We know the optical formula for the new version of this lens is the same as the old version. We know it has the ability to be reprogrammed and adjusted with the new Sigma dock and Optimization Pro Software. We know there have been some changes to the mechanics and structure of the lens, but we don’t know exactly what they are.
We have enquiring minds. We believe we have a right to know exactly what’s different when someone just says ‘it’s better, and worth an extra $1,000′. We also have Canon mount new and old versions of the old and new lens sitting on the shelf, at least for the moment. You know what happens next, right?
Plus, as I mentioned in Part I of this series, I really want to know if this lens, which has historically been less than reliable, has made changes that might improve reliability. Most repairs seem to involve the focus assembly, OS unit, or focusing motor. So I was eager to see if this area had been redesigned, changed, or beefed up somehow.
So let’s have a look inside. Yes, I know you don’t ever plan to disassemble your lens. You don’t plan to rebuild your next car’s engine, either, but I bet you look under the hood before you buy it.
The outside is promising – there are clearly different external barrel assemblies and the new lens is a bit thicker at the back end.
OK, I’m not sure what the official name of the new 120-300mm f/2.8 lens is. I think Sport is probably best, since it’s got that designation in the new Sigma lineup. On the Sigma website it gets called the OS S. The guys around here call it the 120-300 A1, since it’s one of the lenses that go through Sigma’s new ‘A1′ quality assurance and testing. (Don’t ask me why they named their QA program after my favorite steak sauce.) Of course, people also refer to it as the OS Mk II.
The new version (left) clearly looks different than the original version (right).
A couple of weeks ago I posted my impressions of the Zeiss 32mm Touit lens for NEX cameras, based on a copy loaned to me by Zeiss, USA. Now that we have our own copies I can be, shall we say, a bit more aggressive in examining the lens. Not to mention getting an opportunity to continue my string of aggressively bad pun titles (which Drew absolutely hates). But, hey, don’t blame me. I didn’t pick the name. I just do what has to be done. I have yet begun to pun. Continue reading →
I’m not really sure why, but if you want to watch the Fanboys go completely insane, the simplest thing to do it is throw out “your brand is probably going to be out of business in a few years.” But the simple reality is that’s what happens to most companies eventually, especially technology companies. Photography companies, since, oh, about 1850, have basically been technology companies.
The Non-Profit Industry
Reality is reality, no matter how much people want to deny it. Anyone who thinks the camera industry as a whole is thriving needs to up their medication.
There are lots of reasons that explain why the camera industry is weak. Camera phones are taking over from point-and-shoot cameras. Reportage photography is dying, replaced by cell phone pictures and stills clipped from video footage. And on and on. But knowing why only matters if understanding why allows you to adjust. Otherwise, why is just an excuse for the shareholder’s meeting.
“Commerce makes progress. Fortune passes everywhere.” – Frank Herbert
A few years ago I was accused of being a Sigma hater. (For the record, I did hate their quality control and so-called repair service at that time, and I didn’t hesitate to say so in this blog.) For the third or fourth time in the last year, I’m about to be accused of being a Sigma fanboy.
I’m pretty certain I haven’t gone soft over the last 4 years. I am certain, though, that Sigma Photo, Inc. has changed a lot in that time. Truth is, they’re making serious waves in the photo industry these last few years. They’ve improved their repair service and quality assurance. They’ve released some world-class lenses at way less than world-class prices lately. And now they’ve released their USB dock and Optimization Pro software.
I’ve spent the weekend playing with it. Partly because I really think this is a revolutionary product and I wanted to see how it worked. Partly because I desperately need a ‘Honey, I’ve really got to do this for work’ excuse or I’d have been restaining the deck.
I sure can’t tell you if a lens is worth $12,000 by running a few Imatest numbers, but I might be able to tell you if it sucked. So when we got our first 200-400 f/4 IS lenses in, they went straight back to the lab, along with some other lenses for comparison purposes.
Left to right: Canon 100-400mm IS, 200-400mm f/4 IS, Roger, 400mm f/2.8 IS II, and 400mm f/5.6. All are hand-holdable. If you have big hands.
I was lucky enough to be invited to New York for Zeiss’ Touit lens release and they were kind enough to loan me a 32mm f/1.8 lens in Sony E mount to experiment with. Unfortunately being away during our busiest repair season got me behind and I’ve only just now had a chance to experiment with the lenses a bit.
This is more speculative than what I usually write. Generally I wait until we have multiple copies to run Imatest, look at sample variation, etc. In this case, though, it became apparent that when we do get full stock in, it’s all going to go right back out on rental since there’s already a waiting list. So I thought it would be worth investigating the single Zeiss 32mm f/1.8 copy we had.
I get asked about 15 times a week, “How can I get the dust out of my lens?” The right answer is you don’t. All lenses have dust in them and it doesn’t affect the images at all 99% of the time. Even if you clean it all out, it will be back after you use the lens a few times.
There are occasionally times that large dust specs very near the rear element are visible in an image, though. There also is the very real issue of resale value; a dusty lens tends to bring a lower price than one without much dust. The right answer in these cases is “send it in for factory service, they’ll disassemble it and clean it.” Doing it yourself is risky.
After I give all of those answers, a lot of people tell me they have an old lens no longer under warranty, not worth the cost of sending it in for factory cleaning, and they are really handy and want to do it themselves. For those people, we’ve put up this post showing how to get dust out of some fairly easy to reach locations. Continue reading →
If there hasn’t been a Color Run 5k or 10k race near you, there probably will be soon. And with all that color, you certainly want to take some pictures, right? Not with your camera you don’t (and not with ours either).
I’m never one to worry much about lens dust. I’ve written about why you shouldn’t worry about some dust in your lens. But the color bombs they throw out at Color Runs are different. In the last month we’ve had over 20 lenses and several cameras nearly ruined by these things. For what it’s worth, all of the renters tell us they really weren’t near any of the major ‘color bombs.’
Here’s a few pictures from a brand new lens that returned after its first rental — at a Color Run. These pictures are, of course, after the lens was cleaned externally. All of that dust is inside the front and rear elements.
When we optically tested the RokiBowYang tilt shift, I mentioned that my recommendation was tempered by wanting to see how it was built. Parts and repairs, at least in the U. S., are nonexistent and the price is a bit high for me to consider it a disposable, like the 14mm RokiBowYang. So first thing this morning, instead of doing the work we were supposed to be doing, Aaron and I dove into one.