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03-10-2014, 06:03 AM   #1
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Sigma 70-300 f/4-5.6 Apo Macro - infos needed

I just bought a cheap "long range" AF zoom for travel photography.
It's a second hand Sigma 70-300mm Apo Macro. The auction reports the speed of the lens as "f/4.5-5.6", but i found no reference to a similar lens. Probably it's a typo, and the speed should be f/4-5.6.
Whatever... here is a pic of the lens, straight from the auction page:
Name:  Sigma 70-300mm 4-5.6 APO Macro (K-AF).JPG
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The lens looks different from the Sigma 70-300 which is present in the list of third party lens reviews, on this site.
On the web i found a picture of a similar lens, but the protruding "button" had two or three positions, while in my example the button looks to be disabled, a leftover from a previous design.

I guess that there must be somebody out there, who owns the same zoom.
I have two set of questions:

1) What's the difference between Apo and non-Apo versions? Is the Apo word just commercial hype? What's your opinion about the lens? Is the Macro position limited to 300mm?

2) As you can see from the picture, it's not coming with a lens shade. Are bayonet-type shades somewhat standard? Can i use another Sigma or Pentax shade of the same diameter? Are there chinese spares sold on Ebay?

Thanks in advance



03-10-2014, 08:22 AM   #2
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It looks your copy is the "DL Macro" version, not APO (I could be wrong, cannot see the label on the lens barrel).
I owned several version of sigma 70-300. Trying to answer some of your questions:
1. APO version has APO glass for correction aberration, so it has significantly less CA. Non-apo ones tends to have strong CA at edge of high contrast area. But APO version has strong yellow color cast which I don't like. Apo versions sells $50 higher than same generation non-apo one.
And yes, you have to turn the lens to 300mm to activate macro model. Otheswise, you can not move the "button".
Some of the sigma 70-300 is very good indeed. very sharp, much better than DA 55-300 that I owned. Macro is handy.

2. The hood is bayonet type, but I don't think there are standard hood mount. I don;t think you can mount a matching size pentax hood one it, although I have never tried.

Try it, it might be a good one.
03-10-2014, 10:18 AM   #3

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I think it's this one. I'll look at my 1995 Sigma Lens Brochure, since your image reminds me of a lens in there.

Last edited by Giklab; 03-10-2014 at 10:30 AM.
03-10-2014, 10:25 AM   #4
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Somewhere near the macro switch it says the macro range, on some models macro works from 200 to 300mm. Many Sigmas (like my 28-90mm) make it cumbersome, must be in the high range of the zoom to switch macro off as well, if you zoom out first the switch won't work. And I've definitely heard the APO lens element makes a big difference. Wish they'd make an HSM-focus version but they seem to save that for higher-end products.

03-10-2014, 10:29 AM   #5

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Edited above.
Gold ring says it's the 70-210 3.5-4.5 APO Zoom Macro.
For some reason it's wayyyyyyy down on the Sigma Legacy Zoom list.
03-10-2014, 10:37 AM   #6
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I have the non APO and have had pretty good results for the most part. The big thing to remember is that this lens is at it's best stopped down. I don't like to use mine with a wider aperture than f/8 and if the light permits, f/11 is the best. The APO version is said to have a little better overall IQ. I'm not saying that shots aren't usable at wide open aperture which they are, just that I consistantly get better results stopped down. I think the biggest problem with lenses like this is they struggle to nail a sharp focus in low light. Outside on bright sunny days, my results are always pretty good.
03-10-2014, 04:37 PM   #7
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I have a later APO Macro Super, the only switch on mine is a focus limit switch to limit a small portion of the close focus range (so that if the lens hunts it doesn't run back to the closest focus point). The APO version probably only has one 'APO' element and is probably only corrected for red & blue wavelengths (instead of all). Mine is good up to about 200mm but drops off a bit after that. The optical formula is very likely to be the same as the equivalent current Sigma 70-300.
03-11-2014, 01:04 PM   #8
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Thanks everybody.
The link Giklab provided refers to a VERY similar lens.
It's old (the Sigma caps and case look definitely "vintage"). It's an Apo (gold ring on the front of the lens).
Though ALL the similar lenses i have found online have a working switch on the switch housing, and at the side there is something written (which explains the rationale behind the switch: reduced macro rage; full AF range).
On my lens there is the housing, but no switch. No silkscreened lettering either.
The only other possible option is that it's not a sliding switch, limiting the AF range, but a pressure switch, which engages the macro mode. Not very likely, as there is nothing written close to that "bump" on the barrel.
Whatever it is... i will soon discover how it works.
If the identification is correct, the seller made a typo when writing down the max aperture of the lens at its wider end. Quite likely, as the text of the auction was entered with a cell phone.
Now i realize that the lens that's references is a 70-210mm f/3.5-4.5!
The lens i purchased is described as a 70-300 f/4.5-5.6. Too many differences to be a typo!
Whatever... the performance of the f/3.5-4.5 seems to be good. The experience of the owners of the lens is quite encouraging. I hope mine will prove as good.
The two lenses look to be of the same series, and should be of the same age.
I hope i've done the right purchase.
I need a not-too-bulky long reach AF zoom, but i don't think it will get as much use as other lenses. So spending a lot of money would not be justified.
The only weak spot, on paper, is speed: if the advertised speed is correct, it is quite slow (f/5.6) at the 300mm end: i hope i will be fine with the encreased sensibility of the AF system of my new K-5 II.
AF "hunting" is quite annoying.

In the meantime i found a very cheap Pentax 100-300mm series F. It was too cheap and too nice to leave it!
As soon as i have some spare time i will test one against the other, and keep the best one.
No time to do it now, so i guess i will bring the Sigma with me, and leave the Pentax at home.
If i had a 58mm hood for the Pentax, i'd go for it. In a sunny environment a sun shade is a must.
I hope i'll find one for the Sigma. I will be in Bangkok for a few days, in transit, where i'll do my best to find a suitable hood.
I found an Ebay item which is described as "A&R Professional 58mm Reversible Lens Hood For Sigma 70-300mm Pentax 55-300mm", which means that at least some Sigma 70-300mm zooms have the same (bayonet) hood of the Pentax 55-300mm.
Pentax stuff is not rare in Thailand, IIRC, so i have some hope... and if i don't find anything better, a screw-in hood would do as well.
If somebody knows about a good thai shop specialized in Pentax equipment, i'd be very happy to learn about it.

Thanks again for the help



Last edited by cyberjunkie; 03-11-2014 at 02:01 PM.
03-28-2014, 06:08 AM   #9
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I am posting this quick update from Thailand.
I got both lenses in time, took a few shots with each one, and decided to bring the Sigma with me, and leave the Pentax 100-300 series F at home.
It was not an easy choice, the IQ is not very different (quite good for that kind of zooms).
The Pentax has a terrible purple fringe, but the rendition is pleasantly natural.
The Sigma seems better corrected, but the color is too warm. Too different from my other (Pentax) lenses.
I went for the Sigma for the longer zoom range, cause the warm hue should be easier to correct, and because it came with a sun shade.

Albeit not included in the picture, the lens had the original shade (with bayonet mount), and also sported the switch i had seen in more recent Sigma "APO macro" zooms.
The switch has two positions:
2) FULL (MACRO at 300mm)
The speed of the lens, as expected, is f/4-5.6. The seller made a typo.
The only other thing worth mentioning is that the lens looks robust and well made, which is quite something, for an AF zoom of that time.
The focusing ring is usable (unlike Pentax series F lenses!).

I will try to shoot a good number of pictures with this lens, and maybe i will post a review of this particular version of the Sigma 70-300mm APO Macro.
I already posted a review of an uncommon lens, and i have other two which are not present in the reviews database.
I will post a review only if/when i have enough data to qualify for an half-decent review, not just unsubstantiated personal impressions.



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