Fifty One Fifty

I finally tried the Sigma 50-150mm F2.8 HSM APO Macro… for Canon mount. Since I was so curious to see the sharpness and bokeh, I popped a CF card in the shop’s Canon EOS 40D.

40D, 150mm F2.8 ISO1600 1/200s. Auto White Balance. This is the whole image. Bokeh is a mixed bag – some look excellent, some look a bit too contrasty. In this case the handphone being held up is a bit distracting.

A 100% crop from the part which was most in focus. Not scorchingly sharp, but usable since this was at the default setting.

I’ll admit that I love consumer sharpening, so I dived into the menu and pumped up the sharpness, saturation, tone. All of them, to 7. This explains how I got the 40D to look this noisy at ISO1600 heh.

40D, 150mm F2.8 ISO1600 1/250s. Auto White Balance. Uhhh, this is weird, even for AWB with tungsten light.

I like how it makes the OOF highlights glow, and the signboard text that has been blurred out in the top-left corner isn’t too bad. Could be worse.

This reminds me of my Sigma 17-35mm F2.8-4 EX non-DG; contrast is strong, even in out-of-focus areas. Occasionally though, you can get good separation.

Given a good background, this lens would shine.

The 40D at 5.75 FPS (due to shooting at 1/250s you don’t get 6.5 FPS) and HSM made for great tracking of walking subjects.

Longitudinal chromatic aberration is of the modern type – more greenish cyan behind the subject, to magenta in front of the subject.

Minor 40D rant

An immediately noticeable niggle was the thumbwheel of the 40D – scrolling through burst mode I had to wait until the image appeared in full crispness before I scroll to the next picture. If I scrolled too fast some of the images would appear to be taken from very low-resolution thumbnails (and occasionally, the dimensions would shrink, with black borders.) Hence, I had to scroll slowly with my thumb. Makes me appreciate the Alpha’s embedded thumbnails especially when you want to pick pictures to delete quickly (or watch burst mode animations on your screen). Oh yes, you can’t hold down the joystick to scroll.

Back to the lens

Anyway, I love the size and weight of this lens – it’s just a bit shorter than the Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan, a bit fatter, and just as heavy, clocking under 800 grams. Which is loads lighter than the overrated 70-200mm F2.8 lenses everybody lusts for, which go for 1.4 kilograms or so.

Interestingly, the internal zoom mechanism looks the same from the front, also.

I’ve always wanted 50mm on my beercan more than 200mm, on APS-C, when shooting gigs and events… so I could make do with a 50-150mm should anything happen to my beercan, God forbid!

Use a 50-150mm on your APS-C dSLR, not the 70-200mm! You don’t use a 24-70mm on APS-C, do you? You’d use a 17-50mm on APS-C, yes? If you can sell the 17-50mm when changing to a full-frame body, of course you can sell the 50-150mm.

There’s one reason why I love Pentax – they’re the only brand that has a complete APS-C lineup:

10-17mm F3.5-4.5 fisheye
12-24mm F4
14mm F2.8 (much much smaller than full-frame versions)
16-50mm F2.8
17-70mm F4
21mm F3.2 pancake
40mm F2.8 pancake
50-135mm F2.8 (Pentax is the only brand that recognizes the importance of this range on APS-C)
70mm F2.4 pancake
55-300mm F4-5.8 (WHOA! That’s a new range, and it beats the Canon 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS by a hair.)

So why don’t I have any APS-C lenses?

…because I have a full-frame body.

And yet, when I have the cash, I will look into a different walkaround lens – the Sigma 17-35mm F2.8-4 EX non-DG is an ultra-wide on full-frame and is also huge and fat and horribly attention-grabbing. A small, wide prime would be great. If it was an APS-C pancake lens, I wouldn’t mind.

Why I don’t like 200mm on APS-C that much

Even when I used a 200-400mm at the Sunburst Music Festival, 200mm was too long. So I knew that I wouldn’t miss 200mm. Even the Minolta 200mm F2.8G HS APO I had for a few days was a bit too long for my usage.

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