Tag Archives: Snowy Owl Workshops

The new Sigma 150-600 Sport Review

Today’s blog is about the new Sigma 150-600 Sport.Sigma-150-600mm-DG-OS-HSM I must admit for the past 4 years now I have switched over some of my lenses to sigma and it has not been a disappointing decision. My first purchase was the sigma 120-400 lens and for me it was all about the cost for focal length. This lens did more then I expected for the price I paid and still to this day wish I had it as a back up for how light of a lens it was. Selling my 120-400 to buy the 120-300 f2.8 sport was another great decision to stay faithful to the sigma line up. This lens continues to blow me away with sharp optics and a fast HSM to keep up with moving subjects. Now before I bought this lens I kept reading reviews before it come to the market about why would you buy a lens that has to come with a docking station to tune your lens. It should be perfect quality right out of the box and never need to be adjusted. So I got to try out the lens for a weekend before I bought it and without docking it I had great out of the box pictures. Over the first month of owning my lens, two firmware updates come out for it I thought oh no now whats wrong with my lens. No nothing was wrong with it, Sigma found through a series of testings different ways to optimize different functions of my lens. With each update my lens kept getting better and better, different Af speeds that I can customize and have a switch on my lens that I can change on the fly. Better sharpness at certain increments through out the whole focal length! Most people don’t realize that zoom lenses tend to have best optical quality from the first 1/4 to the last 3/4 of the lens.sigma docking station Before or after these area’s most lenses tend to be a little soft. Well after a few tweaks on my dock station I have not a worry about any part of the range on my lens. Now this docking station cost me something like 75 dollars? So really was it worth it? Every dam penny I say!! Here is another reason why I like it that steps a little above and beyond.

Most people go to the camera store with big piles of cash bz1125-cashor a never never card ( that’s what my Mom called a credit card :) ) and expect to buy a top of the line lens for their camera and think it’s going to create great pictures. And I will admit for the most part you will get great results, but that camera and lens are not perfectly matched and here is why. I read this once and it made perfect sense as to why you never have a perfect match. Let’s say you are the camera and your vision is not 100 % at birth. lets say if 0 was perfect and you had 98% vision at birth your new score was -5 and then you got bumped around and knocked a few times by your older stronger but not better looking brother. With a few years on the old body now your at a -10 and you decide I need a new set of glasses, so you buy a new lens to put on your body and this lens was made so good that it’s optics were +5 so even better then perfect. You put that lens on your body and holy cow I can see again. The optical quality is amazing!! But in all reality you don’t have a perfect vision because a 0 body and a 0 lens makes 100% optics. I once read that a brand new camera and body can be out of match by approximately 10% right out of the factory. So when you are dealing with a game of inches, centimeters and millimeters to getting the quality you expect for that 1 in a million picture your about to take I would hope your gear is at 100%lens align So basically we can fix this issue in camera with an alignment tool set at a certain distance with a certain aperture to achieve a 100% match with your lens and body. Now there is a big downfall here to having a zoom lens. When you make this adjustment in camera you can only make one adjustment, so for fixed focal lenses or prime lenses ie. 100mm, 200mm, 300mm ect this will be just fine but if you buy a zoom lens you have to make a few attempts at different focal distances and average out your adjustment. Well for me that’s not good enough, I want perfect all the way through. So with the docking station I can adjust my lens to do exactly what I want at different increments through my focal range. Now that skeptical piece of equipment called a docking station just made my day for 75 dollars!!

Now let’s get back on track to the purpose of the blog, the 150-600 Sport. This lens was tested while at a workshop that was put on by Len Silvester and Kevin Pepper(K2) through North of 49 Photography, a great winter experience for photographing snowy owls. First notes of the lens was that the zoom felt a little stiff to me? Well two options come to mind that could effect this and here they are. One the lens come fresh out of the box and I would expect that a new lens would feel a little tight, plus the new water proof seals may of had something to do with it. Second possible reason could be that it was -27 degrees out in the middle of a field shooting snowy owls. Sigma 150-600, sigma 150-600 review, Chris Pepper Photography, snowy owl workshops So is it normally a stiff lens I’m not to sure as I only had 8 hours to use it. Second observation was that the foot or lens mount was a little to small for me to hold with my big hands and gloves on. For people who have normal hands this should not be a problem ­čśë To be honest these are the only two complaints I have about this lens, as the rest was a very positive experience. Having this lens to test on a day like that one sure allowed me to put it through the ropes. Like I mentioned it was -27c in the middle of a windy field and this lens trooped thought the whole day with out one hiccup. The Af stayed just as fast from the minute I took it out into the field to when we were done for the day. Testing it at all different apertures between F5.6 and F11 allowed me to track and have a fast enough AF to stop a Snowy owl dead in its flight path.Sigma 150-600, Snowy owl Sigma 150-600, Chris Pepper Photography Another feature I really liked about it was the three different focal limits the lens has. So for people who don’t know what focal limits are I will quickly explain this for you. So for example this lens has a limit of 2.8 meters to 10 meters or 10 meters to infinity or full. Full allows the lens to focus all through the focal distance at any distance, but the advantage to having the other two setting are so the AF system can be super fast when it’s limited. So if your subject is 2.8 – 10 meters away constantly you would want to switch to this feature so the lens could be noticeable faster then on full. Only downfall is if your subject is out of this distance the lens says nope sorry bud I’m gonna relax and wait before that thing comes back into my set focal distance before I can focus again. So the function can suck at times, but for this particular shoot it was awesome! I also flipped around the factory AF speed setting and found the lens had no issues keeping up with the snowys.Sigma 150-600, Snowy Owl Sigma150-600, Photography workshops, Chris Pepper Photogaphy

Final thoughts on this lens sigma 150-600Ok here we go, I thought for the price this lens was valued around a average market value of 2499 It was worth every penny. It provided what I would consider good clear optical quality right out of the box and not adjusted to my camera. If I had the time to dock the sucker and then rip it again I’m sure that would improve as I noticed a big difference with my 120-300 once it was done. The fact that this lens is compatible with a 1.4x teleconverter is incredible with the possible focal distance of 840mm you can achieve with still having your AF at a aperture of F8. I did notice that that creamy bokeh was just not quite there when shooting a subject at a far distance at F6.3 but once the subject was closer to me it seemed to improve. With this lens having a close minimum focal distance it will allow you the best look while shooting subjects close up. Another mention would be some vignetting noticed in my images while processing, this cleared up perfectly once my camera corrections were used in photoshop. All in all this lens is a heavy one, the 150-600 contemporary version is to be the same weight as the Tamron 150-600 but the sport is heavier weighing in at 6.3 pounds. So if you have the arm to hand hold this beast or a tripod to mount it to you will definitely have people looking at you with lens envy. I hope you enjoyed my review on this lens and learned a little bit about calibrating lenses to cameras. My goal is to inform you based on my opinion of what I think about this lens and I would have to say I like it. In my opinion it’s one of the best telephotos compared to the canon 100-400 the nikon 80-400 or the previous sigma 150-500. I think once these lenses are finally released to the public it’s going to be a hot item on the market.

Thanks you reading today’s Blog, I will add a few links at the bottom of the page for your interests. One to Sigma’s page about the 150-600 lens another to a good alignment tool I use, one to BJ photo labs for there price and another link to our snowy owl workshops.

Sigma 150-600 link