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08-21-2007, 06:22 PM   #1
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Sigma 70-300mm DG APO vs non-APO (or, did I make a bad choice?)

:: New guy waves to everyone... ::

I got a new K100D just a few weeks ago, and it's my first dSLR. In fact, it's my first SLR camera, since retiring my K1000 10 years ago.

I decided I needed a telephoto for some sports and nature shots, but having recently bought the camera, I knew I couldn't afford to blow a ton of money on glass. One day I plan to add some really nice lenses to my collection, but as long as I'm still re-learning how to take decent photos, budget lenses should be fine for me.

So I picked up the Sigma 70-300mm DG Macro last week. I took it out over the weekend to a local wooded park, and took some pics of birds, flowers, insects, and the like. I wanted to check out the long focal length, as well as the macro function. I think my pictures turned out nice and sharp and bright, but I might not know how to be critical of my own work. And I've never used an awesome lens, so I don't have a whole lot to compare it to.

Since I got my lens, I have become aware of the fact that there are two different versions of this lens, and the APO version ($60-70 more) is supposedly head and shoulders above. Seems that nearly everyone on this and other boards has opted for the APO, and some people have some strong negative words toward the cheaper model. By having the non-APO version, am I seriously missing out on something here?

I understand the principle of APO lens elements and how they reduce chromatic aberration. I haven't noticed any serious purple fringing in my shots so far, but I haven't had any shots composed that were super high-contrast with the background. Are purple fringes the only effect of CA that might impact my photos?

In short, I'm wondering how different my shots would really look if taken through the APO lens. Can anyone provide me with objective comparisons about both? Would image qulity be so greatly improved that it would justify not just the extra $60, but also the hassle of an exchange or the loss incurred by selling it used?

Buyer's remorse sucks...

08-21-2007, 06:47 PM   #2
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I have the same lens

I have the same lens you have, it works, but I use the auto focus and the handheld help option. what the APO offers for extra, not sure.
08-21-2007, 07:05 PM   #3
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:::new girl waving back:::

I will be watching this thread like a hawk! I almost ordered that lens with the kit, but didn't because I decided it would be best to wait until I can afford the APO version. I would love to see/know the "real" difference.
08-22-2007, 10:10 PM   #4
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I'm not normally one to bump my own thread, but I'm genuinely curious to see if anyone has some input. Comparative info for both versions of the lens is hard (no, impossible) to find. I'm very close to bothering the camera store for an exchange, but if it's not worth it I'd like to know.

08-22-2007, 10:48 PM   #5
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I own neither, BUT.... since there are no input so far, a suggestion, if I may...

Why not just go to the shop, request to test shoot with both for an hour, shoot identical shots with both under different light condition, close up and infinity, etc. go home, compare the images critically and pick up whichever the next day?

The best in your respective decision making processes, Aerodave and Lapeen.
08-23-2007, 04:57 AM   #6
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I am surprised there aren't more responses on this one!

...and yes this is my lame attempt at BTT
08-23-2007, 02:17 PM   #7
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I dont know if it is still the case, but a while back I was informed that the APO version for Pentax is rather hard to find.
I was seeking one at the time and could not find one for any money.
Just for your info for what it is worth
08-23-2007, 10:45 PM   #8
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I have the non APO version and am very happy with it so far. I am not a pixel peeper so if there is a slight CA with it I have not noticed it. I doubt it would be any worse than some other lenses. It takes much better images than the Sigma 28-300 I have and that is why I bought it. I was not ever happy with the 28-300 image quality.

I used the 70-300 on a trip to the West coast of Vancouver Island and the only thing I could find wrong with the lens is somthing I knew when I bought it. It works well on bright days but the images are a bit washed out on overcast days.

I did some online research before I purchased it and looked all over for samples from both versions of the 70-300. I could not see enough difference to justify the aprx $100 dollar difference in my local stores. Not to mention the fact that the APO version was special order in most stores.

If you are still undecided I would take Khukri's suggestion and go to your camera shop and try the other version for a few shots.

08-24-2007, 08:25 PM   #9
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I'm only guessing the lack of a large volume of responses is that I doubt a person would have both versions of the lenses, even if at different times. I doubt a non-APO person would upgrade his lens just to the APO version. No doubt they would get some non-budget lens and have better IQ.

My Pentax 50-200 has slightly better IQ over the APO version in the common range, though it obviously lacks the extra range and quasi-macro mode.

The reason I have not sold it and made the jump to a better lens is I have not found a better lens I can afford. I'd trade it for a Sigma 600mm f8 mirror if anyone has that :-)
08-24-2007, 11:20 PM   #10
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I've got the OLDER 75-300mm APO (manual focus only) and love it.

Personally I feel that if it takes good pictures it doesn't mater what it is or how much you paid for it.
It's still a good lens.

So if your happy with it's performance then it's the right lens for you

I should mention, that some of my best photographs have come from some of my least expensive lenses.
08-25-2007, 08:21 PM   #11
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Thanks for the inputs, everyone. I realize that it's not likely to find someone who has owned both, but it seemed likely that someone may have tried both.

In the end, I agree that if it's taking good pictures, that's all that's important. And since "good" is subjective, I can be happy with a lens that doesn't meet some people's very high standards. I think I'll save my money for a fast prime and a flash.
08-25-2007, 11:16 PM   #12
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I was going to buy the Sigma 70-300 DG but it was on back-order indefinitely, so I decided to go with the APO version instead of waiting.

Per Sigma, APO lenses are "made using special low-dispersion (SLD) glass and is designed to minimize color aberration." My thoughts here were, for portraits and insect macrophotography, this was the better option of the two.

When there is adequate lighting, this lens is fantastic. Blur is simply incredible, particularly when it's a background of green bushes and trees. It makes it seem like people are floating in front of the background.

But when lighting isn't so great, it's IMHO somewhat unforgiving.

It's also a bit difficult with macrophotography, mostly because of the weight of the lens, making it difficult to manage macro shots without a tripod.
08-26-2007, 01:55 PM   #13
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I had the non-APO and I thought it was fine, especially if kept below 200mm.

It certainly wasn't as good as the K300/4 I have now, but it was not bad by any stretch if proper technique is used (tripod/SR, plus use F/11 if possible). If you use it as a 70-200/4-4.5 zoom, it's actually very very good.
08-28-2007, 03:39 PM   #14
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I think Aerodave has decided to opt for the DG version of the lens. I took mine out today to the Vancouver Zoo and took a few quick shots. The weather was bright but overcast sky.

Nothing has been done to these images except by the Shutterbug software when it resizes for the web. No PP, shot in .jpg format. Just a couple of examples from the non APO version of the Sigma 70-300. Not great shots but not bad considering the light.

I tried some with the DA 50-200 and they were not much brighter so I am more and more pleased with the Sigma.


Black Swan

08-28-2007, 07:37 PM   #15
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I did opt to keep the non-APO. I decided that I'm not getting any undesirable effects in my shots. And while I do notice a slight softening at 300mm, it's only bothersome if i obsess over it. Everyone else I know thinks the shots are great, even when I'm upset I can't count the hairs on the honeybee from 50 yards =)

I've hit some of the local parks recently to find nature to shoot. Here are a few samples the I've taken in my couple weeks with the lens. Ive tried to get a fair sampling of various zooms at the long end, as well as different shutter speeds. These are all handheld with SR on, shot in JPG, with minimal tweaking sometimes to get the color balance right.

190mm, 1/500s, f/8, somewhere around the macro/normal border

210mm, 1/60s, f/8, in the Macro range (Makes me love the shake reduction!)

250mm, 1/800, f/8

300mm, 1/1600, f/6.3

I'm still learning how to use this thing, but I'm happy to be able to get shots like this with my limited experience.

Last edited by aerodave; 11-18-2007 at 04:19 PM.

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