Canon 70-200 f4L IS + Sigma 120-300 f2.8 OS

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Hi all, I am looking to complete the long end of my lens collection and was thinking of the above combination. I am very keen on the canon 70-200 f4L IS due to its light weight and excellent optics. Plus I am able to get a port for my water housing for it, making it an excellent long solution for water shots. To compliment the 70-200 I am very interested in the 120-300 f2.8, which I feel would be an excellent solution for shooting on land, especially when coupled with a 1.4x extender. I do a lot of surf photography, so a long land solution is sorely missing from my current lenses (below). At the moment I do most from the water (as I find it more fun/rewarding). I am aware of the new version of the Sigma which is supposed to be coming out very soon, and will be delaying any purchase until it does (could probably get the original OS version much cheaper once the new one is out too). Basically I am looking for anyone who has shot with this combination before, or anyone who feels they have a useful opinion to share on using the 70-200, 120-300 and 1.4x extender as the ultimate solution to "the long end". Oh, and I will be shooting on a 7D for at least the foreseeable future. My current lens line up is:
  • Samyang 8mm fisheye (with water housing port)
  • Canon 10-22mm EF-s (with water housing port)
  • Canon 50mm f1.8
  • Canon 17-55mm f2.8 EF-s
  • Sigma 85mm f1.4
Thanks for any input!Cheers.

I have both - and the 70-200 2.8 mk1 and mark 2 as well as the 100-400L, 7d and 5dmk3 The 70-200 f4L IS is seriouly and feels like a toy compared to these other lenses, but does focus quickly and is great to carry all day, however not as fast or as sharp as the 2.8 mk1 (barely noticable) the mkII is amazing... i find the reach of the Sigma 120-300 OS to be great on the 7d but focus speed and accuracy much less than the 5dmk3. fyi polarizers and uv filters for the 120-300 are expensive and huge...

Wow, I had heard that the 70-200 f4L IS was almost on par with the 70-200 f2.8L IS mkII. I am surprised that it is less sharp than your f2.8L IS mkI. Yeah filter size/cost was a concern with the Sigma for me, but given how much would be saved over buying a Canon 300 f2.8 I think I can handle it! You say the focusing speed isn't that great on the 5DIII, what sort of things are you shooting? I would be mostly using it for surf, and I don't think that is too taxing on most AF systems due to the uniform background of water. Would defintely be interested to hear more about your experiences with it though. How do you think it stacks up in terms of IQ with your other lenses? Cheers.

CrustaceanSA wrote: . . . Basically I am looking for anyone who has shot with this combination before, or anyone who feels they have a useful opinion to share on using the 70-200, 120-300 and 1.4x extender as the ultimate solution to "the long end".
well - I own the 70-200 f/4.0 L IS USM and it is almost on the same optical level as my 300 f/2.8 II stopped down- the 300 f/2.8 II is also excellent with the new 1.4x III extenders - if not to say better then any other prime or zoom in this area except the 400 f/2.8 II of course. The Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 has it's shortcomings (beginning with the weight) and it's optical quality - here are some ISO 12233 crops from 2/3 image hight (which would be the corer of the frame form your 7D) (look at "original size" to see the differences clearer and beware that the 7D will exaggerate the differences due to the higher pixel density) IMAGE(http://dpzen.com/dpzattaches/dpzattaches7//201409191846438311.jpg) Canon 300 f/2.8 II with 1.4x III extender resulting in a 420 f/4.0 lens - aperture wide open f/4.0 IMAGE(http://dpzen.com/dpzattaches/dpzattaches7//201409191846458313.jpg) Canon 300 f/4.0 with 1.4x II extender resulting in a 420 f/5.6 lens - aperture wide open f/5.6 IMAGE(http://dpzen.com/dpzattaches/dpzattaches7//201409191846468314.jpg) Canon 400 f/5.6 - aperture wide open f/5.6 IMAGE(http://dpzen.com/dpzattaches/dpzattaches7//201409191846498315.jpg) Canon 400 f/2.8 - aperture wide open f/2.8 IMAGE(http://dpzen.com/dpzattaches/dpzattaches7//201409191846508316.jpg) Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 OS at 300 mm with 1.4x - aperture wide open - 420 f/4.0 make your own judgement just for the record - I feel no brand affiliation nor do I care for the price when I want to have the ultimate solution for the long end as you stated - hope this helps - TDP is a very well known test page (the-digital-picture.com) ad has a high reputation. But also other web sites like Traumflieger, SLRGear and Lenstip and DXOMark rank the current 300 f/2.8 II as the best 300 mm lens to date - even it#s predecessor (now used a good buy) is regarded as almost as good - and it is half the price. Just my 2CT P.S. the Sigma has a significant poorer AF speed with the 1.4x compare to the 300 f/2.8 plus 1.4x combination - important for surf shots where AF performance is really needed.

I have had a 70-200 F4 non-IS for years and it's a super lens. I'm sure the IS version is as good. My non-IS version was superb. I have the Sigma 120-300 OS. It's very heavy. I also have EXACTLY what this man needs for his 7d.. a 400 f5.6 L. People get put off this because it doesn't have IS, but for action, this is a mistake. For action you usually need a shutter speed which makes IS redundant.. teh 400 f5.6 L (at least my copy) is severiously sharp across the frame wide open... This definition is as good as you get... IMAGE(http://dpzen.com/dpzattaches/dpzattaches7//201409191846538318.jpg) See this original size..

Gearóid Ó Laoi, Garry Lee wrote: I have had a 70-200 F4 non-IS for years and it's a super lens. I'm sure the IS version is as good. My non-IS version was superb. I have the Sigma 120-300 OS. It's very heavy. I also have EXACTLY what this man needs for his 7d.. a 400 f5.6 L. People get put off this because it doesn't have IS, but for action, this is a mistake. For action you usually need a shutter speed which makes IS redundant.. teh 400 f5.6 L (at least my copy) is severiously sharp across the frame wide open... This definition is as good as you get... IMAGE(http://dpzen.com/dpzattaches/dpzattaches7//201409191846578321.jpg) See this original size..
Yep - a much more sensible recommendation for the OP I should think. And, looking at the ISO 12233 crops above, it's really not far off the stupidly expensive (though, no doubt, great quality) option recommended above either. At 1920x1080 and smaller viewing the difference would almost certainly not be worth the money (of course, those who have laid down the significant extra amount of money will disagree - and I suspect we'll now be told about all the other wonderful attributes of the much, much more expensive and less portable option! As usual - it's happened before. )

schmegg wrote: . . . At 1920x1080 and smaller viewing the difference would almost certainly not be worth the money . . .
sure but why to start with a heavy and good quality DSLR first when you only want such small images? I may quote again: 120-300 and 1.4x extender as the ultimate solution to "the long end" I leave it here before it get's personal (from others) again - but for me the OP clearly stated what he wanted to have. It is hard to read (I know) - just have a look at the other much cheaper primes I've included and consider the 300 f/2.8 (I) too that's all I ever wanted to say P.S. it seems to be a reflex to suggest the cheap version of something and not the most suitable when it comes to the ultimate solution

joger wrote:
schmegg wrote: . . . At 1920x1080 and smaller viewing the difference would almost certainly not be worth the money . . .
sure but why to start with a heavy and good quality DSLR first when you only want such small images? I may quote again: 120-300 and 1.4x extender as the ultimate solution to "the long end" I leave it here before it get's personal (from others) again - but for me the OP clearly stated what he wanted to have. It is hard to read (I know) - just have a look at the other much cheaper primes I've included and consider the 300 f/2.8 (I) too that's all I ever wanted to say
So why didn't you say that! Your whole post and the crops you posted were all about the Mark II version! I'm pretty sure that if the OP was in that particular market, he wouldn't be looking at the lenses he is nor would he be asking here for advice.

joger wrote: . . . the current 300 f/2.8 II as the best 300 mm lens to date - even it#s predecessor (now used a good buy) is regarded as almost as good - and it is half the price.

joger wrote:
joger wrote: . . . the current 300 f/2.8 II as the best 300 mm lens to date - even it#s predecessor (now used a good buy) is regarded as almost as good - and it is half the price.
ROFL! So that was the recommendation there? And the rest of the post was about the MarkII version, as was the 100% ISO crop! Come on joger - don't treat us all like idiots!

schmegg wrote:
joger wrote:
joger wrote: . . . the current 300 f/2.8 II as the best 300 mm lens to date - even it#s predecessor (now used a good buy) is regarded as almost as good - and it is half the price.
ROFL! So that was the recommendation there? And the rest of the post was about the MarkII version, as was the 100% ISO crop! Come on joger - don't treat us all like idiots!
as I said - it will get personal.

joger wrote:
schmegg wrote:
joger wrote:
joger wrote: . . . the current 300 f/2.8 II as the best 300 mm lens to date - even it#s predecessor (now used a good buy) is regarded as almost as good - and it is half the price.
ROFL! So that was the recommendation there? And the rest of the post was about the MarkII version, as was the 100% ISO crop! Come on joger - don't treat us all like idiots!
as I said - it will get personal.
Not really. But it's clear that, after spending a large part of your post talking about the 300/2.8 IS Mark II, posting crops comparing it to other lenses and gushing about how recommended it is (all of which you've done a lot in your posts here over the past months since you got one), you weren't recommending the Mark I version. To now claim otherwise is being disingenuous. And if you thought we'd believe you then you were indeed giving us less credit than we deserve.

schmegg wrote:
joger wrote:
schmegg wrote:
joger wrote:
joger wrote: . . . the current 300 f/2.8 II as the best 300 mm lens to date - even it#s predecessor (now used a good buy) is regarded as almost as good - and it is half the price.
ROFL! So that was the recommendation there? And the rest of the post was about the MarkII version, as was the 100% ISO crop! Come on joger - don't treat us all like idiots!
as I said - it will get personal.
Not really. But it's clear that, after spending a large part of your post talking about the 300/2.8 IS Mark II, posting crops comparing it to other lenses and gushing about how recommended it is (all of which you've done a lot in your posts here over the past months since you got one), you weren't recommending the Mark I version. To now claim otherwise is being disingenuous. And if you thought we'd believe you then you were indeed giving us less credit than we deserve.
from what I've seen in my own testes - the MK I is almost as good as the MK II being a bit heavier and older in design with a slightly slower AF and a less hefty price tag - for me those two lenses play in the same league - that's why I consider them both as valid options and I hoped to state that clearly in my posting. If not let me do it now here - both the 300 f/2.8 II and a (used) good condition 300 f/2.8 MK I represent a very interesting option for the OP's question. Being about as expensive as the 120-300 sport. Owning a 70-200 f/4.0 L IS USM plus an ultimate 4x0 mm lens was the question of the OP and I guess i've elaborated on that very comprehensive - I will ensure to make it even clearer next time and not to hide important facts in simple sentences on the bottom of my postings where some may have already judged before reading till the end - that my fault - sorry!! btw - could the OP (=CrustaceanSA) please comment on the options being given and if he feels to get good input?

joger wrote:
from what I've seen in my own testes - the MK I is almost as good as the MK II being a bit heavier and older in design with a slightly slower AF and a less hefty price tag - for me those two lenses play in the same league - that's why I consider them both as valid options and I hoped to state that clearly in my posting.
I can't resist this... I think you made a bit of a balls of the above... I've heard of "looking into my own heart" but the above probably goes with uberlensology... HA HA HA! Níor bhris focal maith fiacail riamh (Irish Gaelic) A good word never broke a tooth.

joger wrote:
schmegg wrote:
joger wrote:
schmegg wrote:
joger wrote:
joger wrote: . . . the current 300 f/2.8 II as the best 300 mm lens to date - even it#s predecessor (now used a good buy) is regarded as almost as good - and it is half the price.
ROFL! So that was the recommendation there? And the rest of the post was about the MarkII version, as was the 100% ISO crop! Come on joger - don't treat us all like idiots!
as I said - it will get personal.
Not really. But it's clear that, after spending a large part of your post talking about the 300/2.8 IS Mark II, posting crops comparing it to other lenses and gushing about how recommended it is (all of which you've done a lot in your posts here over the past months since you got one), you weren't recommending the Mark I version. To now claim otherwise is being disingenuous. And if you thought we'd believe you then you were indeed giving us less credit than we deserve.
from what I've seen in my own testes - the MK I is almost as good as the MK II being a bit heavier and older in design with a slightly slower AF and a less hefty price tag - for me those two lenses play in the same league - that's why I consider them both as valid options and I hoped to state that clearly in my posting. If not let me do it now here - both the 300 f/2.8 II and a (used) good condition 300 f/2.8 MK I represent a very interesting option for the OP's question. Being about as expensive as the 120-300 sport.
Interesting. Perhaps the Sigma is way more expensive in Germany than it is here. Or may the Mark I has lost all it's value over there. But from what I see, the Mark I (the IS version) is at least twice as expensive for a used copy than I can get a new Sigma for. Or are you recommending the non-IS version, which is still noticeably dearer than the Sigma from what I can find? You didn't mention the lack of IS as a difference above, so I guess you aren't.
Owning a 70-200 f/4.0 L IS USM plus an ultimate 4x0 mm lens was the question of the OP and I guess i've elaborated on that very comprehensive - I will ensure to make it even clearer next time and not to hide important facts in simple sentences on the bottom of my postings where some may have already judged before reading till the end - that my fault - sorry!!
Yep - any 70-200L is a good choice. Though I personally would go for an IS version, the non-IS versions are also quite good.

In Germany they re about the same price excellent condition EF 300 L IS USM (=3799 EUR) and the price for the 120-300 Sport is announced at 3999 EUR in Germany (sorry for the price being at the bottom of the announcement)

joger wrote: In Germany they re about the same price excellent condition EF 300 L IS USM (=3799 EUR) and the price for the 120-300 Sport is announced at 3999 EUR in Germany (sorry for the price being at the bottom of the announcement)
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Sigma-120-300mm-f-2-8-DG-HSM-120-300-f2-8-for-Canon-1-Year-Warranty-/170984093037?pt=AU_Lenses&hash=item27cf72356d&_uhb=1#ht_2903wt_1139 That's just under 1340 EUR. The OP didn't say he was going to get the sport - he simply said he'd be delaying his decision until it's released. This may well mean the existing 120-300 - the one you chose to comment upon and to post crops of in your comparison - will be even cheaper. You are in no position to state conclusively that the 120-300 sport will be much worse than a 300/2.8 L IS Mark I, though I would expect, as it's a zoom, which introduces more flexibility, it probably wont quite be as good. But making claims along these lines at this point in time is simply guessing and is not really that helpful either.

as the new 120-300 incarnation shares a similar (if not the same) optical design it is probably the same league (±) We are all assuming too much here - I guess - it's all about knowing one's options good profound information.

Thanks to all for responding (OP here). First of all I think I should clarify what I meant by "ultimate solution" as it wasn't very clear. I meant ultimate ?for me?, which certainly needs to take value for money into account as photography is regrettably not my primary income generator. The previous poster is correct, I am not assuming that I would be getting the new "sport" version of the Sigma when it is released, but will wait to see what improvements it brings to the table. For some reason the existing 120-300 is significantly cheaper here in Australia than overseas, I can get it new for just above $2000 AUD (so just under $2000 USD). I have been keeping an eye on used mk1 300 2.8s and they are going for around $3000 here, and the mk2 is about $7000 new. The 400 5.6 is certainly an option I have thought about and should probably consider more closely. The versatility of the zoom is very attractive, as is the OS, but I guess the weight counter acts this to some degree. The 400 5.6 is about $1250 here, so not significantly cheaper than the 120-300 given the added benefit of the zoom, extra 2 stops of light and ability to AF with the 1.4x extender. The crops provided by Joger are interesting and useful (thanks!), but I believe the centre sharpness of the 120-300 is much more comparable to the much more expensive canon primes? To be honest I am not sure how much corner sharpness would worry me, although of course it would be grand to have great IQ across the whole frame. Especially seeing as I will probably get a full frame body at some stage down the line. All that being said, perhaps the 70-200 f4 IS and 400 5.6 is the more sensible option, but there is certainly a strong allure to having 300 2.8 and 420 4.0 plus the versatility of the zoom.

IMAGE(http://dpzen.com/dpzattaches/dpzattaches7//201409191846598322.jpg) IMAGE(http://dpzen.com/dpzattaches/dpzattaches7//201409191846598324.jpg) IMAGE(http://dpzen.com/dpzattaches/dpzattaches7//201409191847008325.jpg) IMAGE(http://dpzen.com/dpzattaches/dpzattaches7//201409191847038327.jpg) IMAGE(http://dpzen.com/dpzattaches/dpzattaches7//201409191847058329.jpg) IMAGE(http://dpzen.com/dpzattaches/dpzattaches7//201409191847068330.jpg) IMAGE(http://dpzen.com/dpzattaches/dpzattaches7//201409191847078332.jpg) IMAGE(http://dpzen.com/dpzattaches/dpzattaches7//201409191847088333.jpg) IMAGE(http://dpzen.com/dpzattaches/dpzattaches7//201409191847098335.jpg) IMAGE(http://dpzen.com/dpzattaches/dpzattaches7//201409191847118336.jpg) IMAGE(http://dpzen.com/dpzattaches/dpzattaches7//201409191847128338.jpg) Ok, so after typing an entire reply and posting images the forum ate my text. Long story short. I use the exact same kit you're describing (7D, 70-200 f4 IS and Sigma 120-300 f2.8 OS). We know what the canon is capable of. The sigma far fewer use. Let me tell you it is a stellar lens. The upgraded version I think will be even better and still less than half the price of a new canon 300 f2.8. have more samples in my gallery or private message me and I can give you more feed back.

would you mind posting some untouched 100 % crops at 420 mm wide open? Or post a link to some RAW files including the 1.4x wide open?

Thanks for posting those Scott, really appreciated. Like Joger I would also like to see some 100% crops if possible, or RAW files. Would be happy to PM you if you would rather not post them publicly in the thread though. Cheers.

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