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PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:52 pm 
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These arrived today although house events meant I didn't spend much time with them. Consider these my first impressions. More detailed reviews to follow at a later date. One note I'll make before I go on. None of these items came packed with silica gel like everyone else does.

Image

150mm f/2.4 EX DG macro

The 150mm lens looks and feels nice. The body is a fine black with flecks of sparkles in it, but thankfully not on the parts which face the light path like the hood interior.

The usual controls are there. A three way switch limits the AF range. Separately there is the MF/AF switch. No IS or VC on here though. Focus is internal so the length of the lens does not change. The lens has HSM which is equivalent to Canon USM, including full time manual. This lets you use AF to get close, and fine tune manually before completing the shot. The focus ring takes about 3/4 of a turn to go from end to end.

The tripod mount can be removed without dismounting the lens from body, which is a nice plus over the Canon version that came with the 100-400L. Likewise a plus over Canon, the lens cap is has center pinch points so you don't need to find the edges. Handy when the hood is mounted. Hood is unremarkable round type, which I found it rather stiff to fit or remove. It comes with a padded carry case.

Only fired some quick test shots in poor lighting. Images look great regardless, as far as my use of lighting allows in this rushed test. In a macro size test, I think this goes fractionally over 1x magnification but essentially does what it should.

APO Teleconverter 1.4x EX DG

Again it does what it says it does. Mount it on a compatible lens, and your focal length goes up 1.4x as does the f-number range. It looks solidly build. The lens side elements protrude outside the mount ring so it will not fit all lenses. A quick look at what I have around gives the following:

Will fit:
Canon 100-400L
Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro

Wont fit:
Canon 50mm f/1.8
Canon 60mm f/2.8 macro
Tamron 18-270 VC

In the case of the lenses it wont fit, the lens rear element is flush or even sticks out behind the last part of the mount, which would conflict with the front element of the TC. The two lenses it does fit have their rear element quite far inside the lens.

Looking at the EXIF, the images report the correct focal length but the aperture value remains that of the main lens only. Initial impressions are it does not noticeably degrade the image although I have not tested in detail at this time.

I handheld a test shot with the Canon 100-400L with TC, giving 560mm of length. The IS worked correctly although at this stage even small movements are getting quite bad. AF did not work, as the effective aperture is getting on to f/8 which is too far.

With the TC fitted on the 150mm f/2.8 macro, at minimum focus distance it indeed gave more magnification.

The TC comes with a carry case which seems far too big for it. A little cushion takes up the bottom half of the case. I suspect this is the same case used for the 2x TC which would be bigger.

EM-140 ringflash

This is bigger than it looks in pictures! The ringflash fits on the lens with its own dedicated adapters. These have a standard filter thread on the lens side, and a ring depression on the ringflash side, which clips to the ringflash. It only comes with adapters for 55mm and 58mm filter size lenses so I can't fit it on the 150mm (72mm) until I get a bigger adapter.

The ring is connected to the flash body by a thick curly cable. The flash body appears similar to typical external flash units, except instead of having a flash light on the top the cable goes out to the ring.

The only macro lens I can fit it on is the 60mm borrowed from work. I haven't got to grips with the settings yet so results have been unpredictable. It does light, but for close up I'm finding I get a lot of overexposure unless I turn flash comp right down. I'm sure this will improve once I RTFM.

The flash comes with its own carry case. The two parts of the flash go in the main compartment. There is also a front pouch area. Inside this zippable area are four smaller pouches which are too small to hold the adapter rings.

_________________
Canon DSLRs: 7D2, 7D1, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 10-18, 15-85
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 50/1.4A, 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS
Compacts: Sony HX9V, Fuji X100.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2008 1:27 am 
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A quick follow up to the above, mainly concerning the teleconverter.

Having used it a little more, I think the TC is also correcting the reported aperture value. That is, lens aperture value * 1.4. The reason I didn't think that before was that I had set it to a higher value, and it remained unchanged with and without TC. I just noticed that the minimum value it shows when fitted is 4, which is 2.8 * 1.4 give or take rounding errors.

On Sigma's web site, their TC compatibility table states that only the 1.4x will maintain AF capability with the macro lens, and even then only at 0.52m or greater distance. The minimum focus distance is 0.38mm. Looking through the manual, it suggests the effective aperture reduces size (higher value) at close focus. So it seems this combined with the extended focal length means the aperture value gets too high to work with AF at close focus. When set to close focus, half-press the shutter does not cause AF attempt. Only when the focus ring is set further out will AF start to work at all.

I had also borrowed a Kenko 2x TC. With this in place, the AF mechanism attempted to work but kept hunting and rarely locked. This happened even if I was pointing at a light, so you can't say there wasn't enough light for it.

Despite the warnings I saw elsewhere, you can stack TCs. Without exactly crunching the numbers, it looks like it is working within expectations. I was measuring horizontal field of about 8.5mm across at minimum focus distance, which on the Canon sensor works out about 2.6x magnification compared to the ideal 2.8x. I haven't done quality tests yet to determine if this really gets you more detail than upscaling without all the TCs. The viewfinder sure looked darker.

I have to say handholding 410mm f/8 without IS is a bit of a challenge. Shall have to get the tripod out for next tests and probably invest in some rails. And I'm not even going to mention the shallow DoF...

Am I insane enough to put both TCs together on the 100-400L? That'll bring it up to 1120mm f/16 or so. Actually that's not far off the spec of my smaller telescope...

_________________
Canon DSLRs: 7D2, 7D1, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 10-18, 15-85
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 50/1.4A, 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS
Compacts: Sony HX9V, Fuji X100.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 10:55 pm 
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Some quick comparisons... 100% lossless crops from camera jpeg output of a feather I picked up today.

All the following images are shot at f/8, ISO100, aperture priority, at minimum focus distance. Note the Kenko TC doesn't correct the aperture value reported to the camera so it will appear to be half actual if you poke around the exif. With the TCs in place, the minimum focus distance from the lens doesn't appear to change. The TCs do result in extra magnification.

Canon 50D + Sigma 150mm macro + TCs as described

Left: Lens only. Right: With Sigma 1.4x
Image Image

Left: With Kenko 2x. Right: With Sigma 1.4x and Kenko 2x
Image Image

For comparison

Sony A350 + Tamron 90mm macro
Image

The conclusion? I either need a better test subject or I should give up on pixel peeping.

A quick shot I took outside today. It was very gloomy so I had to resort to built in flash to get any light at all. Both 50% crops.

Image
1/160s f/16 ISO400

This was a similar shot that wasn't as good, but the reflection spooked me when I first saw it...
Image

To finish off, some practical observations. I started with the lens itself, then later added the 1.4x TC. I found it very difficult to handhold stably at these lengths (210mm with TC) without IS which is something I do miss on the Canon combo. Once I get the correct adapters for the ringflash that will be largely mooted though. Also with handholding, I found it hard to maintain the same distance to the subject and found it easy to drift slightly enough to throw the focus.

_________________
Canon DSLRs: 7D2, 7D1, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 10-18, 15-85
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 50/1.4A, 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS
Compacts: Sony HX9V, Fuji X100.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 11:13 pm 
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Thanks for your insights, popo!
May I express a wish, though?
Do a comparison with the naked lens magnified by 1.4x in post-processing vs the lens plus TC :idea:
I'll be very interested in the outcome.

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Thomas (beware: Nikon-fanboy and moderator!) My Lens Reviews, My Pictures, My Photography Blog
D800+assorted lenses


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:17 am 
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The Kenko 2x TC will be going back to its owner tomorrow so my work will be halved :D The main question is still the 1.4x's impact on performance so yes, once I find other interesting subjects I'll try the proportionate scaling for the comparison too.

I forgot to try both TCs on the 100-400... that might have been "interesting" just to see how bad it would be to handhold.

_________________
Canon DSLRs: 7D2, 7D1, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 10-18, 15-85
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 50/1.4A, 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS
Compacts: Sony HX9V, Fuji X100.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 7:15 am 
To my untrained eye, the TC doesn't deteriorate IQ much. That's pretty cool.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 12:55 am 
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I finally have the adapter ring that lets me put the ringflash on the macro lens. So I did and... nothing. The flash just wouldn't trigger. After a load of fiddling, it turned out it was as simple as the batteries being too low XD There wasn't an obvious indicator on it, like a flashing battery symbol or similar. All that was only found out after fear struck me that I might have damaged either the flash or camera by messing around with the adapters earlier. Still it means I can go back to trying it on the Sony as the battery level could also have been a reason for it not to work before.

Some time I will need to RTFM for the flash as I have no idea what all the stuff means. The combo fitted on the 50D looks serious. I'm definitely going to get some odd looks down the park if I take that lot out.

Also I've discovered, unsurprisingly, that 150mm is a tad long for general indoor shooting other than for macro. At least the flash takes out camera shake from the equation. More tomorrow when I'll hopefully get a serious go at it.

_________________
Canon DSLRs: 7D2, 7D1, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 10-18, 15-85
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 50/1.4A, 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS
Compacts: Sony HX9V, Fuji X100.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 10:42 pm 
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No new pics with the setup yet. I found myself using the Sony indoors most of the time this weekend due to shorter focal length stuff. But anyway, here's a quick pic of the Sigma kit except TC set up. It's heavy... I still need to work on my arms which have only just about got used to the 100-400L. Might not be simply weight but balance distribution too...

Image

_________________
Canon DSLRs: 7D2, 7D1, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 10-18, 15-85
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 50/1.4A, 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS
Compacts: Sony HX9V, Fuji X100.


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