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Testing a new lens for quality - Photography

Tomorrow, I'll get two new lenses - A Sigma 24-135mm f/2.8-4.5 and a Sigma 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DL Super Macro. Now, I've heard several problems with Sigma's quality control and people returning their bad *copies*. So how do I check the lens for quality issues other than obvious mechanical/electronic faults? Are problems with sharpness, contrast, light fall-off etc very evident even to a beginner or should I run some specific tests? Thanks, - Siddhartha...

  1. #1

    Default Testing a new lens for quality

    Tomorrow, I'll get two new lenses - A Sigma 24-135mm f/2.8-4.5 and a
    Sigma 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DL Super Macro. Now, I've heard several
    problems with Sigma's quality control and people returning their bad
    *copies*. So how do I check the lens for quality issues other than
    obvious mechanical/electronic faults? Are problems with sharpness,
    contrast, light fall-off etc very evident even to a beginner or should
    I run some specific tests?

    Thanks,

    - Siddhartha

    Siddhartha Guest

  2. #2

    Default Re: Testing a new lens for quality

    In article <googlegroups.com>,
    Siddhartha Jain <co.uk> writes 
    The most meaningful test is does it give good results in the kind of
    photography you do. However, to ensure you are testing the lens, use a
    tripod, otherwise you might just be testing the steadiness of your hand.
    Use slide film if using a film body. Ensure you check the performance
    wide open as well as at mid-apertures.

    Your main problem will probably be that you do not have any reference
    standard - unless you have one or more "known-good" lenses. Get a
    better-equipped friend to help.

    It is a little surprising to see someone buying a lens from a maker
    whose quality control they have such doubts about. I guess you must have
    price constraints. I have bought 3 Sigma lenses in the past and was not
    over-impressed. The 14mm was just about good enough - and a fraction of
    the price of the Canon offering - but does not work on my 10D. I vowed
    not to buy another (though I must say the 12-24 looks a bit tempting).
    --
    David Littlewood
    David Guest

  3. #3

    Default Re: Testing a new lens for quality


    "David Littlewood" <demon.co.uk> wrote in message
    news:demon.co.uk... 
    > The most meaningful test is does it give good results in the kind of
    > photography you do. However, to ensure you are testing the lens, use a
    > tripod, otherwise you might just be testing the steadiness of your hand.
    > Use slide film if using a film body. Ensure you check the performance wide
    > open as well as at mid-apertures.
    >
    > Your main problem will probably be that you do not have any reference
    > standard - unless you have one or more "known-good" lenses. Get a
    > better-equipped friend to help.
    >
    > It is a little surprising to see someone buying a lens from a maker whose
    > quality control they have such doubts about. I guess you must have price
    > constraints. I have bought 3 Sigma lenses in the past and was not
    > over-impressed. The 14mm was just about good enough - and a fraction of
    > the price of the Canon offering - but does not work on my 10D. I vowed not
    > to buy another (though I must say the 12-24 looks a bit tempting).
    > --
    > David Littlewood[/ref]

    I know where he is coming from, even "poorer" lenses have sweep spots where
    there performance is good. I have a Sigma 55-200 and at mid apperture
    settings at 200mm setting it is quite sharp when used reasonably close but
    softens noticably on more distant objects. If you know when it performs well
    then it is useable.


    Pete Guest

  4. #4

    Default Re: Testing a new lens for quality


    "David Littlewood" <demon.co.uk> wrote in message
    news:demon.co.uk...
    SNIP 

    I've read somewhere on the internet (so it must be true ;-)) that
    Canon will release a couple of new lenses coming Summer. I'd wait a
    few months, and see what materializes.

    Canon is not at it's strongest in the wider than 35mm range. A couple
    of 24mm lenses are not bad, but e.g. Contax/Zeiss lenses (with an
    adapter) kick butt (esp. in the corners and without CA). However, that
    hiatus might change due to the merciless 1Ds Mark II.

    Bart

    Bart Guest

  5. #5

    Default Re: Testing a new lens for quality

    In article <421f8110$0$28982$xs4all.nl>, Bart van der Wolf
    <spam> writes 
    >
    >I've read somewhere on the internet (so it must be true ;-)) that Canon
    >will release a couple of new lenses coming Summer. I'd wait a few
    >months, and see what materializes.
    >
    >Canon is not at it's strongest in the wider than 35mm range. A couple
    >of 24mm lenses are not bad, but e.g. Contax/Zeiss lenses (with an
    >adapter) kick butt (esp. in the corners and without CA). However, that
    >hiatus might change due to the merciless 1Ds Mark II.
    >
    >Bart[/ref]

    Interesting.

    I'm quite happy with the Canon wides I have (24 TS-E, 35/1.4 and 17-35L)
    - they just don't go wide enough. I'd like to think it's because they
    won't produce a 12-24 until they know it's bloody good....

    David
    --
    David Littlewood
    David Guest

  6. #6

    Default Re: Testing a new lens for quality

    David Littlewood wrote: 
    have 
    not 
    of 
    vowed 
    tempting).

    Yep, with my limited budget I don't really have the option of going for
    Canon "L" lenses. Pity Canon does not make fast zoom lenses in the
    consumer non-L category.

    Other than that, I checked the above lenses at a photo exhibition was
    satisfied with what I handled so my main concern is QC.

    As a sidenote, Sigma and Tamron are Japanese companies and all other
    Japanese products I've used have very strict QC. Do Sigma and Tamron
    realise that if they fix the quality issue they could be taking away
    significant sales from Canon with their low-priced fast lenses?

    - Siddhartha

    Siddhartha Guest

  7. #7

    Default Re: Testing a new lens for quality

    Pete D wrote: 
    Edmund Scientific sells a reasonably priced lens test chart based on the
    Air Force standard bar chart. The poster contains complete instructions
    for testing film cameras, but one has to do a little extra math, or
    different procedures to get absolute values of a digicam test.

    NBS (now NIST) used to sell a very good, low cost lens test set for home
    testing. It is disappointing that they no longer do that. Fortunately,
    when cleaning out the darkroom recently we found our old NBS test
    charts. Still, we now already have the Edmund's AF chart poster taped
    up on wall.
    Don Guest

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