Thursday, 20 June 2013

The New Sigma 120-300 f2.8 DG HSM OS Travels to Mongolia



Sigma 120-300 F2.8 DG HSM OS
Starting in 2013 all newly produced interchangeable lenses from Sigma will be designed for, and organised into one of three product categories: Contemporary, Art and Sports. Each line has a clearly defined concept to guide photographers towards the specific lenses for their photographic interests.

The concept of these three categories are as follows:
Contemporary – These lenses incorporate the very latest technology and keep size and weight to a minimum, without compromising their advanced optical performance or utility. High-performance, versatile, compact and superbly portable, these lenses will be largely comprised of standard zooms, telephoto zooms and high-magnification zooms for an array of photography, including landscape and travel photography, and casual portraiture.
Art – These lenses are developed with an emphasis on artistic touch and are designed to meet the expectations of users who value a creative, dramatic outcome. Along with landscapes, portraits, still-life, close-up and casual snaps, these lenses are perfect for the kind of photography that unleashes the inner artist. Ideal for studio photography, they offer just as much of an expressive scope when capturing architecture, starry skies, underwater shots and many other scenes. This category will be comprised of many focal lengths and designs, such as large-aperture prime lenses, wide-angle lenses, ultra wide-angle lenses, and macro and fisheye lenses.
Sports - With their high-level optical performance and expressive power, these lenses can capture fast-moving subjects, even at distance. This line also offers a variety of functions to aid the photographer in challenging conditions and scenarios. Besides sports photography, the lenses are also ideal for nature shots featuring birds, wild animals and other creatures, and for the capture of aircraft, trains, race cars and more. The Sports line is also unique in that users can adjust the lenses’ focus speeds and the focus limiters via a button on the lens. The Sports category will be comprised of telephoto lenses, telephoto zoom lenses, super telephoto lenses, super telephoto zoom lenses, and more.

Since my new Sigma 120-300 F2.8 DG HSM OS will be showing up any day I figured I would discuss this new telephoto zoom lens.

Here is what the company says about this lens:

The Sigma 120-300 F2.8 DG HSM OS is the first lens introduced into the Sports category for Sigma’s Global Vision. Designed for full frame cameras but can work with APS-C sized sensors as well, the 120-300 F2.8 has a large aperture and versatile focal length, ideal for a wide range of photography. Though placed in the Sports category, the 120-300 F2.8 is also great for nature, automotive, wildlife, and everything in between. Equipped with state of the art technology such as a Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM), an Optical Stabilizer (OS) and Inner Focusing and Zooming, the 120-300 F2.8 ensures sharp and beautiful images. The HSM allows for a quiet, fast, and accurate autofocusing while the OS compensates for camera shake while shooting by hand. Two FLD glass elements, which have performance equal to fluorite, are incorporated with one SLD element to reduce color aberration at the highest degree. The Sports category offers not only a higher level of customization through the Sigma USB dock, but also has a dust and splash proof design.

The following are the new features that Sigma is promoting about the lens.
 
Enhanced Usability - This lens features durability that stands up to challenging photographic situations and hard use demands along with the intuitive and enjoyable usability that photographers need. Since the lens uses Sigma's inner focus and inner zoom technologies, adjusting the focus and zoom rings does not change the length of the lens, resulting in excellent hold for the selected ring positions. Since the front of the lens does not move, the lens is compatible with a circular polarizer. In every way, Sigma has designed the lens for exceptional usability. The zoom ring is textured to allow fingers to find the correct position easily. Designed for seamless integration with the rest of the lens, the four control switches feature carefully placed lettering and buttons and specially shaped screws. The lens hood has also been completely redesigned, even down to the screws that connect it to the lens, and the newly designed tripod collar provides for connection to a camera strap.

A New Design - All lenses in Sigma's new Sports line come with a hood with a high-quality rubberized connector and feature a newly designed lens cap and AF/MF switch, and are designed for intuitive use and superior functionality. Inside, HSM (hypersonic motor) delivers high AF speed and extremely quiet performance. An enhanced algorithm offers even smoother automatic focusing. Full-time manual focus override is another key feature that leaves the artistic touches in the photographer's hands. The brass mount combines high precision with rugged construction. Its treated surfaces and enhanced strength contribute to the exceptional durability of the lens.

Resistance to dust and water - This lens is ready for all the tough situations that pros encounter. The mount connection area, manual focus ring, customization switch and other controls, switch panels and cover connection areas are all designed to be dust and water-resistant. The zoom and focus rings are also designed for exceptional usability in real-world circumstances.

Image quality of a fixed focal length lens - Offering excellent image expression and a low F-number, the large-aperture 300 mm F2.8 lens is a favourite piece of equipment among professional photographers. While taking this spec to the next level with powerful zoom capability, Sigma has also used two lens elements made of fluorite-equivalent FLD (“F” Low Dispersion) glass and one element made of SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass, which help minimize chromatic aberration and provide image quality that rivals that of a fixed-focus lens.

F2.8 brightness throughout the entire zoom range - This lens incorporates two FLD (“F” Low Dispersion) glass elements, which have performance equal to fluorite, and one SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass element to minimize chromatic aberration. Since it also minimizes sagittal coma flare and coma at the edges of the image, it is able to rival a fixed-focus lens in image quality.

Exclusive low-dispersion glass - The degree to which light is refracted by glass depends on the light's wavelength. This fact causes different colors of light to focus at slightly different points. The result is chromatic aberration, the color fringing that is particularly noticeable in telephoto lenses. Most chromatic aberration can be removed by combining a high-refractivity convex lens element with a low-refractivity concave element. Yet residual chromatic aberration known as “secondary spectrum” may still remain. To minimize this secondary spectrum, which can be a serious issue with conventional lenses, Sigma lenses feature up to three types of exclusive low-dispersion glass offering superior performance: ELD (Extraordinary Low Dispersion), SLD (Special Low Dispersion) and FLD (“F” Low Dispersion). In particular, FLD glass offers ultra-low dispersion in combination with high transmittance and the anomalous dispersion characteristics of fluorite. Meticulous deployment of these types of exclusive low-dispersion glass and optimization of power distribution gives Sigma lenses superlative image rendition undiminished by residual chromatic aberration.

The new A1 – MTF Measuring System - There are three requirements for outstanding lenses: fine design, precise manufacturing and inspection that ensures compliance with all specifications. Sigma lenses are born of well-thought-out design concepts and sophisticated, advanced Japanese manufacturing technology; the final clincher is our lens performance evaluation. We used to measure lens performance using conventional sensors. However, we've now developed our own A1* proprietary MTF (modulation transfer function) measuring system using 46-megapixel Foveon direct image sensors. Applying this system, we check each lens in our new lines at our Aizu factory, our sole production site. Even previously undetectable high-frequency details are now within the scope of our quality control inspections, allowing us to deliver consistently high lens performance. Our MTF system has the capability to test lenses for full-size 20+ megapixel 35mm digital SLR cameras.

46-megapixel Foveon direct image sensor - The 46 effective megapixel (4,800 × 3,200 × 3 layers) and 44 recording megapixel (4,704 × 3,136 × 3 layers) 23.5 × 15.7mm APS-C X3 direct image sensor captures all primary RGB colors at each and every pixel location, ensuring the capture of full and complete color. Using three silicon-embedded layers of photo detectors, stacked vertically to take advantage of silicon's ability to absorb red, green and blue light at different respective depths, it efficiently reproduces color more accurately, and offers sharper resolution, pixel for pixel, than any conventional image sensor. Since color moiré is not generated, the use of a low-pass filter is not required, meaning light and color, generated by the 46-megapixel APS-C X3 direct image sensor is captured with a three-dimensional feel.

Ultra-high precision and quality - all made in Japan - All Sigma's manufacturing–right down to molds and parts–is carried out under an integrated production system, entirely in Japan. We are now one of the very few manufacturers whose products are solely "made in Japan." We like to think our products are somehow imbued with the essence of our homeland, blessed as it is with clean air and water, and focused, hard-working people. We pride ourselves on the authentic quality of Sigma products, born of a marriage between highly attuned expertise and intelligent, advanced technology. Our sophisticated products have satisfied professionals and lovers of photography all over the world, because our manufacturing is based on genuine craftsmanship, underpinned by the passion and pride of our experts.

New Software and USB dock - For our new product lines, we have developed exclusive SIGMA Optimization Pro software that allows the user to update the lens firmware and adjust focus position and other parameters. The user will be able to connect the lens to a computer with a special USB DOCK and use easy-to-operate on-screen controls to create personal lens specifications. For Sports lenses, the focus limiter will also be customisable.
Lens Specifications


Optical construction:
23 elements in 18 groups in 1x SLD+ 2xFLD elements
Number of aperture blades:
9 (circular)
min. focus distance:
1.50-2.50m (max. magnification ratio 1:8.1 @ 200mm)
Dimensions:
114x289mm
Weight:
2950g
Filter size:
105mm (non-rotating)
Hood:
barrel-shaped, bayonet mount, supplied
Other features:
detachable tripod mount, compatible to the Sigma AF 1.4x and 2x APO tele converters, Super Multi Layer (SML) coating

When you read about the lens, all this looks great on paper, Sigma seems to be listening to photographers and making the adjustments to an already superior line-up of lenses.

I have now read about half a dozen reviews, most of them quite positive… So when Sigma asked me if I wanted to shoot with this lens, I jumped at it. I decided I wanted to take it for its first good workout in a real world environment… It is making the trek with me to Mongolia for the latest workshop at the Photographers Lounge.

During that workshop I will be posting images taken with the 120-300mm f2.8... I will be giving it a workout shooting the Naadam Festival, some birding photography and will see how it performs taking landscape and photos of the old monasteries...

Check back as I will be posting images here and on facebook between July 7th and 14th... then when I get home I will write up a summary of my first thought on this lens.

*update* All photos have been now posted on my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/kpeplounge and http://www.kpepphotography.com/Travel/Mongolia/30514346_r7dgfH#!i=2631949662&k=QfCFLFv