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My LOVE for the Sigma 120-300 2.8 Sports

MichaelVMichaelV Member
edited August 2014 in the gear
You have to feel LOVE for this lens because LOVE is the only way you are going to tolerate toting this big mama around. It cant fit into most bags and when it does fit in the bag its tough to zipper it shut. Its the largest, heaviest, most attention getting lens I own, but it works oh so well.

Here is an album of photos on Flickr I took with the lens at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Show:


When I go to the Manhattan Yacht Club, I also use the 120-300 as well as the Sigma 24-105.


At the Republican Leadership Conference, I used the Sigma 120-300 Sports a lot.


As for focus, I would say the Canon 70-200 II 2.8 is better. When I went through all of the photos I took, I did see a few rejects in there. Those rejects may not have been the lens fault, but operator error I will admit. I cant be sure, but I know the 70-200 II nails it every time. I just upgraded the firmware and that issue might be fixed. In regards to overall sharpness, I would say judging by eye the Canon pushes ahead, but not by very much. I have not done any instrumented testing and there is, of course, the DXO website where you can get that testing.

To be honest, my 70-200 II stays at home a lot. I actually bought a rolling case so that I could tool around with the Sigma 120-300 Sports. I only take the 70-200 II when its totally not practical to carry the BEAST with me. I might add when handholding the Sigma 120-300 you want to have a firm hold on the lens or the tripod ring adapter. You do not want to hold it by the body.;)



  • MichaelVMichaelV Member
    edited October 2014
    I took this one at a Halloween bar party I was photographing using the Canon 5D Mark III, Quantum T5D-R on a raised light stand and the Sigma at 252mm.  I was literally standing in the bar area of the restaurant as I needed that much room.  I did no karate Photochopping to the model thus you see the tattoo and other skin marks and just played with the color during the processing from RAW to JPG.  The woman in the photo is not posed.  She was just stretching.  One thing I love about the big zoom is you can catch people at their best without them realizing you are taking the picture.   

    Some of the Quantum gear used came from Neils old Quantum pile he was selling.  

    I love the Canon 5D Mark III BTW.  I know Nikon has put out a few bodies which, on paper, seem to outperform the 5D Mark III, but the 5D just seems to be a more natural shooter for me.  

    I am a HUGE FAN of the Quantum line of flash pots.  I must admit it does take a while to tame these things as they are beasts.  Best to work with them on manual control which I did here.  After working the manual flash, you can pretty much telegraph what setting to use.  Using manual flash is just like using a manual transmission.  A bit rough at first, but after a bit you know exactly what flash setting to use without the need for any meter.    BTW, I dropped the Quantum 2x2 battery pack which are re-celled with Imedion AA batteries a few times.  These battery packs are super tough and the old design with the vinyl outside makes for a great cushion.  I made it even more durable by getting it recelled with the Imedions by nicdlady.  Keep that name in mind for your packs.

    I had to use compression to keep within size limitations for this forum.  The TIF for this photo is over 100 mb and the jpg is about 18 mb.  This one was about 3 mb with some compression.

  • Thanks for posting these images. I'm considering this lens or the Nikon 80-400. I do like the f2.8 of the Sigma, but the 400 mm is compelling. I shoot a lot of equestrian events and and can be very close to the action, so the 120mm in the low side of the Sigma maybe an issue.  
  • MichaelVMichaelV Member
    edited October 2014
    Here are some considerations according to my personal experiences and observations:

    -  For wildlife, VIPS like the Pope or Obama, and sports events you simply need as much mm as you can get.  You actually need more like 600mm+ for those events.  More zoom is better.  300mm was simply not enough to photograph the US Open from a position other than the court.   I believe the main reason why photographers will use the crop body is so they get more zoom out of their zoom lens.  When I visited the Vatican and saw the Pope believe me.  You certainly need as much mm as you can bring.  200mm was not enough at all for the Pope at the Vatican.  Even 600mm would have barely done the job.  The Pope is like a piece of wildlife trying to photograph him.  No photographer will get close to the Pope unless they are hired by the Vatican or the Pope decides to walk your way.

    -  The Nikon needs over twice the light at 80mm and I believe at 400mm the aperture narrows even further to 5.6.  In fact, the aperture is only at 4.5 at 80mm.  As you zoom in it narrows.  The Sigma does not narrow and is at 2.8 all the way to 300mm.  

    -  Sigma just put out a new 1.4 teleconverter which will make the Sigma go to 420mm and the aperture narrows to 4.0.  I have no idea the actual performance such as focus speed and accuracy of such a combination.  I do know a teleconverter will further add to the large length of the Sigma.  I can imagine the focus speed would be worse with the 1.4 teleconverter. 

    -  The Sigma is longer, wider and heavier than any 70-200 lens.  It will not fit in most camera bags.  You wont be able to handhold by the camera, but only by the lens.  My opinion is you need considerably more effort to handle the Sigma than the 70-200.  The Sigma is best used with a monopod.

    -  The Sigma attracts a lot of attention wherever you go and so there are security concerns.  You wont be able to take this to the islands or to Italy out of safety concerns.  If you did take it, no way you could just cruise around with it out in the public eye.  Even in NYC, I would not go out with the lens alone anywhere in the public eye.  I would want at least one male assistant carrying the Manfrotto monopod which we all know does a better job at defense than actually stabilizing the lens.  Absolutely no way would I take it to the islands at all. 

    -  You can compare the two lenses at The Digital Picture website using their comparison tool.

    -  For indoor events you absolutely need 2.8 although some people do get away with 4.0 and narrower with the use of flash units.  For example, I found that using 1600 ISO and 2.8 it was just enough to photograph the Mercedes Benz fashion show and Rick Perry on stage at the Republican National Convention.  Actually, when Rick started gyrating up and down suddenly there was a bit of blur caused in some pictures.  I needed even more light for Rick.  Those venues were lit with theatre style lighting units (spotlight, etc).  2.8 is regarded among many photographers as essential for indoor events.

    -  The extra 100mm for the Sigma was very useful as I could start taking photos and get a bit more distance from the speakers than those photographers with the 70-200.  It was nice to start snapping sooner at the fashion show and to be able to get a bit more distance at the speaking convention.  

    -  I had no issues with the overall sharpness. Some of the photos I took were blown up to 24 inch by 24 inch and printed on metal.  They all looked great.

    -  I think its certainly better than any 70-200 provided that it can be handled practically for the occasion in question.  
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