Upgrade Time

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Whilst I enjoy the 11-24mm F4 immensely, at nearly 2 kilos it is a bit of a lump to lug around all day when you don’t need to shoot so wide. So it was time to upgrade a 17-40mm F4 L that I had knocking about to the latest 16-35mm F2.8L mkIII. And what an upgrade it is, just need to dial in all the AF Micro Adjustments and we are good to go. I use Reikan FoCal to calibrate, it is disappointing that Canon do not support the full automatic calibration process which would substantially reduce the amount of faffing about, but hey-ho.

Wider than Wide

Canon 8-15mmf4l

Canon EF 8mm-15mm F4L

Having invested relatively recently in a very wide piece of glass in the Canon 11-24mm, I decided that as I was enjoying it so much that I would add another wide to the kit bag, very nearly the widest that I have ever owned in fact. The last real fisheye lens that I had was a Canon FD 7.5mm F5.6 back in the 1980s, I don’t think I used it more than a couple of times before recycling it. So the latest addition is an 8-15mm F4L. which will probably be used a few times a year, but I have a few ideas for it, including a fireworks display that I am commissioned to shoot in the next 10 days or so.

Whoops

 

Canon 85mm F1.2 0019

I have always wanted another 85mm F1.2L, I had a FD 85mm F1.2L back in the old days when I was shooting with Canon F1n bodies. Had to buy it, it was too good a deal not to. Will get around to calibrating it, and getting used to it. It is a huge block of glass, AF seems pretty reasonable if not particularly fast. Looking forward to having a play with it.

 

One of the things that is really impressive is the size of the rear element, there is no wiggle room at the lens mount, in fact the electronic contacts are actually hanging out over the glass.

PPB30048

 

Wayward Lens Caps

Canon 15mm F2.8 0011A

If you have a Canon wide angle with the aluminium push fit caps, they can after a period of time become loose (to be honest they aren’t great when new), however they can be sorted with a couple of bits of self adhesive velcro.

I have done mine & you can now pick up the lens by the front cap.

 

F*ck that’s wide

18/03/2018. Canon 14mm F2.8L mkII

18/03/2018. Canon 14mm F2.8L mkII

 

I haven’t had a 14mm for a little while,  the last one that I had was a Sigma 14mm F2.8 which I had on loan for a review which was Ok, prior to that I had a Canon 14mm F2.8L which was pretty poor, not sure whether I just had a poor example or whether they were all as bad. However, I decided that I should have one in my bag, so I went for the Canon 14mm F2.8 L mkII.

I will update when I have had a chance to use it in anger!

Another Upgrade

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Probably my least used lens over the last 18 years is the 28-70mm F2.8L which for the most part sits in my kit bag as the 16-35mm & the 70-200mm are almost permanently bolted to my cameras. Looking back in my Archive, it seemed that it was used for less than 5,000 frames. So even though it was time to upgrade, I didn’t think that the extra weight & cost of the 24-70mm F2.8L was worth it, so I have replaced it with the smaller & lighter 24-70mm F4L IS.

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Time to Upgrade

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It has been a while, the Canon 16-35mm F2.8L I have since it’s original launch in the UK, even though it has been serviced it is time to retire the old girl, also the 17-40 F4 L that I purchased as a temporary replacement is to go on ebay also.

I can’t justify a brand new 16-35mm F2.8 mkIII so I have a brand new old stock 16-35mm F2.8 L mkII.

Also contemplating replacing the equally old 28-70mm F2.8 L as it is a similar age to the 16-35mm and the 70-200mm F2.8 L (all of which were purchased in 2001 along with a pair of EOS 1D bodies).

New Toy

 

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Don’t do much macro work, probably two jobs in the last year or so, that have actually come close to requiring a macro lens, but I was able to get away with a 24-70 & extension tubes. But I decided that it was time to invest. So a 100mm F2.8 Macro lens has been added to the arsenal. For the most part it will probably seldom leave the house, but it is handy to have.

Very Impressed…

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Sent my ageing Canon 16-35mm F2.8L away to The Lens Doctor for repair as it was incapable of producing a sharp image. I was purchased some 16 years ago & Canon wouldn’t touch it. So anyway a mere £239 and the lens has been fixed & returned, and what a job they have done. It has been completely stripped down, cleaned, repaired, parts replaced and returned.

I have shot a few test images and it seems every bit as good as the day that it was purchased. Despite being a heavily used lens, the focus & zoom rings are as smooth as a baby’s bottom. The weather seal has been replaced, in fact it seems a shame to stick my battered old lens hood on it.

I have no connection with The Lens Doctor other than being a very satisfied customer.

The details of the work required is shown below.

Stated Fault: Lens producing soft results /service

Observations: The lens looks in used cosmetic condition, showing small external wear on paintwork and fixings (some small paint wear commensurate with age), there is also slight wear on the lens grips and rubbers. The internal glass has an amount of dust/ debris on all the elements, suggesting there is a slight covering of environmental oils and dust throughout the lens. The Electronics/mechanics of the lens after inspection and test have shown a loose central corrector group carrier, the lens will require to be fully disassembled to re new bushes and to secure loose barrel assembly.

Estimate: The lens requires a complete disassembly for internal repair, replacing the Central Corrector group’s bushes and securing drive assembly. The lens also requires a general service including Clean, Lubricated and adjusted, giving principal consideration to the focus movement, this involves stripping out the entire focusing mechanism system and movements from the lens. Assemble all parts and secure loose Guides and key ways (Corrector Group), and re-assemble internal focusing movement, and I.C. assembly’s new internal bearings/bushing kit, re-align focus, collimate re-centre element groups and calibrate, test back to standard.

PARTS: The lens performance will be seriously affected by the movement of the Corrector Group carrier, which hopefully will be secured by new bearings/bushes, but I cannot ascertain the full extent of wear on the carrier housing until I have entered the lens. Also the lens requires a securing of Guides and key set bearings kit. I have priced for the parts which I will have to order.

  1. Key Guides bearings and bushing kit assembly.
  2. May require Central Corrector group carrier assembly

COST:  Disassemble all function parts Including mechanics and glass, check and inspect internal functionality and Helicoids action. Remove all mechanical assemblies, clean glass and element groups. Inspect and investigate all mechanical lens movements, check tolerances and re-new housing bearings. Re-install Power Diaphragm, Iris motor and drive unit and assembly, check and re-new barrel Key Guides and bearings. Re align and fully re –centre, collimate helicoids and align, calibrate aperture system reassemble, seal and fully test.

TOTALS: For full repair, test and bring back to standard   £239.00

               : Postage and Packing at cost

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Not Unreasonable…

_PBA3144Just received a quotation from www.thelensdoctor.co.uk for the repair of my 16-35mm F2.8 L USM, which I think is quite reasonable, bearing in mind that I purchased it brand new when it was first released so, in reality, although originally expensive, it owes me nothing.  It has given faultless service since 2001 and for the sake of £300 to repair & service it will be fine for a back up lens, or used behind the goal on a remote.

The work required is

The lens requires a complete disassembly for internal repair, replacing the Central Corrector group’s bushes and securing drive assembly. The lens also requires a general service including Clean, Lubricated and adjusted, giving principal consideration to the focus movement, this involves stripping out the entire focusing mechanism system and movements from the lens. Assemble all parts and secure loose Guides and key ways (Corrector Group), and re-assemble internal focusing movement, and I.C. assembly’s new internal bearings/bushing kit, re-align focus, collimate re-centre element groups and calibrate, test back to standard.

Looking forward to getting it back, as much as I like the 17-40mm F4 L USM that has replaced it, I like the extra stop & the extra 1mm.

Sigma 120-300 DG OS HSM Sport

_PBB3608Having acquired a Sigma 120-300 F2.8 Sport, it seemed prudent to get a USB dock to customise the lens & ensure that the firmware is up to date. Having been through the process once before with the non-sport version the software was instantly recogniseable & the firmware update was completed in about 30 seconds, then configuring the customisable switches to around another 30 seconds. Hopefully I will be able to see the results the next time I use it.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 16.59.46

Lovin’ the new toy

Sig123I am enjoying the new Sigma 120-300 EX, HSM, OS, Sport, [add your own random letters here] which replaced an ageing 120-300 EX, DG, HSM, however I do need to get used to the very different handling characteristics. However shooting today with a Canon 1.4 extender it works really well 99% of the time, just looking forward to getting a USB dock to tweak some of the settings. Build quality is truly several orders of magnitude better than it’s three generation older lens, which to be honest I used to constantly have a chamois leather in my pocket, just in case of a light shower.

I am looking forward to pushing this lens in the same way that I did the last one.

sig123 002

The Quality of the switches is greatly improved, and there are more of them

The Quality of the switches is greatly improved, and there are more of them

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A pair of proper strap lugs  rather than a single one on the tripod mount

Much nicer finish to the lens body

Much nicer finish to the lens body

A big knurled wheel to lock the lenshood in place

A big knurled wheel to lock the lenshood in place

Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM

Togsblog Star Rating
Superb

Paul Burgman-0110Sigma120-300OS028

For the last couple of weeks I have been testing the brand new Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM F2.8 lens. I have had a couple of the previous incarnations of this lens including the very first version which I rated very highly, despite having some reservations about a number of design faults. The tripod mount was pretty much unusable and the lens hood which was too short & didn’t have a protective surround at the end, which meant after a few uses that the paint had chipped & worn revealing shiny metal (and also no flocking).

120-300firmwareSome of the issues were addressed pretty quickly, including shipping the lens with the TS41 tripod mount (from the Sigma 50-500mm from memory) The lens hood, whilst still too short, had a protective rubber trim at the end, which meant that I could put the lens with body front element down when not in use).

Ray Fitchett promised me a look at the new version, which is one of the first lenses they have produced in their “global vision” concept. This is the first of the “sport” lenses, hopefully there will be many more.

27/09/2014. Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers.Woking's John Goddard

27/09/2014. Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers.Woking’s John Goddard

When the latest version arrived, I was impressed at the significant improvements in the design, it has a much more substantial tripod mount, secured by a large knurled locking wheel, and the ring is secured in much the same way as the Canon 70-200mm F2.8 IS L, & so much less likely to detach accidentally than the previous version. The lens hood is also substantially improved, it is quite considerable deeper and of a much better design, including some protection on the leading edge from damage.

The build quality is at last capable of rivalling that of Canon & Nikon, and the weather proofing seems to be substantially improved, alsong with the quality of the all of the switches.

The lens is also available with a USB dock, which mounts on the lens mount (so is specific to the brand of camera that you use) this enables you to access several options, including one of upgrading the firmware. I hope that this will enable (should Canon or Nikon change the functionality of their lens mounts) the lens to be updated to match, rather than as historically required, be sent away to be rechipped.

27/09/2014. Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers.Woking's Joe McNerney

27/09/2014. Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers.Woking’s Joe McNerney

So first thing was to have a play, well there was a firmware update, within a few minutes it was applied. I then a look through a few of the other options, but decided to leave it in the default settings. To be honest this should be built into the lens, it can’t be beyond the abilities of the technical department at Sigma to have this functionality on board, along with a weatherproofed micro USB port.

After that the lens remained in the boot of the car for a few days until I had a job that required it, which to be honest was going to either be Football or Rugby, as 90% of the provincial news I shoot these days tend to be done on a 16-35mm.
Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers was the first job that it was used for, and I have to say that I was impressed, the AF is substantially improved over the previous version, even on my old Canon bodies, I think that the improvement would be even more noticeable on later generations of Canon cameras, especially something like the EOS 1Dx.

11/10/2014 Guildford City v Frimley Green at the Spectrum. City's Edward Boateng fouled

11/10/2014 Guildford City v Frimley Green at the Spectrum. City’s Edward Boateng fouled

There are some subtle differences in the image quality as well, the new Aperture assembly in the latest lens has 9 blades as opposed to the 7 in the version that I have, and the out of focus backgrounds have a much more pleasant look to them, I would hesitate to say “bokeh” as someone will “google” it and find the urban dictionary definition.

I can’t fault the quality of this lens, and when one introduces the question of price at £2800 it is expensive, but when you consider that the Canon 300mm F2.8L IS USM is £4800, & the Nikon 300mm f2.8 G ED VR II AF-S Nikkor Lens is £4100, then you get the added versatility of a zoom also, which from the point of few of shooting sport, helps as you can’t always chose your location or indeed where the action happens.

Anyway here are a couple of frames from the Woking match, & a couple from a Guildford City FC match. Whilst wordpress will have compressed the crap out of them, trust me they are sharp.

I have also used the lens with the Canon 1.4 & 2x extenders as well as the Sigma 1.4 extender & can report that they work well, which was an issue for the earlier version.

Previously I wrote This and This.

Way back in 2005ish, I wrote a review which you can read here.

Anyway more to follow in due course.

Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers

27/09/2014. Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers.Woking's John Goddard

27/09/2014. Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers.Woking’s Josh Payne

No game for Guildford City this weekend, so I covered the Woking FC match, partially because I have been loaned the new Sigma 120-300mm F2.8, which is 2 generations on from my current 120-300mm. I have never been happy with the version of the lens that I have, it isn’t sharp, when I first received it it front focused like a bitch, and has been back to Sigma twice, each time with the camera to have it adjusted. It still is not right, although not as bad as it was…

Previously I wrote This and This.

Well at least the new one focuses as it should on first trials, it has also addressed several of the issues that I raised in the first review of the 120-300, way back in 2005ish, which you can read here.

There will be a review in a few days when I have done some more testing, however interestingly it seems to work better with the Canon Extenders than the previous version did, it also even works with the 1.4x & 2x stacked.

Check back in a few days.

D’Oh

big-tom
Sigma UK headquarters were burgled at the end of February and some 45 lenses were stolen. Shame that the new 200-500 F2.8 wasn’t amongst the lenses taken, otherwise the police would just have to wait outside local hospitals for the burglars to turn up requiring hernia operations.

A list of serial numbers of the lenses that were nicked are shown Here.

Good to see that Sigma are getting the PR people to do the Police statements

The lenses are different sizes and specifications and would have been marked Sigma:

105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro, a high performance medium telephoto macro lens optimized for digital cameras
17-35mm f/2.8-4 EX DG, a super wide-angle zoom lens with a large aperture. Designed to suit the special characteristics of digital cameras.
18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro, a large aperture zoom lens designed specially for use with digital SLR cameras and includes a minimum focusing distance of 20cm.
70-300mm f/4-5.6 APO DG Macro, a telephoto zoom lenses with telemacro function and optimised for digital SLR cameras.

The company concerned has issued a photo of the missing lenses and police would like to know if you have seen them being offered for sale in any unorthodox manner.

If you can help, please call 0845 33 00 222 and quote reference B1/07/925. Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously with the same reference on 0800 555 111.
What the Police did not do was issue the serial numbers of the missing lenses.

If any of you come across these lenses, please let the police know as above or give us a nudge please.

D’Oh it’s happened again Here)

Sigma 500mm f/4.5 EX DG APO HSM Lens

Togsblog Star Rating

Terrific


Sigma 500mm F4.5 EX DG APO HSM , strap, filter, instructions, case and lens cap

The new Sigma 500mm F4.5 EX DG APO HSM lens arrived on my doorstep sometime today, and over the next few weeks I shall be evaluating this latest digitally enhanced lens. Firstly a description of the 500mm F4.5, straight out of the box, untouched by human hands (presumably assembled my monkeys in Japan) the first thing that struck me was the drop in circular polarising filter that was already in the box, something that Canon (and Nikon) charge huge amounts of money for.

The lens is supplied complete with a black padded case, with a strap, which is a snug fit for the lens, so little chance of fitting a body and lens together in the case, unfortunately. The box also includes a strap for the tripod lug of the lens. It also rather un-necessarily comes with a set of instructions.

The 500mm F4.5 is shipped with fixed tripod mount (unlike the 120-300mm which is interchangeable) and a rigid lens hood that reverses back over the lens for storage with a nosebag to protect the front element.
The lens hood seems remarkably short for a 500mm lens, I wonder how effective it might be and hopefully some testing shall reveal all.

The lens is appears to built to the same standards as the Sigma 120-300 although it is rather lighter in weight, which is one of the big advantages of a prime lens.
Starting at the lens mount there is the usual Sigma white blob to enable you to line the lens up with the camera mount (whether Canon, Nikon or whatever, you mean there is anything else?) and slightly ahead of that is the Manual/Autofocus switch, which is straight forward enough to use.

Focus scale, Name
Plate Filter rotation ring and holder

In front of the AF switch is a drop-in filter holder, about which I still have the same reservations as the one on the Sigma 300-800mm, to release the holder you simply squeeze the two clips together and out she pops. The drop in filter size is a standard (but relatively small) 46mm, so off-the-shelf filters should be easy enough to use, although you may have to be aware that the filter ring should be no deeper than 5mm as it will not fit. My main concern with the filter holder is how it will stand up to knocks and abrasions when the lens is on a strap over your shoulder. As it protrudes a little way from the body of the lens

In front of the drop in filter holder is a ring with a white mark, which I think is a bloody good idea, (and so will you when you find out what it does…… Ok I will tell you). Rotating the ring also rotates whatever filter you have in the filter mount, not important with many filters, however when using a polarising filter it makes life an awful lot easier. The slightly bizarre thing though (although you’d never notice it normally) is that the filter turns the opposite way to the ring itself.
Just in front of that is a strap lug and ahead of that is a focus limiter, with ranges of 4-8 metres 8 metres to infinity and beyond and a full range setting.

Ahead of that is a focus scale and the focusing ring, which is nice. Another thing that is nice is the Sigma lens focuses in the same direction as the Canon lenses (something that has often been a problem for independents, however I guess that it is now a problem for Nikon users).

Sigma 500mm hood left and 120-300 right

In front of the focusing ring are the previously mentioned tripod mount and then the lens hood. A quick word on the lens hood, (honest I am not anally retentive about lens hoods) the hood is significantly better designed than the 120-300mm F2.8 hood in that, whilst it is still of metal construction, it has the inside of the hood lined with a matt black flocking material and a plastic front trim that will reduce the risk of exposing bare metal at the front of the lens hood itself.
The image on the left is a composite of the lens hood from the 500mm F4.5 and the hood for the 120-300 F2.8. I think that it is safe to say that you can all see the difference between them, and that the 500mm hood will almost certainly out perform the 120-300 especially as they get older.

You can already see the 120-300mm hood has paint missing from the leading edge, where the camera and lens have been placed on the ground. In time, this will wear to reveal shiny metal that will cause more flare (or the risk of flare) than it will cure.


Drop-In Filter Holder

Overall construction of the 500mm F4.5 is very nice, it has a substantial enough feel to it, without feeling over engineered, it is a comfortable weight to hand hold albeit for relatively short periods of time, weighing in a 6 1/2 pounds it is about the same as the Canon 500mm f4.5 and about 75% of the weight of the latest 500mm F4 IS. The tripod mount is of a good enough size even if it does face the wrong way. When using mono-pod the easiest way to move a Camera/Lens/Pod combination quickly is to tilt the camera/lens forward and hold by the tripod mount, with this mount it places all the weight on the little finger which is uncomfortable after a short period of time.

Having used the Sigma 500mm a couple of times on jobs, this lens is a good as I expected. The Autofocus is good, but not a patch on the Canon 400mm F2.8 (which is to be expected given that it is a stop and a half slower) but more than acceptable. Unfortuntately I no longer have my old Canon EF500mm F4.5 to do side by side tests, as the Canon lens was renowned for it’s quality.
Focus Limiter Switch and Strap Lug (drop-in filter removed)

The lens is reasonably well balanced hand held, although as seems to be typical of the Sigma lenses the tripod foot is the wrong way around. If you are looking at the Sigma as an alternative to the Canon 500mm F4 L IS USM I would have to say go for the Canon, especially if you are going to be using it with the 2x converter. The reason being that with the F4.5 Sigma, when you add a 2x converter, it becomes a 1000mmm F9, and even on the Canon 1 series digital bodies you will lose the AF (although with the Canon 500mm F4 and a 2x converter you will have only the centre spot, which is better than nothing, especially as none of the modern AF bodies have any focussing aids as standard.

There are no problems with the images that the lens is capable of producing, although with any lens of this size a little care and forethought will help.

My conclusion is; if you want a good value for money 500mm and will not often require a 2x extender or image stabilisation, then save yourself a couple of thousand pounds. If however it is going to be used right on the limit of available light, go for the Canon. Whilst I shall not be adding this lens to my equipment box, I can definately recommend it. Now if Canon only did the EF 500mm F4 IS USM L in black……

I have included a couple of pictures at the bottom of the page that were shot with the 500mm straight and with the Sigma 2x converter. Therein lies another quandary, the Sigma lenses really do not like the Canon Extenders (or maybe it’s the other way around) so if you have a mixture of long Canon and Sigma glass (I assume that it will be the same with Nikon) then you will probably need to double up on extenders.

Sigma 300-800mm EX

Sigma 300-800mm F/5.6 EX IF APO HSM AF LENS

Togsblog Star Rating

Terrific

This lens has more random letters in its name than a Korean car model.  So from now on it will be know as the Sigma 300-800 seeing as they only make the one, there shouldn’t be too much confusion (damned that’s put me in mind of Highlander “There can be only one!!”, so how come there was a sequel?)

First impressions of the 300-800 when it was delivered this morning, well something along the lines of “No I didn’t order any portable anti-aircraft missile launchers”. The lens arrived in a black padded coffin, basically, with a couple of grab handles.  Weighing in at some 5.5 kilos, it is a little lighter than my Canon EF400mm F2.8 USM Mk II.  The case will take the 300-800 with a camera mounted, I would like to see a little more space or padding on the top lid, to protect the camera whilst mounted on the lens. Other than that the case is pretty much ideal.  The only other additions  I would like to see  with the case would be pouches/pockets to take 1.4x and 2x extenders and a method of attaching a monopod to the exterior of the case.

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