Recently I returned a new toy, specifically a Canon EOS 7D camera body + Canon L series 70-300mm lens, to Warehouse Express because I wasn’t entirely happy with the camera’s performance compared to my existing EOS 40D. I was beyond the 7 days allowed for a refund but, and here I congratulate Warehouse Express for their flexibility, WEX (as it seems to be known these days) did agree to give me a credit note provided everything was pristine, which it was.
There’s a bit of a problem when you are granted a £2300-ish credit note in that you now have to find something else to spend it on. £1200+ wasn’t a problem; opor Carol had reluctantly had to surrender her beautiful 70-300mm L series lens since it formed part of the returned kit. The first thing we did was order a standalone identical replacement. Carol was once again happy. Now I had £1100-ish outstanding burning a hole in my account.
Having been very impressed by Carol’s other Canon L series lens, the 100mm IS macro, I had been thinking that a macro would probably help me, particularly with the smaller damselflies, though I was keen on a slightly longer focal length to give me more working space. The candidates seemed to be:
- Canon’s 180mm f3.5 macro (£1300-ish, 15 year old design, no Image Stabilization)
- Tamron’s 180mm f3.5 macro (£700-ish, new design, no Image Stabilization)
- Sigma’s 150mm f2.8 macro (£1000, new design with “Optical Stabilization”)
You can never quite get what you want, can you? If the Canon 180mm had IS, I wouldn’t hesitate, even though it’s old (which is probably why it doesn’t have IS). The Tamron has at least one good review but has (apparently) a plastic tripod foot and still no IS. The Sigma was a little shorter than I’d have liked but it is compatible with the Sigma 1.4X extender, which would make it a 210mm macro. I’ve just never bought a non-Canon lens and was a little nervous. I bit the bullet and went for the Sigma (no extender – yet!) and it arrived this morning. Incidentally, was there ever a lens marketed with more abbreviations involved? This lens rejoices in the full title of – take a deep breath – “Sigma 150mm f2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens”.
The “EX” bit of the lengthy name seems to be Sigma’s equivalent to Canon’s L-series lenses, the higher end of the spectrum. Although the weather collapsed just after it arrived, we managed to go out and give it a first spot of exercise on our local patch. The Sigma “Optical Stabilzation” seems to be a little clunkier and noisier than Canon’s “Image Stabilization” but I didn’t scare off any bugs with it, fortunately. The lens also comes with two lens hoods, one being specifically for APS-C (cropped) sensors, though I think I’ll just carry the standard hood. The Sigma lens cases are also clearly much more protective (padded) than the frankly pathetically flimsy Canon bags which have no padding at all.
I’m going to need some practice to get used to using it – I’m not accustomed to getting that close to my subjects – but here’s a few sample shots from it’s first excursion.
Though I’ve let the abdomen of the damselfly drift out of the plane of focus, the detail on the thorax and legs looks pretty good, to me. I think Carol’s macro pips it slightly in the sharpness stakes but I really did want a longer lens with stabilization. I think this’ll do nicely. 🙂
Oh, and together with a 72mm protective UV filter + neck strap for Carol + Saturday delivery, the bill was exactly 3p short of my credit note value. Bravo!