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01/02/2009 09:40:56 PM · #1
...why do Sigma lenses seem so good, yet are a third cheaper than Nikon? Am I missing something? (let me guess... this has been discussed a gazillion times and I'm going to get told to search before I ask ;) )

What makes me ask is that hubby bought me a Nikon 70-300. Because I only have a D40 the lens doesn't autofocus, and I've discovered that my eyes aren't good enough for manual focus with that lens. I planned to return it and maybe get a speedlight instead, then surfed London Drugs' site and found the Sigma 70-300 with the focus motor was more than a third cheaper. So now I have it AND $120 left over :)

I've only tried a few test shots yet, but I'm pleased with the results. Is there some bad news I should know before my 15-day trial is up?
01/02/2009 10:04:46 PM · #2
My $.02 people may call tell me I am wrong,but I don't care.

Sigma used to be junk lenses. About seven or eight years ago the quality started to improve. The quality now is quite good. One big difference between Sigma (or any of the 3rd parties for that matter) and Nikon (or Canon) is that there can be a much wider variation from one Sigma to another. You may try a 70-300 and find its very soft, the next you find may be very sharp. Its kind of a crap shoot really, I've known people that have tried four or five lenses of a particular range before they found one they were satisfied with. I think the consistency has improved along with the overall quality as well.

When I worked in the camera store we also tended to see Nikon and Canon lenses being overall more durable and better built then Sigma's or Tamarons.

It sound like you got a good one.

01/02/2009 10:05:35 PM · #3
Yes, that lens is programmed to self destruct 30 days after purchase. :)
01/02/2009 10:09:37 PM · #4
Originally posted by Bugzeye:

Yes, that lens is programmed to self destruct 30 days after purchase. :)


Gee, thanks, that's so reassuring... NOT! :P
01/02/2009 11:03:12 PM · #5
I have the Sigma 100-300 f4 and love it. Very sharp.

Some sigmas get very good reviews. Some not so much and maybe they drag the brand name down a bit? Fred Miranda's site has some decent info on the different models.
01/03/2009 12:14:49 AM · #6
the one thing that annoyed me about sigma/tamron lenses is the utterly dire focussing speed. My 15mm fisheye is totally useless for anything other than stationary subjects. My 70-300 sounded like a freight train when it focussed and took about 3 seconds to focus. My tamron 17-50 was a bit better, but it sounded weird and it would lock focus and when I checked the shots back they werent in focus at all, even though it told me they were.

So, you get what you pay for I think. I also find canon/nikon lenses to be built a LOT better than the cheaper counterparts, but if build quality isnt an issue then it doesnt matter but i have no decided to only buy 1st party goods as the 3rd party ones have always been sub-par in one department or another, whereas my Canon stuff always performs.
01/03/2009 12:58:26 AM · #7
Thanks, guys. I certainly hope I won't be sorry, since I can't afford to buy the best.
01/03/2009 01:03:41 AM · #8
Originally posted by Tez:

the one thing that annoyed me about sigma/tamron lenses is the utterly dire focussing speed. My 15mm fisheye is totally useless for anything other than stationary subjects. My 70-300 sounded like a freight train when it focussed and took about 3 seconds to focus. My tamron 17-50 was a bit better, but it sounded weird and it would lock focus and when I checked the shots back they werent in focus at all, even though it told me they were.

So, you get what you pay for I think. I also find canon/nikon lenses to be built a LOT better than the cheaper counterparts, but if build quality isnt an issue then it doesnt matter but i have no decided to only buy 1st party goods as the 3rd party ones have always been sub-par in one department or another, whereas my Canon stuff always performs.


I would second the difference in focus. I only have the 18-200 from Nikon, but it focuses noticeably faster (both my Sigma lenses are HSM, the 50-500 and 10-20). I sorta expected the 50-500 to be slower and louder, and figured that was why it sounded as strange as it did. It sorta makes a "clunking" sound for focus. But then I got the 10-20 and found it was pretty similar in focus (though faster than the 50-500) sounds.
Having said that, the 10-20 is definitely the most fun for me to use, and notable professionals have given high marks to it (if you're in the market for a super wide).
01/03/2009 01:57:17 AM · #9
I had a friend with a 70-300 sigma, the AF broke, she got it fixed, it broke again quite soon after, she had several years of use before the first problem, never could get it right once it went bad.. She started renting them to buy time to save up to buy one, one had a blurry spot in many, it would move around as the barrel turned. She was working for me at that event and out of her 3-4 thousand images I had to dump about 1/3 of them. We thought it might be a loose element, which is probalby a rental issue. She had to rent another for a different event and requested specifically to NOT get the same one again. The rental place bought a new one for her to rent and when she got to her destination and took it out of her hand carried bag, it literally broke into two pieces! She had used it fine a few days before as a test.

She bought a 70-200 nikkor having learned her lesson with both Sigmas and Sigma rentals. Just her experience... she loved Sigmas until too many bad rentals of Sigmas.


01/03/2009 02:20:17 AM · #10
this has been discussed a gazillion times and search before you ask!!!

;)
01/03/2009 03:28:36 AM · #11
Originally posted by smardaz:

this has been discussed a gazillion times and search before you ask!!!

;)


Lol, I KNEW some smardaz would say it :P
01/03/2009 03:30:21 AM · #12
Well, I have 15 days, so I'd best make sure to give it a good workout. Thanks for the comments, all :)

(yeah, even you, Smardaz ;) )
01/03/2009 04:59:33 AM · #13
I have a couple of Sigma lenses, the 28mm f1.8 and the 17-70, of the two the 17-70 is used the most. I must have a good copy because the 17-70 is tack sharp, the 28mm not so sharp but both are great value for money. Here is an example of the 17-70

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Message edited by author 2009-01-03 05:01:37.
01/03/2009 05:55:32 AM · #14
My wife has the 70-300 APO sigma and she would not trade it for anything... In fact... On our recent visit to Richmond Park the quality of her shots using this lens on her 400D were nothing short of STAGGERING! (no pun intended for 'stag')

I have a sigma 24mm f1.8 and although it is a tad soft wide open at 1.8 it is totally acceptable considering the price tag was £500 less that it's Canon brother.

Use it with pride.
01/03/2009 07:35:28 AM · #15
I`ve also had the sigma 70-300apo and it`s great value for money. Much better than the crappy nikon 70-300 which i`ve owned and the even crappier canon 70-300 which i had a few years back.
I have 2 sigmas now, 105mmDG macro and 10-20mm both excellent.

Message edited by author 2009-01-03 07:37:20.
01/03/2009 08:59:03 AM · #16
I use my Sigma 70mm for all my portrait work. Great lens and worth the money paid for it. I also use it for some macro stuff.

My Sigma 28-80mm lens cost $26 on eBay. Brand new. The thing is a good all around lens. I would recommend it to anyone.
01/03/2009 09:08:36 AM · #17
Oh, another thing: I've heard that the Non-Ex lenses seem a bit flimsier, but can't attest to this myself, although apparently "EX (EX Lens)
The exterior of this lens is EX-finished to denote the superior build and optical quality, and to enhance its appearance." How much of that is bluff is up to you. The EX build quality appears to be very solid, IMHO.
01/03/2009 12:11:04 PM · #18
A few things to add....

I'm no fan of any 70-300. I think it is impossible for someone with mid-grade equipment to get good images consistently at 300 f/5.6, especially without VR. The physics just don't support it.

In this article, this company that does lens rentals posts their repair data. Sigma lenses don't come out so well. The other off brand lenses seem to do better.

The other thing I notice in the various forums out there is people complaining about getting soft copies of the off brand lenses. A lot of people seem to send the lenses back to the manufacturers for calibration, then when they get them back, the lenses are sharp as can be. That's fine, but I don't hear about Nikon or Canon lenses needing to be sent back for calibration in great numbers, so I wonder why the off brand lenses have to be sent back. Shouldn't the calibration happen at the factory?

I think off brand lenses can be a great value for the money. Resale on off brand lenses is not as good, but when you've paid a lot less in the first place, I'm not sure it matters. I have a Tokina 12-24 and a Tamron 28-75, both of which are fine lenses, and a *lot* cheaper than their Nikon counterparts.
01/03/2009 12:22:18 PM · #19
I have the Sigma 70-200mm/2.8 and it's tack sharp all around. When I worked at London Drugs I played around with the 70-300, and its great for the money, corner to corner sharpness isn't the best, and the AF is loud and slow. But you can't beat the price.
01/03/2009 01:01:29 PM · #20
My 2 cents,

I had owned a Sigma 70-300mm before. Now I own a Nikon 70-300mm, just because I could afford it. So now when I look back:

- With the Nikon's version, it has VR and the build is better, so that make good shots come out almost everytime. Sigma's build quality wasnt comparable. This matters when the barrel extends out for long zooms and you dont have a tripod or vibration control. If you have a camera with live view, you can see how the 300mm image keeps bouncing around because of the tiny hand tremors. Even on a tripod that was my concern. BUT with a timed shutter release and a decent tripod, I was able to get very sharp shots from that Sigma.

- The optics isnt 1-1 comparable.. but you wont notice it usually unless you take test shots with both lenses. So dont worry about that yet.

- If you are a fan of manual focussing like I am (and you can live with a few missed flying bird shots:-) Sigma can do wonders for you. Just make sure have a tripod around.

- True there are quality control issues with Sigmas, but teh difference is not that terrible afaik. It also depends on if one knows to manually focus and knows the basics of stopping down etc. I have gotton some of my favorite shots with the Sigma.

- You cant beat the price for the Sigmas/Tammys! Plus some of them are famous for performance.

So I would say just enjoy the baby... there is nothing to regret. Its just about being on 90% now and getting a 100% with a branded one later. You are already in the top 100% performance range:-)

Message edited by author 2009-01-03 13:01:52.
01/03/2009 01:03:11 PM · #21
Originally posted by noisemaker:

I have the Sigma 70-200mm/2.8 and it's tack sharp all around. When I worked at London Drugs I played around with the 70-300, and its great for the money, corner to corner sharpness isn't the best, and the AF is loud and slow. But you can't beat the price.


Dustin... you're alive!!
01/03/2009 01:14:04 PM · #22
Some helpful comments here, thanks guys. :)
01/03/2009 03:07:55 PM · #23
Originally posted by BeeCee:

...why do Sigma lenses seem so good, yet are a third cheaper than Nikon? Am I missing something? (let me guess... this has been discussed a gazillion times and I'm going to get told to search before I ask ;) )

What makes me ask is that hubby bought me a Nikon 70-300. Because I only have a D40 the lens doesn't autofocus, and I've discovered that my eyes aren't good enough for manual focus with that lens. I planned to return it and maybe get a speedlight instead, then surfed London Drugs' site and found the Sigma 70-300 with the focus motor was more than a third cheaper. So now I have it AND $120 left over :)

I've only tried a few test shots yet, but I'm pleased with the results. Is there some bad news I should know before my 15-day trial is up?


A question. I though the Nikon 70-300 was an AF-S lens and so should focus with a D40, am I wrong? The Nikon Zoom Telephoto AF VR Zoom Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S is the current version and goes for $449 (currently on special w/ free shipping from B&H). Is that the version you had?

In any case I think that what people talk about when getting what you pay for has more to do with buying faster higher end lenses vs the slower comsumer lenses. If you want fast focus, tack sharp shots and a pro build then you would be paying almost $2,000 for the same lens. It is always a compromise. So bottom line is if it does what you need it to do then enjoy it now. You can always upgrade down the road. I'd love to trade in my Nikon 80-400 VR for a Nikon 200-400 VR but that would be another $3,500!!!

Enjoy the added reach and have fun.
01/03/2009 03:23:43 PM · #24
Originally posted by BeeCee:

Originally posted by noisemaker:

I have the Sigma 70-200mm/2.8 and it's tack sharp all around. When I worked at London Drugs I played around with the 70-300, and its great for the money, corner to corner sharpness isn't the best, and the AF is loud and slow. But you can't beat the price.


Dustin... you're alive!!


haha only some days :P
01/03/2009 03:27:06 PM · #25
Personally, I don't have a problem with 3rd party lenses. Though, for the most part I believe the name brand lenses are high quality. Not only that, but sigma doesn't have a license with nikon which, if you lens isn't working and you send it in to sigma... and they say it's working then you sent your body into nikon and they say its working just causes a very confusing situation. In all honesty though, the only time I buy third party lenses now is when I'm looking for something nikon doesn't have. I.e. I'm looking into finding a good copy of the sigma 20 1.8 because Nikon doesn't have any fast primes!

Hope this helps,

Evan
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