The long-awaited Sigma 150-600mm for mirrorless cameras has lastly arrived. Out there for Sony E-mount or Leica L-mount, does this redesigned super-telephoto zoom meet the expectations of real-world wildlife photographers?
Construct High quality and Design
The Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS is among the firm’s better-looking lenses. There’s no shiny end wherever and it’s not gaudily giant and over-industrial in type. For my part, the matte black end is a direct reduction in comparison with the unpleasant off-white Sony 200-600mm lens.
In all, the lens weighs 4 kilos 15 ounces (2.2 kilograms) with the lens hood connected. That weight is unfold throughout the ten.5 inches (26.7 centimeters) size and might be handheld, which is how I photographed with it for my evaluate. At 600mm, the lens bodily extends out to about 14.5 inches (36.8 centimeters). The lens diameter is 4.3 inches (10.9 centimeters) which inserts nicely in my hand and it takes 95mm filters screwed to the entrance. Sigma seems to have achieved nicely to make sure there was no further bulk right here.
The zoom might be operated both by twisting the ring or, by design, pushing and pulling at it straight close to the lens hood. There’s a three-stage swap on the left facet to which controls the zoom ring pressure: locked, tight, or easy. The locked setting solely works at 150mm to forestall zoom creep. I discovered that the tight setting provides sufficient pressure to keep away from unintended shifts in focal size. However, I felt that the graceful setting was not as easy as I’d have most popular, though this can be extra of a physics problem as the burden of the lens bodily extending out naturally locations a specific amount of pressure on the ring.
This lens has a variable aperture that from my testing breaks down as follows: from 150mm to 172mm, the widest aperture is f/5. From 173mm to 365mm, the widest aperture is f/5.6. That leaves f/6.3 being the utmost aperture by way of the remainder of the vary from 366mm to 600mm.
For comparability, the Sony 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 lens switches over proper round 300mm, so for these hankering over a third-stop of sunshine, this Sigma is an enchancment.
Looping again to the main focus ring, I’m not a fan of its design. It’s awfully slender and what’s worse is that solely a portion of the ring that strikes is roofed in rubber grip. For such a small space, I want Sigma might have no less than positioned the rubber ribbing over as a lot as potential. For wildlife images, guide focusing turns into essential in sure conditions the place there are foreground parts and dense foliage at play, and I exploit it on daily basis I’m out. On the plus facet, it does have easy rotation to it with an acceptable quantity of pressure to the glide. Within the video part of this evaluate, I’ll talk about its poor performance additional.
One different grievance about each the zoom and focus rings comes from Sigma’s mixture of rubber hardness and the large, triangle-shaped ribbing. After some time, the burden of my digital camera and this lens begins to dig into my hand and the ribbing begins to really feel like little knives. That is in distinction to the Sony 200-600mm I personal and Canon telephoto lenses I’ve used the place the ribbing is flattened on the edge and doesn’t stick out thus far. I’ve by no means considered this as a potential problem till utilizing this lens.
The tripod foot and collar function a few nice design selections. For one, the foot incorporates an Arca Swiss-compatible plate in order that no further add-on is critical. The collar itself additionally has notches each 90 levels so the foot might be set completely degree by feeling the groove relatively than having to eyeball the alignment with markings. This actually turns out to be useful when taking pictures off a gimbal after I needed to go from panorama to portrait orientation. Due to it, I didn’t need to take my eye out of the viewfinder to verify degree alignment.
A draw back I discover with the included tripod foot is that it’s fairly brief. As somebody who shoots handheld, I nonetheless respect having the foot there and I exploit it as a carrying deal with for my setup. With this foot, I can solely awkwardly cram three fingers in relatively than a extra snug 4. Once more, with the burden being an element, I start to really feel the discomfort of carrying like this for longer durations of time. I assume I can all the time purchase the eye-rollingly costly TS-81 foot that Sigma sells individually.
Picture High quality
Inside, the lens makes use of 25 parts in 15 teams together with 4 “F” low-dispersion parts and two extra-low dispersion parts, plus a mud and moisture resistant coating on the entrance ingredient.
The picture high quality of this lens is the place you’re going to get your cash’s price. I discover that there’s stable readability and distinction all through the focal vary, good sharpness, well-controlled coloration fringing and flaring, and the bokeh form from the 9 rounded aperture blades soften away out-of-focus objects pleasingly.
As one would count on for any telephoto lens, there’s heavy vignetting when shot large open at both finish of the zoom vary. At 150mm, I discovered that by f/7.1 the vignetting was largely relegated to the far corners and by f/13 it was utterly cleared up. On the 600mm finish, by f/9 the vignetting was largely moved to the far corners and by f/13 it was gone.
Likewise, sharpness improves because the aperture is stopped right down to its candy spot. Taking pictures at 150mm, I discover that every third-stop down reveals good enchancment on the heart up till f/7.1 the place it begins peaking. By f/14 the middle appears to be like as sharp because it did large open at f/5 and persevering with to cease down from there continues to melt the picture. Each f/20 and f/22 are actually comfortable within the heart. Shifting to the corners, I noticed that f/11 is the place it meets peak sharpness for 150mm.
Wanting on the heart sharpness whereas at 600mm, issues are a bit of bit completely different. My testing confirmed that there are massive jumps in bettering heart sharpness when clicked from f/6.3 to f/7.1 after which once more from f/7.1 to f/8. The enhancements from right here on out are usually not as drastic, however it appears to be like like f/11 is the lens’s true peak sharpness within the heart at 600mm. For the corners, I noticed f/16 as the height sharpness for 600mm.
This lens does come geared up with picture stabilization which I believed labored adequately as I noticed no change in what I’m used to seeing with my Sony 200-600mm. It really works nicely for handheld taking pictures and I’ve no complaints so far as this function goes.
It’s the identical story for autofocus, seemingly due to the swap out of the Hyper Sonic Motor from the DSLR fashions to a stepping motor for this mirrorless-first redesign. From my expertise, the Sigma 150-600mm DG DN can competently observe birds in flight and shortly sweep the main focus airplane to search out topics. I by no means felt I used to be lacking something as a result of autofocusing system throughout my evaluate interval.
Utilizing the Lens for Video
From the older 150-600mm lenses made for DSLR mounts to the 300-800mm f/5.6 Goliath, Sigma has been producing well-favored super-telephoto zoom lenses utilized by filmmaking fans and professionals for a very long time. Plenty of professionals personal these Sigma lenses for his or her private setups after which lease out the wildly costly glass when out on project.
I spent a few evenings utilizing the lens on my Sony FS5 digital camera rig to file video. My main topics had been hummingbirds out in a patch of jewelweed. Every thing within the video under was filmed with the Sigma 150-600mm DG DN.
The 150mm to 600mm vary was very useful to create a wide range of photographs simply utilizing one lens (successfully 225-900mm on my FS5). The push-pull zoom was additionally good to shortly change focal lengths. Whereas the lens shouldn’t be parfocal, it does maintain itself collectively sufficient to the place I by no means misplaced my topic and easily wanted a superb adjustment after zooming out and in.
In the long run, I believe the downsides outweighed the positives for me in terms of video. The most important problem I’ve is that the main focus ring doesn’t have a linear response. This can be a huge disappointment, particularly when you think about how well-liked Sigma’s DSLR lenses have been to wildlife filmmakers. And not using a linear response focus ring, no two focus pulls are the identical and as a substitute, all of it will depend on how briskly the ring is being twisted. In consequence, easy monitoring of topics was a giant downside with this lens.
It’s not a brand new problem for Sigma super-telephoto zooms, however one other downside is the counterbalancing. Having my fluid head balanced for the lens sitting at 150mm goes to be off when it modifications to 600mm because it bodily extends and the burden of the glass shifts places. I’d up balancing for round 300mm as a compromise which was okay, however not splendid contemplating it’s nothing I take into consideration with the Sony 200-600mm I personal the place the bodily measurement is all the time mounted at any focal size.
The Custom Continues
Sigma has earned its status for constructing high-end lenses and promoting them at mid-tier costs. This continues with the brand new 150-600mm DG DN the place ultimate picture high quality appears to be like terrific and the $1,500 worth makes it exhausting to miss it when looking for a super-telephoto zoom.
Are There Alternate options?
The E-mount model of this lens is clearly taking up the $2,000 Sony 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS that got here out a few years in the past. What I discover fascinating is how Sigma with this lens and Tamron with its new 150-500mm lens have been selecting away on the design and constructing options to enhance sure issues over what Sony made. Neither have made every part higher throughout the board, and the Sony 200-600mm nonetheless maintains sole possession over just a few issues that make it actually particular, however the truth that some flaws are being patched and each Sigma and Tamron cost much less for it makes coming to a choice among the many three a lot harder.
The Sigma options variable pressure management on the zoom ring, an Arca Swiss plate constructed into the tripod foot, notched positions on the tripod collar, a screw-down lens hood, and may zoom out to 150mm f/5, all of which enhance upon the Sony. On the flip facet, the Sony doesn’t telescope and alter bodily measurement upon zooming, has a a lot wider focus ring that could be a linear response, has a quick-release tripod foot, and may settle for the corporate’s 1.4x and 2x teleconverters.
Ought to You Purchase It?
Sure. Undoubtedly there’ll all the time be a query of whether or not to purchase this lens or the opposite choices obtainable, however wanting on the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS alone it’s nicely well worth the consideration and it’ll not allow you to down.