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03-04-2009, 12:11 AM   #1
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Sigma 50-150 & DA* 50-135 Street Shootout

.


Been taking a bunch of shots with both lenses (Siggy on the D90) and I'd like to
post some thoughts and image comparisons on the two lenses/systems here.

Note that I have these lenses in two different mounts, so the comparison is
more of the combos, vs. a head-head glass shootout.

To start with, some basics:

- DA* is much better at close-focus - Sigma has a FF problem at 150mm
under 2 meters, mostly at f/2.8.

- At mid distances (10 - 70 meters,) sharpness wide-open gap closes, with
DA* retaining a slight edge. Stopped down a couple, they're virtually identical.

- At long distances (75 meters +,) wide-open performance virtually identical, and
stopped down, sharpness is indistinguishable.

- Sigma HSM focuses faster, especially in low light (Body AF system has an
effect on this also a great degree.)

- DA*/K20D seems to render skin tones more accurately - color, tonality,
texture, all seems more 'real'. (tried various JPEG settings and some RAW
processing, and it evens out some, but JPEGS out of the camera with
reasonable tweaks favors the K20D/DA*.)

- General Color accuracy and contrast favors the DA*, but not by very much.


Also, the actual FOV and magnification difference between 150mm & 135mm is
slighter even than I had thought it would be - effectively, a very slight crop of
a 135mm image makes it a 150mm image, with no discernable drop in quality,
really. I wouldn't put too much weight on the Sigma's 'longer reach' as a buying
criteria.

Here's an example of both the FOV/Magnification similarities as well as
sharpness wide-open - the target lego dinosaur was aout 70-90 meters
away, down one story in a mall (no PP, uncropped):

DA* @ 135mm, 1/320s, f/2.8, ISO 400, + Sigma @ 150mm & same settings

DA*

Sigma

DA* crop, Sigma crop:



This was a long ways away - most of a football field - the fact that both zooms
could render that sign lettering legibly is pretty amazing to me.


I'll post some more examples as I have time to wade through them.


.


Last edited by jsherman999; 03-04-2009 at 12:47 AM.
03-04-2009, 12:39 AM   #2
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Thanks Jay. Interesting results, esp. considering the somewhat bad press I'd heard about the Sigma before. If you MF the Sigma at close subjects, how does it perform?
03-04-2009, 01:16 AM   #3
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Mmmm, thanks for the comparison. There seems to be not much difference between the images from both lenses
03-04-2009, 05:22 AM   #4
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Good show. I love head to head comparisons.


cheers

03-04-2009, 07:19 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by heliphoto Quote
Thanks Jay. Interesting results, esp. considering the somewhat bad press I'd heard about the Sigma before. If you MF the Sigma at close subjects, how does it perform?
I'll be giving that a try.


QuoteOriginally posted by roentarre Quote
Mmmm, thanks for the comparison. There seems to be not much difference between the images from both lenses

At long distances, no. I'll be posting some mid and close-focus shots when I get
some time that show an edge to the DA*.


.
03-04-2009, 07:53 AM   #6
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Interesting...either the D90 or the Sigma 50-150 is kicking up the contrast as well. The color/sharpness look better in the zoomed out image for the Sigma but the K20D obviously captures more detail in the sign
03-04-2009, 08:31 AM   #7
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Nice job on the head to head. Where is this exhibit?

What your images portray is something I have always found when using Pentax and Sigma EX DG lenses. The "Pentax" tones and colors are always slightly cyan with yellow overtones. Pleasing, but none-the-less that cast induced by the coating sometimes has a tendancy to block up in the shadowed tones. The Sigma coatings are neutral and the contrast is just as good as the Pentax lens which shows the quality of Sigma's multicoating.

I think both of these lenses do a great job. I like the colors and contrast of both, but there is little or no need for CC on the Sigma output.

Stephen

03-04-2009, 10:53 AM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by kenyee Quote
Interesting...either the D90 or the Sigma 50-150 is
kicking up the contrast as well. The color/sharpness look better in the zoomed
out image for the Sigma but the K20D obviously captures more detail in the sign
These were both JPEGS, but I tried to approximate the output as much as
possible in the settings - shooting bright red, green, blue yellow and black toys
and tweaking contrast/sharpness/hue until the D90 got very close to the K20D
'bright' JPEG setting/+2 fine sharpness, which is what I almost always shoot in,
and love. One of the requirements for me is that the Nikon approximate
this JPEG quality - if I have to rely on a RAW workflow to get my family snapshots
looking good, that's not acceptable.

For me, RAW is good for some landscapes and tricky lighting where DR-range in
the JPEGS isn't good enough, but day to day I absolutely insist on great JPEGS
from the camera.

Now, those images above - take a look at two things, the brown plastic rocks and
the pink baloon - in both these cases, the K20D/DA* got the colors spot-on. The
D90 + Sigma punched up the brown a bit too much, and washed out the balloon.
In real life that balloon was very bright and caught my eye from way up on the
second level there. I was impressed to see how right the K20D got it.

But the punchiness of the D90/Sigma combo is still pleasing, I do like it.


QuoteOriginally posted by SCGushue Quote
Nice job on the head to head. Where is this exhibit?
LegoLand, in the MOA = Mall Of America, one of the few places I can shoot
without freezing my balls off in the winter here.

QuoteQuote:
What your images portray is something I have always found when using Pentax
and Sigma EX DG lenses. The "Pentax" tones and colors are always slightly cyan
with yellow overtones. Pleasing, but none-the-less that cast induced by the
coating sometimes has a tendancy to block up in the shadowed tones. The
Sigma coatings are neutral and the contrast is just as good as the Pentax lens
which shows the quality of Sigma's multicoating.

I think both of these lenses do a great job. I like the colors and contrast of both,
but there is little or no need for CC on the Sigma output.

Stephen
Yes, I just wish I could make the comparison using one body, that way we could
take the JPEG engine and sensor out of the picture. But this is a test of combos
and the ways I'll be using them.


OK, here are some close-focus shots from each - I hate doing these kinds of
tests, I almost die of boredom, but I think a comparison like this warrants it:

DA* at 135mm, f2.8, ISO 400, Sigma same but 150mm:



DA* & Sigma AF crops:



However, here's the Sigma shot using Manual Focus :




- I'll paste it next to the AF shot, and then next to the Pentax AF shot below
that for comparison:

Sigma AF vs Sigma MF:


DA* AF vs Sigma MF:


As you can see, the Sigma's problem is the AF, not the native sharpness
of the optics. As distance to target increases, this FF will be seen less
as both the elements reconfigure and the DOF increases.

But in Close-focus, say 10 feet or under, wide-open 150mm AF is weak with
the Sigma.



.
03-04-2009, 11:15 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by SCGushue Quote
Nice job on the head to head. Where is this exhibit?

What your images portray is something I have always found when using Pentax and Sigma EX DG lenses. The "Pentax" tones and colors are always slightly cyan with yellow overtones. Pleasing, but none-the-less that cast induced by the coating sometimes has a tendancy to block up in the shadowed tones. The Sigma coatings are neutral and the contrast is just as good as the Pentax lens which shows the quality of Sigma's multicoating.

I think both of these lenses do a great job. I like the colors and contrast of both, but there is little or no need for CC on the Sigma output.

Stephen
Do you find that with just the 20D? I ask as i have noticed the 20D images hue shift red and yellow IMVHO compared to my K100D. one thing i love about Pentax is the colours i get from DA lenses, they are just spot on and neutral, with images posted from the 20D they almost always seem too warm.
03-04-2009, 11:28 AM   #10
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nice work jay
03-04-2009, 11:34 AM   #11
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.


Now, I may send this lens to Sigma for adjustment, but I may not - after doing
a bit of research, it appears that my lens isn't a lemon, per se, it's just that
all (or most) 50-150's have this problem at close distances, 150mm f/2.8.

It's a design limitation of the lens. When you try to 'fix' a design limitation vs. a
general flaw, you can sometimes cause problems elsewhere. For example, I
wouldn't want to get the lens back from Sigma to find out my infinity focus is now
soft, or 150mm up close is good but 50mm is screwed up, etc.

I like to take Tak 200's out to capture BOF's. I don't have a problem kicking it
in to MF for close-focus And at f/4, the problem is much less noticeable.

We'll see what I decide. But in the meantime, outside of the Pixel-peeping world,
the Sigma just takes great pictures:




crop, focus on arm band






03-04-2009, 01:50 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by SCGushue Quote
What your images portray is something I have always found when using Pentax and Sigma EX DG lenses. The "Pentax" tones and colors are always slightly cyan with yellow overtones.
Stephen
Stephen, that is a very interesting observation. As one said, cyan and yellow are a good colour combination to create striking image with ratio of 3:1 here.

That cyan overtone would accentuate the PF too?
03-04-2009, 08:30 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alfisti Quote
Do you find that with just the 20D? I ask as i have noticed the 20D images hue shift red and yellow IMVHO compared to my K100D. one thing i love about Pentax is the colours i get from DA lenses, they are just spot on and neutral, with images posted from the 20D they almost always seem too warm.

I have tended to find that the MC of Sigma to be slightly more neutral color-wise than the Pentax lenses on K100D, K10D and the K20D. I don't really prefer one make over the other on the basis of their rendering balance. I own about 30 AF Pentax lenses and love all of them. I own 3 Sigma EX DG's (70-200 f2.8, EX DG, 100-300 f4, and the 180 f 3.5 EX DG Macro) and love them because they function perfectly with AF and the sharpness on all are dead on. Build quality on these three lenses is top notch.

I actually have a color correction formula that I plug into the Sigma's to make them appear the way a Pentax lens might render the same scene. I don't recall the balance off hand but it obviously works perfectly in reverse (well reciprocally) for rendering a Pentax to Sigma balance.

While I prefer buying Pentax lenses, I do believe that Sigma provides some professional quality lenses that neatly fit the current Pentax focal length vacuum.

I'm not sure, because every Sigma purchase I have made has been an outstanding experience, but I think Sigma gets an undeserved bad rap on many forums... not just Pentax forums. My feeling is, if a lens consistantly gives great results... it's a great lens. The above three Sigma's have outstanding reputations.

Stephen
03-04-2009, 08:39 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by roentarre Quote
Stephen, that is a very interesting observation. As one said, cyan and yellow are a good colour combination to create striking image with ratio of 3:1 here.

That cyan overtone would accentuate the PF too?
James,

I don't really think that the coatings have an appreciable effect upon the CA of the lenses. Basically, it's presence is structural in nature. That said, the very nature of coatings works to reduce abberations (including CA) by reducing scatter and related artifacts.

Stephen
03-04-2009, 08:55 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by SCGushue Quote
I have tended to find that the MC of Sigma to be
slightly more neutral color-wise than the Pentax lenses on K100D, K10D and the
K20D. I don't really prefer one make over the other on the basis of their
rendering balance. I own about 30 AF Pentax lenses and love all of them. I own
3 Sigma EX DG's (70-200 f2.8, EX DG, 100-300 f4, and the 180 f 3.5 EX DG
Macro) and love them because they function perfectly with AF and the sharpness
on all are dead on. Build quality on these three lenses is top notch.

...
Stephen

Stephen, I take it you like that 100-300 f/4? I've been reading rave reviews
about it and have seen some images that really impressed me. Normally I
ignore zooms that go beyond 200mm - either too much is compromised optically
or they're way too expensive, but that 100-300 f/4 looks like it makes images as
sharp as a 70-200 2.8, and can be shot wide-open just fine... Is that your
take? Do you have any images uploaded somewhere from it?

It's not cheap, but around a grand for something that long and that good isn't
outrageous.


.
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