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01-03-2014, 10:15 AM   #1

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Which Sigma 70-200

Ok, I've sold off my great IQ but slower than a slug 50-135.

I need to cover the 50-100mm gap in my kit and I've pretty much decided on the Sigma 70-200

Now... which 70-200? The older EX DG version is supposed to be the sharpest, but the brand new OS HSM version looks "not too bad" based on MTF charts. The Macro version and the HSM II version are supposedly noticeably inferior.

I have the Sigma 100-300 F4 so I don't care about TC use for more reach. I want to cover this specific range with three criteria:

AF speed - when I don't need the reach of the 100-300, I plan on using this for moving objects such as cars/trains/wildlife... which leads to
IQ - The images will be compared against my 100-300 and I expect the same IQ/Resolution. this most important criteria
Min Focusing distance - Another of the things that annoyed me about the 50-135, in addition to its horrible AF performance, at 50mm its min focusing distance was still a ridiculous 3 feet.

To save some off topic discussion and people padding their post count , I have ruled out the Pentax 60-250 because the range is too similar to the 100-300 and both are F4
I like that idea of having f2.8 if I need it at this focal length. I have also ruled out the Sigma 50-150 because its a cropped sensor lens and I lean toward collecting a kit of FF glass for a number of reasons. Also the 50-150 has several iterations of various repute as well. I don't have the time to figure out which one of those models would be acceptable.

Reading the Pentax Lens review section, things are a mess in terms of this lens, because there's one folder that covers the 4 or 5 iterations of this lens. I've tried for a couple weeks to make sense of the reviews but I really can't tell which lens is which.

Anyone have personal experiences and suggestions?

01-03-2014, 10:21 AM   #2
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From several other users telling me, supposedly the latest version is the sharpest of the HSM set and is sharper than the Tamron 70-200, which is no slouch.
01-03-2014, 10:33 AM   #3
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I have the latest HSM version , its definitely no slouch , it has an amazing bokeh and tac sharp. I've had to send mine away for AF calibration as it had a focus hunting issues , Now it nails focus after I make a further -8 AF microfine adjustment on k5 ii s.
01-03-2014, 10:40 AM - 1 Like   #4
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I have the Sigma 70-200 HSM II. I find that it focuses quicker and more positively than my 50-135. It's decently sharp, as shown in this image. I have not compared its resolution or other optical qualities with comparable lenses. When I bought it, the OS version was not on the market (and I got it at a good price).

The HSM II weighs more than twice the 50-135, and I find it a bit of a beast to carry on longer hikes. Its weight is definitely at my limit, but one pays a price for f/2.8. I can hand-hold it without too much trouble.

It's well built and solid. The only issue I have come across is its difficulty auto-focussing in Live View. Sigma Canada told me they would update the on-lens firmware at no cost to make it compatible with the K-5, but I never sent it in as I don't use it in that mode. I needed to set the AF Fine Adjustment at -8 on my K-5 II.

Do you definitely need to cover the full range 50-100 mm (or 70-100 mm in the case of the Sigma) with a zoom? Otherwise, perhaps a DA 70 or FA 77 Ltd would serve a purpose, sitting right in the middle.

- Craig

Last edited by c.a.m; 01-03-2014 at 11:18 AM. Reason: clarification.
01-03-2014, 11:32 AM   #5

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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by c.a.m Quote
Do you definitely need to cover the full range 50-100 mm (or 70-100 mm in the case of the Sigma) with a zoom? Otherwise, perhaps a DA 70 or FA 77 Ltd would serve a purpose, sitting right in the middle.
I have thought about the 70/77, but I have projects where a zoom is a necessity (ie moving subjects closing or retreating from me as well as varying vantage points where "foot zooming" is not an option). I'm also not a big "crop for composition" person in PP. I'd rather use the focal length of a zoom if possible to create my preferred full sensor image. this often involves just 2-3mm focal length one way or another if I have the time. to quote my ex, "why do you have to take 50 pictures of the same thing?"

As such, I've come to the conclusion, primes are great for forced perspective or if you have a lot of control over subject/subject matter. they are cumbersome and difficult to use when you have little control over a subject or you will have multiple instances of a subject at various perspectives.

I had nearly an entire line up of primes at one point, 15, 21, 28, 35, 40, 50, 100, 135 with a 28-70, and I concluded based on what I shoot and how I shoot I need to stick with zooms.

my primes now are task specific, da15, fa50 macro and fa100 macro, so there is not a lot of lens changing. other wise my 20-40 and 100-300 cover 80% of my work.
I have toyed with idea of "permanently" attaching my 1.4x TC to the 100-300 to further force utilization of the 70-200 focal length. that would make the 100-300 a 140-420 and reduce overlap even more.

Last edited by nomadkng; 01-03-2014 at 11:43 AM.
01-03-2014, 11:45 AM   #6
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I see where you're coming from. Primes won't work.

I forgot to mention that I occasionally miss the 50-70mm range with my Sigma. I'm happy with the 50-135, but had bought it mainly for static or slow subjects - e.g., portraits, stage events, etc. So, I also got the Sigma 70-200. It's just a bit too long sometimes. The short MFD is useful, though.

I had toyed with looking for a Sigma 50-150 to replace the 70-200. I hadn't come across many critical reviews, although now that you mention it, I recall several reports of earlier and later versions.

FYI, the PF review thread on the HSM II is found here: Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG APO Macro HSM II Lens Reviews - Sigma Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database

- Craig
01-03-2014, 12:28 PM   #7
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I have recently acquired a HSM II, mine is a touch soft at f2.8 over 135mm, but fine at f4. HSM more than makes up for that little niggle though, so fast and quiet
01-03-2014, 01:14 PM   #8
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I had the HSM II version and now have the OS version.
The OS version is sharper wide open than the HSM II.
From f4 on they are similar
Go with OS version, it is best all around.

Edit: The only con with the OS version is that they reversed the direction of zoom.
The HSM II zooms in the same direction as Pentax zooms, if that matters to you.

Last edited by crewl1; 01-03-2014 at 01:42 PM.
01-03-2014, 02:17 PM   #9
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Had the MKI APO EX non DG version (The non DG was the sharpest) and currently have the newer OS lens.
The OS is as sharp wide open but the 50-135mm is better still (although a lot slower to focus)

The Sigma OS is good enough that I have it for both Pentax and Canon systems.

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