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4 Days Ago   #1
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Is the Sigma 300mm F4 APO better for Astrophotography

Well here I am considering buying more stuff and I need more stuff like I need a hole in the head but...

I have the old Super Takumar 300mm F4 but today stumbled upon a Sigma 300mm F4 APO for looks to be a fairly reasonable price. I have gotten good results using the Super Takumar 300mm for astrophotography but am wondering if anyone has used the Sigma 300mm F4 APO for it. I tried looking for some example shots of it used for astro but didn't find any so was wondering what experiences people here have with it and how it performs in such situations.

4 Days Ago   #2
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The problem with those older Sigmas is usually the mechanics and longevity rather than optical quality, which is often under-rated. (I recently bought a Sigma 180/5.6 macro manual-focus lens from the early 90s that I didn't know existed and it is the same story -- it is great optically, but a little dodgy mechanically.) So I'd prefer to handle it first, but if you can trust that it is in good condition and the price is right, then the worst that will happen is that you resell it for at least what you bought it for -- an AF 300/4 is always going to have a demand.
4 Days Ago   #3
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Hi,

I have the lens and have tried it for astro recently.

I am more used to astrophotography with wide angle lenses and manual focusing with it isn't very easy so the results weren't breathtaking, but otherwise it is a sharp lens, and a huge bargain compared to the Pentax DA* 300mm F4.

Mat
4 Days Ago   #4
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Finding one of those is like winning a lottery. Grab it regardless. If you don't like it the resale value isn't going to go down.

4 Days Ago   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
So I'd prefer to handle it first, but if you can trust that it is in good condition and the price is right
Thankfully it is at a camera shop near my work. they have are willing to let one handle it and try it out. Also their used stuff comes with a 6 month warranty so if it goes to crap after the first few outings it becomes not my problem.

QuoteOriginally posted by Matchete Quote
I am more used to astrophotography with wide angle lenses and manual focusing with it isn't very easy so the results weren't breathtaking, but otherwise it is a sharp lens
It is good to hear that it is sharp even if a bit of a pain to focus manually but I knew that after doing some reading on the lens. I have been mostly into DSO photography when doing astro mostly because there is so much light pollution where I live (suburbs that come in at a high 8 on the bortle scale) so things like star fields have like 15 stars in them, and star trails end up with an orange background. I do have a lake property with substantially darker skies (low 3 on the bortle scale) but the weather and life hasn't cooperated this year. This weekend it will so I will be running 2 cameras one for wide and one for deep come Saturday night, maybe I will run a film one too and do some hour+ long star trail shots.

It sounds like the consensus is at the very least is go check it out and likely buy it.
3 Days Ago   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by MossyRocks Quote
It sounds like the consensus is at the very least is go check it out and likely buy it.
To put a price tag on it, I wouldn't pay $600 because you're getting in territory where you could get a Pentax F or FA 300/4.5 or maybe a manual-focus Tamron 300/2.8 (adaptall) which might suit you. But if it was $300-$400ish, I'd be all over it if there was nothing wrong with it. Use the LED flashlight on your phone to take a gander through it looking backwards (i.e. shine the light towards yourself through the lens) and make sure it isn't fogged up or something.
3 Days Ago   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
Use the LED flashlight on your phone to take a gander through it looking backwards (i.e. shine the light towards yourself through the lens) and make sure it isn't fogged up or something.
I actually learned that trick from this store years ago.

QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
But if it was $300-$400ish, I'd be all over it if there was nothing wrong with it.
I'll keep that in mind. Anything I should be on the lookout for with this lens that is a clear sign to run?

I have my camera and the 300mm f/4 Super Takumar so I can compare what I have to what I might get and decide from there.
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QuoteOriginally posted by MossyRocks Quote
I actually learned that trick from this store years ago.


I'll keep that in mind. Anything I should be on the lookout for with this lens that is a clear sign to run?

I have my camera and the 300mm f/4 Super Takumar so I can compare what I have to what I might get and decide from there.
Just make sure it is focusing (try both AF & MF), feel for "hitches" or any excessive noise. Of course check that the aperture is working and snappy (does it open all the way, does it seem to close to the correct aperture, etc). And that it takes sharp pictures (and go out in the parking lot and take some at infinity). Should be obvious if there are any major problems. Minor ones that's what the store guarantee is for, or more likely just overlooked because it is still worth it.

3 Days Ago   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
Just make sure it is focusing (try both AF & MF), feel for "hitches" or any excessive noise. Of course check that the aperture is working and snappy (does it open all the way, does it seem to close to the correct aperture, etc). And that it takes sharp pictures (and go out in the parking lot and take some at infinity). Should be obvious if there are any major problems. Minor ones that's what the store guarantee is for, or more likely just overlooked because it is still worth it.
Good to know. I just didn't know if there were some specific catches with sigmas as I have never had one. All of that stuff is what I was planning on checking for anyway so no surprises there. Hopefully this lens is the steal it initially appeared to be.
3 Days Ago   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by MossyRocks Quote
Good to know. I just didn't know if there were some specific catches with sigmas as I have never had one. All of that stuff is what I was planning on checking for anyway so no surprises there. Hopefully this lens is the steal it initially appeared to be.
Many of them (probably just before the period this one was made) had a rubberized coating which tended to deteriorate after a while. This one looks like it has a mostly plastic exterior, which is actually an improvement. Still, this was produced from a period before they really decided to have tighter tolerances and much better quality control. (Like the EX series.) So if it is fine, it is fine and should work well. Nobody sets out to make a crap 300/4.
3 Days Ago   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
But if it was $300-$400ish, I'd be all over it if there was nothing wrong with it.
Stole it for $130 then. A few scuffs on the pain and rubberized focusing ring but focuses quietly, everything is tight, and smooth. Only like 10 dust motes inside too.
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QuoteOriginally posted by MossyRocks Quote
Stole it for $130 then. A few scuffs on the pain and rubberized focusing ring but focuses quietly, everything is tight, and smooth. Only like 10 dust motes inside too.
Total steal. If it doesn't work out you could get triple that easy.
3 Days Ago   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
Total steal. If it doesn't work out you could get triple that easy.
So far so good. Wasted some electrons playing with it at home on my nice tripod punishing (seeing how it performs in high contrast infinity focus situations) it and am pleased with how it is performing. I will probably see how it performs on M51 tonight. Was pleased that the autofocus doesn't appear to need fine tuning and metering seems to be more or less spot on all apertures.
2 Days Ago   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by MossyRocks Quote
So far so good. Wasted some electrons playing with it at home on my nice tripod punishing (seeing how it performs in high contrast infinity focus situations) it and am pleased with how it is performing. I will probably see how it performs on M51 tonight. Was pleased that the autofocus doesn't appear to need fine tuning and metering seems to be more or less spot on all apertures.
Great ! Do you have any advice for DSO photography with this lens btw ? Notably focusing wise.
2 Days Ago   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Matchete Quote
Notably focusing wise.
Simple answer Bahtinov mask. I made one out of a 3" PVC pipe cap for my old 300mm f/4 super takumar and it fits this lens too. It is substantially snugger on the hood of the sigma 300mm f/4 APO but it just needs to stay put long enough to get it focused. You will need to focus it manually and once you get it nailed switch the lens to autofocus and switch the camera to manual focus so you don't accidently change it. Or at least that is what made the most sense to me on how to set things.

To make it I created a template for the lens that was sized for the 3" PVC pipe cap, and using a saw attachment for the dremel cut slots in it.

QuoteOriginally posted by Matchete Quote
Do you have any advice for DSO photography with this lens btw ?
Some form of tracking is almost necessary. I went out last night and forgot the O-GPS1 for the K-3 so I was limited to .8 to 1 second exposures to avoid noticeable bad trails and with the humidity, and smoke there wasn't much up. I did manage a respectable picture of Jupiter and the Galilean moons with a little bit of a trail when view at 100%.

With the massive light pollution where I live even at midnight when I went back out I could only see 3 stars unaided. The wind is changing today so what is blowing in from canada goes away and I am heading to my lake with is much darker so I will really get to exercise it.

---------- Post added 08-11-18 at 12:50 PM ----------

Here is a sample of what this lens is capable of for astro even at F/4
Shot last night with Jupiter being fairly close to the horizon (about 15 degrees up I think) through a lot of humidity and smoke blowing in from canada. Still managed to get all 4 Galilean moons without the trails being too bad. This is a 100% crop and jupiter is still tiny.
4 x 1 second exposures stacked
ISO 1600
F/4

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