Are you smarter than a 55-300? For this Bigmos, the answer is no.

Started 5 months ago | Discussions
paulkienitz
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Are you smarter than a 55-300? For this Bigmos, the answer is no.
5 months ago

My Sigma 150-500 arrived today, and I promptly took it out to the wetland.  I haven't gotten a video pan head yet, so I took a monopod.  And though a few shots looked kind of nice in uncropped form...

as soon as you crop it, things start looking pretty dire.

Admittedly, the lens was nearly wide open that time, and closing up to f8 does significantly reduce that glowy halo effect, but it still isn't often that you get a sharp shot.  This avocet is probably the single clearest cropped shot of the day (click to see 100% zoom):

whereas most shots were a lot poorer than that.  This is a typical example of one that's sorta okay and not as messed up as a lot of them were... and it's a blurry mess.

I tried running through the apertures, from f6.3 to f11.  I tried running through shutter speeds from 1/500 to 1/8000.  Finally I tried manual focus and nudging the ring (which is very nicely damped) a millimeter at a time.  Nothing helped.

Later, at home, I set up a focus calibration and ended up with a correction of -2 or -3, which wasn't a very significant difference.

My reason for buying this lens was because I hoped that it would enable me to go further and do more than I can with the little DA 55-300.  But it can't.  It's nowhere near adequate for such a purpose.  I think it may actually be worse than the old 135-400 I sold years ago!  That's a lens that no one misses now that it's gone, yet I got along reasonably well with it for some time, and only gradually decided that it just wouldn't do.  With this one, I'm seeing major inadequacies right from the start.

So, is this lens decent and I'm missing something or not giving it a fair chance, or is it as bad as I think?  Right now I'm thinking I should immediately start proceedings to return it.  Am I making sense?

(Unfortunately, I already scuffed the hood by dropping it in gravel.)

It's amazing how truly difficult it is to find an affordable lens that improves on the 55-300.  At this point, I guess my only remaining option if I want to stay within a normal human sized budget is DA*300 + TC, but even that adds up to about double the cost of the Bigmos.

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brecklundin
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Re: Are you smarter than a 55-300? For this Bigmos, the answer is no.
In reply to paulkienitz, 5 months ago

paulkienitz wrote:

My Sigma 150-500 arrived today, and I promptly took it out to the wetland. I haven't gotten a video pan head yet, so I took a monopod. And though a few shots looked kind of nice in uncropped form...

as soon as you crop it, things start looking pretty dire.

Admittedly, the lens was nearly wide open that time, and closing up to f8 does significantly reduce that glowy halo effect, but it still isn't often that you get a sharp shot. This avocet is probably the single clearest cropped shot of the day (click to see 100% zoom):

whereas most shots were a lot poorer than that. This is a typical example of one that's sorta okay and not as messed up as a lot of them were... and it's a blurry mess.

I tried running through the apertures, from f6.3 to f11. I tried running through shutter speeds from 1/500 to 1/8000. Finally I tried manual focus and nudging the ring (which is very nicely damped) a millimeter at a time. Nothing helped.

Later, at home, I set up a focus calibration and ended up with a correction of -2 or -3, which wasn't a very significant difference.

My reason for buying this lens was because I hoped that it would enable me to go further and do more than I can with the little DA 55-300. But it can't. It's nowhere near adequate for such a purpose. I think it may actually be worse than the old 135-400 I sold years ago! That's a lens that no one misses now that it's gone, yet I got along reasonably well with it for some time, and only gradually decided that it just wouldn't do. With this one, I'm seeing major inadequacies right from the start.

So, is this lens decent and I'm missing something or not giving it a fair chance, or is it as bad as I think? Right now I'm thinking I should immediately start proceedings to return it. Am I making sense?

(Unfortunately, I already scuffed the hood by dropping it in gravel.)

It's amazing how truly difficult it is to find an affordable lens that improves on the 55-300. At this point, I guess my only remaining option if I want to stay within a normal human sized budget is DA*300 + TC, but even that adds up to about double the cost of the Bigmos.

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"A good photograph is knowing where to stand." -- Ansel

Paul,

Oh, man you are bringing back memories but don't despair because it's not an easy lens to learn. I shot with a Bigmos for almost 3-months before I got the hang of it. I thought I made a $1200 mistake during the first week. I was shooting a Canon 40D at the time. What did it for me was a monopod, learning to love higher ISO's, go FAST with the shutter speed I found 2x the focal length about right and also give the lens OS time to fully spin-up and in general giving the beastie all the light I could muster.

I actually took some of my favs with that lens. Here are some, mind these were with the Canon but that should not matter and I am not a birder:

40D, 267mm, f5.6, 1/400, ISO250 -- On the 40D ISO250 was pretty close to the top end of my comfort zone of ISO400.

40D, 370mm, f6.3, 1/500, ISO400

And a bunch of shots here (these were uploaded in bulk just to put them somewhere in case I need them somewhere...)  Some of the shots are good but most are junk so you can see good and bad.  Lots of duplicates as well so be patient...

Many shots were handheld and many later in the day were on a monopod though on subsequent days when my hands were not up to the weight I used the monopod.

Hope these help you a bit...just average shots to show you good and bad and I think EXIF settings are on those shots as well (if not just ask, I can check in LR).

Anyway, like I wrote do not yet despair, the thing takes patience.

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AJSAUco
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Re: Are you smarter than a 55-300? For this Bigmos, the answer is no.
In reply to brecklundin, 5 months ago

I skim read it.

It takes quite a while to learn big lenses. Learn the lens and then see what sort of results you get.

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Leandros S
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Focal length
In reply to brecklundin, 5 months ago

Depending on which review you read, the lens is described as soft from 400 or 450mm. So both Paul's soft shots at 500mm and your sharp ones from 267-370mm are "within spec".

Take a look at DxOMark's resolution graph on this matter (mounted on K-3):

It drops to about 2-3 MPix effective resolution beyond 450mm...

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DAVID MANZE
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Re: Are you smarter than a 55-300? For this Bigmos, the answer is no.
In reply to paulkienitz, 5 months ago

F11 ISO400 1/1000@ 500mm

paulkienitz wrote:

My Sigma 150-500 arrived today, and I promptly took it out to the wetland. I haven't gotten a video pan head yet, so I took a monopod. And though a few shots looked kind of nice in uncropped form...

as soon as you crop it, things start looking pretty dire.

Admittedly, the lens was nearly wide open that time, and closing up to f8 does significantly reduce that glowy halo effect, but it still isn't often that you get a sharp shot. This avocet is probably the single clearest cropped shot of the day (click to see 100% zoom):

whereas most shots were a lot poorer than that. This is a typical example of one that's sorta okay and not as messed up as a lot of them were... and it's a blurry mess.

I tried running through the apertures, from f6.3 to f11. I tried running through shutter speeds from 1/500 to 1/8000. Finally I tried manual focus and nudging the ring (which is very nicely damped) a millimeter at a time. Nothing helped.

Later, at home, I set up a focus calibration and ended up with a correction of -2 or -3, which wasn't a very significant difference.

My reason for buying this lens was because I hoped that it would enable me to go further and do more than I can with the little DA 55-300. But it can't. It's nowhere near adequate for such a purpose. I think it may actually be worse than the old 135-400 I sold years ago! That's a lens that no one misses now that it's gone, yet I got along reasonably well with it for some time, and only gradually decided that it just wouldn't do. With this one, I'm seeing major inadequacies right from the start.

So, is this lens decent and I'm missing something or not giving it a fair chance, or is it as bad as I think? Right now I'm thinking I should immediately start proceedings to return it. Am I making sense?

(Unfortunately, I already scuffed the hood by dropping it in gravel.)

It's amazing how truly difficult it is to find an affordable lens that improves on the 55-300. At this point, I guess my only remaining option if I want to stay within a normal human sized budget is DA*300 + TC, but even that adds up to about double the cost of the Bigmos.

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Hi Paul,

The shots as you say don't look great in terms of sharpness, I have the 50-500 and I think it was me that posted the review of the 50-500mm at Lenstip, when they compared it to the 150-500 they said that the former was significantly sharper producing useful images. ( Tamron 150-600 post)

You know if you stick with it now and still don't like it you will not be able to return it, my call is the reviews are worth listening to, I would return it and hold out for the 50-500. I found a S/H copy and the heron is taken with it, hand held at about 1/1000 sec, F11 slightly cropped and sharpened a bit. It must be said at 500mm F6.3 ( for some reason it exif gives F6.7) it "is" soft soft, F8 is the minimum, F9-11 is slightly better, the performance here is "only just" sharp enough, but at least it is enough, with no real fringing.

It is an old model Sigma 50-500mm F4-6.3 APO DG EX. screwdrive no OS, the later model starts at F4.5 with HSM.

Look at the heron shot, it enlarges well here. F11 ISO 400 1/1000 sec@ 500mm. handheld SR ON.

Further edit: the shot was taken at 09:11 in the morning. temp. 23° approx.

Interesting what Ron says about hot daytime temperatures, I had taken some shots on a very hot afternoon and struggled to get anything very sharp, came away scratching my head.

Good luck.

Dave's clichés

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JeffAHayes
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Re: Focal length
In reply to Leandros S, 5 months ago

Leandros S wrote:

Depending on which review you read, the lens is described as soft from 400 or 450mm. So both Paul's soft shots at 500mm and your sharp ones from 267-370mm are "within spec".

Take a look at DxOMark's resolution graph on this matter (mounted on K-3):

It drops to about 2-3 MPix effective resolution beyond 450mm...

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No amount of perceived entitlement can replace actual expertise.

I was thinking something along the same lines, Paul. I have the Sigma 50-500, which I haven't really used enough to tell you whether it's "up to snuff" in my opinion, or not. I finally got a gimbal mount for the lens, which is now attached, but I haven't actually used it on my tripod like that since, and ALL my hand-held 500 mm shots -- even at high shutter speeds -- look about like yours when viewed at full size. But as Breck said, I think it may just be a matter of getting used to the lens and learning how to use it properly. I also think the NEXT time I use it handheld I'll turn off the in-camera shake reduction and turn it on on the lens, as that's supposed to give MORE stabilization than we get from in-camera IS.

But my FIRST thought when looking at your pictures was that you had NONE at 300 mm. In order to do a FAIR comparison against the 55-300, you should shoot some at 300 mm and see what it looks like at THAT focal length. Obviously, of course, you didn't buy it to shoot at 300 mm. But my point is that you're showing shots at a focal length 2/3 BEYOND what the 55-300 can deliver and then upset when they're not "razor sharp" at full pixel resolution. Shots using the 55-300 aren't "razor sharp" at full pixel resolution, either, although I'd say they usually look better than the first one you showed.

But I very much agree with Breck you need to LEARN THE LENS and most likely use the OS on the lens and turn it OFF on the camera (trying to use both at the same time makes them conflict with each other and can create a MESS of a picture). Reviews I've read have pretty consistently said that the in-camera OS provided by Pentax and a couple other brands ranges from 1-2 stops LESS than that which is generally provided by a decent lens-based optical stabilization, so when we have an aftermarket lens that gives us A CHOICE, it's probably better to use the lens' OS -- especially if you're not getting sharp pictures.

Try a few different things -- including a monopod and/or tripod (ALL OS should be turned off if you're using a tripod AND either a timer or some sort of remote release), and see what you get.

Good luck!

Jeff

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DAVID MANZE
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Re: Focal length
In reply to JeffAHayes, 5 months ago

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Just one more image 1/3200 ISO 800 F9 @ 500mm, cropped and sharpened a little. I think these two shots show that the 50-500mm can just cut the mustard! The bottom line is that yours lens has cost you good money and you only have a little time to decide.

BTW I paid 500 euros S/H for the bigma with a sigma MC filter, slight damage to the lens hood. Both the heron shots are at 500mm.

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brandrx
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Re: Are you smarter than a 55-300? For this Bigmos, the answer is no.
In reply to paulkienitz, 5 months ago

Hi Paul,

My first thought after viewing your images was heat waves due to the time of the day and probably high temperature. I have had images like these even from my very best prime lenses due to the same type of conditions.

I suggest that you try test shooting a target early in the morning before it gets too hot. Use a tripod if you have one. Remove the filter if you have one installed. Use the 2 second timer. Shoot the target at 500mm at all the apertures from f/6.3 to f/11. Then do the same thing at 400mm and 300mm. You should find that the images at f/9, f/10, and f/11 are sharp. The images at f/8 could be acceptable. The images at wide open will probably not pass the test.

Cheers.

Ron

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ozdean
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Re: Are you smarter than a 55-300? For this Bigmos, the answer is no.
In reply to paulkienitz, 5 months ago

Paul in your first shot the foreground grass seems to be more in focus than the bird. Maybe this was before you did fine adjust?

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MJSfoto1956
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Re: Are you smarter than a 55-300? For this Bigmos, the answer is no.
In reply to ozdean, 5 months ago

most lens manufacturers design their long telephotos to deliver the best results in the first 50% of the range leaving the longest focal length "wanting". Examples include Canon 100-400 and Nikon 80-400 (and your Bigma too). There are exceptions though: The Sony 80-400 and the Pentax DA* 60-250mm both deliver great results at the longest focal length. For me, I won't buy a lens design that is not sharp at its longest focal length because what's the point of a long lens after all? The fact is it *CAN* be done but for whatever reason some of the lenses out there don't deliver the goods and they won't get my money.

Michael

P.S. it will be interesting to see what Canon does with their rumored update to the 100-400mm come this fall

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brecklundin
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Re: Focal length
In reply to Leandros S, 5 months ago

Leandros S wrote:

Depending on which review you read, the lens is described as soft from 400 or 450mm. So both Paul's soft shots at 500mm and your sharp ones from 267-370mm are "within spec".

Take a look at DxOMark's resolution graph on this matter (mounted on K-3):

It drops to about 2-3 MPix effective resolution beyond 450mm...

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No amount of perceived entitlement can replace actual expertise.

Good call, I was thinking about the increased resolution on the K3 as a factor adding to the lens learning curve.  That would explain, "kinda-sorta-maybe", than the drop in resolution beyond 450mm.

If you look back at the gallery I linked to, there are a number of deeply cropped shots at 500mm which are nice and sharp.  Remember too the 40D was only a 10MP body which might have yielded better results.  Thing is, it's hard to know until I shoot with a Bigmos on a K3 or even my K5...and actually I have thought about adding a new Bigmos after buying the lenses I need to add and replace this year but that is many-many-moons out.  

I think Ron is on to something a few posts down the line here about heat influencing the shot.  I've shot 1000s of shots with the Bigmos and really, it's far better than Paul's  shots show; in fact there really is no difference between the Bigma and Bigmos IQ wise no matter what test tables show...trust me over at POTN we had a thread around 500-1000 posts long debating the IQ of the Bigma, Bigmos and Canon 100-400L...all three were essentially the same in real world use.

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audiobomber
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Re: Are you smarter than a 55-300? For this Bigmos, the answer is no.
In reply to paulkienitz, 5 months ago

Hi Paul. Unfortunately your results look a lot like mine did during my two weeks with the 150-500. At 300mm and below it beat my 55-300, but at 500mm wide open, it was dead soft. Stopping down improved it a great deal. The photos looked great, until you started to crop hard. At 500mm, it was never pixel sharp on a K20D. On a 24mp K-3, my results would have looked exactly like yours.

People told me "You don't know how to shoot with a long lens". Wrong! I returned the Bigmos and bought a second hand A 300mm f4 with Kenko 1.5X TC, and had no trouble getting pixel sharp shots at 450mm. Any misses were due to manual focus, not the lens. My current DA*300 and HD 1.4X RC is even sharper, and from wide open. My combo is only 420mm, but the Bigmos is not truly 500mm, more like 460mm at infinity focus, and drops significantly as subject distance decreases. I would bet that a K-5 IIs with Sigma 150-500 vs. a K-3 with DA*300, cropped to the same resolution, would provide a similar FOV and sharpness would easily favor the prime.

http://home.comcast.net/~NikonD70/GeneralTopics/Lenses/Focal_Length_versus_Subject_Distance_-_Sigma_150-500mm.htm

You read a lot of comments on this board about how fast HSM focus is. My recollection is that it was slower than my DA*300, but I didn't compare, because my ownership of the lenses was two years apart.

If you are someone who doesn't crop a lot, you might love the 150-500. I frequently crop to pixel level, I need a tack sharp lens. So many people are lamenting that Tamron isn't making the 150-600mm in K-mount. Not me, I have no further interest in big, slow, soft zooms.

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LDBOK
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Re: Are you smarter than a 55-300? For this Bigmos, the answer is no.
In reply to brecklundin, 5 months ago

There is something wrong with the lens or with your technique. I have had the Bigmos for about three years and have found it to be quite good. Certainly not the equal of a 500 prime, but the only way I get results like your's is with camera shake or mis-focus or both. If you want to see what this lens is capable of, almost all of the wildlife shots on my website for the last three years or so were made with this lens. Some of thes were considerably cropped also. I shoot at f9 or f10 at the long end and raise the ISO as needed.

Oops, I meant to reply to the OP.

http://larrydbrown.com

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In reply to LDBOK, 5 months ago

LDBOK wrote:

http://larrydbrown.com

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In reply to solarider, 5 months ago

solarider wrote:

LDBOK wrote:

http://larrydbrown.com

try http://larrydbrown.com

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Simon97
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Re: Are you smarter than a 55-300? For this Bigmos, the answer is no.
In reply to paulkienitz, 5 months ago

The first image is clearly in focus (sharpness of the eye) but the halo shows a definite optical aberration. It seems poor even for this type of lens. I'd be sending this thing back pronto. I don't think you'd be happy with it in the long run. I sure wouldn't.

I had a sigma 300mm f/4 APO and Sigma 1.4x teleconverter (APO?). The Kenko 1.5x is a top notch converter as well. Anyhow, this combo gave very good results. Much better than these consumer/enthusiast zooms. Problem is the lens is hard to find in the K mount and I don't know if it even functions on modern cameras.

The Sigma 400mm f/5.6 is good as well with the same caveats.

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paulkienitz
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In reply to JeffAHayes, 5 months ago

I forgot to mention that besides trying different shutter and aperture settings, I also tried both kinds of stabilization.
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PhotoHawk
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Re: Are you smarter than a 55-300? For this Bigmos, the answer is no.
In reply to paulkienitz, 5 months ago

paulkienitz wrote:

My Sigma 150-500 arrived today, and I promptly took it out to the wetland. I haven't gotten a video pan head yet, so I took a monopod. And though a few shots looked kind of nice in uncropped form...

as soon as you crop it, things start looking pretty dire.

Admittedly, the lens was nearly wide open that time, and closing up to f8 does significantly reduce that glowy halo effect, but it still isn't often that you get a sharp shot. This avocet is probably the single clearest cropped shot of the day (click to see 100% zoom):

whereas most shots were a lot poorer than that. This is a typical example of one that's sorta okay and not as messed up as a lot of them were... and it's a blurry mess.

I tried running through the apertures, from f6.3 to f11. I tried running through shutter speeds from 1/500 to 1/8000. Finally I tried manual focus and nudging the ring (which is very nicely damped) a millimeter at a time. Nothing helped.

Later, at home, I set up a focus calibration and ended up with a correction of -2 or -3, which wasn't a very significant difference.

My reason for buying this lens was because I hoped that it would enable me to go further and do more than I can with the little DA 55-300. But it can't. It's nowhere near adequate for such a purpose. I think it may actually be worse than the old 135-400 I sold years ago! That's a lens that no one misses now that it's gone, yet I got along reasonably well with it for some time, and only gradually decided that it just wouldn't do. With this one, I'm seeing major inadequacies right from the start.

So, is this lens decent and I'm missing something or not giving it a fair chance, or is it as bad as I think? Right now I'm thinking I should immediately start proceedings to return it. Am I making sense?

(Unfortunately, I already scuffed the hood by dropping it in gravel.)

It's amazing how truly difficult it is to find an affordable lens that improves on the 55-300. At this point, I guess my only remaining option if I want to stay within a normal human sized budget is DA*300 + TC, but even that adds up to about double the cost of the Bigmos.

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"A good photograph is knowing where to stand." -- Ansel

Hi Paul;

You might not be in its sweet spot.  If you haven't already have a look at lenstip.com.  Your lens is not particularly good at its long end.  But in the center its best fstop at 370-500mm is f11.  Its best fstop under 250 is f8.  For the corners f11 appears to be a good setting but in general the corners are not great from 370mm on and pretty questionable at 500mm at any fstop.  But I think it may not be any great shakes above 370.

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paulkienitz
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Re: Are you smarter than a 55-300? For this Bigmos, the answer is no.
In reply to brandrx, 5 months ago

I think that heat may have been a factor. I was looking through some images taken a few days earlier in the same spot with the same conditions, and they also looked kind of smeary in crop. Despite the temperature being fairly moderate and the distance being sometimes reasonably short, like 50 feet. (Most shots were more like 100.)
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Leandros S
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Re: Are you smarter than a 55-300? For this Bigmos, the answer is no.
In reply to MJSfoto1956, 5 months ago

MJSfoto1956 wrote:

most lens manufacturers design their long telephotos to deliver the best results in the first 50% of the range leaving the longest focal length "wanting". Examples include Canon 100-400 and Nikon 80-400 (and your Bigma too). There are exceptions though: The Sony 80-400 and the Pentax DA* 60-250mm both deliver great results at the longest focal length. For me, I won't buy a lens design that is not sharp at its longest focal length because what's the point of a long lens after all? The fact is it *CAN* be done but for whatever reason some of the lenses out there don't deliver the goods and they won't get my money.

Michael

P.S. it will be interesting to see what Canon does with their rumored update to the 100-400mm come this fall

It's not that they "design" them that way, but rather, that's the optical physics default. By narrowing the angle of view, you're emphasising imperfections particularly of the front-most glass elements. It's NOT doing it this way that takes design deliberation and skill.

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No amount of perceived entitlement can replace actual expertise.

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