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Sigma 300mm f2.8 EX APO HSM

300f2_8EX_lg_1_
Review Date: Sep 18, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Price; weight; comes with circular drop in filter, that works
Cons:
Crappy tripod mount is useless for handholding. You have to spend another $135 to get the good TS-41 foot, that Sigma should have included for free. Only gets a 9 for overall rating because it doesn't have image stabilization, and the tripod foot isn't good for hand holding.

I bought the non-DG version, used. I also got a matching, DG version 1.4X Sigma tele-converter with the deal.

I can tell you this lens focuses fast, really fast. It's fairly light weight, and balances well in my D300. It is sharpest at F4, but the difference between that, and F2.8, is almost imperceptible. You really have to blow both pictures up, and the differences are so subtle, that at normal image size, you won't notice any difference.

No sharper above F4. It stays sharp up to F11. After that, you run into diffraction.

Next, I put on the Sigma 1.4X DG teleconverter. No difference in focusing speed, no hunting. Image quality was sharpest at F5.6. A little loss of IQ/sharpness at F4. Doesn't get any sharper above F5.6, but you don't lose any sharpness either.

So, without TC, sharpest at F4, with TC, sharpest at F5.6

When compared to the Sigma 100-300, at the same apertures, the Sigma 300mm F2.8 blows the other Sigma away. And, the 100-300 is no slouch, it's a good lens. But the difference is remarkable, as well it should be.

When compared to the Sigma 150-500mm; are you kidding me?? The 150-500mm can't even touch the 300mm, anywhere in its focal range, at any F-stop.

Conclusion; I would put the Sigma 300mm F2.8 up against the Nikon 300mm F2.8 any day!! I don't think anyone could tell a difference; either in sharpness, or auto-focusing speed. Now I'm not talking about the VR version of the Nikon lens, but the non-VR.

My only gripe with this lens is the tripod collar. It works well on a tripod, and seems to balance well. But, you aren't using it to handhold it. That is why I'm upgrading the foot to the Sigma TS-41. This lens is capable of being hand held. But, you better have a fairly fast shutter speed, because at 5lbs, it's no light weight.

Build quality is excellent. This lens is approximately 7 years old, and was used out in the field extensively by a Pro before I bought it. There's not a mark on it. None of the paint has chipped off, or even worn through, like you would expect from a Sigma. I think back then, they actually had quite good quality control.

This one's a keeper. It's all metal, has a cool leather lens cover, and is easily a match for the plastic Nikon 300mm F2.8


 
Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 AF APO DG OS

150-500
Review Date: Sep 13, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Well built, better balanced than the 50-500mm, OS works great. Best bang for the buck. Lens strap attached to the tripod mount rocks. It allows the camera/lens to hang at your hip, but ready to spring into action at a moment notice. Still has EX glass in it, even though Sigma won't tell you that.
Cons:
Weight, OS could work quicker, Sigma finish has a reputation of wearing or flaking off.

Well, I finally joined the "club" and purchased a used 150-500mm. My serial number started with 103, which from all the research I did, indicated that it was a newer copy, and less likely to have any issues.
That, and talking with the previous owner, convinced me to buy. I use it on my D300, and have previously owned a 50-500 Sigma.

Today I went out and tested the BigOS, taking the exact same shots at 500mm as I did with the Bigma. Same settings exactly.

I put the pictures(jpegs), side by side on my 30" LCD monitor, at a resolution of 2560X1600, and zoomed both to identical size. I could not tell ANY difference between the two, and both were acceptably sharp.

I've only had the lens for a day, and just did backyard testing, but it appears to be a winner. Everything the OP said, I agree with. I've owned the same lenses he has, and he was dead on.

OS takes about 3/4 of a second to lock on, and is a bit noisy. On the Nikon 70-300VR, it took about 1/4 of a second. On the Nikon, I never could hear the VR, so I was never sure if it was on or not, and had to keep checking the switch. Don't have that problem with the BigOS. But, the noise I'm talking about is almost like a wisper. If you were at an event, you would never hear it.

I also compared, side by side, my Tokina 300mm F2.8 lens, which is incredibly sharp, with the BigOS. And again, at F9(sweet spot?), and 300mm, the two pictures were identical in every way, including sharpness!!

This lens is better balanced than the Bigma, and that is on a D300 with grip. As far as price Vs. performance, I give this lens a 10. It has it's place in my bag, and serves a very useful purpose.

It's not a prime lens, and doesn't pretend to be, but for 90% of what I do, it works just fine.