Monday, July 14, 2008

My Newfound Friend: Sigma AF 50-150mm F2.8 APO EX DC HSM I

Last June during the Migrant Workers' Day at Oji Park, I brought along with me my DSLR kit but got frustrated because I couldn't 'reach' my subjects. As expected on events like this, the place would be filled by a lot of people, each and everyone representing different characters.

The kit lens (18-55mm) having a max focal length at 55mm would be too short to do some candid street shots. Thus, I had been dreaming for a longer lens eversince.

Option 1: All-around lens
For my next lens, my first choice then was the Nikkor 18-200mm VR. It's a very popular Nikon lens because of its versatility (from shooting wide to long), capped with a Vibration Reduction system (for those shaky hands) and the benefit of not having to change lenses making it a perfect travel companion (always ready to take a shot of the scene -- near or far).

The downside: Price, as it sells for 68k-88,200 Yen on major commercial stores (approx: Php28-36k). Also, minimum aperture ranges from f3.5-5.6, so if you are dreaming of some creamy bokeh in the background, better get those prime lenses.

Option 2: Prime Telephoto Lens
I did wanted to have the bokeh effects, and so I realized I should get prime lenses instead. Prime lenses have wider apertures than the zooms, allowing more light to enter; thus, producing beautiful bokeh. However, you'd get stuck with only one focal length (no zoom). Nikkor's available prime telephotos at my desired range was the 105mm and the 135mm. Using a D40x, my choice of lens were limited because only AF-S lenses would autofocus on it.

Option 3: 3rd Party lens (Sigma)
Nikon is an optics company and has been producing great lenses eversince (one can notice how expensive their lenses are); thus, I had some sort of bias against 3rd party lens makers (Tamron, Sigma, Tokina). However, having some time searching for my next lens, I came across Sigma's 50-150mm DC and quite became interested with it due to its rave reviews. Eventually, it had been my choice in the end.

What I liked about this Lens:
Fixed maximum aperture width at f2.8 (from all zoom levels 50mm-150mm). - This would satisfy my bokeh cravings, one thing that my kit lens couldn't do except at the wide end (18mm @ f3.5).
Focal Range: It's just quite enough for what I need, perhaps for event/street photography. I didn't want it to be too long.
Internal Focusing: Zooming from 50-150 wouldn't increase/decrease the length of the lens. Unlike the 18-200mm VR where it goes longer and longer till it reaches 200mm.
Weight: This is considered a lightweight in terms of its capability (fixed wide aperture zoom lens)
Sigma EX: It's an EX lens, somewhat being one of the 'elite' Sigma lenses. Much like Canon's L version of lenses. Of course it's not just labeling, it's more of the build quality that makes it an EX.
HSM - HyperSonic Motor... Sigma's way of telling that it autofocuses with my D40x and it's fast and silent.

I only wish it has VR, but hey it would just ramp up the price anyway. Lowest price one could get (bnew) would be 82k Yen. Since I don't want to shell out that much money, I opted for the practical route: buy 2nd hand. Japan's Used Camera market is great, that one can find used gear at a relatively low price, most of which are still in near mint condition.

I know, this hobby proves to be costly but at least I made it at 6 months with my kit. Some people I met here would buy new gear almost every month. I'd still be using my kit once in a while when I would be needing a wider lens (close range shots). I guess I should have added that to my why I like this lens list.

Sample shots, check out the Pictures Section. (Kasukabe Natsu Matsuri Day 2)

posted by ScIoN 4:23 PM


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Location: Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

ScIoN is a former Systems Engineer in Japan who specialized in industrial imaging and digital hardware design. He is now back in the Philippines pursuing graduate studies in Finance at the University of the Philippines - Diliman.



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