After much debate and consideration (for almost a year), I finally got myself a new lens, Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM, as my birthday gift a few days.
I’ve got the D5000 about two years ago and used it mainly for vacations, and sometimes for party events. Although the camera body and the kit lens (18-55mm DC VR) combination is not bad most of the time, in dimmed churches, museums and party rooms, the limitation of the kit lens makes me feel helpless from time to time. The maximum aperture is f/3.5 at 18mm and f/5.6 at 55mm. Most of the pictures I took in dimmed environment were at 35mm to 55mm, and I had to act fast. Using a tripod was not possible 99% of the time. The D5000 sensor produces quite a bit of noise at ISO 1600 and up. So what do all these leave me? A slow shutter speed. Sometimes less than 1/15 of a second, which easily induce camera shake and people’s motion blur.
Of course, adding a powerful flash can help. I did get a flashgun SB-700 a few months ago and it has been quite helpful, especially when using the bounce flash techniques I learned from Neil. But flash is not always allow (e.g. in church, museum) or possible (e.g. in large hall). What I need is a camera body with better sensor that has less noise at high ISO or a faster lens so that the shutter speed can be raised or both.
A better camera body is always a good idea. The D7000, though, costs USD 1,199. My D5000 was just released two years ago and now Nikon won’t make them any more. That sort of made me sad. I don’t want to spend $1,000 every two years. So I have decided to skip the D7000 generation and wait for it’s replacement – probably in 2012 or 2013 – and make decision at that time.
As I have mentioned in previous post, I’ve been eying on either the Nikkor 17-55mm or the Sigma 15-50mm. I’ve also considered the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8. They have even bigger aperture size. But then I would lose the zooming flexibility which is a major factor in my line of photography. I finally picked the Sigma because of the weight, VR (vibration reduction) feature and cost.
The D5000 body with the Sigma 17-50mm weighs 1,165g; with the Nikkor 17-55mm is 1,355g. Do not underestimate the 190g difference. If you want to hang the camera down on your neck and walk around all day (on vacation), as most traveller advised, you’d better carry as less as possible. Plus the flashgun (another 450g) that needs to be attached from time to time, you need to have stronger shoulder muscle and wrist.
Luckily, I do not experience the issues people on B&H reviews have with this Sigma lens. I also bought this copy from B&H. Lens hood snaps in position nice and tight; the focus is fast and sharp, though not quieter than the kit lens as I expected; image quality is fine at corners for me – I’m not particularly picky for the image quality at corners anyway. The only thing that surprised me is due to the larger front glass (77mm versus 52mm for the 18-55mm lens), it blocks part of the beam from AF-assist illuminator on the body. But it’s not a big deal. If I need to use flash, I’d likely have the flashgun attached anyway and it uses it’s own illuminator.
I did a few quick tests to compare the 18-55mm lens and the Sigma. But they are not scientific comparisons. The first set, 24mm @ f/4, 100% crop (magnification) at center. The center of the lens is supposed to have the best image quality for the any lenses. There is no need for me say which one wins.
Second set, 50mm @ f/8, 100% crop at half way from center to lower left corner. Again, the Sigma wins.
I’ll put it to real test tomorrow night at Dancap Productions’ opening party for Next to Normal.
The following are what my gears look like before and after upgrade. With this setup, I will now “look” more like a pro than an amateur. 😉
Copyright © 2011 Jenson Yu. All rights reserved.