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02-12-2011, 07:15 PM   #91
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Alright, first day with this 120-400 beast (finally it is both sunny AND warm for a change here in MN!)- some quick and dirty edits in picasa, so no NR, didn't play much with contrast, a bit of sharpening and crops (as noted). For some reason picasa stripped the EXIF, no idea why, but I'll add in the basics. I'd have to say I am satisfied considering it is going to take some time to learn how to properly wield this lens! It seems as though just a slight stop down at 400mm makes a noticeable difference, and my copy seems pretty good even wide open. No, its not a 400mm prime, but I am happy with it so far.

One other thing to note...OS! Wow, I like it at these long focal lengths, a lot. Seems to help focus by providing a stabilized image to the focus mechanism, and helps with framing as well. Even though the shutter speed I was using didn't necessarily require it (shot the afternoon in TAv mode, set to 1/800th and either f6.3 or 5.6 most of the time), it helps for more than just stablilizing at such focal lengths, something I'm not used to as a Pentax user!

1. Moon! 400mm, f6.3, 1/800th, iso 400 (100% crop)



2. Fall's leftovers - 400mm, f6.3 1/800th iso 250 (no crop)



3. 400mm, f6.3, 1/800th iso 500 (about 75% crop)




4. 400mm f5.6, 1/800th, iso 320 (about 50% crop)



5. Action! - 400mm, f5.6, 1/800th, iso 200 (about 50% crop)



6. RaW - 400mm, f5.6, 1/800th, iso 160 (100% crop)




Last edited by pxpaulx; 02-12-2011 at 07:22 PM.
02-15-2011, 08:08 PM   #92
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QuoteOriginally posted by pxpaulx Quote
Alright, first day with this 120-400 beast (finally it is both sunny AND warm for a change here in MN!)- some quick and dirty edits in picasa, so no NR, didn't play much with contrast, a bit of sharpening and crops (as noted). For some reason picasa stripped the EXIF, no idea why, but I'll add in the basics. I'd have to say I am satisfied considering it is going to take some time to learn how to properly wield this lens! It seems as though just a slight stop down at 400mm makes a noticeable difference, and my copy seems pretty good even wide open. No, its not a 400mm prime, but I am happy with it so far.

One other thing to note...OS! Wow, I like it at these long focal lengths, a lot. Seems to help focus by providing a stabilized image to the focus mechanism, and helps with framing as well. Even though the shutter speed I was using didn't necessarily require it (shot the afternoon in TAv mode, set to 1/800th and either f6.3 or 5.6 most of the time), it helps for more than just stablilizing at such focal lengths, something I'm not used to as a Pentax user!

1. Moon! 400mm, f6.3, 1/800th, iso 400 (100% crop)



2. Fall's leftovers - 400mm, f6.3 1/800th iso 250 (no crop)



3. 400mm, f6.3, 1/800th iso 500 (about 75% crop)



4. 400mm f5.6, 1/800th, iso 320 (about 50% crop)



5. Action! - 400mm, f5.6, 1/800th, iso 200 (about 50% crop)



6. RaW - 400mm, f5.6, 1/800th, iso 160 (100% crop)
Hi px.

Those pics of yours here sure made me think about this lens again! Great shots!

So I take it that you would have much better results when stopped down to at least f5.6?
Might this "softness" at 400mm, reported here by several members, be caused by a wider aperture? Or maybe with improper use of the OS vs. in-camera SR?
Or a combination of all those parameters, along with lower shutter speeds?


JP
02-16-2011, 06:39 AM   #93
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Jpzk, I think there are alot of factors that contribute to a good image from a lens like this!

The lens is F5.6 wide open when at 400mm, so F6.3 is stopped down only 1/3 of a stop, but it definitely seemed to help.

The OS is helpful too in that you are more easily able to see and frame your shots since the VF isn't going all over the place (at least when handheld). I don't see why you'd use in body IS when the lens has OS built-in - at the longer focal lengths it just makes sense to use lens OS.

Keeping the shutter speed high I think was also crucial to getting sharper photos; if you would pair the lens with any of the newer bodies (K5, Kx, Kr) that have good ISO upto 1600 or even 3200 (depending on your personal preferences of course), I think this lens can be a pretty viable option.

Next time out I am going to try using it with my Tamron 1.4x TC to see if it will work!
02-16-2011, 10:02 AM   #94
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QuoteOriginally posted by pxpaulx Quote
Jpzk, I think there are alot of factors that contribute to a good image from a lens like this!

The lens is F5.6 wide open when at 400mm, so F6.3 is stopped down only 1/3 of a stop, but it definitely seemed to help.

The OS is helpful too in that you are more easily able to see and frame your shots since the VF isn't going all over the place (at least when handheld). I don't see why you'd use in body IS when the lens has OS built-in - at the longer focal lengths it just makes sense to use lens OS.

Keeping the shutter speed high I think was also crucial to getting sharper photos; if you would pair the lens with any of the newer bodies (K5, Kx, Kr) that have good ISO upto 1600 or even 3200 (depending on your personal preferences of course), I think this lens can be a pretty viable option.

Next time out I am going to try using it with my Tamron 1.4x TC to see if it will work!
I hadn't even realized that the aperture would be already at f5.6 at the long end!
In that case, I think the lens is quite sharp.
So I am wondering why there are so many reports of softness at 400mm ... user's error, poor technique or the copy(ies) of the lens(es) itself (themselves)?

Indeed, it would be a blessing to have lens stabilization during framing at 400mm, for instance, especially when doing BIF photos.

As for my preferences, since I have the K5, I did return to using TAv vs. Av. Given the spectacular high ISO capabilities of the K5, this is no longer an issue and I can trust the camera to pick the proper ISO and not being worried about it.

I will be looking forward to seeing some of your sample shots with this lens and the Tamron 1.4x TC. I use this TC quite regularly with my DA*300 and it does work great. So I am hoping that you will get good results with the 120-400 mm.

Cheers.

JP

02-16-2011, 10:33 AM   #95
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QuoteOriginally posted by jpzk Quote
So I am wondering why there are so many reports of softness at 400mm ... user's error, poor technique or the copy(ies) of the lens(es) itself (themselves)?
JP
TBH (and certainly not dissing pxpaulx's work) those shots look a little soft, not sharp, to me. Now some of that could be forum compression but compared to those in the 60-250 or even more so the DA*300 threads ..... definitely much softer.

No it's not all about how sharp a shot is and for many uses maybe this lense is just perfect, but if you are planning on cropping much (birding for example) then you need it pin sharp to begin with.
02-16-2011, 02:53 PM   #96
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Frogfish, I agree, the sign for instance is wide open and definitely not the sharpest - but, I think these show the lens isn't a total dog either. The dog shots were also using AF-C which I am still learning, not to mention the lens is brand new to me (and a 4lb lens is an entirely different experience!). Also, in particular the dog shots are at full 400mm within 10-30ft - not exactly a huge DOF, with the movement I know focus wasn't perfect (the running shot, #4 above is sharper on the tail, and already a 50% crop). bottom line I am definitely not a pro, and technique definitely needs improvement with this new lens (alot more than most).

Griffin told me to tell you to give me a break! haha (yes, another mis-focused shot, center was on the tail...again)

02-16-2011, 03:51 PM   #97
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Those look pretty good to me!
02-16-2011, 11:42 PM   #98
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QuoteOriginally posted by pxpaulx Quote
Frogfish, I agree, the sign for instance is wide open and definitely not the sharpest - but, I think these show the lens isn't a total dog either. The dog shots were also using AF-C which I am still learning, not to mention the lens is brand new to me (and a 4lb lens is an entirely different experience!). Also, in particular the dog shots are at full 400mm within 10-30ft - not exactly a huge DOF, with the movement I know focus wasn't perfect (the running shot, #4 above is sharper on the tail, and already a 50% crop). bottom line I am definitely not a pro, and technique definitely needs improvement with this new lens (alot more than most).

Griffin told me to tell you to give me a break! haha (yes, another mis-focused shot, center was on the tail...again)


I absolutely was not criticising you .... or the shots per se. This is one of the lenses I was seriously looking at, it has a wonderful and very useful range and that's one of it's great attractions.

However (and this is for me personally of course) I need a long tele for two main functions :
1. I have some sports shooting to do this year (athletics, cars and golf)
2. Birds - I am just getting into this aspect of our passion and quite enjoying it !
3. Shots are usually going to be taken at 20 - 50M or more.

Therefore there are a number of lenses under consideration, and of course financial limitations (I don't want to go over US$1,500), so Sigma 50-500 / Sigma 150-500 / Sigma 100-400 / DA*300 and 60-250 seem to be the main contenders. Pre-K5 I would not have considered the big Sigmas fast enough but the high ISO capability of the K5 has changed all that !

If the lense can't produce sharp shots at 500mm then of course it needs to be cropped (e.g. DA*300) so being soft at the long end is not going to work. It all comes down to personal use in the end, if the lense does what you need it to do then it's the right lense for you !

02-17-2011, 06:08 AM   #99
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I didn't take it personally, dont worry

I am curious how the 150-500mm has been tested? though a little slower, it is still reasonably priced (47th st also has it on ebay for $1K with best offer - I bet they'd take $920)...it is listed as the OS version as well, though I would definitely call/email to confirm it. It is too bad the price step from the 150-500 to the 50-500 is another $600!

I always wanted a 60-250 while it remained vaporware for so long. When it finally arrived it was just out of my budget. Now that we have cameras with great high ISO capability, the F4 lens isn't quite as appealing when my 50-135 already covers half the range (and the reach isn't huge when you look at sigma's offerings)...though I know the 60-250 would still be a better performer wide open, probably at all focal lengths.

I was hoping to get some bird photos when I went out, but didn't see any unfortunately. Maybe next time I'll have a chance!
05-13-2011, 04:50 AM   #100
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Sorry to revive an outdated thread...

Hello -

First off, I apologize for reviving an older thread, but I am looking at making a purchase of either the 50-500mm Sigma or the 120-400mm Sigma to pair with my K-r, which will later be upgraded to the K-5 or better...depending on budget.

So, I was wondering if people had updates on these two lenses or if anyone would be willing to post their more recent personal experiences.

I originally was planning on the 150-500mm, but the copy I received had focusing issues so it went back to the seller. In addition, that lens is huge. Not quite as heavy as the 50-500 OS, but about 1.5 inches longer. With this being said, I am looking at either of these other 2.

1.) I was wondering how the 1.4x TCs work on the 120-400mm OS lens. I would like to reach at least 500mm, and the 1.4x will get me to 560mm (x1.5CF 840mm). What would the max aperture be on this lens paired with the Tamron 1.4 TC? Is there a better TC on the market for this lens that will work in AF mode? I figured the Sigma APO x1.4 would work but when I called Sigma they told me that it would only work in Manual Mode. If you have time to fine tune manual is great...but many times you only get that split second, and therefore the AF is essential to me.

2.) Would anyone recommend the 50-500mm over the 120-400mm? I know that the weight is about 200g+ than the 120-400mm, and the cost is $600+.

Anywho? Just looking to get as much information on these two, because I will have to order soon.

LBA in full effect

-mackloon
05-13-2011, 08:01 AM   #101
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120-400 works with Tamron 1.4 PZ - just!

I had some experience with the 120-400 model just prior to the introduction of OS and tested it with a number of teleconverters. It does autofocus with the Tamron 1.4 PZ teleconverter (similar to the Kenko 1.5). However, you need good light and autofocus is slower and tends to hunt a bit. The lens is also softest at its long end, so not sure you would want to use a teleconverter with it to reach longer focal lengths.

I have no personal experience with the Bigma, but would think that it is better than the 120-400 with teleconverter.

I have some experience with 500mm mirror lenses and they can be an inexpensive option if you can work around their quirks (slow and horrible bokeh!).

Mike
05-13-2011, 09:20 AM   #102
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Mackloon - firstly you don't say exactly what you want the lense for. This is an important consideration. If it is for birding then I've seen superb shots at 500mm from both the 150-500 and the 50-500. I don't think the 120-400 is as good as those two for birding ... and there's a reason why they are much more expensive.

In the end I bought the DA*300 because it is extremely sharp and crops beautifully, it is a constant f4 which is great on the K5 and it works extremely well with the Pentax AFA x1.7 to give you 510mm.

This is a comparison test I ran between some lenses I have :

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/139941-lenses-...-x1-4-etc.html
05-13-2011, 07:19 PM   #103
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QuoteOriginally posted by Frogfish Quote
...In the end I bought the DA*300 because it is extremely sharp and crops beautifully, it is a constant f4...
I believe any prime lens is it's own constant aperture!

I still haven't really put the 120-400 through many paces - kind of been off photography since our trip to Italy (somehow not surprising, haha - such a beautiful place). I do plan on taking it on our trip to Toronto (home) in two weeks, we will be heading up north from there to the Bruce Peninsula for a couple days and I think I will give it a run for its' money. It does work with the TC (tamron 1.4), better than my 50-135mm does using phase detect focus (somewhat less hunting, but still hunts in less than perfect light).

If the liveview in the Kr works as well as the K5, that could be a viable option for focus - liveview on the K5 is more consistent with the SDM capable TCs since the contrast detect focus doesn't rely on the amount of light coming through the lens.

Also, adding a 1.4x TC adds 1 stop to the aperture, which would make the max aperture a variable f5.6-8 in the case of the 120-400mm.
07-11-2011, 04:27 PM   #104
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Tamron Adaptall SP 30mm f2.8 MF is a good alternative. With the 1.7xAFA it gives you 510mm f4.7. You can stop it down to 8 and still get great photos. The price? $600-$900 plus the 1.7x/
03-16-2013, 09:03 PM   #105
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The 120-400 isn't stellar by any stretch though it's a decent enough tele-zoom. Personally I rate the Sigma AF 100-300 F4 EX DG (IF) APO way above the Sigma 120-400 (OS or non OS versions) by direct comparison (I've owned many copies of both BTW). But if any UK Pentax owners are looking to buy the Sigma 120-400 DG OS HSM APO, then SRS Microsystems have it on special offer both on their main website and their evilBay outlet for £499.00 delivered + the obligatory 3 year Sigma (UK) warranty when registered online. Also for reference, the Sigma AF 50-200 OS DC HSM is a marvelous little lens (under £100.00 from SRS) which I bought in-lieu of the Sigma 70-200/2.8 APO OS DG HSM which can be bought from Onestop-Digital for under £800.00 delivered.
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