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PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 7:46 pm 
Yep it's a tough one!!

I'll get the 70-200 out of the way and then have a good long look (at my wallet :D) and fix myself up with a macro/long prime. The 300mm is certainly something I'll be considering but it's as you say when it comes to the 150mm. I am particularly impressed by the quality wide open, although as you say, not particularly useful for macro.

Mark


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 8:08 pm 
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For your information: I'm collecting another copy of the 300/4.0 tomorrow and test-shooting it over the next two weeks.
I'll report back on how it behaves.
Personally the 300/4.0 feels much more natural than the 400/5.6: It's not so extremely long in focal length and thus more versatile, it's more compact on the camera, it has f/4.0. So if the optical formula of both contenders are the same (as I suspect) it's a close call between both lenses - and both go down to 1:3 magnification.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 8:12 pm 
Good stuff! Looking forward to reading your findings.

Mark


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2008 1:55 pm 
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Oh my! The second copy of the Sigma 300/4.0 was even worse than the 1st!
1. The front-focus was even more pronounced and seemed to reach beyond the camera's capabilities to correct it.
2. The exterior was treated with solvent that attacks the rubber cover: it dissolved in places. So here's a serious warning to all trying to polish up their lenses for sale: Never use a detergent that is aggressive to rubber!

Another warning: I took some shots a the dealers premises and reviewed them on the camera's built-in screen. Sharpness seemed ok. Only testing the lens at home and reviewing the images on the computer monitor revealed the nasty focus error. So don't fool yourself with some test shots into being sure about the lens's IQ!
Fortunately I got this one from a dealer who takes the lens back within 30 days. So this lens went back.
Another thing came up when playing with the micro-AF adjustment of the D300: Somehow the camera cannot distinguish between my Sigma 400/5.6 and the Sigma 300/4.0 (regardless which copy): When I dialled in +20 adjustment for the 300/4.0 the same amount was applied when I changed the lens to the 400/5.6 :( And this was although the EXIF data clearly identified the 300/4.0 vs. the 400/5.6 ? An error from Nikon's side?

Well now, after 2 disappointments it’s hard for me to give any recommendation. I still believe that this lens has theoretically the same good potential than the Sigma 400/5.6. But what if Sigma quality control totally fu**ed up with this lens? Please, be extremely careful when you buy this lens and make sure you can make a full test under your own conditions including review of the images on a large computer monitor before buying it.

Not sure that I'll ever try again...
:( :( :(

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 2:45 pm 
That's a shame as, as you say, the potential is there. If only the quality control was better. :(

Mark


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 7:50 pm 
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Oh well, oh well: I succumbed to the lures of eBay again. But only with a pro-seller giving me the opportunity to give the lens back within the 1st month.
Let's keep fingers crossed that I finally hit on a good copy of this lens...

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 8:31 pm 
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And just that you know, why I'm still hunting for a perfect copy of this lens: Here's another example for its abilities:

Image
Captured at f/4.0 (!), handheld at 1/125 sec (!) and slightly cropped, no extra sharpening (!)

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Last edited by Thomas on Mon Sep 15, 2008 9:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 8:53 pm 
Wow!! Very impressive result!! Hopefully you'll get a good copy this time!!!

Mark


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2008 6:03 pm 
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That's it! I'm finished with this lens :evil:
The 3rd copy looked the best from the outside, but it was totally decentred. I immediately saw it on the test-shot for front-/back-focus: As the center was perfectly in focus the left side had back-focus and the right side front-focus plus a generall blurryness :roll:
Immediately went back.

So by now you're warned: If you want to have 300/4.0, approach this lens with extreme/exaggerate caution. Better try the Sigma 100-300/4.0 (although my copy of this lens was also bad) or go for the Nikon AF-S 300/4.0D or the equivalent Canon model which is the only 300/4.0 lens with IS. Those lenses unfortunately cost around 1000$/€ :cry:

That's now 5 used lenses from eBay that have gone back :?

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2008 9:16 pm 
Hmmmm. Annoying. :evil:

Oh well, if the quality control's not there then it can't be trusted!!!

Mark


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2008 7:48 pm 
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I wanted to put another perspective to the test-charts I shot at this post.
I've put the original f/4.0 crops from that post below:
Image Image
As you can clearly see the IQ of the lens at f/4.0 is not good esp. in the center. The circle was getting mushy and the star was showing a drop in resolution of about 1/3 compared to f/8.0. As I remarked then, the result might have been flawed due to misfocus as the corner-crop was better than the center-crop.

To do justice to the design and in reminiscence to my recent review of the Tamron 70-200/2.8 here I decided to reshoot the test at f/4.0 with manual focussing aided by live-view.
I know that this is not showing the real-life performance of the lens as you normally use AF but I already mentioned that this lens needs a +20 AF micro-adjust on my D300 so AF with this copy of the lens is botched either :?
You can read from these lines that I'm still hoping somehow that there must be some well-adjusted copies of this lens out there that can show the true potential of the design. At least the production run resulted in over 6000 copies being sold. So someone might be the lucky owner of a good copy...

But now without further ado here's the reshot f/4.0 center and corner crop (at 100%). If you click on the images you can go to the full resolution version of this test-shot to see for yourself.
Image Image

Don't be confused by the different crops/magnification/WB:
- the center crops are to the left, the corner-crops to the right
- the second shots have a 27% higher magnification. But the beautiful thing with Siemens-stars is that the diameter of the grey disk in the center of the star is always comparable and in this case it clearly shows that the new shots have a 25-30% smaller grey disk. This means that with a better focus the lens delivers about 33-50% more resolution. Which is perfectly in line with the real observed sharpness of this lens in that post.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2009 3:27 pm 
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Here is a new series of test-shots comparable to the review of the new Nikon 70-200/2.8 VRII zoom I'm currently writing.

Sigma AF 300mm f/4.0 APO macro:
Image

Developed in CaptureNX with standard settings plus exposure compensation to bring all images to a comparable level of brightness. These shots were taken with hand-optimized focus in Camera Control pro 2. This 100% crop was taken 12mm off center which is equivalent to the wider DX border or approx. 60% of the FX-diagonal.
The results again look very good. It's a pity that AF is off...

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 16, 2010 4:21 pm 
I just bought a pristine sample of this lens on eBay (one of yours? :wink: ). I soon found out about the front focus issue.

A +20 focus adjustment on my D300 almost cured perfectly the issue. I tried combining a body correction and a lens correction, but it's apparently impossible to go above +20.

Still, at the minimum focusing distance, the residual focusing error is only about 5mm. For critical macro and landscape work, I could always manually focus. For sport, I will see whether the error is significant (and if the AF can keep up :? ). But I suspect that by f/5.6, the error will be hidden by the dof. And f/4 is slightly soft anyway.

I also tried the lens on a Kenko Pro 1.4x converter and the results seem to be very good. The front focus even seems smaller.

In conclusion, I am quite happy with my purchase so far. Image and build quality both seem excellent. I also find the removable tripod collar very nice - much better than my 80-200 2.8 AF-S one.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 16, 2010 6:51 pm 
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Hello fiatlux, and welcome to the friendly Camera Labs forum!
To enjoy your stay here please have a look at the house-rules!
----
Nope, this was not my copy - I still own the lens. Interesting that you needed the same amount of focus adjustment.
Btw.: What is your serial number? Mine is 1001xxx.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:55 am 
Hi Thomas.

I forgot to look-up my S/N but I wondered whether you tried to have one of your lenses serviced by Sigma. I sent a mail to Sigma Benelux but haven't heard back from them.

I'd be willing to pay a little if Sigma can improve AF accuracy on this lens.

Note that I used it for some sports photography recently (football and cross-country running). I got a number of keepers but, even on a D300, the AF is a bit too slow to efficiently track moving targets. Not a big deal as 300mm is anyway a bit long on DX for sports (at least at times). My 80-200 2.8 AF-S plus 1.4 TC is faster and more versatile.


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