Sigma 120-400mm lens

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Alaskan Bears: One safari, one camera, one lens: Life with the new Nikon 80-400mm AF-S VR Lens

_djc5685Every July I return to Alaska to photograph the amazing Coastal Brown (aka “Grizzly”) Bears. Over the course of 15 years I’ve used over a dozen different cameras, and at least that many lenses to capture images. Typically at least one of my lenses would be a massive telephoto (400mm f/2.8 or 200-400 f/4, or 120-300 f/2.8). This year, as part of my ongoing effort to identify lighter, less expensive alternatives to large and extremely expensive lenses, I decided to shoot for the entire two safaris with “just” a Nikon 80-400mm AF-S VR lens attached to my Nikon D610. My hope was to see whether this new, sub-$3K lens could do a good job of subbing for larger, more expensive alteratives….


Ultimate Lightweight “pro” Safari photo rig: Under 30 pounds, all in!

DavidCardinal_GearBag_0005In the continuing quest to get lighter & smaller I’ve written about taking the plunge to a mirrorless camera, but what if you want to stick with good-old DSLR technology? I’ve assembled the lightest and smallest bag I can think of that will do serious professional quality work on a wildlife safari – so of course I want to share it with you. Read more »

At long last: Nikon updates ancient 80-400 telephoto zoom with new Nikon AF-S 80-400mm ED VR Lens

For twelve years Nikon’s entry in the long end of the telephoto zoom market has been its aging 80-400mm model. In 2001, when Moose Peterson and I shot a dozen of the photos for our book on The D1 Generation of cameras with it, the lens was pretty cool. It worked well with DX sensors, had this amazing new thing called VR, and autofocused. Twelve years later it is a non-starter. Finally Nikon has done something about it, announcing a radically overhauled version, the Nikon “FX-format” 80-400mm lens, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400m f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Lens. It isn’t any wider as far as aperture, being f/4.5-5.6, but it is guaranteed to have improved focus, optics, and VR. Read more »

Sigma 50-500mm Lens: Is it the Ultimate Superzoom? Field test on B&H Photo Walk at the Zoo

Sigma 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO Autofocus LensSuperzooms have been the poor stepchildren of lenses nearly forever. Typically under-performing models sold to people uninterested in worrying about multiple lenses or great quality, using one was a great way to mark yourself as an amateur. So it took quite a bit of convincing – in the form of happy success stories and awesome images taken by my clients on various safaris with the Sigma 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO Lens – for me to decide to shoot with this latest entry in the “all-in-one” superzoom category. I’m glad I did…. Read more »

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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