Help deciding - Sigma 18-125 mm??

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by annk, Jun 19, 2006.

  1. annk Administrator

    annk

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    #1
    I have been offered a very good price on a slightly used Canon 350D with a Sigma 18-125 mm. f/3.5-5.6. The price includes a battery grip with 2 batteries, and it's 500 dollars less than the new price total here.

    I need to know if this lens can be used as a good all-round lens. My first real trip with it will be in August to China, and I'll be wanting to take lots of street scenes. Will I be happy with this lens as a first, all-round lens while getting to know the camera, and my first big trip with it taken into consideration?

    I finally decided on the 350D over the 20D on a combination of size and price. I need the camera to be small enough that I'll really take it with me, and the price difference means I'll be able to get better glass, faster.

    All opinions appreciated! :)
     
  2. jared_kipe macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

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    #2
    Absolutely, that lens is quite good for a general purpose lens.
     
  3. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

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    #3
    First question: why is the seller getting rid of a "slightly-used" 350D? His or her response might be very helpful information. Is there possibly something (slightly) wrong with this camera or is it because he/she found it didn't meet their needs and they are moving up to a 30D or some other camera?

    I can't really answer one way or the other as far as image quality as far as that particular lens is concerned, but I will note that it is not a terribly fast lens, although it does have a nice range. I don't know how well the 350D handles high ISOs or what the highest ISO available on that camera body is, but be aware that when you're shooting at the 125mm end your f/stop is going to be f/5.6, which can be problematic if you want to shoot action or under low lighting conditions.
     
  4. annk thread starter Administrator

    annk

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    #4
    Thank you both for your impressions.

    It's good to know it's considered a good all-round lens. And it's good to know that I should expect some problems with action or low lighting. That'll help me both understand what I'm experiencing with it (if I end up buying it), and be something I need to think about when I'm ready to invest in another lens. (The ISO on the body goes from 100 - 1600).

    Clix, in her ad, she stated she is selling it because she's upgrading to a better model, so I'm assuming it didn't meet her needs. The "slightly used" is my bad translation, she wrote that she's had the camera since 2005 but it's in excellent condition, both techincally and cosmetically. I'll see it this weekend and know more then.
     
  5. jared_kipe macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

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    #5
    Everyone always complains about f5.6 but I don't see it as a bad thing on a lens like this. Bottom line, there are no lenses anywhere near this focal length range or price point that is faster than f5.6, so why complain about it. Plus its sharper wide open than say.. a Canon 50mm f1.4 is wide open. Sure it 4 stops slower. I've never ever shot "low light action shots". Ever. But if I was going to, thats what my flash is for, or raising ISO speed.

    You shouldn't expect it to shoot like a 85mm f1.2L, but come on don't poo-poo a lens because its slow unless you're willing to come up with a suggestion for a better lens.
     
  6. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #6
    ^^Yeah, that's essentially what I think, although Clix Pix did say low light OR action shots, and didn't imply taking action shots in low light. ;) And most of the time you'll likely be shooting at 30-60 mm anyway, and in this range the largest aperture is not f/5.6. It'll be faster than that. You can't expect everyone to own top lenses since they cost so much, and for most people, f/4-5.6 is what they're going to get in many of their lenses, not f/2.8 lenses with image stabalization, or anything of the sort.

    Whatever, it's likely as good or better than the 18-55mm kit lens that it normally comes with, and still more flexible in terms of range.
     
  7. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #7
    If you read my post carefully you'll note that I was not "pooh-poohing" that lens, just remarking on some potential issues, giving Ann a heads-up as she is inexperienced at this point and I didn't want her to be disappointed when shooting under certain situations. She would have the same issues with ANY f/5.6 lens, regardless of brand name. And, no, of course no one in his or her right mind would expect an f/3.5-f/5.6 lens to shoot the same way that a significantly more expensive 85mm f/1.2, f/1.4 or f/1.8 does.

    I did not make recommendations for a different lens because I am unfamiliar with both Sigma and Canon lines of lenses, and since she's looking at buying a Digital Rebel, it wouldn't do her much good for me to reel off a list of Nikon lenses, now would it? What she needs is to hear from one of the many on this forum who actually shoot with Canon lenses, see if they have any specific recommendations, and/or from those who have used good third-party reasonably-priced lenses, especially the Sigma lens which is under consideration.
     
  8. annk thread starter Administrator

    annk

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    #8
    I see the misunderstanding above, but I think I got what you meant, Clix - just that I should be aware about limitations shooting at 125. And that's good for me to know. Knowing that, I won't be disappointed, expecting something unreasonable from the lens.

    My basic need was just to know if that lens is acceptable as an all-round for getting to know the camera, and I think jared_kipe answered that. I got wary when you all warned me in another thread that the kit lens selling with the 350D isn't good, and in fact a guy in a good camera store here told me that the lens on my P2 SI is actually better than the kit lens. So when I saw this deal, which included the Sigma and the battery grip that I'd already decided I needed for comfort, I just wanted someone more experienced to give an opinion about the lens. I will eventually end up buying a couple different (good!) lenses, especially a good macro, when my budget allows, but wanted the one I start out with to be ok.

    Actually I was hoping my husband could pick up a 350D body more cheaply in Asia, but his orchestra went on strike and his tour got cancelled as a result! So when this used deal came up, I got very tempted.

    I'll see camera on Saturday, so thanks for your imput, all of you. Makes me feel a bit better.
     
  9. Nanpd macrumors newbie

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    #9
    I bought the Sigma 18-125 for Nikon for a trip I took to LA. I was very pleased with the results.

    Before I made the purchase, I read several reviews that found that the lens was nearly equivalent in quality to (or exceeded) both the Canon and Nikon kit lenses (18-55).
     
  10. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #10
    A bit cynical, though I understand your concern, what about my recent decision to move to the Nikon platform? My XT will soon be up for sale/trade. It could be that they are moving to the 30D or the 5D (as you said). Maybe it is that it didn't meet the expectation level. Or there could be a "perceived" problem with it. Do you honestly expect a seller to tell the truth al the time?

    Also some have more money than commonsense. Meaning that have no real value of what a dollar means, and so selling at a "loss" has no true meaning for them.

    I have a friend that buys a new car every two years. He either pays the cost up front with a big down payment. Or later when he trades and he is upside down. He just looks at it as a cost of ownership. He doesn't like leases - since he never "owns" the car (the sound you hear is my head pounding againts the wall in amazement :D ).

    The lens is a decent one. In some opinions the Tamron 18-200 takes over. The concern is for the future use of a Sigma lens on a future body. It may require sending it off for "rechipping" for free, or in the worst case for a nominal fee.

    IMO the XT handles the 1600 very nicely.

    In the end it would be great for annk to be able to shoot with the combo for a few days to make sure everything is OK. Not sure what country annk is from so the $500 savings might not be all that great.
     
  11. annk thread starter Administrator

    annk

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    #11
    Well, this worries me a bit, as I've been told and read several places that the kit Canon 18-55 is NOT good. I don't see any point in getting a DSLR body with a lens that can't hold its own next to the one on my P2 SI.

    I probably won't be able to do that, but I will make sure I have a contract with the seller (who lives in the same city) that allows me that time after I purchase, with the option to return within a couple days if I should discover something not working. I live in Norway, where prices are high. But a $500 savings is a lot for me, I might have to wait a long time to get a similiar used deal.

    Right now, the thing that's making me want to go for it, is mostly my trip to China in August. I'd love to have a better camera than the one I have now, and time to get to know it. On the other hand, I do realise I'll be able to take good pics with my Canon P2 SI, and it would be a lot less to carry around. Decisions, decisions...
     
  12. form macrumors regular

    form

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    #12
    What is a Canon P2 SI?

    According to some MTF Charts, the Sigma might be a bit sharper than the kit lens. However, it's mostly just going to provide a greater zoom range - it still softens towards the tele end and has limited light gathering capacity, like they all do. But a lens doesn't need to be incredibly sharp to take good pictures.

    Almost all cheap lenses have major flaws, and most long zoom lenses have distortion issues. On the other hand, a cheap zoom requires little investment and gives a big range of focal lengths to work with...though not nearly as big as the Canon S2 IS, nor as cheap (when you factor in the body) as a consumer/compact camera.

    If you get the dSLR, you'll see immediate benefits in Megapixel Size (more editing control), Dynamic Range (less clipping of highlights and shadows), and higher ISOs (which will mostly be used to make up for the slower lens). You will lose Image Stabilization (camera shake blur is more likely), Movie mode nice to have), and a lot of your telephoto zoom range (very nice to have)...if the S2 IS is your current camera. But you can take both with you.
     
  13. annk thread starter Administrator

    annk

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    #13
    Hehe, sorry - early in the morning when I posted that, I'm afraid! I meant S2 IS.

    Thanks for your input on the relative merits of the kit Canon lens and the specific Sigma I'm thinking about. If my S2 IS has a better lens (I've already been told it's better than the kit Canon 18-55 that's being sold with the 350D), maybe I shouldn't be in a hurry to get this camera before my China trip, and rather wait til I really can afford a truly good lens.
     
  14. jared_kipe macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

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    #14
    I belive the combo you're talking about will be superior to your S2 IS. Why not take some pictures with both cameras of the same subject and see which you like better.

    Clix- I know you don't really believe you're poo-pooing the lens, but in effect you are. You're saying to someone who is starting out and doesn't have a budget beyond a few hundred dollars for a lens, and basically telling him he doesn't have any options. Or that his options will be limited.

    Isn't that like telling someone who only has enough money for a Mac Mini, that it will never be a super game machine?

    Honestly, I think the "low light action" shots are a myth. Used by lens manufacturers, and people who want to one up each other, to justify bigger aperture lenses. I've never shot one, nor have I ever seen one that wasn't taken with a flash.

    To debunk the myth. I practically NEVER shoot anything faster than f4-5.6, the rare times I do its usually not for lack of light, but to get a limited depth of field. I usually shoot f3.2 or so for that effect. So lets consider what would happen say on an 85mm at f1.4 or so. Sure it would be two stops faster than my f2.8 lens, but it doesn't get to break the laws of optics. The DOF will drop to practically nothing. So the only "low light action" shots you could take would be of one or two people in the same focal plane, doing something simple enough that you could focus on them.

    I think the REAL reason people shun f5.6 zooms is because historically they are not sharp wide open, so they are afraid you'll have to be shooting f8 or worse to get some good images. But the lens in question is, in my opinion, much sharper wide open than the Canon 18-55mm kit lens.

    http://www.photozone.de/8Reviews/lenses/canon_1855_3556/index.htm
    http://www.photozone.de/8Reviews/lenses/sigma_18125_3556/index.htm
     
  15. virividox macrumors 601

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    #15
    just because you havent shot low light action shots doesnt mean they dont exist. ever been to a concert where flash photography isnt allowed. most ppl use 2.8 or wider.
     
  16. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #16

    Good points.

    But I don't think Clix Pix was bashing the lens IMO. Raising questions about the speed of the lens. In the case of what the OP had posted about his needs, I think we are in agreement here that it should serve them well.

    Fast lenses have always been the end all for gear buyers. For they are generally the best designed lenses. You are right about the "myth" of stopping down. Lenses of today are much better than of old. Add to that some want only the sharpest lens, even though they never do anything over a 5x7.

    The test of a lens is taking and shooting with it and having some prints made from it. Sort along the lines of the noise issue with the Panasonic LX1/Leica D-Lux 2 camera. Unusable at ISO 200+ some "respected" reviewers have written. Well I have some 13x19's at both ISO 200 and 400 that look pretty decent IMO, and others opinion too. And this is without using Noise Ninja or Neat Image too.

    Photography should be about the craft and the final image. Not about the gear, and how sharp it is. I have seen an exhibit of 16x16 (IIRC) prints from pros using the old Kodak Instamatic 104, that left me in awe.

    I hang on to my Leica M gear for the rare times that I shoot film, because I see a difference in the "quality" of the image. As happy as I am with the attached image from my Nikon DSLR and the 18-200VR, I believe that I might have ended up with an even better image if shot on my Leica 35mm film camera. Reason? A different depth to the image when done on film and chemical paper.
     
  17. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #17
    True, but that is a very small part of the photography that 80% of the photographers out there do. That is the reason that fast primes like the 20/2.8, 35/2.0, and the 50/1.8 have found favor for DSLR users.
     
  18. annk thread starter Administrator

    annk

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    #18
    This discussion has been interesting for a lens n00b like me to read, I appreciate all the feedback and opinions.

    I´ll see the camera Sunday, and let you know what I decided.
     
  19. virividox macrumors 601

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    #19

    i was just saying that just because jared doesnt do this type of photography, doesnt mean that someone else might not find the need to use fast lenses. obviosuly what works for him equiptment wise may not cut it for someone, and vice versa
     
  20. annk thread starter Administrator

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    #20
    Update...

    Well, she didn't call me back, even though she asked me to contact her this weekend. No answer on the phone, no e-mails...And this morning I get a mail - broken cell, the camera has been loaned to a friend and will be back in town in a couple days. So I'll still see it. She's in the middle of her vacation, so I understand the difficulty about meeting up, but why advertise a camera when you know you're gonna be out of town a lot? And why loan said camera to a friend, when you're trying to sell it? But I'm still somewhat interested, and will see it if it really does appear in town this week.

    But in the meantime it occurred to me that leasing is also an option, via my one-person firm. So I've mailed the camera store for details. Low monthly costs, good insurance and the possibility to exchange/upgrade along the way. Just have to check out the tax ramifications. But that may be the way to go.
     
  21. jared_kipe macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

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    #21
    Every concert I've been to is well lit enough that I could probably get away with just boosting the ISO.

    But my argument had a dash of "sarcasm" in it. Obviously something "exists" but its so rare and you can just avoid it. So unless you are specifically wanting to take pictures of such things, there is little point in complaining about its bad performance in the area.

    If you want to shoot no flash allowed seedy cock fights, maybe a zoom isn't your best bet when you could have a 50mm f1.8 for much less anyway.

    Do I need the rollyeyes? Yeah probably. :rolleyes:
     
  22. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

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    #22
    Hm.... Red flags here. I think I would pass on this girl's camera, as something doesn't seem quite right and it doesn't sound as though she is a serious seller. Maybe the friend to whom she loaned the camera is contemplating purchasing it. Whatever...

    That is a good idea to consider leasing a camera for the trip but in the long run it will cost you more than if you simply purchase one. You could buy a camera body and a lens and then perhaps lease another lens or two to give yourself more flexibility....
     
  23. form macrumors regular

    form

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    #23
    ......The very reason I got a dSLR was to capture low light action without flash, and that's exactly what I use it most for. And yes, I do stop down a little from the max aperture to get some sharpness back. I don't, can't, use flash, because I don't have a separate, powerful flash unit (preferably with a diffuser) capable of proper, even light distribution. Plus the flash would be distracting.

    A good reason to have better than f/5.6 indoors is so motion doesn't blur and camera shake doesn't become an issue. Another good reason is so you don't have to boost the ISO to maximum levels to offset those things. The environment I do most of my indoor action shots in appears, to the naked eye, to be well lit. The reality is, I only get 1/50th of a second there at f/5.6 and ISO800 (or 1/100th at ISO1600) when I'm underexposing 1/3 to 2/3 of a stop, and that when their blinds are open with the day shining in.

    No, not all indoor situations are like that. Some are better...and some are worse. For a person who has kids, or takes pictures of sports, it's probably not going to be fast enough for many indoor shots. However, with fairly close subjects, you might get away with using the built-in flash.
     
  24. annk thread starter Administrator

    annk

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    #24
    Yeah, I do wonder what the deal is. In her defense, the camera has been for sale since the middle of May, so I shouldn't blame her for taking a vacation a month later. But she seemed so slow to answer my very interested mails and SMSs. Her friend might well be contemplating buying it. We'll see.

    I don't know the terms of the leasing deal yet, but will check out what the total cost will be compared to a cash purchase.
     
  25. annk thread starter Administrator

    annk

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    #25
    And the end of the story is...

    ...that I bought the camera yesterday. :)

    The difficulty in getting hold of the seller turned out to be a series of unfortunate events. The problems with communication had made me sceptical before meeting her, but she turned out to be a friendly, intelligent person who had obviously taken good care of the equipment. I got good vibes right away. Mostly original packaging on everything, all original documentation. She sold it only to finance the 5D she's recently purchased.

    She was helpful and gave me good advice about the insurance she's had on it. She'd even drawn up more or less the same contract I had for our transaction, and had it ready. She encouraged me to contact her if I had any questions or problems.

    So now I have to learn to use it! :eek: :D Looking forward to it, and am happy I recognize a lot of menu setups and functions from my S2 IS.

    Thanks for everyone's imput in this thread, my decision was more informed than it would've been because of it!
     

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