Yet another "what should I buy" (Nikon v. Canon; Nikkor v. Sigma)

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by mark_albrecht, Oct 12, 2003.

  1. Having recently finished business school and rejoined the ranks of
    the gainfully employed, I decided to reward myself with a new SLR
    camera to replace my Pentax Program Plus and 50mm F2 combo that I
    bought years ago to learn how to take pictures with.

    I recently received from B&H a new Nikon N80 with the cheapie zoom,
    and after only 1 roll (high school cross country meet), I am pretty
    happy with it. I am interested, however, in a longer lens. I bought
    the camera for taking pictures of my 4 year old, nature photography
    (I'm an avid backpacker, so mostly landscapes, but occasionally I
    see Marmots or mountain goats), and some sports (such as the cross
    country meet and my daughter's soccer/T-ball games). Since I will
    take it backpacking, weight is a consideration in anything I buy. I
    have given myself a budget of US$1000 total (~$400 already spent on
    the body and cheap lens) to get myself fully outfitted, and I want
    advice on the following options:

    Option 1: Nikkor 70-300 f4-5.6 ED

    Option 2: Sigma 70-300 f4-5.6 APO + Nikkor 50 f1.8

    Option 3: Send back the N80 and get a Canon Elan 7 with 50mm prime +
    75-300 IS.

    I know the Nikkor 70-300 ED is on the low end for Nikkor ED lenses,
    but the light weight and bargain price are appealing to me. Is it
    really any better than the 70-300 G lens that costs half as much?

    The Sigma, however, is basically the same lens as the Nikkor for
    ~20% less. It has 3 low dispersion elements instead of just one and
    leaves enough money left over to justify getting the 50mm prime
    right away. I just don't know which of the two has better optics and
    focusing, since it will be primarily for sports/wildlife.

    Option 3 is appealing just because it would give me access to the IS
    technology, since I really can't afford anything in the VR line
    right now. IS would be nice, since my photography usually doesn't
    allow for hauling a tripod.

    Any advice on these options (or even other suggestions) would be
    appreciated. I'm not a pro, plan on shooting mostly slides, but
    rarely print anything bigger than 11x14, so I don't mind faster film.
  2. As a Nikon user it pains me to say it, but for the situation you have described, the Canon IS lens looks like a good option for you. In which case you'll need a Canon body to run film through.

    Regards, Ross
  3. jbq


    I have the 70-300G, very happy with it. Great lens up to 180 or 200mm, even wide open, superb bokeh, good after that (needs to be stopped down a bit like any consumer zoom).

    I've not read any review that said that the 70-300D and 70-300G were substantially different. The lens design is the same. The ED elements in the D version are thin middle ones, i.e. not the front one where ED glass makes a difference.

    Option 4: 70-300G, then 50/1.8D 2 months later, plus a monopod or tripod, 10-pack of Provia 100F and 10 Fuji processing mailers.

    (70-300G at 300mm f/11 on a monopod with Fuji 800 print film gives me good results)
  4. Thanks for the answers so far. Serious food for thought. Based on the above comment, I think I will rule out the 70-300 ED. Any comments on the Sigma lens? I have no idea even what to expect from an aftermarket lens, but if they didn't do something right, they wouldn't be in business...right?
  5. jbq


    Some people say that Sigma lenses are just fine, some people say that Sigma means "SIGnificant MAlfunction". I don't have any Sigma lens so I can't judge. I guess it depends whether you feel optimiztic or pessimistic.

    Seeing how the lowest-end Sigma isn't any cheaper than the similar Nikon, I wouldn't hesitate and I would drop the Sigma option right away. Order the Nikon as "Imported" and it's even significantly cheaper (at B&H at least).
  6. OK, so I think I'm down to Option 3 and Option 4 (70-300 G + 50 f1.8 D + monopod). Anyone have a compelling argument for the tiebreaker? Right now I am leaning towards option 4, since I won't have to go through the hassle of sending back my N80 (I don't know how easy that would be with B&H anyway) and it will save me a couple hundred bucks in the short run. Of course, over the long run, Nikon glass tends to be more expensive than Canon, so this has more or less turned into a classic Nikon v. Canon debate. Any additional suggestions given my needs?

    Thanks again for all the responses!
  7. n m

    n m

    Nikkor 70-300 f4-5.6 ED is a waste of time or money since it is a licensed design from Tamron, and the Tamron badged version is half the price. Buyers of the lens do not like to hear this, but the lenses are there to take apart.

    The Sigma 70-300 f4-5.6 APO performance is very good for the price range. User comments are consistent in mentioning its sharpness. I agree. On an N80 it focuses quite quickly (it varies with the body). With the Sigma and Tamron 70-300 you also get a bonus 1:2 macro function workable for occasional use.

    I do not know what IS lens is in your price range but that technological edge really lies with Canon and the motor is in the lens in Canon models. I would like IS myself...
  8. I was thinking of the 75-300 IS in the $400 price range. I know this is first generation IS technology, so I don't know how good it is relative to a non-IS/VR lens of the same focal range.

    Another option I found is to buy a used Nikkor 75-300 f4.5-5.6. This lens rates a little higher in sharpness than the 70-300 ED or aftermarket offerings, according to Any thoughts on this?

  9. jbq


    The 75-300 f/4.5-5.6 has very good reviews indeed. Ken Rockwell also thinks very highly of it. It's close to twice as heavy as the 70-300G. If weight isn't an issue and if you can find one, go for it. Ken also likes the 70-210 f/4-5.6D
  10. If you're going to switch, then go with the Elan 7 and a 70-200 f/4 L combo. The L lens will focus faster, be vastly sharper, and allow for faster shutter speeds with the f/4 aperture, and you'll actually be able to get great results with it wide open. It is definitely within your budget.

    With the 70-300 (Nikon, Canon, or Sigma) you'll probably be at the f/4.5 at the 200mm end. Those lenses are also not optimal wide open and will require you to stop down 1 or 2 stops to adequately sharp images (I know; I had the Sigma). This stopping down will require longer shutter speeds.

    I'm sure 200mm will be sufficient for most "action shots" of your 4 year old. If in the future you need a longer focal length, you can always add the 1.4x TC and still get (reputedly) better images than the other consumer level zooms.
  11. Weight is somewhat of an issue, as I do a lot of backpacking. Not to mention, the 75-300 has the push-pull zoom, which I have never used, but doesn't seem that appealing. Maybe the 80-200, though.
  12. Anyone know how the Nikon 70-210 F4 compares with the Canon 70-200 F4?
  13. The Canon scores a 4.1 at

    I don't see a listing for the Nikon lens. However, here are the scores for Nikon lenses.

    The weight difference between the L lens and the 70-300 is neglible. I've held both in hand and in practical terms, the weight difference is neglible.
  14. Go for the Elan 7 and the 75-300 IS. Being able to handhold the zoom with IS doing the stabilizing is a big benefit, especially if you're hiking without a tripod. It gives you a lot more freedom and mobility, while still allowing you to get really sharp photos that you might otherwise need a tripod for. It also has a faster frame rate (4 frames per second versus 2.5 frames per second) for those action/sports shots.
  15. Since you want to do a variety of things, I suggest a few primes in addition to the tele zoom (unfortunately, you already have a zoom that covers the focal lengths I'd recommend.. 50mm and 28mm... or a 35mm) Go ahead and use the kit zoom (it will help you get a feel for the different focal lengths) and a 50mm is always a great addition (or 35mm) The tele zooms in the 70/100-200/300mm range are usually not best at the long end, so if you get one that goes to 300mm, consider limiting it's use to 200mm... they are hard to steady at 300mm anyway. Also, there are a few nice constant aperture zooms (around f/4) in the 70-200mm range that do a decent job. I do manual focus so can't help you with auto focus issues. Once you really want to go long (like 300mm and above) a "prime" (non-zoom) is good but I'd go with a tripod, so you have to be realistic about what you can handhold. A slightly wider view (less zoomed in) is better than a zoomed in image that's blured from camera movement.

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