Monday, October 30, 2006

Sigma 120-300 2.8 Review Part One

I recently sold my Canon 300 f4 IS L lens to help fund a 120-300 2.8 lens from Sigma. Moving into the indoor sports season, I needed something fast but longer than my 70-200 2.8. So, in came the 120-300.

I have been wanting this lens for a while, or a Canon 300 2.8 or 400 2.8. The lens I picked up was used, but in brand new condition. Picking the lens up for the first time you are amazed on just how heavy it is. I have had a few Sigma lenses in the past, but this one is the biggest and seems to be built like a tank. Looking at the lens cover/cap, the first thing I can honestly say that Sigma missed the boat on is the design. The cap can only be used in the storage position, or at least used correctly. There is a little notch cut out to lock around the hood knob, but when the hood is in shooting position, forget it. I have heard a lot of complaints about the hood. It is a bayonet style hood. You thread it into a notch set up on the lens, turn till it locks and tighten the knob. I like the stile and think it works well.

So, even before I attached my camera I twisted my monopod onto the beast. Pretty good balance, but if you get an older non DG lens be sure you get the larger lens collar. Mine is on order. This is the same lens collar on the 70-200 2.8 and it is just too small and compact for this lens.

I attached my 1D to the lens and it is a nice tight fit. Headed outside into the snow and started testing out the AF. Seems to focus quickly and accurately, but it will take some testing to figure out how good the AF is, but so far I am impressed. Two days after getting it, I finally had a chance to test it out. High School JV Volleyball. Bad lighting, so I was forced to shoot at ISO 3200 at 1/400th and 2.8. The lens performed great. I missed some shots, but that I attribute to user error. I am sure as I use the lens more, it will perform better and better for me. I have hockey, wrestling, and basketball coming up, so it will get lots of workout.

The view through the lens is great. Bright, contrastiy, and clear.

Honestly, with the exception of the lens hood/cap issue, the lens itself is great.

Now the case it comes with, that is another story. The Sigma Lens case plane sucks. I am looking for a new case for it, and I am leaning towards the Think Tank Photo Glass Taxi, but for now, it fits in my Lowepro MiniTreker Classic along with the 70-200 2.8 second body and some more short lenses. I have not tried it yet in my Stealth Reporter AW650 or my Kata stuff (which is for sale), and of course the Domke is just too small for it. The Sigma case is awkward and falls off my shoulder a lot when just walking along. Not nice if you have the lens in it.

I will update the review of this lens and add pictures as I go....

Take Care

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Busy time, lack of posts.

Between moderating the Fred Miranda Sports Corner, shooting and editing everything from football, volleyball, community theater, news, features, and fun stuff, I have neglected my two blogs. My apologies to the few that read this. Let me tell you a little about what is going on currently.

As many of you know, I have been the booster photographer for Eagle River High School football this season. I have shot every game in Anchorage for the Wolves and had a good time doing it. On top of that, I have been working with a local community theater and a church with some photo work. I have been working freelance with a local paper, and I have started mentoring a local high school student. Between editing, file management, shooting and more, it has been a busy time for me. And now it gets real busy. I have the big volleyball match up between Eagle River and Chugiak tonight, the Nye Frontier Classic hockey tournament this coming weekend, along with other UAA sports, and the Kelly Cup Champs, the Alaska Aces, are getting ready to start the 2006/7 season. This will lead me into November and the much anticipated Great Alaska Shootout and right into Eagle River High School basketball.

Also, as we hit mid October, the snow is on its way. I am guessing we will have a dusting soon and I have made the decision that I am going to get back out in the snow this season. My knees are not the best (the main reason I am behind the camera instead of playing the sports I love shooting), but my goal this winter is to get them stronger and get my self in better shape prior to the 2007 Iditarod. I will be getting out as much as I can to do some cross country skiing and I think some sledding. Of course my camera will be with me to document my adventures.

One of the new items I have added to my photo bag is something pretty cool. I have added a Sony minidisc recorder. I will be using this a lot for all my shooting. It will be great for high school basketball and all sports, getting ambient sounds for slide show presentations, and it is going to be priceless during news and feature shooting, freeing me from a notebook and pen and allowing me to record the information for cutlines. I am also working on replacing that great little Digital Rebel Xt with either another 1D or if football sales get better, a 1D Mark II or IIn, but I may actually go with a 30D for the crop and megapixals.

I will be liquidating some of my bags and other equipment too. So keep your eyes on Fred Miranda's buy and sell and the SportsShooter classifieds. I have about 3 or 4 bags, including my greatly loved Kata Rucksack, Torso bag, and Waist Pack which will be going on the block along with one more, maybe more. Also, I have collected so many flash cards, I no longer need my portable hard drive, so, my 20 gig FlashTrax will be on its way out. If you are interested in my Rebel at all (just cleaned by Canon), it has the box, cables, strap, body, battery, and battery grip, with box, and since I no longer have the 18-55 kit lens, I am including a 50mm 1.8. I am not ready to sell quite yet, but I may be soon after the 15th of October. I am thinking $625 for the entire camera outfit...oh, there is a cable release too.....might even find some other cool little things to add to it....

Anyway, I hope all of you are enjoying the beginning of winter and remember to stay warm and keep taking pictures.