Nikkor 300mm f/4 AFS with 1.4 TC-14EII vs Sigma 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3G

I typically dislike doing comparisons between stuff, there are usually plenty of better sources out there and others with more interest in doing it then me πŸ™‚

However… after recently borrowing the Sigma 50-500mm fromΒ Rodney Campbell and noting that it was pretty sharp for a super zoom, I thought i should really see how this compares to my 300mm f4. The 300mm f4 is a great lens in my opinion, I have had it for years now and the sharpness and more importantly the contrast and colour rendition is really nice, especially for a lens which is not at the top of nikons price range πŸ˜‰

The Sigma 50-500 is a very nice lens and the large range, stabilisation and sharpness makes it very versatile. It however weighs more than a small tank. I really liked the shots at 50 mm too πŸ™‚

In a nutshell, you really can’t compare the two but…for me and my purposes (in most cases) I would take the 300mm (with a TC where needed) over the 50-500mm. The main reasons for this are (in no particular order)
1) sharpness across the frame
2) colour/contrast
3) weight.
I really think the biggest con to the Sigma is the fact that its big and heavy, which means you cannot use for alot of things that I would, for shoots where your on a tripod and not moving around much then its fine, take a airshow for example, I would use it there without a doubt. The zoom range and the stabilisation become very important pros and more chance of getting more better shots than using the 300mm.
However for a walk around shoot the 300mm is a much better option, light, sharp and somewhat more discreet πŸ™‚

I occasionally take shots of planes, hence I thought this would be a good subject to compare the two πŸ™‚
Now this is not a perfect comparison and there are a few variables in there, so if you want scientific standard comparisons head over to photozone or some other more reputable site πŸ™‚

The two shots are from two different days (variable #1), however conditions were fairly similar and the air was pretty clear, trust me, I know I am here just about every day πŸ™‚ . The settings (variable #2) are not exactly the same, ie shutter speed and a ISO (160 vs 200) but these should not have a significant effect on the overall outcome.
But what is the same.. now this is where it gets important right πŸ™‚ both aircraft are Boeing 777’s and the composition is pretty well the same πŸ™‚ admittingly one is Emirates and the other Japan Airlines..

The image/camera settings are at the bottom.

Both images (and 100% crops) are edited in PS and the Sigma one was tweaked to get the right exposure, it was a about 2/3rds of a stop under. No sharpening added, saved as high quality jpegs.

So, at f8 both lens are stopped down and should be getting pretty close to the optimal range, if things look pear shaped here than its bad πŸ™‚ The lower shutter speed on the sigma has not introduced any motion blur, as expected its well within the handhold range, even more so with OS/VR.
I would expect that the 300mm without the TC would only be a improvement here, but I used the TC mainly since the 400mm range is a more used one for me based on history.

The results? the sigma is pretty damn sharp for what it is, a superzoom, but it is noticeably less sharp away from the centre but still pretty acceptable overall. The nikkor 300mm with the 1.4TC is definitely sharper across the whole frame, however at the centre its probably only marginally sharper.

The colour rendition is pretty hard to compare with just these two images, the best I can say is given my limited use of the 50-500 I found I still prefer the colour/contrast of the nikkor.

Sigma 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3G Shot Details
Camera Info
Device :Nikon D750
Lens: VR 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3G
Focal Length: 420mm
Focus Mode: AF-S
AF-Area Mode: Single
VR: ON
AF Fine Tune: OFF
Exposure
Aperture: f/8
Shutter Speed: 1/800s
Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
Exposure Comp.: 0EV
Exposure Tuning:
Metering: Matrix
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 160
Image Settings
White Balance: Auto1, 0, 0
Color Space: Adobe RGB
High ISO NR: ON (Normal)
Long Exposure NR: OFF
Active D-Lighting: High
Image Authentication:
Vignette Control: OFF
Auto Distortion Control: OFF

* Nikkor 300mm f/4 AFS with 1.4 TC-14EII*

Camera Info
Device: Nikon D750
Lens: 300mm f/4D
Focal Length: 420mm
Focus Mode: AF-A
AF-Area Mode: Single
VR:
AF Fine Tune: OFF
Exposure
Aperture: f/8
Shutter Speed: 1/2000s
Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
Exposure Comp.: -0.3EV
Exposure Tuning:
Metering: Matrix
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 200
Image Settings
White Balance: Auto1, 0, 0
Color Space: Adobe RGB
High ISO NR: ON (Normal)
Long Exposure NR: OFF
Active D-Lighting: High
Image Authentication:
Vignette Control: OFF
Auto Distortion Control: OFF

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Nikkor 300mm f/4 AFS with 1.4 TC-14EII vs Sigma 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3G

  1. Mmm tough call – I think I preferred the emirates one (not sure which lens this is and I also can't tell if it's just because of that funky gold writing drawing my interest :))
    One thing – with the OS/VR – at these shutter speeds (esp 1/2000 if thats the Sigma shot?) you may find it can reduces sharpness with it turned on?
    If you want to grab the lens again sometime and do a direct side by side (same conditions, same settings, etc) you're welcome to.

    I agree with the size/weight thing tho – I almost never use the lens because of that (and I'm getting old and weak apparently :)). The only times I use it is when I know specifically I need or will use it (because of what I'm going to shoot) and I'm driving to the location πŸ™‚ – case in point – the kids various sporting carnivals

  2. +Gerard Blacklock​ I do prefer the Emirates shot for sharpness (crops of tail & front in particular) & colours are more vibrant though not sure if this is cause the Emirates is a more vibrantly coloured plane. The Emirates plane was shot with the Nikkor right? (unless I've misread your post)

  3. +Rodney Campbell
    lol.. do a direct comparison, yeah that sounds riveting πŸ˜‰
    possibly the OS does contribute to the sharpness degradation, however I would expect that across the entire frame. In any case the sigma is by no means a poor lens, its pretty damn sharp for what it is..

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