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Nikon unveils sweet little 85mm f/1.8 lens, Sigma adds micro 4/3 & Sony NEX lenses, DSLR-compatible 180mm f/2.8 macro

Sigma 180mm f28 macroCES featured plenty of new cameras, but there were also several exciting lens announcements from some of our favorite lens makers, Nikon and Sigma. Nikon's new 85mm f/1.8 lens is refreshingly small for what it does, while Sigma a new line of lenses for Micro 4/3 and Sony NEX – called DN for Digital Neo, plus an impressive 180mm f/2.8 Macro lens for Nikon & Canon DSLRs... Read more »

Value-priced Super-Zoom: Sigma 18-250mm OS Lens Review and Field Test

sp_usopen2011_0057Since its introduction the Nikon 18-200 has been one of the most sought after “super-zoom” lenses. Used not only by amateurs but by many pros for its convenience and high quality images the lens was and is best suited as an “all in one” lens especially for travel. But with time the price has continued to creep up so that the current VR II version is now $800 (and out of stock at many retailers), so it is certainly not a bargain anymore.

So for those with limits to their pocketbooks or without the time to wait until the Nikon version returns to the shelves I wanted to field test a couple of the less expensive alternatives. I’d already seen the images from the Tamron 18-270 that my clients Jim were using in Africa and was impressed by its small size and reasonable image quality. So for this comparison I borrowed a Sigma 18-250mm OS HSM lens. This new version not only has stabilization (OS) but also built-in focusing motors (HSM) although like all the other similar lenses it is designed for use only with APS-C (Nikon DX) format cameras as it vignettes substantially when used full frame—in Sigma parlance it is called a DC lens. [Full frame users can opt for the larger and more expensive Nikon 28-300mm lens as an alternate]

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NEW Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 with Stabilization: Is it a Nikon 200-400mm and Canon 100-400mm Killer?

Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 EX DG OS APO HSM AF Lens (For Nikon) The Nikon 200-400mm f/4 AF-S VR Lens has become a legend among wildlife photographers—especially those who shoot from vehicles on safari. I personally know of several pros who have switched from Canon to Nikon just to take advantage of the killer combination of a D3, D3S or D700 with one. The second version upgraded the VR system on the lens but it didn’t address its three remaining shortcomings: f/4 maximum aperture, mediocre auto-focus speed and physical size and weight. Now along comes a major re-design of the venerable Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 HSM EX APO lens with image stabilization (OS), “splash proofing” and low dispersion glass added. Read on to find out if it knocks the Nikon off its throne in my field test…

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Sigma 85mm f/1.4 HSM Lens: Wicked Fast and Not Just for Portraits

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens For Nikon Digital SLR CamerasUltra-wide-aperture lenses (roughly those capable of going to f/2 or wider) have always been favorites of portrait photographers because of their immense isolating power. The wider the aperture (indicated non-intuitively by a smaller “f-number”) the more shallow the depth of field and therefore the more out of focus the background. In the past I haven’t been too inspired by my 50mm f/1.4 so it usually sits at home. But when Sigma told me about their new 85mm f/1.4 the extra reach of the 85mm appealed to me both for its isolating ability and low light possibilities. I wasn’t disappointed. Read on to see how it performed and how it compares to the competition…

A Gray Owl for A Gray Morning

_djc9014We had some early clouds on our South Texas Photo Safari this morning so I decided to take advantage of the very even light to see if I could get some good shots of an Eastern Screech Owl that nests near where we were shooting. Not only do owls seem to be more cooperative on gray days but the fact that the owl’s hole faced North wouldn’t matter so much since the clouds would scatter the light just about evenly all over.