Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Search for New Glass

Well, I have been looking for a solution to a mid-range want for a nice telephoto.  I have anguished over the last several weeks... pouring over reviews and pages of text on the performance of different equipment.

I had thought about saving some cash, and looking into the Sigma line of lenses.  I don't know about you guys, but the "gamble" of getting a good lens when spending $500.00 to $1300.00 doesn't appeal to me.  I would think that if you are spending that type of money, you should EXPECT a quality lens.  I read and read about the different Sigmas (The Bigma - 50-500mm) and the 70-200.  From everything I could find, they were "okay."  Now the Bigma (50-500) is consistently listed as a bit soft, some over focus, some short focus.... really?  For $1600.00 and they ALL don't WORK like they are EXPECTED?

I listened to a podcast the other day by Frederick Van Johnson called "This Week In Photo."  First, if you are into photography and want a weekly little show about the industry and what is going on... you should listen.  Anyway, they had Dave Metz on from Sigma.  Now I understand that he is employed by Sigma, but I think he kind of skirted a couple of the questions.  I also understand that he probably doesn't know what the quality and control standards are at the factory, so I will give him that.  I am baffled by his lack of brand commitment when asked how the Sigma lenses stack up to professional use.  His comment was to the effect that some of the lenses are made for the backyard shooter.  Hmmmm... doesn't inspire me into dropping $1600.00 on a lens Dave. (This Week In Photo)

The one set of lenses (and no I did not look at Nikon as I happen to shot Canon) that consistently had high reviews with apparently few quality and control issues were the Canon L-Series lenses.  The reviews showed that these lenses were being used by not only novice shooters, but by professional portrait and outdoor photogs.  So I buckled down and then had the next decision to make... what F-stop range to go for.

I had narrowed my search down to a 70 - 200 lens.  I looked and checked and looked again... this looks to be a great area for portraits and moderate event photos.  I see it also as a short end wildlife lens, and should fall into a great range for some of my hunting shots.  So, do I plop the $$$$ out for the 2.8 or the 4.0?  After checking some more, I boiled it down to this....

- the 2.8 non image stabilized (i.s.) lens is not weather and dust resistant
- the 2.8 does give better low light ability when compared to the 4.0 (twice the amount of light on the one f-stop difference)
- the 2.8 apparently does show some softness on the edges (but not much)
- the 4.0 with i.s. has been reviewed as "tack sharp"
- the 4.0 with i.s. is cheaper than the 2.8 without i.s.
- the 2.8 with i.s. is twice the price of the 4.0 with i.s.
-both of the i.s. lenses are weather and dust resistant

I took all of this in, and came up with the Canon 70-200 F4 L.  It is on the way now, and I will post results as soon as I have some camera time with it. [I got mine from Adorama Camera - Canon F4 kit]

I came to this by looking at something else... the cameras made today.  The ISO ability of the new digital cameras is amazing.  I have been making some great shots with ISO of 1250, with very little grain.  This being said, I get that the i.s. is only going to help in steadying camera shake, and not in the motion stopping ability (shutter speed).  I am anxious in seeing how I can balance a great lens with the appropriate ISO, and shutter speed.

more to follow.....