Canon EF f/4.5-5.6 55-200mm USM II vs Sigma equivalent

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9 years 8 months ago #7877 by mossie
mossie created the topic: Canon EF f/4.5-5.6 55-200mm USM II vs Sigma equivalent

Although telephoto lenses in the 55-200mm category are not exactly what one would consider a birding lens, they are the next step up from the kit lens, and are affordable to those who are getting started. The consumer versions of these are cheap, compact, and easy to carry around, and if the bird sits at your feet, you can manage a few keepers.

I borrowed the canon version of the Sigma 55-200mm DC F4-5.6 zoom, and took it on honeymoon to Botswana. I landed up with a couple of keepers. When it came to buying my own version, I bought the Canon EF 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 II USM. After using it for a while, I noticed that the shots had good contrast, but the colours were dull, and lacked the richness of the Sigma lens, so I decided to put the two together side by side.

The lens test was carried out with big five colour test paper issued by the Reserve Bank of South Africa, it costs around R50 a sheet, but is fully refundable <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: --> . Pictures were taken on a tripod mounted Canon 350D body, and the test paper was fixed to the wall. The photos were taken without flash, at full zoom (200mm), and are displayed as small uncompressed crops from the center of the photo..

What I first noticed, was that at f/5.6, the Canon is noticeably sharper than the Sigma lens. At f/8, the Canon is already peaking, showing excellent sharpness and good contrast, which doesn’t improve at f/11. In comparison, the Sigma lens is poor at f/5.6, gets a bit better at f/8 (but still worse than the Canon) and reaches its best, only at f/11, where it has similar resolution to the Canon. This probably explains why I had no problems with the sharpness of the Sigma lens in broad daylight in Botswana in summer, where most of my shots were probably taken at f/11 or above. When one looks at the colours, the Canon pictures are not as bright as those taken through the Sigma lens.

Hmmm, so given a choice between the two, where does that leave me? As far as weight, handling, auto focus etc, there is not much between them. As far as picture quality goes, I guess it depends entirely on what you want to do with the lens. In poor light, you would probably get the most joy out of the Canon, as you would still get some sharpness and good contrast, shot wide open. But under ideal light conditions, I prefer the rich colours of the Sigma. In hindsight, the split between the number of pictures I have taken at the various apertures, i.e. at less than f/11, or at f/11 and above, are roughly 50:50, so there is no advantage to using one or the other. Cost wise, they are both the same.


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