I’ve been a fan of British Touring Cars for a long time, and finally got the chance to see them in the flesh – and point a lens at them – at Croft yesterday, 23 June.
To add to the interest, I was christening a new “little brother” to my Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 OS – the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 OS: my pal Mark has been using a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS exclusively for motor sport and aviation for a while, and – having been “overlensed” on numerous occasions with the “Big Sig” – I finally cracked and got the smaller Sigma.
It would be interesting to see how it compared to the considerably more expensive Canon.
But first, a word about Croft on “Big Days”: never again.
I knew it would be busy, but I’d not anticipated how many arseholes would be among the crowd’s number: not only did I come very close to a punch-up within ten minutes of getting there, having apparently bumped into someone and then not apologising (that’s not my style – maybe my camera bag brushed against him – but the first I knew of it was when my “victim” got his brick shithouse of a mate to then body check me hard, which I didn’t take kindly to); but there was widespread and obvious abuse of the disabled parking spaces next to the track – not many Blue Badges in this long line of vehicles:
Cars as far as the eye can see – and very few Blue Badges
Most drivers also parked their cars right up against the fence and filled the gaps between the cars with their camping chairs, barbecues, wind-breaks and whatnot, very effectively denying everyone else access to these viewing areas.
Just what you want when there are something like five times the number of spectators at this event that get to other meets at Croft.
Anyway, back to the plot.
The weather was better than forecast for the most part, with the worst of the rain holding off until we’d already decided to skedaddle (immediately after which it really opened up); ignoring the dearth of shooting locations and the hoards of bodies in the way (which between them conspired to make for a depressing degree of “sameyness” to the images), I have to say that the lens didn’t disappoint at all.
It’s beautifully light in comparison to the Big Sig; its AF is very snappy and accurate (I’d expect the Canon lens to be a little better, but no problems at all with the Sigma); and – once I’d got my eye in again with low ISO/low shutter speed panning – I’m very impressed by the sharpness.
Colours are really good too – a thing I’ve commented on several times about the 120-300mm f/2.8.
So, with apologies for the lack of variety and for succumbing to the cliché of angling some images in a vain attempt to make them more interesting…
Audi A4, Rob Austin, Croft
Vauxhall Insignia, Dan Welch, Croft
BMW 125is, Nick Foster, Croft
MG 6, Jason Plato, Croft
BMW 125is, Colin Turkington, Croft
Ginetta Juniors, Croft
VW Golf, James Kaye, Croft
Honda Civic, Mat Jackson being “helped along” by Adam Morgan’s Toyota Avensis, Croft
Vauxhall Insignia, Dan Welch, overtaking David Nye’s Ford Focus, Croft
Ginetta Juniors, Croft
Porsche 997 GT3, Dean Stoneman, Croft
Toyota Avensis, Frank Wrathall, Croft
A bit more about the lens.
This is actually the second such lens I’ve had in my hands in the last week and a bit. I’d bought the first from Mathers, just in time for last weekend’s Great North Fly In at Eshott airfield in Northumberland.
Five minutes into my arrival at Eshott on Sunday, the lens jammed at 70mm and resolutely refused to zoom back out!
This, as you might imagine, was quite a problem – I needed the lens for Croft.
On Monday morning I was onto Mathers as soon as they’d opened, expecting all sorts of nonsense about them having to send the lens back to Sigma, having to wait to see what they had to say, and then being offered a repair…
Not a bit of it. Mathers was as good as gold: on the very same day they got another lens from Sigma, and assured me that the moment they got my knackered lens they’d send out the replacement, guaranteed next day delivery.
My lens was in the post the next day, was with Mathers by Wednesday, and by Thursday the replacement was at my front door.
OK, I had to pay the postage to get the busted lens to them (nearly £30!), but even with that additional cost, theirs was still a cheaper price – for a UK stock lens – than any other UK bricks-and-mortar shop I could find.
I’m very impressed by Mathers. I will use them again, and I can highly recommend them if you’re looking to buy something new.
And I don’t see this turn of events as “proof” that Sigmas are still not up to speed with their quality control: If I believed that, I’d have asked for a refund, not a replacement. The simple fact is that things break, and it was pure fluke that I got the lens I did: if I’d received the second lens first (if you see what I mean) this report would have been a lot shorter!