Walkabout with the Sigma Bigma: Versatility Galore
NOTE: Images with an icon next to them have been artificially shrunk to better fit your screen; click the icon to restore them, in place, to their regular size.
Sigma Bigma at a Few Inches With the 2× teleconverter, it becomes a 0.64× macro -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
D700 + Sigma “Bigma” + 2×TC @ 410 mm — 1/500 sec, f/11, ISO 3600 — map & image datanearby photos
Sigma Bigma at a Few Inches
With the 2× teleconverter, it becomes a 0.64× macro
Sigma Bigma at a Mile With the 2× teleconverter, it becomes a 1,000mm telephoto -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
D700 + Sigma “Bigma” + 2×TC @ 1000 mm — 1/2500 sec, f/13, ISO 4500 — map & image datanearby photos
Sigma Bigma at a Mile
With the 2× teleconverter, it becomes a 1,000mm telephoto

The photo immediately above is the Mt. Daimonji “大” visible from much of Kyoto. For comparison, this next shot was taken from about the same place, at 24 mm (as opposed to the 1,000mm of the picture above), from my Discovering Kyoto's Mt. Yoshida post a year ago...

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/250 sec, f/16, ISO 2500 — map & image datanearby photos

Yesterday I offered some samples of Sigma's new “Bigma” 50-500mm superzoom with the 2× teleconverter attached, turning it into a 100-1,000mm f/9-f/13 zoom that also works as an almost 1-to-1 macro. I noted that first impressions were that using the teleconverter (“TC”) lowers the optical quality considerably, and today's equally-informal tests support that understanding.

But what the pair lacks in pure optical quality, it makes up (for me) in fun, because I've never had a lens that could go anywhere near 1,000mm, or with magnification anywhere near 0.64×. The optical stabilization helps with the fun; both shots above — like all the shots on this post — were handheld.

The versatility is fun. I'd met some friends for lunch, and when one took out his small point-n-shoot camera to document the dishes we were about to enjoy, I retrieved my camera (with the very big Sigma Bigma attached) from its resting spot on the floor near my feet, to great laughter from those who had arrived after me and hence had not seen me with it. “Mine's bigger than yours... much bigger.” 🙂

Side Dishes -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 210 mm — 1/60 sec, f/6, ISO 4000 — full exif
Side Dishes

What I'm enjoying so much about this lens right now is that it's opening up my eyes to new ways to look at things.... “expanding my envelope”, so to speak. Its telephoto pull allows me to reach out and isolate in ways I couldn't before, and now that I know about its pseudo-macro ability, it's letting me get up close and personal.

Dainty -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 210 mm — 1/500 sec, f/9, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Dainty

Walking around the neighborhoods near Mt. Yoshida in Kyoto, I found a wall in deep shade with lots of bits of moss....

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
f / 6      f / 9      f / 13      f / 18      f / 29
mouseover button to see that version

A set of photos like this for comparison really should be done with a tripod, but I was just standing there trying to fire off the frames while maintaining focus and adjusting the aperture. Still, the results illustrate how much foreground/background separation you can get, even at f/18.

Update May 2015: I revisited these handheld shots to align them (using the software I created to help me build wigglegrams).

Around the corner, in the sun, I found a brightly lit little weed with which to test some more extreme macro shots. First, here's a shot at 50mm, long considered the “standard” focal length for a 35mm camera. The little weed in the wall is perhaps as big as the tip of my pinkie.

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 50 mm — 1/640 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos

Then, a Sigma Bigma macro straight up, without the TC...

Close -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 210 mm — 1/500 sec, f/6, ISO 220 — map & image datanearby photos
Close

I was at an angle to the wall, which perhaps explains the nature of the bokeh here, but I'm not at all a fan of the bokeh in this shot.

Then I added the TC...

Closer With TC, wide open at f/11 -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
D700 + Sigma “Bigma” + 2× TC @ 410 mm — 1/500 sec, f/11, ISO 900 — map & image datanearby photos
Closer
With TC, wide open at f/11

The Bigma+TC combo maintains the quality much better when used for macros than for telephoto shots.

Closer With TC, stopped down a fair amount, at f/32 -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
D700 + Sigma “Bigma” + 2× TC @ 410 mm — 1/500 sec, f/32, ISO 2200 — map & image datanearby photos
Closer
With TC, stopped down a fair amount, at f/32

Yet with the same lens you can reach out and compress distance...

Top of Kyoto's Suburban Canopy -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
D700 + Sigma “Bigma” + 2× TC @ 600 mm — 1/2500 sec, f/18, ISO 5000 — map & image datanearby photos
Top of Kyoto's Suburban Canopy

... and turn right around again and decompress distance, isolating...

I Was Told What These Were Called but I forgot ( update: flowering dogwood — hanamizuki ) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 210 mm — 1/2000 sec, f/14, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
I Was Told What These Were Called
but I forgot
( update: flowering dogwood — hanamizuki )

By isolating the flowers from their environment, and arranging for a random tree in the background to provide a splash of green to complement the pink, I end up with the photo above, which I like, snatched from the relative ugliness of the urban jungle...

Same Tree, Less Isolated -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 50 mm — 1/1000 sec, f/14, ISO 2000 — map & image datanearby photos
Same Tree, Less Isolated

I can do that with a lot of lenses, but it's the extreme flexibility that I'm celebrating here.

Camera Shy even though I was fairly far away, shooting at 750mm -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
D700 + Sigma “Bigma” + 2× TC @ 750 mm — 1/800 sec, f/13, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Camera Shy
even though I was fairly far away, shooting at 750mm

It's too slow a lens (doesn't let in enough light) for serious tele-nature photography, and with the TC, the quality is too low anyway. But it's fun to try, and even though I was balancing precariously on a short wall, hand-holding the big monster of a lens, using manual focus in the low light of the Mt. Yoshida forest, I would have been able to get a reasonable shot of the far-away bird if it had stuck around and stood still for me. 🙂

Keeping Its Ear to the Ground? -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 500 mm — 1/800 sec, f/11, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Keeping Its Ear to the Ground?

Another benefit to a versatile zoom is that I can almost dispense with the exercise that photography normally requires and take all my shots from my easy chair. I took the shot above, of an Inari shrine guardian fox, while sitting on my scooter smack in the middle of the road. It's guarding the shrine entrance seen in this shot.

Continued here...


All 10 comments so far, oldest first...

That tree is a flowering dogwood cornus florida but maybe some Japanese variant. This is one of the few native (to the Midatlantic U.S) trees that can somewhat hold its own to the beautiful and delicate blossoms that you get to enjoy in Kyoto. We have the cherries, weeping cherries etc. (most of them imported) but they just don’t look the same in a place like Saddlebrook, NJ (USA) as they do next to that river in Kyoto.

By the way, many people get all up-in-arms about the value of prime lenses. They say that the inconvenience of changing lenses and limited options makes for more creativity and that those massive zooms make you lazy.

In a place like that stone lantern garden you were in I could see taking 3 prime lenses but if I was on vacation or just out and about and wanted to be able to do artistic shots and catch candids as well… -> I think I’d take just the one zoom. What’s your take on that debate?

I’m probably heading to the stone-carver’s garden today, actually, and will bring the Bigma and an 85mm f/1.4. If I had the Zeiss 100mm f/2 or other “master primes”, I’d probably take them instead of the Bigma. It all depends on my mood, and my ability to schlep stuff. When we went to Tokyo Disneyland, I brought just one lens, an 18-200mm consumer zoom. —Jeffrey

— comment by Ron Evans on April 22nd, 2010 at 12:44am JST (7 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Thanks for showing us the results of using your new lens. Question: are you finding it a problem to minimize camera vibration? Does mirror movement cause any problems? Tom (San Francisco)

I’ve not done any tests where mirror movement would be much of a factor, I think, because I’ve hand-held it. —Jeffrey

— comment by Tom on April 22nd, 2010 at 1:10am JST (7 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Only problem I see is that your location data will be of where you were when you took the photo, not the location of the object IN the photo up to a mile away.

For example, people who see your shot of “side dishes” may want to go to the restaurant. They look up the map data, and then go to the back of the parking lot of the gas station three doors down from the restaurant, not knowing that you stood back there and shot the photo through the restaurant window! 🙂

— comment by Marcina, USA on April 22nd, 2010 at 2:56am JST (7 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Nice lens. Now give it back so we can reattach it to the Hubble.

— comment by NASA on April 22nd, 2010 at 2:58am JST (7 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Sounds like your next lens should be a real macro lens 😉

It will be if I can find one. I’ve been watching the action sites for a Voigtlander 125mm f/2.5 for a long time, which is a true 1:1 macro, but have not had any luck. )-: —Jeffrey

— comment by Josh on April 22nd, 2010 at 4:23am JST (7 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Would be interesting to see a shot of the Moon with your Bigma at 1000mm…

As for the macro lens, I got the 105mm VR: highly recommended 😉

I’ve heard great things about the Nikkor 105mm VR, but it’s really designed for auto-focus use, and with a macro, I’d much prefer manual focus. Try the Zeiss 100mm f/2 some time, with its deliciously long focus throw, and you’ll be spoiled and never want to go back. —Jeffrey

— comment by Gianluca on April 22nd, 2010 at 4:45pm JST (7 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

You handheld the 1000mm shot? That’s sick. 😉

It has VR (“OS”… optical stabilization). It “swims” a bit more in the viewfinder than my old Nikkor 70-200’s, but it apparently works quite well nevertheless. —Jeffrey

— comment by saha on April 22nd, 2010 at 11:02pm JST (7 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Are you using the Sigma 2x TC or the Nikon 2x TC?

The Sigma one. I have a Nikon 1.7× TC, but can’t find it )-: —Jeffrey

— comment by chris on April 27th, 2010 at 10:24pm JST (7 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Great intro and samples of the Bigma, I’m now dumping my Bigmos 150-500mm and placed an order for a Sigma 50-500mm, nothing beats the convenience of not having to change lenses every so often. Also ordered for the Nikkor 105mm VR Micro coming in at the same time with the Bigma and another Sigma 10-20mm F3.5, and many thanks for the very informative posts you have here.

— comment by James Tuazon on September 30th, 2010 at 12:08pm JST (7 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

i think the pink flowers are Japanese dogwood.

— comment by fa on February 11th, 2012 at 6:22pm JST (5 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink
Leave a comment...


All comments are invisible to others until Jeffrey approves them.

Please mention what part of the world you're writing from, if you don't mind. It's always interesting to see where people are visiting from.


You can use basic HTML; be sure to close tags properly.

Subscribe without commenting