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Canon 100-400 Mk I (sic) vs Sigma 150-600 C for general usage

Discussion in 'Canon Conflab' started by cerebros, Aug 1, 2016.

  1. cerebros

    cerebros Well-Known Member

    Hi folks,

    First post here and I'm asking what guess is going to be the near impossible question for people to answer of which lens should I go for.

    My current camera is a 5D Mk II and I'm looking to replace the 75-300mm f4-5.6 Mk III lens that I inherited from my dad. I'm a generalist with my photography, I like to shoot wideangle, a bit of maco, and so on and so forth.

    At the moment I'm mainly using the 75-300 on trips to the zoo or safari park but have also used it recently on holiday to photograph birds at a feeder (during a visit to some gardens that had a hide set up for that purpose) and attempted to photograph the moon. I've used it at falconry displays and I'm hoping to get to the odd air show now and then now my eldest daughter is old enough that she shouldn't be upset by the noise.

    The main reason I'm looking to replace the 75-300 is, as you may have guessed from the list of things I'm using it for, is that I'm looking for something that goes longer. Often times at safari parks I find 300mm is a quite lacking and I need to crop in quite a bit to get a usable image. Needless to say, the lack of IS means I have to try and remember to boost the ISO rating a bit more than I'd otherwise like to when the sun inevitably decides to hide...

    As I hope you may have guessed from the lenses mentioned in the subject line, I'm on a bit of a budget right now and for the foreseeable future and so I'm considering the Sigma 150-600 Contemporary or a 2nd hand 100-400 Mk I as the prices aren't too dissimilar. While the 100-400 obviously doesn't go as long, I do have the Mk I Canon 1.4 TC (bought 2nd hand years ago when I was planning to get the 300 f4 but then forgotten about as my main interest shifted to other things) which would get me to 560mm. While this would put the effective aperture down to f8 (if my calculations are correct) meaning I'd have to focus manually, I'm not sure how much of a disadvantage I'd find that versus the 150-600 as I'd have to manual focus manually anyway at 600mm.

    While it's going to be a few months yet until I make a purchase, I'm hoping to inform myself as much as possible beforehand. I'm also keen to get a better idea of which I'm likely to go for as I'm hoping to get a new photo backpack for my birthday in a couple of months time and I'd like to get one that the lens I get will fit in.

    So, any thoughts and advice gratefully received.
  2. Bazarchie

    Bazarchie Well-Known Member

    I haven't checked but are you sure the Sigma will only manually focus at 600mm? I thought it fooled some cameras into thinking the max aperture was lower.

    I have recently bought the Sigma and I am impressed. The quality to me is much better than they were 10 years ago. The mark 1 canon is different in the way it
    focuses which is not to everybody's taste. It is also quiet old. Adding an extender is likely to loose some quality.

    Personally I would go for the Sigma. If you can try both.
  3. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    The sigma should focus as should the Canon with an extender using the centre point. What you lose at F8 is focus tracking which the 5D mk ii doesn't have. I wouldn't use a x1.4 on a 400mm for that reason. I would try before you buy, both of these are fairly big lenses for general carry about. My "long" carry about lens is a 400 F5.6 L which is relatively light. I don't know what the 75-300 is like. If it is OK at the long end an alternative is to get a 7D body but this doesn't help if the lens is soft.
  4. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    You're quite t that the 100-400 plus extender won't AF on the 5DII, it doesn't have f8 AF. The Sigma should, as it doesn't report the aperture correctly, but how good it is is open to question - Canon limits AF operation to larger apertures because it's not reliable.
  5. cerebros

    cerebros Well-Known Member

    Have to admit I don't know there - I was working on the assumption that it wouldn't as I thought the body's autofocus system would see the lens reporting its aperture as f6.3 at that length and say "no more AF for you". Obviously I'm not a lens designer but I'm not sure how the lens could trick the body into thinking the aperture is wider than it is without affecting the lens setting metadata. I'd be interested to know the results if you're able to test with your lens.

    How do you find the weight? I won't be using whichever lens I get on a tripod or monopod all that much (either due to restrictions where I'm taking the photos or WAF at carting it about).

    Did you get the dock for it, and if so, have you found any of the alternate settings useful?

    I'd hope the quality is better than in the past, especially for the price - my only (somewhat indirect) experience with Sigma previously has been the 28-105 (I think) lens my dad got with his EOS 50 when he bought a kit donkeys years ago. The lens stopping auto-focusing a couple of months after it went out of warranty...

    How's the focusing different? I'm aware of the push-pull zoom which I don't think I'd have problems getting used to but I'm not heard of the way it focuses being any different

    Unfortunately that's the problem these days isn't it, being able to try before you buy. I live in Leicester, which was home to both Jessops and Jacobs so there used to be four shops between them I could go to (as well as ordering stuff for pickup at Jessops' HQ reception), as well as an independent store. Now we've got nothing, although Jessops are supposed to be opening a store in our main city centre shopping centre at some point (although as far as I can tell from the Nottingham store they no longer deal in 2nd hand gear). And of course, trying a lens out for a few minutes in a store isn't going to give you that much of an idea.
  6. cerebros

    cerebros Well-Known Member

    I have considered getting a 7D body but then it means that I've got to carry two bodies around with me or make a decision about which one I'm going to need before setting out - I'm already having to do that with my lenses at the moment as when I take my DSLR out on trips I've got a Lowepro beltpack I've had for donkey's years that I can fit three lenses in and so have to choose which of my four main lenses (16-35, 24-105, 75-300 and 100mm macro) I'm probably going to need, which sometimes comes back to bite me (e.g. sometimes I've not taken the 75-300mm when I've ended up needing it and have had to use my Sony HX60 superzoom) - that's one of the reasons why I'm looking at getting a new photo backpack for my birthday so I can hopefully be prepared for more eventualities.

    (I may end up getting a 7D, either Mk I or Mk II, at some point anyway for the faster frame rate but that's probably a few years down the line)
  7. Bazarchie

    Bazarchie Well-Known Member

    Try London Camera exchange.

    For more info on the Sigma have a look at the eos mag forum and the Talk Photography one. They a have several threads on the lens.
  8. Bazarchie

    Bazarchie Well-Known Member

    Nb my other answers are in the quote box above
  9. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    DSLR's focus at wide open apertures regardless of the aperture you've 'dialled in' and only record the aperture at the point where the shot is actually taken. So I can imagine the lens just tells the body it's wide open at f/whatever and then when the shot is taken correctly reports the aperture you've dialled in (and actually switches to that aperture).
  10. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Yeah; my question is how accurate it is, though, given it'sbelow spec.
  11. Bazarchie

    Bazarchie Well-Known Member

    I would say it is good.
  12. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    Yup no clue on that other than people do rate the lens quite highly. At 600mm, at that price, it's never going to be what I would consider pin sharp, but if it's a choice between filling the frame with a bird at 600mm or cropping a 400mm shot, I guess there might not be much in it. There are some groups on Flickr dedicated to the lens, so it's easy to see plenty of shots for it.
  13. Bazarchie

    Bazarchie Well-Known Member

    If we could all afford the £9k for the Canon 600L, I'm sure we would not bother with the Sigma!
  14. cerebros

    cerebros Well-Known Member

    I've popped into their Nottingham branch a couple of times... it's probably where I'll end up buying whichever lens I end up getting

    Thanks, I'll check those out.
  15. cerebros

    cerebros Well-Known Member

    Yeah, it must be doing something if people are getting AF with it at 600mm if they're using something as old as my Mk II that won't do AF at f8. I'm just wondering how it works as presumably the lens has to tell the camera what apertures are usable for metering... Anyhow, getting a bit off topic...
  16. Bazarchie

    Bazarchie Well-Known Member

    They have often allowed me to return a used lens after 2 weeks if I didn't like it. Not sure if this is policy or down to the descretion of the manager. Worth asking.
  17. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I was in a rush this morning so gave a quick response.
    Basically, if something small is a long way away, more focal length may not help. It is the number of pixels occupied by what you want to see that matters. Making 40 pixels 80 is still rubbish. When working with wildlife shots the lens is often at full zoom and full aperture which is not really conducive to good results after cropping. When I started digital photography I did so with a 5D and took the view that zooms are only good to 200mm. I would change that now to 400mm and if I were buying an all purpose Canon lens for zoos to be usef on a 5D I'd go for the 100-400 ii with no hesitation. I haven't bought it because I cannot justify it having bought a 300 F4 IS + x1.4 ii converter and a 400 F5.6 non-IS. For me 400 is too long for zoo general with a x1.3 camera. 300 is OK.

    I see a lot of people shooting at the zoo with a 100-400 mk I. I'd think this is well worth thinking about with a 5Dii. There are lots about so haggle for a good price. People bemoan the trombone action but I remember a time that 2-touch zooms were considered beneath contempt.
  18. cerebros

    cerebros Well-Known Member

    Just in case anyone's wondering which way I went with this I <drumroll>... eventually got sidetracked by looking into a more compact & lightweight option as a day trip camera (aiming for better IQ than I get from my compact camera and less cumbersome than my 5D Mk II) and ending up with a Fuji X-T1 (see this thread if you're at all interested in how that's going/gone).

    In the meantime this space has gotten a bit more interesting - the original Tamron 150-600 appears to have dropped in price closer to the Sigma 150-600 Contemporary and Sigma have released their own 100-400. To confuse matters further I'm enjoying using the X-T1 so much that I'm pondering if I should look into Fuji's 100-400 for that camera, rather than getting a longer lens for the 5D Mk II
  19. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    Have you answered your own question here? The Fuji 100-400 has it's advantages and there is always the thought of a 24mp Fuji body at some future time, the Fuji lens may well equal or even outdo a Tamron or Sigma on a 5D Mk2 at 24mp and run it damned close at 16mp.
  20. cerebros

    cerebros Well-Known Member

    The only trouble is....I'd forgotten to factor in my interest in macro and close-up photography before. If I were going to be spending the money on the Fuji 100-400, the Canon 100-400 Mk II is "only" a few hundred more and has the advantage of focusing much closer than the other lenses under consideration, making it the more flexible choice..

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