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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:03 pm 
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Just an update:
- availability in Germany for Canon=yes, for Nikon=not yet
- (pre-)order for about 700€ (incl. 19% you-know-VAT)
- images: http://www.optyczne.pl/969-nowo%B6%E6-S ... EAcia.html

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 6:14 pm 
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Availability for Nikon seems to improve. Lowest street-price drops to 660€ (incl.VAT)

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 10:47 pm 
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Just ordered the lens, will come back with a quick test next weekend...

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 10:53 pm 
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Thomas wrote:
Just ordered the lens, will come back with a quick test next weekend...


Great Thomas. Looking forward to this test.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 9:15 pm 
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Before getting my own mitts around this hot "little" zoom here's some food for thought: MTF curves.

I'll show you the new "pair" 120-400mm alongside the 150-500mm curves:
Image
As you can see, the sharpness (green line) of the longer zoom suffers a little more in the FF/FX borders/corners esp. at the short end as compared to the shorter zoom. The contrast (red line) is on quite a high level for both

Next up is the old "pair" 135-400mm alongside the 170-500mm curves:
Image
Now these curves show that Sigma has achieved some improvements over the older generation but esp. at the shorter version they are not huge. If you have to sum it up in one sentence: Border-performance on FF/FX-bodies on the short end improved.

As a reference: For DX-bodies borders are at 12mm (=24/2) and corners are at 14mm. For a FF/FX format body (like the D3 and the brand new D700) the borders are at 18mm (=36/2) and the corners at 21mm.

Now here's some comparison to the current 100-300 (sans OS) and the discontinued 80-400mm OS:
Image
These curves show that the 100-300 is better in most aspects than any of the other lenses (confirmed by independent tests) and that the 80-400 should be topped by both new lenses.

(all MTF-curves (c) Sigma)

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 9:57 pm 
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Not sure I understand those MTF curves! In laymens terms, how are those lenses? The 150-500mm I'm quite interested in!

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 6:50 am 
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On the X-axis is depicted the distance from the image centre - so 0mm equals centre.
And higher curves are always better: in contrast (=red line) and in sharpness (green line).
So the 150-500 shows a little weakness in both contrast and sharpness at the borders/corners of the APS-C sensor (12/14mm).
----
Oh, and btw: These MTF-curves are not "measured" but calculated by the design-sw for the lens. So these are all theortical best-case figures. How the lens behaves and performes in practice has to be seen.
And: Those MTF-curves above are calculated at maximum (=widest) aperture. So stopping down a little should improve the results. Again, by how much will be seen when I've tested the lens - which is currently on the way to me :D

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:53 pm 
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Whoa, the lens arrived already today.
For the beginning of a wonderful review head over here.
Remember though that I'm not a professional reviewer like Gordon. So:
- my review might lack the technical sophistication of a "real" review by Gordon
- my review will take some time to complete, so visit that thread time and again as I slowly collect my observations and measurments of the new lens.
Feel free to ask all kind of questions about the new lens here and I'll answer it here, or as part of the review.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 10:38 am 
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As I'm comparing the 120-400/OS @400mm to the fixed focal 400/5.6 (without IS/OS) I'll also have to struggle with the following question:
Is it better to have a sharp lens without OS or a not so sharp lens with IS/OS? Esp. as I'm mostly shooting handheld.

The final sharpness is a composit from the "pure" lens-sharpness under ideal conditions (i.e. stable tripod) and the residual shake under practical conditions (one lens with OS, one w/o).
A well-lit subject under bright daylight that you're shooting at f/5.6+1/1000sec does not profit much from OS. Overall sharpness depends mostly on the ability of the lens to produce sharp images wide open. In this case the 400/5.6 clearly has the advantage over the 120-400OS.
If you stop the 120-400OS down 2 steps to f/11+1/250sec you should get improved optical sharpness but the OS has to compensate for 4x stronger shake*.

It will be interesting to see, whether some of the pictures I shot today will help answer which setup is better.

-----
*not to mention motion blur, that can only be stopped with shorter shutter times, not by IS/OS

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Last edited by Thomas on Wed Jul 09, 2008 8:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 10:43 am 
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Another interesting question comes up with the 120-400 based on the observation (so far) that it is sharper @300mm than @400mm:
Is it better to digitally zoom into a sharp 300mm image than to use the (not so sharp) original 400mm length?

Well I have now enough comparable shots @300mm and @400mm to apply some 1.33x digital magnification to the 300mm-shots and compare them at 100% crops with the original 400mm-shots.

Stay tuned...

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 8:49 pm 
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I think I'm getting closer to unravel the mysteries around testing this lens.
If you haven't followed my review thread here: It is exceptionally hard to get consistent images for testing sharpness of this lens, but finally a pattern seems to emerge when testing at 400mm:
- fine IQ on a tripod with mirror up. So optically the lens seems to be not too shabby, but I normally don't carry a tripod with me :?
When handheld you have to distinguish:
- handheld with OS="off": You see the normal distribution of images lost to shake. But when you hit the moment of calm between two swings you can produce very good images too. Just like from the tripod
- handheld with OS="on" is a different story: the OS eliminates most of the total lossed, BUT: it also seems to limit the number of critically sharp shots you can get. It looks like the OS is quite "hectic" at times producing some erratic movements when disturbed. Not sure how the OS reacts, when the mirror-slap excites the system. It might just be that the OS introduces "micro-blur" of it's own. That would also coincide with some observations of "mushy" images, because the micro-blur would smear colors and contrast.

Disclaimer: You have seen the "seems" and "might" above. Don't base any decisions on this post yet! My testing still has some questionable factors, so I have to repeat it :(
I'll post anything more qualified in the review-thread!

Hope to be back soon...

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