And further I descend in to the photography rabbit hole…

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.
  1. Would not focus in live view.
  2. Long d-pad press fast zoom and pan during image review was hobbled when the lens was attached.
  3. OIS showed on in the camera whether the switch on the lens was on or not.
  4. Occasionally you would hear a click and all of the nonsense would magically disappear until it inevitably came back for no rhyme or reason.
  5. 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.
  6. 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…
  7. 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:
Nikon 70-200mm f4
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.
-ELW