When I set out to do wildlife photography, I always have my Sigma 300-800mm F5.6 lens with me mounted on one camera body and the newest addition to my arsenal; the Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 mounted on another. I absolutely love the versatility and reach of that combination. It is unmatched by any combination on the market today. I have always used both lenses for a while with great results, but I wanted to see how the budget-friendly Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 worked in the field because sometimes, it is nice to travel light! Another big factor is that many people simply can’t afford the higher end lenses and I would love to give them another option, but I did have a few questions myself that needed to be answered. Was the lens sharp…..even all the way out to 500mm? I set out one morning a few weeks ago and started testing the lens out on simple portraits like the one below. I patiently waited for the bird to walk into some nice sand.
One of the other main features I wanted to test was the zoom. Was it smooth? This is especially important when tracking birds in flight and I would compare it to the Canon 100-400mm I owned which is a push pull and I find difficult to use when tracking action. Would the lens be fast enough to capture birds in flight in both acquisition and locking focus? All of the images in this post were photographed hand held as I decided to leave my tripod at home. The image below was in very early morning light which is often difficult for many budget priced lenses including the Canon 100-400mm. I was thrilled to see that the 150-500 could perform very well in those conditions as that is my favorite time of day to photograph.
I then spent the rest or the morning putting the lens through its ultimate test; 2 flying birds as the oystercatchers were fighting for a mate. Any fears I had about the lenses performance were quickly dismissed as the lens was able to focus and lock on to the fast paced action. The image below was one of my favorites from the morning.
It is difficult enough to get one bird flying and sharp…..getting 2 in flight really pushes the performance of any lens. I think that the image below clearly demonstrates that the Sigma 150-500mm was more than capable. Focus and acquisition of the Sigma 150-500mm was equal or better to the Canon 100-400mm with the smoothness of the zoom far superior to the push pull mechanism of the Canon lens. The added reach of an extra 100mm is another big plus!
The weight of the lens (67.4 oz.), is a little over a pound heavier than the 100-400, but shouldn’t be a problem for anyone. I do like to remove the collar when I know I will be shooting hand held to further reduce the weight. I was able to track the flying birds effortlessly and comfortably the entire morning while I put the lens through its paces.
While the Sigma 150-500mm lens performance was slower than both the Sigma 120-300mm and the Sigma 300-800mm, it performed more than admirably. If you combine that with a price of just around $1,000, (which is about $600 – $700 less than the Nikon 80-400 or the Canon 100-400) this lens quickly becomes a great choice for those on a restricted budget or just getting into wildlife photography.