very uplifting.



Aug 18, 2013 at 05:54 AM
alundeb
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


Lee Saxon wrote:
There's no doubt. I don't think that's a very telling comparison, though. 70-200 II is the latest-and-greatest big heavy halo product from Canon and the APO-Telyt (180/3.4) is an ultra-compact and absolutely ancient design. In fact, I expected it to lose worse than it did (OP has a better sample of the APO-Telyt than I).

I'd really love to see how my APO-Summicron (180/2) stacks up, though...


Hi Lee,
Have you dropped the plans about a big 180 mm shootout? Last time I checked, it was one hold because you were waiting for multiple copies of just one of them. IMO a test without multiple copies is better than no test, because your test will not be the only one in the universe



Aug 18, 2013 at 05:57 AM
alundeb
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


philip_pj wrote:
I am also wary about adapters for this kind of pixel peeping exercise, another variable you don't need.


Adapter issues do not make any harm at the point of focus. They can tilt the focus plane, and set off infinity focus a little bit, but none of these detract from the optical quality where you can get focus.



Aug 18, 2013 at 06:00 AM
alundeb
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


Lee Saxon wrote:
There's no doubt. I don't think that's a very telling comparison, though. 70-200 II is the latest-and-greatest big heavy halo product from Canon and the APO-Telyt (180/3.4) is an ultra-compact and absolutely ancient design. In fact, I expected it to lose worse than it did (OP has a better sample of the APO-Telyt than I).



philip_pj wrote:
Another good reference is the old Contax 100-300mm - slow but deadly at any aperture.


Anecdotes say that the Leica APO-Telyt R is sharper than the Contax 100-300 at infinity. Looking at the MTF of the Contax 100-300, it is sharp but not outstanding.



Aug 18, 2013 at 06:12 AM
alundeb
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


Thank you all for the suggestions about other lenses and requests for shootout between more similar lenses.

The way it stands, it was about finding out how big the differences are between these beasts, and how much is lost optically for some other benefits.

For going small and light, there were the Canon 70-200 4 IS and the Sony 70-300 G. Now the Sony seems heavy and expensive for what it delivers optically.



Aug 18, 2013 at 06:25 AM
Lee Saxon
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


alundeb wrote:
Hi Lee,
Have you dropped the plans about a big 180 mm shootout? Last time I checked, it was one hold because you were waiting for multiple copies of just one of them. IMO a test without multiple copies is better than no test, because your test will not be the only one in the universe


I definitely haven't dropped the plans, they've just been on the backburner. I'm also starting a business (making mounting plates and other support gear, and eventually manual focus lenses) and that's been taking up all of my time. I'm pretty confident it will appear before the end of the year, though.



Aug 18, 2013 at 07:07 AM
justruss
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Zooms at 180, a small shootout


Thanks for this test!

It does go to show just how good the Canon 70-200 zooms are.



Aug 18, 2013 at 07:40 AM
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