Which Lens should I use?

Started 6 months ago | Polls thread
BirdShooter7 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,011
Re: Which Lens should I use?

JasonTheBirder wrote:

TheBlackGrouse wrote:

BirdShooter7 wrote:

I don’t want to pick a fight either but do you happen to have any side by shots that demonstrate this? I have tested the Sigma C and S side by side and they were so close it Was very difficult to pick a winner. I wish I still had the test shots handy to show. I even asked the Sigma folks about it at the Crane festival at Bosque del Apache and they said that my experience was expected. They said the main difference optically would be seen in the corners and at the edge of the frame and the big reason to go for the S vs the C was for more robust build quality and weather sealing. As good as the 100-400 II is, I’ve never been able to get the same quality of results from it that I can with the 150-600 C for FL limited subjects. Now, if you’re close enough that you don’t really need to crop at 400mm then yes, the 100-400 does look better to my eyes but when you’re so far that you need to crop at 400mm then almost always the 150-600 is the winner. The exception is when the subject is so far away that neither look good. That’s my experience at least


The Sigma Sports is hard to find in nature, there are former owners who sold it because of the weight

The Contemporary is used by many, we did tests in nature, side by side comparisons in the first few years after its introduction. Not the best tests but they give a good impression. In those first years there were many discussions about the lens, 150-600 was quite special.

Although I fully believe you I wonder if there are sample issues. Did earlier versions have more copy variation? Maybe the camera brand plays a role? Was it more visible with the 7D than with the 7DII?


Nasim Mansurov at photography life did an Imatest comparison of these two. The sport in the center @ 600 was 2711lp/mm at f/8 whereas the contemporary at the same aperture and in the center was 1670. Similar differences held wide open.....if that test is close to typical, I can't believe the differences would not be obvious on birds at medium distances.

I don’t deny the results of that website but I have found that there are often other factors at play in perceived sharpness than how many LP/mm a lens can resolve.  For example, the original EF 400mm f/4 DO IS has been measured to have very good resolution but most of the time the images I got from it looked fairly soft without post processing.

The problem with a lot of people testing long lenses is that they compare very close-up samples only by eye where the difference is not as obvious,

When I test a lens for sharpness I do it in the sort of conditions I actually expect to be using the lens in.  Usually I test at 30-40’ on bird feathers.  I’m sure that I won’t get the final word on absolute sharpness but I definitely can get a good idea of what I can expect in actual use which is all that really matters to me.  I do agree, however, that shooting a head shot of a domestic duck in the park at near minimum focus distance pretty much makes every lens look great.  However, I have also found that testing lenses at a target 300 yards away pretty much makes every lens look awful.

or they don't have sufficient samples,

That pretty much the case with all lens testing.  Even when lensrentals tests 10 or 20 copies there is a very limited data set but I do think you can get some general idea about what to expect.  Thankfully most of us aren’t using our lenses to make precise scientific measurements so all we really need to determine is if the lens we have produces results that are good enough to please us or not

or a host of other factors. For example, if you have a bird at 4m and everything is perfect about the shot, most decent lenses will look quite sharp due to the individual feather strands being large enough. But go to 8m and even with perfect technique, the lower-resolving lenses will start to show their weaknesses, whereas you would be able to crop more and still retain a smooth, sharp look with a higher-end lens. And then of course there is sample variation, etc.

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