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05-08-2011, 10:47 AM   #1
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Sigma 70-300 1:4-5.6 DL Macro vs Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 APO DG MACRO (Comparo)

I own a Sigma 70-300 1:4-5.6 DL Macro that I acquired when I picked up my original K10D purchase. I personally have been quite happy with it and besides a sticky zoom collar its otherwise great.

I loaned it to Lurch who recently acquired a GX20 so he could have some options besides his kit lens for a zoo trip. I guess he promptly also learned to appreciate it, so ordered himself the Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 APO DG MACRO new for a good price.

This afforded the oppurtunity to put the two lenses side by side and see if DG (as mines pre-DG) and/or APO are worth the extra $50-$60 dollars.

So the following pics come from the two lenses. In hindsight (I suffer this more and more in photography... hindsight... ) we should have taken some 300 and some 70 shots as well. Instead we just grabbed some 120 and 85 shots.

Neither of us are artistic - so they are dirty test shots and not convuluted posed scenes - sorry. It wasn't done for the art

First up - some indoor shots using 2 flashes off camera for a bit of consistency in lighting. And because I was demonstrating OCF to Lurch All images are shot RAW, and exported from LR to Flickr with no PP work except for the 100% crops done via CS5.

Heres the spanky new Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 APO DG MACRO taken at 1/25, f6.3, ISO400 @ 120mm:

And my older 1:4-5.6 DL same as above:

And a couple of 100% crops (I think JPG ate some details...), first the APO, again followed by the DL:

In LR, it would seem to be about dead even. There is some slight changes in Spherical Abberation (?? I think... the DL seems slightly more distorted to the edges) and the colours a little washed out in the DL compared to the APO.. but you can't really tell until you pixel peep... so first round I'd call even.

Second round was outside, same order as before. This time 1/1250, f6.3, ISO400 @ 85mm

And some 100% crops, same order:

Once again, you are stretching to spot IQ differences (well - I am). The APO again seems a tad more vibrant, the DL seeming a fraction lighter and washed out a little (it was consistant ambient so wasn't that..). There is also noticeable spherical abberation visible in the background - weirdly on the APO- the gaps in the pavers is correct in the DL version but the APO has 'pulled' them slightly. Probably more noticeable in LR when viewing in Comparison or switching between the two images.

So there you have it. I'm not about to rush out and grab an APO based on any differences I can see - In fact, for the cityscape and other pics I take - based on the spherical abberation seen in the outdoor shots - I think I'm probably a tad better off with the DL - albeit not a great deal.

The full res versions of everything are on my flickr page - Sigma Shoot-Out - a set on Flickr if some more edumacated eyes would like to have a look over them and offer their opinions!

05-08-2011, 01:46 PM   #2
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Thanks for the comparison. However, I would just like to add that for image quality for most shots should be very similar. Optically they are the same. However the apo version has better coating. I would hazard to guess that the difference in image quality would be only seen in certain conditions such as high contrast conditions. I've never used LR or CS5 but do they do any automatic processing when importing raw files? I know my version of photoshop does a preset contrast brightness and sharpness correction when importing raw files which you have the option to cancel.
05-08-2011, 04:13 PM   #3
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When studied closely, we really only noticed minor differences when pixel-peeping (something I'm not a fan of).
There where certainly small examples of the APO being sharper in small areas, and a couple spots where the DL blew-out.
The areas the APO was sharper were only very, very small details and only noticable when you put both side-by-side in LR and at 100%. The blow-outs where really only single pixels on the highlights.
We did notice that on the Flower photo's, the DL did hold it's Yellows a little better, but only slightly. The green stalk that sticks out to the left you can kind of see it.

IMHO - is the APO worth the extra $50? On these tests, not really.
However in hinesight, it's probably not a really thorogh test. I think we may head out again soon and test in more varied examples.
05-08-2011, 04:20 PM   #4
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It's a shameless link, but relevant, as I used the Sigma 70-300 4-5.6 DL macro all day long. Across the focal lengths, it was a decent, if not, great performer, for the price I paid for it. Most of the pictures were taken at ISO 400 and at F8, with the shutter speed hovering at around 1/800-1/1000 of a second. My only wish was that it was wider, as I was right in front, and 70mm sometimes wasn't wide enough.

05-08-2011, 04:36 PM   #5
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You really need to test them at 300 too, because that's where many x-300 zooms suffer. I have owned the DL Macro and currently own the Pentax DA55-300. With both these lens I find I use the 300 length well more than any other, of course that is because of the type of shooting I do. But on a long zoom, that's why you get it. I did go through quite a few x-300 zooms (Promaster, Tamron, Tokina, Sigma non macro also) and many suffer at the longer lengths.
05-08-2011, 04:39 PM   #6
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I think we'll do some more tests.
Both 300 long and 300 Macro.
But also 200 long, 200 macro, and way back at 70 too.
05-08-2011, 04:51 PM   #7
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To be honest I think the real difference will be at the longer focal lengths and maybe wide open in bright light. I own the apo one and wouldnt trade it in for the non apo just because it's not an option. No one with a non spo in my area.
05-08-2011, 06:46 PM   #8
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Yeah - I thought of it as I sat down to post up the thread... no 300mm shots...
So guess we should really re do those ones

As for the RAW Processing - made sure that they where raw as raw could be - there is no PP on them at all - no correction etc on import. The lighting differences visible in between the two, both indoor and outdoor - is all Lens baby.... lol

Will aim to get some 300 and some Macro shots soon - personally - I'm curious if the Abberations I noticed in the APO vs the DL remain consistent or if it was just 'the conditions' at the time exacerbating it..


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