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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Building Your Lens Kit For Digital Action

With the autumn migrations and rutting season approaching fast, now is the time to put together a set of lenses to help you capture all the action

Labels: Lenses

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Sigma APO 150-500mm ƒ/5.6-6.3 DG OS HSM
Sigma is best known as a lens maker and offers a full lineup for popular D-SLRs, including its own. In the “big gun” category are the APO 300mm ƒ/2.8 EX DG/HSM, APO 500mm ƒ/4.5 EX DG/HSM and APO 800mm ƒ/5.6 EX DG/HSM, available in mounts for Sigma, Canon and Nikon AF SLRs, with Sigma’s Hyper Sonic AF Motor. They’re also available in Sony/Minolta and Pentax mounts, but with standard focusing motors (the 800mm isn’t available in a Pentax mount).

Ideal Sigma wildlife zooms include the APO 120-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 DG OS HSM and APO 150-500mm ƒ/5.6-6.3 DG OS HSM, both with built-in Optical Stabilization systems for sharper handheld shots. (Note that the HSM functions only with camera bodies that support it, and the Sony and Pentax versions don’t provide the OS system; Sony and Pentax D-SLRs have built-in sensor-shift stabilization.) For photographers with bigger budgets, the APO 300-800mm ƒ/5.6 EX DG HSM is available in Sigma, Canon, Nikon and Four Thirds mounts.

Sigma APO 300mm ƒ/2.8 EX DG/HSM

Sigma 18-200mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM
Of special note is Sigma’s APO 200-500mm ƒ/2.8/400-1000mm ƒ/5.6 EX DG in mounts for Sigma, Canon and Nikon. This zoom costs more than my parents paid for the house I grew up in, but it’s both the world’s fastest 500mm lens at ƒ/2.8, and with the provided dedicated 2x converter, the world’s fastest 1000mm lens at ƒ/5.6.

Sigma offers two basic long-range zooms, both with built-in Optical Stabilization—the 18-200mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM and 18-250mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM. They’re designed specifically for APS-C-format D-SLRs and can’t be used with full-frame models.

Sony 300mm ƒ/2.8 G

Sony 70-400mm ƒ/4-5.6 G

Sony DT 18-250mm ƒ/3.5-6.3
Sony’s top wildlife lenses are its relatively new 70-400mm ƒ/4-5.6 G zoom and its pricey but excellent 300mm ƒ/2.8 G supertele. On all Sony (and Minolta) D-SLRs, these are equivalent to lenses 1.5 times longer on a 35mm SLR; on the full-frame Sony DSLR-A900, they frame just as they would on a 35mm SLR. Other good choices would be the 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 G and 70-300mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 G (the G series being Sony’s best optics), and the Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm ƒ/1.8 (for the APS-C-sensor cameras, on which it’s a very fast 200mm equivalent). Sony also offers the only AF mirror lens in production, the 500mm ƒ/8 Reflex.

Sony’s three long-range zooms are the DT 18-200mm ƒ/3.5-6.3, DT 18-250mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 and DT 55-200mm ƒ/4-5.6 zooms. They’re designed for APS-C D-SLRs and vignette if used on the full-frame A900.

Sony D-SLRs also accept legacy Minolta Maxxum lenses.


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