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12-15-2006, 11:55 AM   #1
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Telephoto zoom

I want a telephoto zoom as my 2nd lens. I've been looking at Sigma, they seem to have a good pricing point, especially since people seem to like their lenses. I want something ~$100><$200. Also, I really like macro shots, but with a telephoto I wouldn't always be using macro. I'm thinking about a lens like this:
Sigma Zoom Telephoto 70-300 Macro Super II
Would I not get as good of a shot if I wasn't shoot a macro with that lens or does it simply also take a nice macro shot? I'd also love to have a macro lens, and it wouldn't necessarily need to be a telephoto macro but if this shoots nice regular shots and then also nice macro shots, why not?

Educated me, for I am stupid.

12-15-2006, 01:00 PM   #2
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I have this lens. The macro feature can go 1:2 (at 300mm) which is quite incredible for a zoom lens.

It is a consumer lens and it is doesn't have APO glass. I bought a like new copy on eBay for well under $100. But is it a bad lens? No, I can't really say that, especially considering the price I paid for it. I've gotten decent images from it -- better than I expected, actually.

A point to note (apologies if you know this already). The lens is a bit soft at longer focal lengths, as expected for a consumer lens. This makes it good for portraits and flower closeups. If you want to sharpen up the image, stop down to F8-F11.

As a comparison I do own high quality macro and zoom lenses. Yes the images are better but the D-FA 100mm macro costs well over $500 and the Sigma 70-200/2.8 (which I used to own) is $700-800. A used Pentax 80-200/2.8 zoom sold for $2100 early this year on flea-Bay.

If you want a macro prime, the old K and M series 50mm's and 100mm's are between $100-200. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
12-15-2006, 01:25 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by tranq78 Quote
I have this lens. The macro feature can go 1:2 (at 300mm) which is quite incredible for a zoom lens.

It is a consumer lens and it is doesn't have APO glass. I bought a like new copy on eBay for well under $100. But is it a bad lens? No, I can't really say that, especially considering the price I paid for it. I've gotten decent images from it -- better than I expected, actually.

A point to note (apologies if you know this already). The lens is a bit soft at longer focal lengths, as expected for a consumer lens. This makes it good for portraits and flower closeups. If you want to sharpen up the image, stop down to F8-F11.

As a comparison I do own high quality macro and zoom lenses. Yes the images are better but the D-FA 100mm macro costs well over $500 and the Sigma 70-200/2.8 (which I used to own) is $700-800. A used Pentax 80-200/2.8 zoom sold for $2100 early this year on flea-Bay.

If you want a macro prime, the old K and M series 50mm's and 100mm's are between $100-200. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
So this will shoot well even if not shooting a macro then? And the image is sharp if macro or not zoomed to 300? This lens is a 100-300 and not a macro. Also, it stops to 6.7, so it would be sharper at 300 than the 5.6? I never really understood those numbers, I'll read up!
12-15-2006, 02:24 PM   #4
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I've just came out of this month-long tele zoom saga, ending up with a 70-300 Tamron. Up to a point I switched tact to ordering the Sigma because it would have arrived sooner. , or so the camera shop said...

I am searching for something similar for my gf's. And I am thinking of going Sigma so we can try out different brands. What are the differences between the Sigma Macro Super II vs Sigma 70-300 DG Macro? or are they the same item under different branding?

Btw if you want to take a look at my Tamron as a comparison, I paid $180USD new for mine, and a lot of the specs are identical as 70-300mm / 4-5.6 / macro 1:2 goes.
I posted some sample shots on an earlier thread but mine did seem to have issues with AF at the tele end using multi point AF. Also I do find the images at the full 300mm end a tad soft.

12-15-2006, 03:04 PM   #5
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This lens will work just fine as in both normal telephoto and macro mode.

Regarding sharpness/softness, be aware that the closer you are and the longer your focal length the shallower your depth of field. I took some test pictures at 300mm and shortest focus distance with this lens... the depth of field was razor thin at F5.6. So if you try this lens out don't get confused between shallow DOF (physics) and a soft image (lens design). My earlier comment about softness referred to lens design. Many zooms are softer at the long end when used wide open. But the lenses are designed for maxiumum sharpness at between F8-11, thus if you want a 'better' image set your aperture to these levels when not in macro mode (the tradeoff is you may have to use a higher ISO).

This new lens you've referenced is cheaper than the first because the MAX aperture at 300mm is F6.7. Generally the larger the max aperture the better quality the lens. If you are interested in macro, get the first lens with the max F5.6 aperture at 300mm -- you will need the extra light when you focus manually. Oh, to answer your question in 1 sentence: the 2nd lens will not be sharper at 6.7 than the first.

The terminology can get confusing. Sometimes 'macro' is used (especially in the context of zooms) to really denote 'close focusing ability' -- some lenses can't focus closer than 10-15 feet, others (like this one) can. Other times macro means the ability to focus closely and have a large reproduction of the image on the sensor (or negative). A 1:1 ratio means that a 1/2" object will be recorded as a 1/2" image on your negative. A lot of zooms that call themselves 'macros' can't record better than 1:4 or 1:5 -- these zooms are really just 'close focusing lenses' for all practical purposes.

Am I clear as mud?
12-15-2006, 03:13 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by shoey Quote
What are the differences between the Sigma Macro Super II vs Sigma 70-300 DG Macro?

I posted some sample shots on an earlier thread but mine did seem to have issues with AF at the tele end using multi point AF. Also I do find the images at the full 300mm end a tad soft.
I think the difference between the 2 is the Super II is an older design and the DG Macro is newer and has different coatings for digital sensors. I suspect the newer-and-improved has a large element of marketing (ie. costs you more $) but that's just my spidey senses tingling, that's all.

The DG Macro may also have a more expensive aspherical glass element, but I'm not sure. I know that the Super II doesn't. Anyone out there care to enlighten me?

Did you try limiting your focus points on your camera? Also did you make sure there was enough contrast in the picture for the AF to lock on to?
12-15-2006, 11:23 PM   #7
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Hmm.. I certainly don't want poor images just because i want to save a few dollars... Is there any reason to avoid this lens?
100-300

It's a Pentax...
12-17-2006, 12:10 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Buschmaster Quote
Hmm.. I certainly don't want poor images just because i want to save a few dollars... Is there any reason to avoid this lens?
100-300

It's a Pentax...
The FA100-300 has no macro feature. If you want a telephoto zoom without macro then the FA80-320 is a better lens (I also have this lens). It gets panned by some but it is quite decent.

If you want a zoom with a macro feature, within the price range you originally quoted, I would still get the Sigma or Tamron 70-300 with 1:2 macro.

Suggestion. If you are new to SLR photography the best things you can buy are books + time to read it. I'd suggest the "National Geographic Photography Field Guide" (Peter Burian & Robert Caputo) and "Understanding Exposure" (Bryan Peterson) to start. Once you get a bit more advanced I'd suggest "Nature Photography Field Guide" and "Closeups In Nature" (both by John Shaw). A photography course was also useful when I got into photography.

12-27-2006, 11:58 AM   #9
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I just posted this elsewhere...

If you go with the Sigma get the APO version which supposedly is the only "good" version. It is about the same price as the Tamron which I have not used.

The Macro mode is only within the 200-300mm range and requires sliding a switch that can be difficult to undo. I've found that auto focusing to infinity helps undo it :-)

And it is long when at 300mm and close focused (about 10 inches to front of lens hood - very conspicuous.)

A bit soft at the long end, but sharpening helps.
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