Sigma 150 vs 180 macro

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by matseski, Mar 18, 2010.

  1. matseski

    matseski TPF Noob!

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    I am debating between these two lenses and after a lot of research I cannot seem to find the answers I am looking for.

    From what I understand, for macro work, the 180 may be a bit on the large/heavy side for hand held shots; however as I will be shooting with a 50D and battery grip, I am thinking the extra 70g should be barely noticeable. I have read that the 180 is well balanced, but cannot find if that is with or without a battery grip. Has anyone used this combination who could comment on its usability for hand held shots, specifically macro? How does it compare to a slightly smaller lens such as the 150?

    Since my budget is limited, this will also be acting as my telephoto lens for a while until I can afford the 70-200 f2.8 IS. As such, it will be used for shooting sporting events, primarily skiing and soccer, some wild life, still lifes, and some portrait work; basically a solid all around telephoto lens. I have yet to read a single bad review of any macro lens in terms of image quality, so I am focusing my search on usability. Does the longer focal length make a substantial difference with the mentioned subjects? Yes, I know I will have to stand further away, but I do not know what kind of differences I could be expecting, 2ft? 5ft? 10ft? (for sake of comparison, lets assume I am taking just a tight head shot).

    The 150 is 2/3 stops faster than the 180 (2.8 vs 3.5). While this has no bearing on macro work, how much will it affect the rest of my uses both in terms of quantity of light and bokeh?

    I realize that no macro lens is known for its AF, but will either of these lenses provide me with any noticeable improvements? Will the smaller aperture of the 180 make AF any more difficult in reasonable lighting?

    In the long run, this lens will probably end up as a dedicated macro lens once I obtain a 70-200. With that in mind the only long term drawback I can think of is the size and weight for hand held macro shots. However that may very well be 2 years down the road, so I dont want to have to sacrifice too much now, but at the same time, if it is only a marginal improvement in usability to go with the 150 now, I would probably go with the 180.

    Price for both is within $50, so that is not a concern.

    Thanks
     
  2. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    From what I have gathered the difference between the 180mm and the 150mm is that one is a little longer and a little heavier than the other and that is about it. Otherwise their features and performance is very similar to each other and whilst test condition shots might show some slight differences, sample variation would be a major factor and in the field you would not notice differences (in say image quality).

    About the only general rule of thumb is that if you are going to tripod shoot the 180mm is the prefered whilst if you are going to handhold the 150mm is the typical choice (though you are right both lenses work well with either roll). As for balance with a battery grip I've found that battery grips are much easier to hold and that overall I found (with my 400D) that it was a lot easier to work with and hold with the grip than without.
    As for the aperture difference, my approach is from the macro side mostly and I've never heard any macro shooters complaining of the f3.5 (it will affect viewfinder brightness which is important for macro work).

    As for sports, wildlife and AF the AF on both is good, but not ultra fast; my 70-200mm is far faster (and quieter) than my 150mm. The 150mm is usable, but its not lightinging fast. Wildlife wise you will need good (very good) field skills to get into range with this or a 70-200mm lens - and things like small birds will be very hard (barring the odd friendly robin). Not impossible, but certainly a big challenge for anything outside of a grabshot or a larger animal.

    For portraits and such you will have to be further back from the subject, but the longer focal length will give you a more increased effect of background blur to the shot - I know several shooters who use a 180mm plus a 2*Teleconverter (mostly for macro) to get even more background blur in their macro work.
     
  3. matseski

    matseski TPF Noob!

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    Would it be safe to assume that I would be equally happy with each one?

    Overread, I see that you have the 150. What made you choose that lens? Are you pleased with the decision?
     
  4. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Both lenses are very sharp and will work well for you, I really think that only a lot of use and very specific needs will really push you fully one way or the other. Otherwise I would expect that you are right, which ever you get chances are you will be happy to use it.

    As for myself it really was just the handheld vs tripod - such a loose factor, but its what I made my choice on and its a fantastic lens (most of the problems normally come back to me making basic mistakes). The long working distances is good when out in the field and going after insects and it takes a 1.4TC very well (infact I nearly always have a 1.4TC on all my macro lenses - barring the MPE - since it gives just a little more magnification that helps to bring into resolution those compound eyes of many fly sized insects.

    The only major limitations of the lens are generally the same ones you would have with either the 180mm or 150mm - that of being a bit too long for using in a butterfly farm (often you have large, docil butterflies and not enough room to step back) and a bit heavy to shoot onehanded if you have the flash in the other hand (though of course that depends on how strong you are partly).
     

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