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Nikon Lens vs. Sigma Lens

Angela Heine , Apr 16, 2007; 09:51 p.m.

Hi.

I have been debating for weeks on if to purchase the Nikon 200mm f/4.0 IF Micro-Nikkor AI-S Manual Focus Lens or to get the Sigma 180mm f/3.5 EX IF HSM Macro Lens. I figure the Nikon is a better lens, but the price is such a big difference that I am trying to find out if the quality of the picture would really matter much with either lens or if both would produce close to the same quality picture. I am an amateur and have started focusing on taking pictures of Insects. I have the Nikon AF Micro Nikkor 60mm 1:2.8, but want to be able to get further away when it is an easily scared insect.

Thank you so much, Angela

Responses


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Anthony Bez , Apr 16, 2007; 10:07 p.m.

Angela, You do not say what camera you use? The AIS Nikon is not well regarded for use with DSLR's. This means the lens is not expensive to purchase though. They sell for around $300.00 on the big auction site, which is less than the AF Sigma.

The Nikon 200mm AF is a different animal though, it is universally well regarded but comes with a hefty price tag, if you can afford one this should be your top choice. The Tamron 180mm AF has many admirers and I would advise as your second choice. The Sigma would be in third position in my pecking order.

Bruce Margolis , Apr 16, 2007; 10:21 p.m.

Angela, I know you don't want to scare away the little buggies but consider that long macros like this have a minimum focusing distance of about 18 inches. And as said, they come at a hefty price.

Not trying to talk you out of anything but another option is the Nikon 105VR micro. It is faster than the 200, smaller, lighter, has VR, and focuses at about 12 inches. It is also about $600 less than the 200 and even less expensive than the Sigma 180.

If you really want the distance, the Nikon 200 is mighty pricy and a bit bulky without a tripod but you sure can't go wrong with it.

Roland Vink , Apr 16, 2007; 10:21 p.m.

Hi Angela, I have not used the Sigma 180/3.5 but I have used the AiS 200/4 micro.

A couple of things worth noting. The Sigma 180/3.5 will give magnifications up to 1:1 like your 60mm micro. The Nikon AiS 200/4 micro only gets 1:2 magnification so it's not as good for small insects. I increase the magnification by using a PK-13 extension tube or a Nikon 3T closeup filter. Both increase magnification to about 1:1.4, which is fine for most subjects. You can get more magnification by using them both together, or by using the stronger 4T closeup filter.

The AiS 200 micro is a much smaller lens. It has a handy built-in hood and accepts 52mm filters like many other manual focus Nikon lenses. The Sigma is bigger, heavier and takes 72mm filters. The size and weight may be significant if you go hiking.

The AiS 200 micro is a manual focus lens, so depending on which camera you have, you may not get metering. The Sigma will meter with all modern cameras.

Optically I find the AiS 200 micro is quite good wide open, although it shows a lot of light fall-off towards the corners. Image quality is best in the f5.6 - f11 range. Since this lens does not have ED glass, it suffers a little from color fringing in areas of high contrast. This will be more noticeable on high-res digital cameras. The Sigma may be better corrected in that regard.

For information about the Sigma, there is a good reviews of the 180/3.5 and 150/2.8 macro lenses for Canon here: http://www.photozone.de/8Reviews/index.html

Angela Heine , Apr 16, 2007; 10:25 p.m.

Oh sorry, I have a Nikon D70. I definitely would suck it up (or my credit card would) and pay the extra to have the better lens. Thank you so much for the response!

Michael Schrag , Apr 16, 2007; 11:50 p.m.

Angela,

Every manufacturer has a lens or particular lenses in their lineup that really stand out in terms of performance. The new Sigma 150mm macro is one of these lenses (http://www.photozone.de/8Reviews/index.html) - this lens is very sharp and gets excellent reviews. Here are some user reviews: (link)

In this focal length region (150-200mm) I would definitely consider this lens ($600 at B and H).

Fred Bonnett , Apr 17, 2007; 12:07 a.m.

The Sigma 180 is as sharp and contrasty as the current Nikkor 200 IF ED. Go to these 2 sites for the MTF graphs that prove this.

http://www.sigmaphoto.com/lenses/lenses_all_details.asp?id=3284&navigator=5

(link)

The Sigma EX lenses have excellent build quality and you won't be able to see any quality differences in final images between the two. I've used an older Sigma 180 macro for a number of years with excellent results.

Edsel Adams , Apr 17, 2007; 05:16 a.m.

The build quality of the Sigmas don't come close to the Nikkors,IMHO.

Fred Bonnett , Apr 17, 2007; 10:30 a.m.

Edsel - If years of professional use is a proxy for build quality the EX series lenses I own are first rate. I would certainly choose either the 150 or 180 macro over the 200 micro. I'm interested in reliable, professional grade gear and not in brand names.

Angela Heine , Apr 17, 2007; 10:58 a.m.

Thank you so much for all of these great suggestions. I am going to visit all of these links this week and I actually hope to be buying a lens very soon, I have been thinking about it for such a long time!


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