Question Sigma or old canon

Werewolfs

Well-known Member
I have not been doing photography for too long but have got a secondhand canon 100-400 L mark one lens. I have a friend who also started around the same time he has the Sigma 150-600 contemporary on a Nikon body. He seems to get some good shots with his set up. I like mine but his just seems slightly sharper. I use a 1.4x canon extender on mine. It does AF but only in the center. My question is do you think I would be wise trading the canon 100-400 in and trying the Sigma or will it be my lack of skill and I just need to keep trying. I think I have it in my mind that because the Sigma is newer then it must be better than my older lens. I dont think I have the guts to go for a 100-400l mark 2 at the moment.
 

newbie1

Distinguished Member
Tough question especially in relation to how much comes down to relative skill with the equipment. Would it be possible to borrow your friends? Maybe go together and swap over lenses and see if you are getting better results or not with his sigma?
 

snerkler

Distinguished Member

Werewolfs

Well-known Member
What are you both shooting? A better lens won't fix technique problems.
Birds. I thought it would be down to me TBH. Its the 1x4 that I worry about I think though. Plus hes 20 years younger so is up on technology lol.
 

GaseousClay

Distinguished Member
.... on a Nikon body. He seems to get some good shots with his set up. I like mine but his just seems slightly sharper.
It might not be down to the choice of lens, it may be that the particular model of Nikon camera he has isn't fitted with an anti-aliasing filter also known as a Low Pass filter. Canon cameras are fitted with this filter and the effect is to slightly soften the image to reduce the Moiré patterns in repetitive detailing

Moiré pattern - Wikipedia
.
.
 

AMc

Distinguished Member
Birds. I thought it would be down to me TBH. Its the 1x4 that I worry about I think though. Plus hes 20 years younger so is up on technology lol.
Birds in flight or birds in general? Birds in flight are a notoriously tricky subject to capture well - lots of complexity in focus selection and exposure.

An obvious test would be to take identical shots with the two cameras from a fixed location of a static subject on a tripod and compare.
 

snerkler

Distinguished Member
Have you checked for front/back focussing?
 

muljao

Well-known Member
I think you need to lose that converter. Converters always cause a hit on image quality and focus performance, but if you are using a really high quality lens (400mm f2.8 as an example) the hit may be so small as to be marginal. The 400 mm at the 400 end is already f5.6, adding the 1.4 makes it f8, which isn't a lot of light getting through for your sensor to be focussing as fast as you may require for birds in flight. Couple that with the slight hit on sharpness.

Anyway. in my limited experience, you will get a better shot without the 1.4 even cropped. A 12mp shot without tele will be better than a 20mp shot with the tele. YMMV
 

Werewolfs

Well-known Member
Thanks all
It could be my fault with the front to back focus. If I am moving slightly forwards or backwards in my technique. Plus I was thinking I was at f6 when in reality I can only possibly achieve f8 with the teleconverter on. If I ditch the teleconverter would I then be better getting the sigma for the extra reach or should cropping on the 100-400 give the same results in theory. I only ask as the 100-400L mark 2 is my holy grail but I dont know whether I am just getting seduced by the lovely white lenses.
 

muljao

Well-known Member
Thanks all
It could be my fault with the front to back focus. If I am moving slightly forwards or backwards in my technique. Plus I was thinking I was at f6 when in reality I can only possibly achieve f8 with the teleconverter on. If I ditch the teleconverter would I then be better getting the sigma for the extra reach or should cropping on the 100-400 give the same results in theory. I only ask as the 100-400L mark 2 is my holy grail but I dont know whether I am just getting seduced by the lovely white lenses.
I'll just say its very easy to spend loads of money on photography with marginal or no improvement in results. In your case now I would try the 100-400 without the teleconverter, set it at f8 and keep the shutter speed as high as i possibly can within respectable iso levels. I'd really try and do my tests in good to very good light to see if the lens can perform to your requirements.

Only you then can say if 400 is enough with cropping, but I wouldn't buy a 600mm lens without at least seeing if the 400 will suffice. As for teleconverters, I will never use one again, they probably are ok if you have an extremely high end lens to start with.

FWIW I use a sigma 150-600mm C and have got very nice sharp shots at 600mm. It obviously does not have the prestige and ultimately the build quality or results of the 100-400 mark ii, but its half the price with results many are happy with. I advise trying to really get the best out of your own setup first before throwing money at the issue
 

snerkler

Distinguished Member
Thanks all
It could be my fault with the front to back focus. If I am moving slightly forwards or backwards in my technique. Plus I was thinking I was at f6 when in reality I can only possibly achieve f8 with the teleconverter on. If I ditch the teleconverter would I then be better getting the sigma for the extra reach or should cropping on the 100-400 give the same results in theory. I only ask as the 100-400L mark 2 is my holy grail but I dont know whether I am just getting seduced by the lovely white lenses.
It's hard to say what will give the best results, but I would make sure you're getting the best out of your kit first before you decide whether you're happy or not. Also, with regards to front/back focus it might not be down to you, some camera/lens combos need fine tuning.
 

newbie1

Distinguished Member
In addition to the great advice above you could also try FoCal software to check and set your autofocus micro adjustment assuming your camera body has the ability to adjust that. I found this helped quite a bit.

All of this applies to any long lens. You could buy a new one but this could be disappointing if all of the points above are not addressed.
 

Werewolfs

Well-known Member
A quick update.
Today my first real day I have had to try out front/back focus but have been reading alot. I set up a focus chart (a4)approx 25 meters from camera and at roughly a 45 degree angle. I also put a newspaper page on the side of the greenhouse approx at 17 meters. I took some test shots and it was quite difficult to see any difference at the distance. It might be down to my printed chart not being as sharp as I would have liked though. But in the end after playing around I keep adding and ended up +20 to 400mm and this seemed to give me the best shot of the newspaper and its font. You could read it all at 17 meters even small print and even with the 1x4 extender. I may order a chart off ebay but they seem quite small. The lenscal board is £50 so not sure if that would be worth it for me. Has anyone used it?
Socal, I have been a bit reluctant to use as I was worried as regards any warranty on camera being void if it corrupted anything. Not saying it would but I am a worrier.

Thanx again for all your help Steve.
 

newbie1

Distinguished Member
Sounds like a thorough test. 17m to 25m is a good distance too. Adjusting by +20 is the max and unusual I think and for all my tested lens focus quality drops quite a bit at +\- 20. I would give the FoCal software a try. It comes with a target you can print yourself.
 

snerkler

Distinguished Member
I use the spyder lenscal now after using home made versions of it. Yes it's ridiculously expensive for a bit of plastic but it's handy and easily folds away.

15-20m sounds a hell of a lot to test front/back focus, the max I've ever tested is at 8ft but only because this is the min focus distance of my 150-600mm. That being said if you're always shooting at 15-20m then I guess it can make sense. Not sure you'll get a shallow enough DOF at that distance though to see if it's F/B focussing. +20 is a lot, as mentioned it's the max. Either the lens is fubar or your test method isn't right. Do you use a tripod? Do you use centre single point? Have you compared it with live view focussing? Do you use remote shutter release or at least timer release? If you answer no to any of these then you need to retest.

YouTube the Dot Tune method too, this might work for you.
 

Werewolfs

Well-known Member
I may have misread or got distance wrong as I thought it was meant to be 50x the focal length of lens but you can do it at x25 if need be. No wonder I could not get an accurate reading. :facepalm:Looks like its back to the drawing board for me.
 

snerkler

Distinguished Member
I may have misread or got distance wrong as I thought it was meant to be 50x the focal length of lens but you can do it at x25 if need be. No wonder I could not get an accurate reading. :facepalm:Looks like its back to the drawing board for me.
There's a lot of variation online as to how far away you should shoot from, ranging from min focal distance to many times the focal length. My opinion is that you will find what works for you. It's a guide though and not to be taken as gospel and it's really important to check real world shots once you've done your calibration. There are so many things that affect the AF so it will not be spot on at all focal lengths (if a zoom), at all subject distances. Sometimes you can get a shift when stopping down the aperture.

But you need to make sure that the camera is tripod mounted and with a shutter remote/timer to elimate movement.
 

Peakoverload

Active Member
I only ask as the 100-400L mark 2 is my holy grail but I dont know whether I am just getting seduced by the lovely white lenses.

I have the 100-400 L MKII and it is really lovely. I never owned the MK1 but I had used it a couple of times and although it is a good lens there was just something about it I didn't like and I really didn't like the push/pull zoom. I used to own a 70-200 f/2.8 L which was my favourite lens, it was just so sharp and fast but I knew I had to sell it in order to go full frame and that I'd need a 100-400 as it's replacement. I honestly thought that I'd miss the 70-200 and that I'd be disappointed in the 100-400 but I couldn't be more wrong. There is nothing I don't like about the MKII, I don't even miss the f/2.8.

I used to use a 2x TC with my 70-200 and whilst there was an image quality drop it really wasn't as noticeable as people say. Unfortunately a lot of people tend to repeat what they've read rather than what they've actually experienced themselves. If you peak at pixels then I could see a difference with my 2x TC. I once borrowed a 1.4TC and the difference was less but only slightly better and again only if you pixel peep.

I no longer own any TC so haven't tried it with my 100-400 but the MKIII TC's are even better than the MKII that I had. Will they be as good as a longer lens without a TC? No probably not but again, it's really only noticeable when you pixel peep.

I've not used the Sigma 150-600 but I did used to own the Sigma 50-500 and used the Sigma 150-500. I don't know how the 150-600 compares against them but the two lenses I used weren't great lenses. That much zoom required too much compromise on image quality, CA and focus speed. When they were in their sweet spot they were great but outside of that and they were noticeably poorer.

Don't get me wrong I know how frustrating it can be to look at your images on screen and think "it could be sharper" or "it could have more detail" etc but never forget that you are viewing your photos in a way that nobody else will.

Should you sell you MK1 and buy a MK2 or a 150-600? Yes. No. It's up to you. If you do buy a MK2 or a 150-600 will anyone else notice the difference? Probably not. Will you? Yeah. If you pixel peep.
 

Werewolfs

Well-known Member
There's a lot of variation online as to how far away you should shoot from, ranging from min focal distance to many times the focal length. My opinion is that you will find what works for you. It's a guide though and not to be taken as gospel and it's really important to check real world shots once you've done your calibration. There are so many things that affect the AF so it will not be spot on at all focal lengths (if a zoom), at all subject distances. Sometimes you can get a shift when stopping down the aperture.

But you need to make sure that the camera is tripod mounted and with a shutter remote/timer to elimate movement.
Thank you for taking the time to write Snerkler I am going to try again at a bit shorter distance. When work and time allows. I am still reading up and watching various videos on it I also have been looking at the socal software again plus the spyder. I did not do my first test accurately enough for my liking anyway. The lens even though 2nd hand is under warranty so its not an issue if there is a fault but I think it is me thats doing it all wrong. I will report back with results.
Edit: makes me wonder if I am looking for faults just to upgrade though.
 
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Werewolfs

Well-known Member
I have the 100-400 L MKII and it is really lovely. I never owned the MK1 but I had used it a couple of times and although it is a good lens there was just something about it I didn't like and I really didn't like the push/pull zoom. I used to own a 70-200 f/2.8 L which was my favourite lens, it was just so sharp and fast but I knew I had to sell it in order to go full frame and that I'd need a 100-400 as it's replacement. I honestly thought that I'd miss the 70-200 and that I'd be disappointed in the 100-400 but I couldn't be more wrong. There is nothing I don't like about the MKII, I don't even miss the f/2.8.

I used to use a 2x TC with my 70-200 and whilst there was an image quality drop it really wasn't as noticeable as people say. Unfortunately a lot of people tend to repeat what they've read rather than what they've actually experienced themselves. If you peak at pixels then I could see a difference with my 2x TC. I once borrowed a 1.4TC and the difference was less but only slightly better and again only if you pixel peep.

I no longer own any TC so haven't tried it with my 100-400 but the MKIII TC's are even better than the MKII that I had. Will they be as good as a longer lens without a TC? No probably not but again, it's really only noticeable when you pixel peep.

I've not used the Sigma 150-600 but I did used to own the Sigma 50-500 and used the Sigma 150-500. I don't know how the 150-600 compares against them but the two lenses I used weren't great lenses. That much zoom required too much compromise on image quality, CA and focus speed. When they were in their sweet spot they were great but outside of that and they were noticeably poorer.

Don't get me wrong I know how frustrating it can be to look at your images on screen and think "it could be sharper" or "it could have more detail" etc but never forget that you are viewing your photos in a way that nobody else will.

Should you sell you MK1 and buy a MK2 or a 150-600? Yes. No. It's up to you. If you do buy a MK2 or a 150-600 will anyone else notice the difference? Probably not. Will you? Yeah. If you pixel peep.
Damn you peakoverload :D just when I was convincing myself I do not need the MK2.
Thank you for taking the time out to reply I know I want it and if I was to go with the sigma would probably think I had made a big compromise. TBH I dont know if I am intentionally looking for faults just to upgrade to it. I am going to try the tests again and see how I go.
 

newbie1

Distinguished Member
It's a very slippery slope...start with the tests :) I've also got the 100-400M2 and it is fab and very portable.... but even that didn't satisfy so I went for the 600f4M2...that took some getting used to and autofocus microadjust tweaking but a year on it's by far my favorite long lens.
 

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