When shooting video (or stills) on your DSLR camera, it’s always best to use a prime lens like a 50mm F1.8 or F1.4. However, sometimes the subject you are shooting requires a zoom lens and prime zooms can be very expensive. Fortunately both Canon and Sigma have zooms that are inexpensive (around $200). When I first got my Canon T2i, a good friend of mine recommended that I get the Sigma DG 70-300mm lens for my zoom. I did, and I’ve been extremely happy with it ever since (well, mostly happy).
The only problem is that the lens does not have any form of Optical Stabilization. So when shooting video at full zoom, even the slightest twitch can cause major issues with the video. I try to shoot on a tripod whenever possible, but even then sometimes heavy winds can cause even the best tripod to shake a little bit. And when using a non-stabilized zoom that translates into heavy camera shake in the video. When that happens, you either have to trash the recorded video or use stabilization in your editing software which has its own issues. And forget shooting handheld at max zoom, that’s a total nightmare.
Recently I ran across a really good deal on the Canon 70-300mm lens with Image Stabilization (usually sells for around $450), so I bought it. I personally don’t think the image quality is as good as the Sigma lens, but the built-in optical stabilization is fantastic. Check out this side-by-side comparison video I shot:
[vimeo width=”640″ height=”360″]http://www.vimeo.com/15161994[/vimeo]
I had the ISO set too high when I shot it (forgot to change it after shooting video the night before), so there’s some noise in the video if you watch it full screen. But you can see the difference in how shaky the handheld video is between the IS and non IS lens. With the Image Stabilization turned on the footage is actually usable.
I may sell the Canon IS lens and buy the Sigma version with “Optical Stabilization” simply because I like the look of the Sigma bokeh better. But either way, for video, having a zoom with IS is essential in my opinion.