Sigma 150-500 Vs. Nikon 70-300 VR+1.7 TC?

AanandAanand Posts: 5Member
edited December 2012 in Gear Reviews
I am in the market for a lens in the $1000-$1200 range that has atleast a 700mm focal length for a cropped frame camera.

I had it narrowed down to the Sigma 150-500, but after using a friends on a recent trip was not too happy with it. Now am looking at a Nikon 70-300 VR 4.5-5.6 with a 1.7 TC.

Any inputs regarding its quality and useability would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
Aanand

PS - I currently use a D60 which I plan on replacing with the Nikon D7x000/D(4?)00 i.e. when Nikon stops playing around and decides to release it!
Post edited by Aanand on
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Comments

  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    edited December 2012
    The Nikon 70-300 will not work with the 1.7TC or any for that matter. Have a look at Nikons TC compatibility chart to see which do. 
    Post edited by Golf007sd on
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • adamzadamz Posts: 842Moderator
    +1 golf. 

    in this price range the best option You can have is to buy Nikon 300mm f4 AF-S from second hand and later add TC to it. It will AF with TC14 and TC17 w/o major problems on DX bodies, with some difficulties it will also AF with TC20. 
    another option is to get Bigma - Sigma 50-500, preferably BigmOS. It's a decent lens, especially the one with OS, though it needs to be stopped down to f8 to get the best of it. 
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,027Moderator
    @Aanand; Take a look at the Tamron 200-500.  One of the members here has one and it is nice and sharp.
    Always learning.
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    I have an 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 and have shot a lot of photos with my D90.  When stopped down to f/8 or 11, this is a very competent lens and does give one 600mm which is close to 700mm and does not require any TC as some of the others suggested.  Or, the 300mm f/4 used with a TC-14EII gives an f/5.6 420mm or 630mm equivalent.  The TC's work well on primes, but I would be suspect for any zoom other than the 200-400mm f/4 Nikkor....out of reach.
    Msmoto, mod
  • tcole1983tcole1983 Posts: 981Member
    As with everyone on a budget, this is the hardest range to achieve at a budget friendly price.  That being said as mentioned the 70-300 will not work with a TC.

    There are really only a couple options:
    70-300 w/ no TC
    Third party xxx-500
    Nikon 300 F4 w/ 1.4 or 1.7 TC
    Nikon 80-400 w/ no TC

    And that is about it...at the price range you are looking.  If you had a bit more you could get something like the older 300 F2.8 and the TC 2.0, but that brings you around $3000 or so. 
    D5200, D5000, S31, 18-55 VR, 17-55 F2.8, 35 F1.8G, 105 F2.8 VR, 300 F4 AF-S (Previously owned 18-200 VRI, Tokina 12-24 F4 II)
  • pippigurlpippigurl Posts: 241Member
    edited December 2012
    I have a Sigma 150-500 and curious what you do not like about the lens? In my budget it was what I considered to be the best for the $$$. Tried the Bigma but just to difficult weight and siz wise. Perhaps another choice might be the Tammy 200-500 with a TC... Yes Spray..."Coastal" uses that lens and his images are usually spot on.
    Post edited by pippigurl on
  • cbgcbg Posts: 126Member
    I think one of the complaints with the Sigmas  has been their inconsistent quality control.  I have the Sigma 150-500 as well and have been very happy with it.  It could have been his friend had a poor copy.
  • blandbland Posts: 811Member
      Perhaps another choice might be the Tammy 200-500 with a TC... Yes Spray..."Coastal" uses that lens and his images are usually spot on.
    ......and it's only $950 US.
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,172Member
    My friend has the 200-500 too his images look ok. I have the old version of that lens,  Tamron 200-400 5.6.. and its nice. ..
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • PhotobugPhotobug Posts: 4,535Member
    I also have a Tamron 200-500mm lens on a D300 and get excellent sharp photos.  Have had the lens for 5 years.  Great pictures on bright days.  On over cast days be sure you close down that aperture to F/8 so you image is not flat.

    Why did you not like the Sigma 150-500?  My Canon buddy has had one for years and he uses it for bird photography and gets excellent pictures.

    When I bought my Tamron the Sigma did not have the VR feature, otherwise I would have purchased the Sigma.  FYI, I was at a Tamron sponsored event and used the lens for 4 hours and that is why I bought it.  Decide what you want to buy and then talk to your local dealer.  Many have lens you can rent for a day.  Then turn around and buy that lens from him.

    D750 & D7100 | 24-70 F2.8 G AF-S ED, 70-200 F2.8 AF VR, TC-14E III, TC-1.7EII, 35 F2 AF D, 50mm F1.8G, 105mm G AF-S VR | Backup & Wife's Gear: D5500 & Sony HX50V | 18-140 AF-S ED VR DX, 55-300 AF-S G VR DX |
    |SB-800, Amaran Halo LED Ring light | MB-D16 grip| Gitzo GT3541 + RRS BH-55LR, Gitzo GM2942 + Sirui L-10 | RRS gear | Lowepro, ThinkTank, & Hoodman gear | BosStrap | Vello Freewave Plus wireless Remote, Leica Lens Cleaning Cloth |
  • AanandAanand Posts: 5Member
    Thank you all for the responses!

    OK, here are my concerns... The images from the 150-500 seem to deteriorate drastically towards the higher zoom ranges(>400mm). I ruled out the 80-400 and the 300 f4 as both of them are expected to be updated ( I forgot to mention, I'm on a clock on this purchase! I want to pick this up by Jan 10th). The Tamron seems to be a good alternative, not really had the time to check it out.

    I am seriously contemplating picking up the cheap and easily available Nikon 70-300 for the time being and wait till after I pick up the upgraded body to upgrade the lens...

    I have tried the Sigma and the "big"ma a few times... Will try out the Tamron sometime today/tomorrow...

    Cheers
    A
  • TriShooterTriShooter Posts: 219Member
    edited December 2012
    I will throw my hat into the ring to applaud the Tamron 200-500 which I've used on the D300, and the D7000. It is as sharp as a tack and on bright days gives me great color and good contrast. It focuses accurately as well, and has a good feel to the manual focus which is important when trying to capture a small fast bird in flight. 

    The lens I have that is sharper and has better contrast than the 300mm F4 is an AIS 85mm F1.4 ED which is one of the sharpest lenses Nikon every made. The flexibility of the Tamron 200-500mm in the field is preferable to me over using only the 300mm F4 with the TC1.7 MKIII, but the 300mm F4 with the TC1.4 or 1.7 is about as sharp as it gets with great contrast to me. 

    The reason I prefer the Tamron in the field is that it is safer, and equaly as fast, to acquire the target at 200-300mm, and then push the lens out to 500mm than start at 500mm. I usually get the target either way, but when I miss with the 500mm, which thankfully is not too often, I have to resight over the top of the lens to find the target which may be getting farther away, not closer which is a bummer. 

    Another way to get 500mm is the Nikon's T50cm F5 Mirror which is an excellent lens, and a faster lens with the downside of being a manual focus lens, which is not a handicap because this lens is big and meant for still, and slow targets.. 
    Post edited by TriShooter on
  • CoastalconnCoastalconn Posts: 527Member
    Wow, I am not alone with my 200-500!  I didn't realize there were several others.  I see them sell used all the time for $500-$600 which is probably the best bargain out there for a consumer 500.  It is pretty fast with AF especially on the D300.  It is super light for a 500, weighing in under 3 pounds.  I always shoot it handheld and have pulled off some shots at ludicrously low shutter speeds.  I just tuned it in at +3 and have been pushing the ISO to 1600 on the D300.  Feel free to look through my flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/coastalconn/ .  The obvious downsize is no VR.  
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    Thank you all for the responses!

    OK, here are my concerns... The images from the 150-500 seem to deteriorate drastically towards the higher zoom ranges(>400mm). I ruled out the 80-400 and the 300 f4 as both of them are expected to be updated ( I forgot to mention, I'm on a clock on this purchase! I want to pick this up by Jan 10th). The Tamron seems to be a good alternative, not really had the time to check it out.

    I am seriously contemplating picking up the cheap and easily available Nikon 70-300 for the time being and wait till after I pick up the upgraded body to upgrade the lens...

    I have tried the Sigma and the "big"ma a few times... Will try out the Tamron sometime today/tomorrow...

    Cheers
    A
    Those lenses have been "expected to be updated" for about 4 years now and still nothing.  If you buy used, they will hold their price well and if you ebay, you probably will not be out more than $100.  

    I have the 70-300vr and as long as you turn off the VR at Shutter speeds above 1/500 you will get super sharp images at f/8-f16.  Even 5.6 is not bad at all.  I keep that lens because it just is so light and easy to travel with rather than the big guns.  I only pull those out if the situation requires it.  Low iso, high shutter with f/8+ you can easy crop like crazy and get good results for a 8x10.    Not a bad lens to have in the bag or as an option especially if you are just waiting for the next release of a higher end zoom.
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • CoventryphotogCoventryphotog Posts: 4Member
    Not ideal, but some of the Sigma TC's do work on the 70-300 afs vr..... That said all TC usage is a compromise.

    We have the 1.4x and 2x TC for use on our Sigma 300 f2.8 - In the manuals Nikon 70-300 afs vr is specifically listed as compatible, we have tested and confim this is the case....if you're interested let me know and I Wll pass on the model numbers.....
  • tcole1983tcole1983 Posts: 981Member
    edited December 2012
    Not ideal, but some of the Sigma TC's do work on the 70-300 afs vr..... That said all TC usage is a compromise.

    We have the 1.4x and 2x TC for use on our Sigma 300 f2.8 - In the manuals Nikon 70-300 afs vr is specifically listed as compatible, we have tested and confim this is the case....if you're interested let me know and I Wll pass on the model numbers.....
    Are you sure?  For the 70-300 not only is there a matter of available light issue with the TC's, but also the fact that some can scratch the rear element of the lenses if there isn't enough clearance.  I haven't looked enough to see which those are, but I won't try it with my lens.

    Edit: looks like an issue with the Nikon TC's and not having the proper clearance.  Looks like reviews I read say image quality is terrible with any TC on the 70-300 and almost impossible to AF.  Seems like you would be better off cropping then using one.
    Post edited by tcole1983 on
    D5200, D5000, S31, 18-55 VR, 17-55 F2.8, 35 F1.8G, 105 F2.8 VR, 300 F4 AF-S (Previously owned 18-200 VRI, Tokina 12-24 F4 II)
  • CoventryphotogCoventryphotog Posts: 4Member
    edited December 2012
    Yes i'm sure....as I said - all TC use is a compromise LOL realworld experience trumps reviews - usually LOL.

    Anyway it works, if you want to use it great, if not, equally great ....
    Post edited by Coventryphotog on
  • tgi1tgi1 Posts: 2Member
    I am currently running a series of tests on the new version of the Sigma 150-500, and comparing it to the Nikon 80-400 and Nikon 300mm f/4 lenses.  I, too, am looking for a more convenient long lens to carry into the field.  I will be publishing the results later today or tomorrow on my blog, aboutphotography.   So far, I can tell you that the Sigma resolution is sharper than the Nikon 80-400 and just as sharp as the 300mm.  When I add a Nikon telextender to the 300mm to equalize the focal length to the Sigma, the Sigma wins.  My next tests will be to determine if the Sigma can focus as quickly and accurately as the Nikon lenses.  My tests are being run on FX cameras.  On DX cameras the results should be much better.

    Check out the friend's Sigma lens you tried.  It might be the older version.  Sigma just recently introduced the new version.
  • RatatoskrRatatoskr Posts: 32Member
    edited December 2012
    Any and all zooms deteriorate quite drastically at the ends, both ends. It's just the nature of a zoom.

    As a few here have pointed out, and with all the years of testing and looking around for zooms in the upper 400-500mm I haven't found ANY zoom that can beat Sigma's price/performance ratio.
    I was impressed with my first one, the Bigma (50-500) back in 2005 and I later changed and got me a Bigmos (150-500) when it got out because of the OS. Both have given better quality images than I could have expected for the price. Another thing is that no brand has ever given me better service than Sigma and that's also worth a lot. Could be that the service is related to country, I don't know. My Bigma had a problem with a component (mechanical) so they told me to send it in for fixing. It took 2 weeks only and they paid the transport both ways plus they changed all the major components in it just in case. A lens that has been manually fixed and had new tested components put into it is WAY better than a new lens.
    My Bigmos has never had any problems. Even though I have a Nikon 500mm I still keep the Bigmos and use it a lot, like now for a shorter holiday when I'm not after any special subjects to photograph.

    A tele is of course always better than a zoom but you know of course the pro's and con's.
    If you don't really NEEED the zooming ability and don't mind heavier lens then I would definitely go for a tele and a 1.4 or 1.7 TC depending of brand since a few 1.7 TC are not that good.

    NOW, this is important:
    Sigma has one big problem, or could be part of them making it possible to sell such high quality lenses at such low prices, is that their quality control is not the best. The difference in quality between exact same lens can be quite large. You can be lucky and get a superb one or you can be unlucky to get one that is not performing so great, mechanically or maybe being too soft. But all you need to do is send it in then. If money is a concern then waiting a few weeks to get a manually checked, changed, and tested lens back to you in top condition is nothing that should worry you.

    Sigma's macros, for ex, have beat all of the competition in quality. Some brand nerds will say that is not the case but just check on international prizes for pro lenses and you'll see. If you have one you will see it in your shots, like me :) They are at LEAST not worse than any of the absolute top ones. This with macros is just to illustrate to you the know how Sigma has.

    In the previous post tgil was saying that the AF speed was going to be tested. I can say that that's one of my main reasons for getting the Nikon 500mm, the cheaper zooms and teles are just too slow for BiF photography and any cheaper lens will have an aperture range which isn't that great but with todays cameras producing such fantastic results in high ISO, maybe that is of no concern to you.

    I did a test between my Bigma and Bigmos a long time ago which has been quite popular. I always have to point out that this test is far from scientific and only an amateur test but I've tried to make the conditions between the two lenses as exact as possible with the equipment I had.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/wayuu/sets/72157607406194742/

    Post edited by Ratatoskr on
    Man's heart away from nature becomes hard. - Standing Bear
    It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value. - Arthur C. Clarke
  • AanandAanand Posts: 5Member
    edited December 2012
    Thank you for the detailed replys tgil & ratatoskr.

    I think I am going to pick up the 150-500!

    I tried the Tamron 200-500 and unfortunately cannot buy that as it doesn't support AF on a D60 which I have now. That being said I feel there is not much difference between the two.
    NOW, this is important:
    Sigma has one big problem, or could be part of them making it possible to sell such high quality lenses at such low prices, is that their quality control is not the best. The difference in quality between exact same lens can be quite large. You can be lucky and get a superb one or you can be unlucky to get one that is not performing so great, mechanically or maybe being too soft.
    @Ratatoskr you said that there might be difference in the quality of the lenses themselves. Is there any way to identify this "lack of quality control" on the lens. I will have a chance to test it before buy it.

    The target is to pick up the lens today!... Hopefully!

    Thanks again everybody for the advice!!!!

    Cheers
    A
    Post edited by Aanand on
  • TriShooterTriShooter Posts: 219Member
    My Tammy 200-500 is very sharp at 500mm. I suspect they tuned it that was knowing users are greedy. The comments on the speed of the auto-focus as compared to Nikon's 500m are accurate, because it can hunt on birds that are probably a little too far away to be shooting in the first place. But Nikon's 500mm will wear you out in short order, and a waste of money, if you are not using a Wimberley Gimbal Mount or something close to it for a long day in the field. When Tammy misses the target the lens goes all the way back in and out which made me nuts initially when missing a great shot, but the manual focus is so good I automatically use it now if the lens has trouble tracking. The Tammy focuses plenty fast enough on stationary targets. BIF are tougher with a lot depending on how your camera is set up and your skill level at holding the target; it is not a slam dunk for me. The advantage of being able to push the barrel of the lens out without turning the zoom ring makes this lens with its low weight a stunning lens for a long day in the field. It is far and away the best bang for the buck on the market right now, and very sharp at 500mm as you can see from CostalConn's shots. BIF are a slam dunk if you are close enough with the 300mm F4 without a TC on it, but this does not happen everyday for most of us. Shooting the 300mm when the birds are close in flight is like being on a pheasant hunt where the birds have not grown up in the wild. It is hard to miss a shot, and the number of keepers is huge.  
  • tgi1tgi1 Posts: 2Member
    I just completed a hands on review of this lens with some comparisons to the Nikon 80-400mm.  The review is posted on my blog:

     http://aboutphography.blogspot.com/2012/12/hands-on-review-of-sigma-150-500mm-f5-6.html

  • RatatoskrRatatoskr Posts: 32Member
    Thank you for the detailed replys tgil & ratatoskr.

    I think I am going to pick up the 150-500!

    I tried the Tamron 200-500 and unfortunately cannot buy that as it doesn't support AF on a D60 which I have now. That being said I feel there is not much difference between the two.
    AF is a must IMO unless you are an old school photographer with a LOT of years perfecting manual focusing so I understand that's not an option.

    NOW, this is important:
    Sigma has
    one big problem, or could be part of them making it possible to sell
    such high quality lenses at such low prices, is that their quality
    control is not the best. The difference in quality between exact same
    lens can be quite large. You can be lucky and get a superb one or you
    can be unlucky to get one that is not performing so great, mechanically
    or maybe being too soft.

    @Ratatoskr you said that there
    might be difference in the quality of the lenses themselves. Is there
    any way to identify this "lack of quality control" on the lens. I will
    have a chance to test it before buy it.
    I wish I had an answer to this but I don't really. I would just do some quick tests at the shop (quick being the shop letting you test and look at photos u take with it for as long as you want around them) and then buy it if it is looking good right then and there. It will probably take some time to realize any quirks with it and then send it in for fixing.
    Man's heart away from nature becomes hard. - Standing Bear
    It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value. - Arthur C. Clarke
  • RatatoskrRatatoskr Posts: 32Member
    My Tammy 200-500 is very sharp at 500mm. I suspect they tuned it that was knowing users are greedy. The comments on the speed of the auto-focus as compared to Nikon's 500m are accurate, because it can hunt on birds that are probably a little too far away to be shooting in the first place. But Nikon's 500mm will wear you out in short order, and a waste of money, if you are not using a Wimberley Gimbal Mount or something close to it for a long day in the field. When Tammy misses the target the lens goes all the way back in and out which made me nuts initially when missing a great shot, but the manual focus is so good I automatically use it now if the lens has trouble tracking. The Tammy focuses plenty fast enough on stationary targets. BIF are tougher with a lot depending on how your camera is set up and your skill level at holding the target; it is not a slam dunk for me. The advantage of being able to push the barrel of the lens out without turning the zoom ring makes this lens with its low weight a stunning lens for a long day in the field. It is far and away the best bang for the buck on the market right now, and very sharp at 500mm as you can see from CostalConn's shots. BIF are a slam dunk if you are close enough with the 300mm F4 without a TC on it, but this does not happen everyday for most of us. Shooting the 300mm when the birds are close in flight is like being on a pheasant hunt where the birds have not grown up in the wild. It is hard to miss a shot, and the number of keepers is huge.  
    I'm not saying your lens is not very sharp at 500mm but it sound strange. As said the nature of any zoom is that it can't be as sharp at the max and min as in the middle range. It may also be a difference of opinion on what is sharp or maybe a few shots that have turned out really nice and sharp at the max 500mm. I know I have had a few very sharp shots at max 500mm with my Sigma but I can't explain why. 90% or more of shots are not that sharp though.
    No >=300mm lenses can even get CLOSE to the sharpness of the teles of for ex Canon and Nikon.

    I got NO idea what you mean with the Nikon 500mm waring you out in short order. If it's the weight, us wildlife photographers choose 300mm teles and above because of the superior speed, IQ, AF, and build quality. Most bird photographers need at least 500mm and so some buy a 300mm and then a 1.4 TC which is a fantastic combination. Wildlife photographers into a more wide spectrum of wildlife, including BiF tend to actually buy the 500mm, a compromise of size and weight to the other choices, giving the added possibility of using a 1.4 TC or like me even a 2.0 TC or both for when I do my astro photography.
    Weight and handling of the 500mm is no problem with right technique and just some basic muscles. Gotta be a liiiitle fit at least. I have a gimbal and good tri and monopods but I mostly use it hand held with great results and so do a lot of others. A few weaker or older photographers use the gimbal to compensate the lack of muscles at higher age and the gimbals are great for that but anything mounted to your camera/lens will hinder you in minor or major way depending on the subject.

    For us in the wildlife photograrhy a lens of Nikon 300mm, 400mm, 500mm, or 600mm is far from a waste. The quality difference is so great that it's a natural step to take after a few years, or 20 for me, to get much better results.

    My income is below medium in my country which is why it's taken me 20 years to save for the Nikon 500mm and a lot of thought was but into the "waste of money" aspect. I don't own a car, have a tiny apartment, 25 year old TV, etc. This lens is the only part of my camera equipment where I will barely make ANY loss at all if I need to sell it. All other lenses, and especially the camera body, drop in price a lot for every year that passes. The large top quality lenses can be bought abroad for very nice prices and since they barely drop in price as used, you can sell it for the same price as you bought it or at just about the same price. You can't do that with cheaper lenses and especially not with non Canon or Nikon lenses.

    I have NOTHING at all against Tamron, in fact I  have an old Tamron lens that is a fantastic lens and I bet the 200-500 is a great lens too.
    Man's heart away from nature becomes hard. - Standing Bear
    It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value. - Arthur C. Clarke
  • AanandAanand Posts: 5Member
    Bought a Sigma 150-500!

    Thanks everybody for the help!


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