Digital Photograper - - Contents -

This is­sue we test and re­view four af­ford­able su­per-tele zooms from the likes of Nikon, Sigma and Tam­ron

Pho­tog­ra­phers can be a greedy bunch. How­ever much tele­photo reach we have, we of­ten han­ker after a lit­tle more, and there are var­i­ous ways of achiev­ing this. The start­ing point for most of us is to buy ei­ther a 70-200mm f2.8 or 70-300mm f4-5.6 tele zoom. You can boost the for­mer to 400mm with a 2x tele-con­verter, or gain an ef­fec­tive 450mm fo­cal length by mount­ing the lat­ter on an APS-C for­mat body (480mm for Canon).

An­other op­tion is to buy a wellestab­lished su­per-tele zoom like the

Canon 100-400mm or Nikon 80-400mm. How­ever, if you are used to shoot­ing with a 70-300mm lens on an APS-C for­mat cam­era, and have moved up to full-frame, you might still feel a bit short-changed when it comes to out­right reach. Next up are the Canon 200-400mm and Nikon 180400mm lenses which fea­ture built-in 1.4x tele-con­vert­ers, but they’re mon­strously ex­pen­sive at around £11,000/$12,000 apiece, and mon­ster prime lenses also tend to be very pricey.

Of­fer­ing a more man­age­able and af­ford­able so­lu­tion, Sigma and Tam­ron have pushed the bound­aries with their re­cent 150-600mm su­per-tele zooms. Nikon has re­sponded with a 200-500mm lens which, while it doesn’t quite match the oth­ers for zoom range or max­i­mum reach, isn’t far off. And the Nikon is sim­i­larly com­pet­i­tive in terms of price.

One thing you won’t get with a zoom lens that’s suf­fi­ciently light­weight for hand­held shoot­ing, yet stretches to 500mm or 600mm, is a ‘fast’ aper­ture rat­ing. This makes im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion an ab­so­lute must. It’s fea­tured in all of the lenses in this test group, apart from the Sony A-mount edi­tion of the Tam­ron, which re­lies on in­cam­era sta­bil­i­sa­tion in­stead. Let’s take a closer look at what the cur­rent con­tenders have to of­fer.

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