Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 2500 — full exif
Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM
I'm no good at product photography (I tried it once a few years ago, and failed miserably), but I've tried spicing these up a bit to keep them interesting....
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/500 sec, f/1.4, ISO 720 — full exif
mounted on a Sigma Bigma
The puppies on the hood and under the lens are tiny chopstick holders, seen in my “New Camera” post the other day, and I used the “Mostly Monochrome” Lightroom develop preset seen in my Stupid Tone-Curve Tricks post as the basis for this look.
So, just how big is it? The photo below shows my (very big) full-frame Nikon D700 with MD-10 vertical grip, a combination which is even larger than Nikon's flagship D3. It looks small in the photo below because the camera is zoomed so far back. Mouse over each button below the photo for a different situation...
My Full Frame Nikon D700 with MD-10 Vertical Grip
In Part I I was astounded at how huge the lens is, yet, every time I see pictures of it, it doesn't seem that big. A reader (thanks Itano-san) pointed me at the blog of someone who just got The Bigma, and the photos of it on make it look cute. So why was I so astounded at the size?
I think one reason I was surprised at the size is because I had seen this cool five-minute video at LensRentals.com showing the sizes of a bunch of large lenses, including the previous (non-stabilized) version of the Sigma Bigma. The guy in the video has massive hands that would make a basketball look like a grape, and is surrounded by HUGE lenses that rightly make The Bigma look like a child's toy.
It was suggested to take a comparison shot against the Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 VR, and when I stood them up next to each other, I was shocked to find them to be exactly the same length. And when I added the lens hoods, the 70-200 was actually longer by a bit. (This is, of course, when The Bigma is zoomed back all the way... as you can see above, it gets substantially longer as you zoom out.)
But The Bigma is much heavier and thicker, Here's a thickness comparison with a consumer zoom:
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 58 mm — 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 2500 — full exif
I'm feeling less intimidated now that I'm getting used to it, but wow, I was surprised when it first showed up.
Over all, I'm really impressed with it — thrilled with it — but I have noticed a few drawbacks...
It makes me feel like a paparazzi when I'm out with it. Yuck. Not a nice feeling.
The feeling is particularly pronounced when bracing the lens against something (railing, telephone pole, etc.) because it looks like you're trying to hide behind something and photograph covertly.
The balance places the zoom ring in the perfect spot for gripping with the left hand while holding the camera with the right, but the focus ring is too far back to be reached when holding the lens comfortably, so to manual focus, I have to adjust my grip to one that's less comfortable and less steady. Since I prefer to use manual focus when I can, this is unfortunate.
Because the forward/inner barrel extends out from inside the rear/outer barrel, I worry about using this in the rain. It was misting slightly this morning when I was out with it for a bit, and the thought of getting the inner barrel wet then retracting the wetness back into the lens when unzooming scared the heck out of me, so I abandoned the outing. I don't know whether this is a valid concern, but I'll not use The Bigma in the rain until I know for sure.
(The Nikkor 70-200's zooming is all internal, a benefit I didn't appreciate until today.)
It has a zoom lock to stop the zoom from self-extending due to gravity when you're walking around with the lens pointing down, but I wish you could lock at 200mm as well (the focal length that has the maximum magnification).
It does not hold focus while zooming at all. Not even close. You must refocus after adjusting the zoom.
f/5.6 is definitely not f/1.2, so pictures like in “Impossible Photography: No Light, No Tripod, No Hope. D700 and a 50mm f/1.2” and “Pushing Lowlight-Photography Limits: The Atta Terrace Hotel at Night” are less likely with The Bigma.
The tripod-mount foot has just one screw hole (unlike the Nikkor 70-200VR, which has two), so it could spin in place if not tightened down with considerable force. The bottom of the foot is made of a slightly rubbery material that seems to bite well, so I've not actually experienced any inadvertent twisting (as of this writing, I've used the foot just once, with a monopod), but it's a concern.
The optical-stabilization feature causes the view through the viewfinder to “swim” quite a bit at times, much (much!) more than it does with any of the few other VR lenses I've used. It's normally not a problem, but sometimes makes framing very difficult.
A few times it (or my Nikon D700) have gotten very confused with each other, and the viewfinder reported that it was at the impossible f/95, and at the same time, autofocus and VR stopped working. Flipping the camera off and on would solve the problem.
Update May 2010: sometimes this problems happens a lot and gets very intrusive, sometimes manifesting itself in an apparent shutdown of len's CPU (causing the camera to consider it a non-CPU lens and default to camera settings about non-CPU lenses, which in my case causes it to comically be f/2 even at 1000mm. I've contacted Sigma about it and sent my lens in for them to check out. )-:
(I update the list above as I notice things; last update May 7, 2010)
Other than that last issue, these are all relatively minor issues. My overall rating is 「ブラボーシグマ、ブラボー」(“Bravo, Sigma. Bravo.”)
Continued here with more samples...