So... how can I tell if the expensive lens I bought is a good copy?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Archibald, Mar 24, 2008.

  1. Archibald

    Archibald Guest

    People regularly report that there is variance in the performance of
    Sigma lenses. Canon lenses ALSO vary, and I'm sure Nikon does too...
    so the lens you buy might be a dud.

    I've even heard that some pros will buy 6 copies of a lens, like a
    500mm, test them, and then return 5, keeping the best one.

    How the heck can a person evaluate a new lens purchase to find out if
    it is a good copy, without having an optics lab... and objectively
    (without subjective guesswork)? Can ordinary folks do this, or do you
    have to be some kind of expert?

    Archibald
     
    Archibald, Mar 24, 2008
    #1
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  2. "Archibald" <> wrote in message news:...

    > People regularly report that there is variance in the performance of
    > Sigma lenses. Canon lenses ALSO vary, and I'm sure Nikon does too...
    > so the lens you buy might be a dud.
    >
    > I've even heard that some pros will buy 6 copies of a lens, like a
    > 500mm, test them, and then return 5, keeping the best one.
    >
    > How the heck can a person evaluate a new lens purchase to find out if
    > it is a good copy, without having an optics lab... and objectively
    > (without subjective guesswork)? Can ordinary folks do this, or do you
    > have to be some kind of expert?
    >
    > Archibald


    Here are methods I use, at www.donferrario.com/ruether/lens-testing.htm,
    and why I do not use some other commonly used methods. As for
    variability of lenses in the Nikkor line, you may find this interesting:
    www.donferrario.com/ruether/slemn.html. You may notice that more
    extreme lenses (wide range zooms, especially ones including WA, and
    wides that have "floating elements") lead in variability. Generally, long and
    fast (or expensive, slower, or shorter) teles vary the least among samples.
    I have seen huge variability in samples in some well known lines, but with
    a few exceptions, not much in the Nikkor line of lenses. BTW, trying
    to remove subjectivity from the process of lens evaluations is, I think,
    not the most useful way to go (at least after you have established that
    a lens is well aligned and up to *your* standards for edge/corner
    performance at the stops and shooting conditions of interest to you).
    There are no perfect lenses - so you choose from among a bunch
    of compromises what will best work for you. I buy from a good dealer
    that offers "painless" returns/exchanges, and I CHECK FOR DEFECTS
    IMMEDIATELY, while I can still do something about a poor sample
    beyond selling it on eBay. I'm still surprised when a pro shooter friend
    doesn't bother to do this, and then asks me something like, "Do the
    lower left corners of these prints shot with XYZ lens look soft to you?",
    usually about a year after the expensive purchase...
    --
    David Ruether

    www.donferrario.com/ruether
     
    David Ruether, Mar 24, 2008
    #2
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  3. In my opinion, there is only one important test. That is does it work
    for you. Try it under the conditions you plan to use it. If that means
    photos of a football game, you don't want to test it by photographing your
    son on the other side of the living room.

    Frankly I was a professional photographer for about 8 years, quite a
    long time ago. Someone who would but 6 copies of a lens and return five
    would have been laughed at. What was most important to us was durability
    and reliability.

    Honestly, make sure it fits your needs. Knowing it fits my needs will
    not help you much. I would test it under the conditions I would have bought
    it for. When I do get a new lens, that is exactly what I do. I have only
    had one example that I was less than very happy with, and it was OK.


    --
    Joseph Meehan

    Dia 's Muire duit



    "Archibald" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > People regularly report that there is variance in the performance of
    > Sigma lenses. Canon lenses ALSO vary, and I'm sure Nikon does too...
    > so the lens you buy might be a dud.
    >
    > I've even heard that some pros will buy 6 copies of a lens, like a
    > 500mm, test them, and then return 5, keeping the best one.
    >
    > How the heck can a person evaluate a new lens purchase to find out if
    > it is a good copy, without having an optics lab... and objectively
    > (without subjective guesswork)? Can ordinary folks do this, or do you
    > have to be some kind of expert?
    >
    > Archibald
     
    Joseph Meehan, Mar 24, 2008
    #3
  4. Archibald

    Frank Arthur Guest

    "Archibald" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > People regularly report that there is variance in the performance of
    > Sigma lenses. Canon lenses ALSO vary, and I'm sure Nikon does too...
    > so the lens you buy might be a dud.
    >
    > I've even heard that some pros will buy 6 copies of a lens, like a
    > 500mm, test them, and then return 5, keeping the best one.


    That's known as an Urban Legend. Realistically no one buys $50,000
    worth of 6 lenses
    including big two way shipping charges- even if the supplier would
    take back the 5 unpacked beand new lenses.


    > How the heck can a person evaluate a new lens purchase to find out
    > if
    > it is a good copy,


    When you take home the lens and try it out under the conditions you
    normally shoot with.
    Try different f stops. Also try some shots using your camera on a
    tripod or stand to eliminate lens problems that appear as camera
    shake.
    Examine the images closely. If there are no significant visual
    problems with the results like partially blurred images, out of focus
    corners or edges or any unusually poor results return the lens.
    I almost always buy Nikon lenses and find it extremely, extremely rare
    that a lens I bought was not good.


    > without having an optics lab... and objectively
    > (without subjective guesswork)? Can ordinary folks do this, or do
    > you
    > have to be some kind of expert?
    >
    > Archibald
     
    Frank Arthur, Mar 24, 2008
    #4
  5. "Frank Arthur" <> wrote in message
    news:SEUFj.22845$...
    >
    > "Archibald" <> wrote in message
    > news:...
    >> People regularly report that there is variance in the performance of
    >> Sigma lenses. Canon lenses ALSO vary, and I'm sure Nikon does too...
    >> so the lens you buy might be a dud.
    >>
    >> I've even heard that some pros will buy 6 copies of a lens, like a
    >> 500mm, test them, and then return 5, keeping the best one.

    >
    > That's known as an Urban Legend. Realistically no one buys $50,000 worth
    > of 6 lenses
    > including big two way shipping charges- even if the supplier would take
    > back the 5 unpacked beand new lenses.
    >
    >
    >> How the heck can a person evaluate a new lens purchase to find out if
    >> it is a good copy,

    >
    > When you take home the lens and try it out under the conditions you
    > normally shoot with.
    > Try different f stops. Also try some shots using your camera on a tripod
    > or stand to eliminate lens problems that appear as camera shake.
    > Examine the images closely. If there are no significant visual problems
    > with the results like partially blurred images, out of focus corners or
    > edges or any unusually poor results return the lens.
    > I almost always buy Nikon lenses and find it extremely, extremely rare
    > that a lens I bought was not good.
    >
    >
    >> without having an optics lab... and objectively
    >> (without subjective guesswork)? Can ordinary folks do this, or do you
    >> have to be some kind of expert?
    >>
    >> Archibald

    >
    >

    Hi folks.

    I thought a Sigma telezoom was good until :
    - the first one wouldn't stop down from full aperture and
    - the second one shed a screw head from its mount into my camera body.

    This was years ago but then
    - a Sigma 105mm macro was noisy and slow to focus and it was too easy to
    catch the focussing ring and put it into Manual Mode while the lens's
    focussing switch was in Auto Mode.

    I also had a Vivitar (there's a name from the past) macro lens that was
    outperformed in terms of sharpness by my Canon 70-210 zoom.

    I now routinely check new lenses for sharpness across the range of apertures
    and focussing distances. I'm not too concerned about absolute performance,
    all I want is sufficient sharpness and lack of distortion for me to enjoy
    viewing my photos.

    Regards, Ian.
     
    Fred Anonymous, Mar 24, 2008
    #5
  6. Archibald

    RichA Guest

    Re: So... how can I tell if the expensive lens I bought is a goodcopy?

    On Mar 24, 11:40 am, Archibald <> wrote:
    > People regularly report that there is variance in the performance of
    > Sigma lenses. Canon lenses ALSO vary, and I'm sure Nikon does too...
    > so the lens you buy might be a dud.
    >
    > I've even heard that some pros will buy 6 copies of a lens, like a
    > 500mm, test them, and then return 5, keeping the best one.
    >
    > How the heck can a person evaluate a new lens purchase to find out if
    > it is a good copy, without having an optics lab... and objectively
    > (without subjective guesswork)? Can ordinary folks do this, or do you
    > have to be some kind of expert?
    >
    > Archibald


    Depends on the lens. You'll pay $1000+ for an old Olympus 18mm f3.5
    but wide open, it likely will look worse than a good, current digital
    lens of the same effective focal length. If you have a decent normal
    lens, that you know is good, you could compare it against it.
    Download and print a resolution chart and take some images, wide open,
    stopped down, etc.
     
    RichA, Mar 24, 2008
    #6
  7. "RichA" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > On Mar 24, 11:40 am, Archibald <> wrote:
    >> People regularly report that there is variance in the performance of
    >> Sigma lenses. Canon lenses ALSO vary, and I'm sure Nikon does too...
    >> so the lens you buy might be a dud.
    >>
    >> I've even heard that some pros will buy 6 copies of a lens, like a
    >> 500mm, test them, and then return 5, keeping the best one.
    >>
    >> How the heck can a person evaluate a new lens purchase to find out if
    >> it is a good copy, without having an optics lab... and objectively
    >> (without subjective guesswork)? Can ordinary folks do this, or do you
    >> have to be some kind of expert?
    >>
    >> Archibald

    >
    > Depends on the lens. You'll pay $1000+ for an old Olympus 18mm f3.5
    > but wide open, it likely will look worse than a good, current digital
    > lens of the same effective focal length. If you have a decent normal
    > lens, that you know is good, you could compare it against it.
    > Download and print a resolution chart and take some images, wide open,
    > stopped down, etc.


    I would agree that would be some good advice if Archibald was interested
    in photographing resolution charts, but if he is interested in photographing
    his son on the football field moving and if that is a stabilizing lens, he
    is not going to get much useful information from a photo of a static chart a
    few feet away from his lens.

    Rich, try to say this every morning for the next week. "Photography is
    an art where the artist uses tools. The art created is a result of the
    artistic ability of the artist, not the tools he uses." I know this is
    true because I bought a set of "Pablo Picasso's brushes on the internet and
    I could not do as well as he did with those brushes.

    --
    Joseph Meehan

    Dia 's Muire duit
     
    Joseph Meehan, Mar 24, 2008
    #7
  8. Archibald

    Frank Arthur Guest

    "Joseph Meehan" <> wrote in message
    news:47e82b45$0$12565$...
    >
    > "RichA" <> wrote in message
    > news:...
    >> On Mar 24, 11:40 am, Archibald <> wrote:
    >>> People regularly report that there is variance in the performance
    >>> of
    >>> Sigma lenses. Canon lenses ALSO vary, and I'm sure Nikon does
    >>> too...
    >>> so the lens you buy might be a dud.
    >>>
    >>> I've even heard that some pros will buy 6 copies of a lens, like a
    >>> 500mm, test them, and then return 5, keeping the best one.
    >>>
    >>> How the heck can a person evaluate a new lens purchase to find out
    >>> if
    >>> it is a good copy, without having an optics lab... and objectively
    >>> (without subjective guesswork)? Can ordinary folks do this, or do
    >>> you
    >>> have to be some kind of expert?
    >>>
    >>> Archibald

    >>
    >> Depends on the lens. You'll pay $1000+ for an old Olympus 18mm
    >> f3.5
    >> but wide open, it likely will look worse than a good, current
    >> digital
    >> lens of the same effective focal length. If you have a decent
    >> normal
    >> lens, that you know is good, you could compare it against it.
    >> Download and print a resolution chart and take some images, wide
    >> open,
    >> stopped down, etc.

    >
    > I would agree that would be some good advice if Archibald was
    > interested in photographing resolution charts, but if he is
    > interested in photographing his son on the football field moving and
    > if that is a stabilizing lens, he is not going to get much useful
    > information from a photo of a static chart a few feet away from his
    > lens.
    >
    > Rich, try to say this every morning for the next week.
    > "Photography is an art where the artist uses tools. The art created
    > is a result of the artistic ability of the artist, not the tools he
    > uses." I know this is true because I bought a set of "Pablo
    > Picasso's brushes on the internet and I could not do as well as he
    > did with those brushes.


    Probably because you didn't buy Pablo Picasso's paints & Pablo
    Picasso's Canvas and the Pablo Picasso instruction book..


    > --
    > Joseph Meehan
    >
    > Dia 's Muire duit
    >
    >
    >
    >
     
    Frank Arthur, Mar 24, 2008
    #8
  9. Archibald wrote:

    > People regularly report that there is variance in the performance of
    > Sigma lenses. Canon lenses ALSO vary, and I'm sure Nikon does too...
    > so the lens you buy might be a dud.
    >
    > I've even heard that some pros will buy 6 copies of a lens, like a
    > 500mm, test them, and then return 5, keeping the best one.


    Yeah, I bought one 500/4L IS USM and I really got a winner on my first try!
    I ended up selling the piece of shit and got the Nikkor version for $2K
    more.

    > How the heck can a person evaluate a new lens purchase to find out if
    > it is a good copy, without having an optics lab... and objectively
    > (without subjective guesswork)? Can ordinary folks do this, or do you
    > have to be some kind of expert?


    Just buy Nikon lenses.




    Rita
     
    Rita Berkowitz, Mar 24, 2008
    #9
  10. Archibald

    Rich Guest

    Re: So... how can I tell if the expensive lens I bought is a goodcopy?

    On Mar 24, 5:29 pm, "Joseph Meehan" <>
    wrote:
    > "RichA" <> wrote in message
    >
    > news:...
    >
    >
    >
    > > On Mar 24, 11:40 am, Archibald <> wrote:
    > >> People regularly report that there is variance in the performance of
    > >> Sigma lenses. Canon lenses ALSO vary, and I'm sure Nikon does too...
    > >> so the lens you buy might be a dud.

    >
    > >> I've even heard that some pros will buy 6 copies of a lens, like a
    > >> 500mm, test them, and then return 5, keeping the best one.

    >
    > >> How the heck can a person evaluate a new lens purchase to find out if
    > >> it is a good copy, without having an optics lab... and objectively
    > >> (without subjective guesswork)? Can ordinary folks do this, or do you
    > >> have to be some kind of expert?

    >
    > >> Archibald

    >
    > > Depends on the lens. You'll pay $1000+ for an old Olympus 18mm f3.5
    > > but wide open, it likely will look worse than a good, current digital
    > > lens of the same effective focal length. If you have a decent normal
    > > lens, that you know is good, you could compare it against it.
    > > Download and print a resolution chart and take some images, wide open,
    > > stopped down, etc.

    >
    > I would agree that would be some good advice if Archibald was interested
    > in photographing resolution charts, but if he is interested in photographing
    > his son on the football field moving and if that is a stabilizing lens, he
    > is not going to get much useful information from a photo of a static chart a
    > few feet away from his lens.
    >
    > Rich, try to say this every morning for the next week. "Photography is
    > an art where the artist uses tools. The art created is a result of the
    > artistic ability of the artist, not the tools he uses."


    I see idiot Rockwell has brainwashed you too.
     
    Rich, Mar 25, 2008
    #10
  11. Cryptopix wrote:

    >>> People regularly report that there is variance in the performance of
    >>> Sigma lenses. Canon lenses ALSO vary, and I'm sure Nikon does too...
    >>> so the lens you buy might be a dud.

    >>
    >>> I've even heard that some pros will buy 6 copies of a lens, like a
    >>> 500mm, test them, and then return 5, keeping the best one.

    >>
    >> Yeah, I bought one 500/4L IS USM and I really got a winner on my
    >> first try! I ended up selling the piece of shit and got the Nikkor
    >> version for $2K more.
    >>
    >>> How the heck can a person evaluate a new lens purchase to find out
    >>> if it is a good copy, without having an optics lab... and
    >>> objectively (without subjective guesswork)? Can ordinary folks do
    >>> this, or do you have to be some kind of expert?

    >>
    >> Just buy Nikon lenses.
    >>
    >> Rita

    >
    > Just to put the messages back where the OP intended them to go.


    He should have never strayed from his predetermined path in the first place.





    Rita
     
    Rita Berkowitz, Mar 25, 2008
    #11
  12. Archibald

    Archibald Guest

    On Mon, 24 Mar 2008 15:21:03 -0400, "David Ruether"
    <> wrote:

    >
    >"Archibald" <> wrote in message news:...
    >
    >> People regularly report that there is variance in the performance of
    >> Sigma lenses. Canon lenses ALSO vary, and I'm sure Nikon does too...
    >> so the lens you buy might be a dud.
    >>
    >> I've even heard that some pros will buy 6 copies of a lens, like a
    >> 500mm, test them, and then return 5, keeping the best one.
    >>
    >> How the heck can a person evaluate a new lens purchase to find out if
    >> it is a good copy, without having an optics lab... and objectively
    >> (without subjective guesswork)? Can ordinary folks do this, or do you
    >> have to be some kind of expert?
    >>
    >> Archibald

    >
    >Here are methods I use, at www.donferrario.com/ruether/lens-testing.htm,
    >and why I do not use some other commonly used methods. As for
    >variability of lenses in the Nikkor line, you may find this interesting:
    >www.donferrario.com/ruether/slemn.html. You may notice that more
    >extreme lenses (wide range zooms, especially ones including WA, and
    >wides that have "floating elements") lead in variability. Generally, long and
    >fast (or expensive, slower, or shorter) teles vary the least among samples.
    >I have seen huge variability in samples in some well known lines, but with
    >a few exceptions, not much in the Nikkor line of lenses. BTW, trying
    >to remove subjectivity from the process of lens evaluations is, I think,
    >not the most useful way to go (at least after you have established that
    >a lens is well aligned and up to *your* standards for edge/corner
    >performance at the stops and shooting conditions of interest to you).
    >There are no perfect lenses - so you choose from among a bunch
    >of compromises what will best work for you. I buy from a good dealer
    >that offers "painless" returns/exchanges, and I CHECK FOR DEFECTS
    >IMMEDIATELY, while I can still do something about a poor sample
    >beyond selling it on eBay. I'm still surprised when a pro shooter friend
    >doesn't bother to do this, and then asks me something like, "Do the
    >lower left corners of these prints shot with XYZ lens look soft to you?",
    >usually about a year after the expensive purchase...


    Thanks, David.

    You have obviously thought about the subject, and I appreciate you
    sharing with us what you learned.

    Archibald
     
    Archibald, Mar 25, 2008
    #12
  13. Re: So... how can I tell if the expensive lens I bought is a goodcopy?

    ["Followup-To:" header set to rec.photo.digital.slr-systems.]
    Rita Berkowitz <> wrote:
    > Archibald wrote:


    >> People regularly report that there is variance in the performance of
    >> Sigma lenses. Canon lenses ALSO vary, and I'm sure Nikon does too...
    >> so the lens you buy might be a dud.

    [...]
    > Just buy Nikon lenses.


    Note to OP: Rita's religion is that Nikon's shit doesn't stink,
    Canon is the arch-enemy, and facts don't matter. Rita has not
    yet learned to practise religion in private, or at least in
    Nikon-temples.

    -Wolfgang
     
    Wolfgang Weisselberg, Mar 25, 2008
    #13
  14. Archibald

    Anonymous Guest

    Re: So... how can I tell if the expensive lens I bought is a good

    Frank Arthur wrote:

    >
    > "Archibald" <> wrote in message
    > news:...
    > > People regularly report that there is variance in the
    > > performance of Sigma lenses. Canon lenses ALSO vary, and I'm
    > > sure Nikon does too... so the lens you buy might be a dud.
    > >
    > > I've even heard that some pros will buy 6 copies of a lens,
    > > like a 500mm, test them, and then return 5, keeping the best
    > > one.

    >
    > That's known as an Urban Legend. Realistically no one buys
    > $50,000 worth of 6 lenses
    > including big two way shipping charges- even if the supplier
    > would take back the 5 unpacked beand new lenses.
    >
    >
    > > How the heck can a person evaluate a new lens purchase to find
    > > out if
    > > it is a good copy,

    >
    > When you take home the lens and try it out under the conditions
    > you normally shoot with.
    > Try different f stops. Also try some shots using your camera on a
    > tripod or stand to eliminate lens problems that appear as camera
    > shake.
    > Examine the images closely. If there are no significant visual
    > problems with the results like partially blurred images, out of
    > focus corners or edges or any unusually poor results return the
    > lens. I almost always buy Nikon lenses and find it extremely,
    > extremely rare that a lens I bought was not good.
    >
    >
    > > without having an optics lab... and objectively
    > > (without subjective guesswork)? Can ordinary folks do this, or
    > > do you
    > > have to be some kind of expert?
    > >
    > > Archibald

    >
    >
     
    Anonymous, Mar 27, 2008
    #14
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