Canon vs Nikon vs Sigma 300mm f4 lenses

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by datagov, Apr 14, 2016.

  1. datagov

    datagov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 2, 2012
    New York
    I've had the Sigma APO 300mm f4 Tele Macro for a few months and love it but wanted to compare it to the Canon and Nikon offerings. I found the Canon EF 300mm f4 L USM and Nikon AF-S 300mm f4 ED IF on Fleabay and tried them out for a week. Here is my experience.

    The Nikon is heavier and longer than both. And contrary to most review sites, I found it to be the sharpest lens at f4 of all three. At f8 they are all equally sharp. But at F4, the Nikon was king. Colors and contrast were superb.

    But, the tripod mount is needlessly complicated. Its impossible to get it off when the lens is mounted to the camera. Even unmounted, it has rivets on the lens and you have to unscrew the mount from the lens and back it off. It is also the heaviest mount of all and it has some flex in it. The lens also has no glass behind the diaphram, meaning dust can get pretty easily.

    Manual focus is terrific on this lens, but you are limited on the aperture ring to f4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, 32. No in between stops. Minimum focus is at 1.45m with no macro capability. And there is some CA at f4.

    I got the Canon with the Kipon AF adapter. Doesn't work that well. It will autofocus, and you get a green box confirmation. But it backfocuses most of the time and the shots you get are not sharp. This lens also has CA at f4. It is lighter than the Nikon, but longer than the Sigma. Minimum focus is at 2.5m, which is LONG. No macro.

    With manual focus, the lens is sharper than the sigma but I liked the colors on the Nikon better.

    The Sigma has a great tripod mount, is light enough to walk around with, is the shortest of the bunch, and is so close in sharpness at f4 with the other two I don't see the point in keeping the Canon or the Nikon. Back they go. I wanted to love the Canon because I had heard so much about it. But so much better it isn't. I wanted to love the Nikon because the copy I got is in MINT condition, and the build quality is insane.

    My Sigma copy is beat up on the outside, but super optics on the inside. It doesn't MF as well as the big boys in terms of how the focus ring feels, but it focuses down to 1.2m, has macro capabilities, nice colors, and it costs 1/3 of the Nikon and Canon.

    I'm sure the Olympus is sharper and focuses better than any of these. But in real world applications, the differences between any of these brands at 300mm are small and down to personal preference and budget.

    I'm sticking with the Sigma and will send the rest back.
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  2. magicaxeman

    magicaxeman Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 27, 2016
    Essex UK
    I would have a look at the much cheaper Nikon 300mm F4.5 IF ED, you should be able to find a good copy relatively cheaply.
    Its as sharp as a razor, has if I remember rightly without getting my one out, half stops, decent focus as its a manual focus only lens, built in lens hood and the tripod mount can be removed without leaving nasty sticky uppy bits poking into your hands.
    It shoots lovely wide open but my preference was to shoot at F5.6 with it, though I never found the need to stop down to F8 to get a sharp image.
    It also has lovely smooth bokeh so backgrounds can be beautifully blurred if you wish.
    Weight I believe is 880g with the tripod ring fitted (its all metal construction, solid as a rock)

    Finally don't fret if you can't find a copy with the Nikon tripod ring as you can modify a clone of the canon 300mm tripod ring by cutting a length of plain black cloth covered mouse mat to fit the inside of the ring and superglue it in place cloth side outermost, it works perfectly.

    I also have the Olympus 40-150 pro and its fantastically sharp, it only really outperforms the Nikon by virtue of its snappy AF and wider aperture, but at F4 with the 1.4 TC I'd say they are on par with each other when it comes to sharpness, the Oly only edging it out because of the later and hence better coatings which give greater contrast.
  3. datagov

    datagov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 2, 2012
    New York
    I'm sure there are sharper lenses. The Nikon was a tad sharper at f4 than the Sigma, but the lens design just wasn't as nice. The thing is that the M43 sensor is so small, we get to use the best parts of the lenses designed for bigger sensors. So that differences are pretty small between brands. I guess the nikon and canon feel better when manually focusing. the focus rings are better dampened. but the price difference is 3x. So I kept the Sigma and am delighted with the results. a nice side benefit of MF is that the battery lasts longer too...
  4. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    You can do a micro focus adjust on the Canon to correct the backfocus.
  5. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    agreed :)

    Tripod collar is probably a more significant factor as they are all optically quite close.

    I wrote this back in 2009
    in my view ...: tale of two teles
  6. datagov

    datagov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 2, 2012
    New York
    How do you do that?
  7. datagov

    datagov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 2, 2012
    New York
    Micro adjustments are only available for PDAF lenses, like FT. The Kipon does CDAF with the Canon and micro-adjustments don't apply. My lens front focuses quite a lot, which you can tell when you use AF and turn on peak focusing. Maybe the newer 300mm IS version focuses better.
  8. datagov

    datagov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 2, 2012
    New York
    I picked up a mint copy of the Canon FDn 300mm f4 L and gave it a try. Not any sharper at any aperture, and it suffers more CA at f4 than the Sigma. It also can't focus as closely and it takes more turns to focus from infinity to 1.2 meters. I continue to be very impressed with the Sigma 300mm f4 APO Tele Macro. This from today with the Sigma @ f4

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  9. MRM

    MRM Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 9, 2013
    Seattle, WA
    I wonder how much better the metabones adapter is with this lens. The metabones can do Pdaf now and is suppose to work with most as lenses from canon.
  10. datagov

    datagov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 2, 2012
    New York
    I sold the Sigma a few weeks ago. Loved the lens, but the 50-200 SWD with the EC-14 was at least its match in terms of IQ and bokeh and the 50-200 has AF and EXIF and a zoom range.
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