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08-08-2012, 09:49 PM   #1
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First outing with Pentax K-30 and Sigma 100-300mm f4...bandwidth alert!

So I finally got a Sigma 100-300mm f4 a few weeks ago, but I didn't get much of a chance to use it since my K-x was on its way out the door to help raise cash for a K-30. And as soon as I got the K-30, I sent the camera and my four Sigma lenses to Sigma's headquarters in New York to have the lenses calibrated to the body. I now have the camera back, and I took the K-30 and Sigma 100-300mm to work with me the other day to try out the new combo.



You can click on each of the below images to open the full 16MP image. Except for one picture where the camera was sitting on a bucket, all of the pictures were shot handheld. Most of the outdoors pictures were taken while shooting out the window of my vehicle. If some of the pictures seem a bit pedestrian, please keep in mind that I was limited to shooting in situations where I would be inconspicuous since I didn't want to attract any attention. (Or cause any alarm...most people don't get a good feeling when they see a police officer pointing a camera with a big lens at them or their property!)

I shoot in RAW, and develop in Adobe Camera Raw into Photoshop CS5. I'm posting the images in the order they were taken, so they start out at ISO 100 and then ISO increases as the sun starts to go down. No noise reduction has been applied to the higher ISO shots since I wanted to evaluate lens sharpness and sensor performance.

I was impressed with how the K-30 handles high ISO. The high ISO images clean up very well with my normal process of noise reduction and a slight down-sizing. I have a tendency to under-expose when I'm shooting with a long lens since I want to make sure my shutter speed is sufficiently high, so some of the high ISO photos here may show slightly more noise than you would normally see from the given ISO.

I was also very impressed with how the lens performed. In the past I've owned the Pentax DA 55-300mm, FA J 75-300mm, Sigma 170-500mm and the Sigma 150-500mm, as well as the Olympus 40-150mm on my old e-510, and this Sigma 100-300mm f4 trounces all of them. At 300mm and f4 it easily outperforms any of those other lenses at their best, and it only improves as you back away from the extreme zoom. Stopping down with this lens is not necessary, except to increase the depth of field. If you are pixel peeping any of the pictures below and notice something that's not sharp, it's probably because that particular part of the subject was not the area that was in perfect focus. Autofocus was fast and sure with the lens mounted on the K-30.

You may notice that a few of the images below look like duplicates, but I actually took the same picture twice using different aperture settings for comparison purposes.

And for any of you who own the Sigma 100-300mm f4, I would appreciate if you could pixel peep some of my 300mm f4 images and let me know how my copy compares to your copy.



















































































08-09-2012, 01:14 AM   #2
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impressive images indeed.
the Sigma is an excellent performer, a bit too big for my running around with backpack style.
very little CA present, did you do any cleaning in PostProduction?
K-30 wouldn't obviously do Sigma lens correction in the camera.
I found that K-30 is better and faster in correcting Pentax lenses in the camera than K-5 or K-7.
08-09-2012, 04:44 AM   #3
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Fantastic set!
08-09-2012, 06:09 AM   #4
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That's a fantastic lens!

08-09-2012, 06:34 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by i_trax Quote
impressive images indeed...very little CA present, did you do any cleaning in PostProduction?
No, no CA/fringing correction done. I was impressed with how it handled the reflections on the vehicles under bright lights without noticeable CA.
08-09-2012, 08:23 AM   #6
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Were you using a tripod or were you hand-holding these exposures? Most of the images are, to my eye, amazingly sharp at the maximum f/4, although one or two give me pause enough to wonder. Nice collection!

Makes me want one...
08-09-2012, 08:35 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by LowVoltage Quote
Were you using a tripod or were you hand-holding these exposures?
They were all shot hand-held, except for the picture of the police Charger shot head-on at 190mm, 1/4 sec, and ISO 100. For that shot, I set the camera on the bottom of an inverted bucket and used a 2-sec delay. For the rest of the shots, I sometimes had SR on and sometimes had it off, since I was experimenting.
08-11-2012, 07:55 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Edgar_in_Indy Quote
They were all shot hand-held, except for the picture of the police Charger shot head-on at 190mm, 1/4 sec, and ISO 100.
Oh no... now I really want one! It's a shame the 100-300mm is no longer a "current" lens in the Sigma lineup. Compared to some of the other offerings in the 400mm ~ 500mm the range is clearly more modest, but with an emphasis on speed (and the obvious IQ that you've demonstrated). In many ways most of the current Sigmas are big compromises.

...unless somebody wants to lend me their glass to prove me wrong!

08-11-2012, 08:22 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by LowVoltage Quote
Oh no... now I really want one!
Believe me, I know that feeling. I'm just glad I was finally able to get one of my own.
08-13-2012, 05:03 AM   #10
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calibration?

How much did it cost and turnaround time to send off to Sigma and calibrate lenses and camera? What is the service called and is it listed on their web site?

08-13-2012, 06:52 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by goldenarrow Quote
How much did it cost
The calibration service is free as long as the lens is still under warranty. Sigma's EX lenses have a 4-year warranty in the US, and non-EX lenses get three years.

From my conversations with Sigma over the phone, it sounds like they don't worry about whether you're the original owner, as long as you have a copy of the original receipt. I bought my Sigma 30mm f1.4 second-hand, but it's only a couple years old and the seller gave me a copy of the receipt, so Sigma calibrated it free of charge, even though the receipt is in someone else's name.

You pay the shipping to send your gear to them, but if the lenses are still under warranty then they will take care of the return shipping. If at least one of the lenses is out of warranty, then you should expect to be charged for the return shipping. They ship FedEx, and both times it only took a couple days for the package to go from New York back to Indiana.

QuoteOriginally posted by goldenarrow Quote
turnaround time to send off to Sigma and calibrate lenses and camera?
They told me that whenever somebody sends a camera body to have lenses calibrated, they prioritize it and try their best to complete the work within 24 hours. When I sent my Pentax K-x and a couple lenses to them last year, they completed the work and shipped it out the same day they received. This time with my K-30 and four lenses it took a little bit longer since one of my lenses needed repair. But even so, it only took two or three days.

QuoteOriginally posted by goldenarrow Quote
What is the service called and is it listed on their web site?

On their support page they refer to the service as "AF Data Adjustment", and they describe it as follows:
AF Data Adjustment
Due to extreme sensitivity of the digital camera mirror box, more than 5 times as sensitive as that of a film camera, it may be necessary to adjust the AF data in your Sigma lens. At Sigma, we adjust all of our lenses to a neutral focus point during manufacturing. It may be necessary to have your Sigma lens adjusted to your own personal camera. This is a known problem with digital cameras and many companies have included Micro Focus Adjustment capabilities on their high end cameras to address this problem with their lenses. If you are able to do this with your camera and lens combination, there’s no need to send your equipment in for adjustment.
As far as the process, you can call Sigma Support ahead of time at 1-800-896-6858, but they will probably just tell you to go to their support website at SigmaPhoto.com - Service & Support and complete the "Online Repair Form". The form will ask for the model and serial number of the lens, the purchase date and place of purchase, and a description of the problem or service needing performed. You will be given a service order number, and you are then supposed to print the completed form off and include a copy in the box.

For warranty service or free calibration, you must include a copy of the purchase receipt in the box. If you no longer have the receipt and can't get another copy from your dealer, then it may be possible for Sigma to look the lens up using the serial number. They were able to do this with my 100-300mm f4, and saw that it was purchased more than five years ago.

My 30mm f1.4 and 50-150mm f2.8 were both under warranty and I included receipts, so they were calibrated for free. My 100-300mm f4 was out of warranty, and I had no receipt, so it was not free. It also needed repair, and the total was $240, which covered the repair, the calibration, and the return shipping for everything. My sigma 10-20mm was purchased on eBay and I did not have a receipt, but the tech went ahead and calibrated it for free since I was already dropping some cash on the 100-300mm.

I believe that the calibration service is either $50 or $100 per lens if not covered under warranty, but it would be best to call and check before-hand. If you do call, please let us know here how much they charge.
08-14-2012, 09:30 AM   #12
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great pictures, thanks for posting. i am fond of Indy so that was nice too to see some indy pics.
i hadnt seen that lens before on a body and it looks huge!
08-14-2012, 12:44 PM   #13
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Now I know it wasn't a traffic cam if I get a ticket with a photo of my license plate with great bokeh

Very nice shots
09-23-2012, 07:25 AM   #14
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You sent all lenses to adjust without testing them? What if they didn't need the adjustment? :P
09-23-2012, 07:51 AM   #15
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I thought the K-30 already has micro-calibration built in - for up to 20 lenses, according to the manual... Is this something different and more involved than the in-camera option?

I ask because I'm a newbie still and am considering getting an ultra wide angle from a non-Pentax brand --- the Sigma 8-16 (or whatever) seems like it would be a nice compliment to my beginning collection.
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