My latest obsession is a full frame telephoto lens. In acquiring a Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 I had been eyeing, to replace my DX 35mm prime and DX 18-55mm kit lenses and stop the short range lens swapping madness, I also traded my Nikon DX/APS-C 55-300mm, which I really liked. The thinking was and is that I know a full frame camera is in my future, so I may as well make the switch from DX to FX lenses now. To achieve this end I bought a Sigma 70-300mm lens because it was cheap ($199), had OIS, was full frame, and I thought I would not care that it was mushy at the long end. And I was impatient. Plus, how bad could it be?… Yeah, I was really wrong all around on that one.
- Would not focus in live view.
- Long d-pad press fast zoom and pan during image review was hobbled when the lens was attached.
- OIS showed on in the camera whether the switch on the lens was on or not.
- Occasionally you would hear a click and all of the nonsense would magically disappear until it inevitably came back for no rhyme or reason.
- Initial reviews said nothing of this, but a specific search on the issues above revealed that it was a known issue and that Sigma would fix it with firmware if I sent it to them.
- On the fence I took it outside on a clear beautiful day and took a perfectly mushy on center 300mm shot as wide open as it would go…
- It was then promptly boxed up at that very moment, RMA printed and affixed and it was shipped back to B&H today for a refund.
No ding on Sigma. For $199 I took a shot, had no hard feelings, and I am sure they would have done right by me if I had sent it to them for a firmware update. Truth is after being spoiled by a constant aperture Tamron 28-75mm I really wanted a constant aperture telephoto zoom. So long lower end 70-300mm lenses. After a discussion with my adviser, my wife, she agreed that I should not waste money buying a lens I knew I did not really want again. First a dive in to the virtual and real word used bins. But used constant aperture lenses in this range were either non-existent, barely any less expensive than their new counterparts, or were old as dirt. Since I had such good luck with the 28-75mm I tried to settle on the non-OIS Tamron 70-200mm, but the reviews are meh, it is also soft at the longer end like the Sigma I just returned, and I know I want OIS at that focal length so that was a recipe for disappointment. The eye watering Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 was not happening for over $2,000. Worth it I am sure, but just no for this hobbyist. I also could not warm up to the Sigma and Tamron f2.8s. That is a lot of beans for an after market lens even if it is over $1,000 less than the Nikon. Personal opinion there. Then I happened upon the Nikon 70-200mm f4 and it is getting fantastic reviews. The one I found most helpful was here:
Excellent write up by Photography Life that is a great read if you are considering a lens in this range. The highlights for me:
- Lighter weight and smaller size than the 70-200mm f2.8.
- Excellent image quality all around.
- For my purposes enhanced VR seems to compensate somewhat for the one stop loss in constant aperture.
- Amazing sample shots of wildlife and interior sports.
Simply put I will not be satisfied with anything less and I am unwilling to spend any more. It will take me awhile to acquire it compared to the lower models, but after reading this article I am sure it will be well worth it.