The Blog: See what
Sigma is saying.

12.05.2014
Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Nikon D600 body | Focal length: 600mm | Aperture: f/8 | Shutter speed:  1/2000 sec. | ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Nikon D600 body | Focal length: 600mm | Aperture: f/8 | Shutter speed: 1/2000 sec. | ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

I was fortunate enough to get a chance to test out the new Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens at the Festival of Cranes out in New Mexico. The images above and below are some of the first I captured with it early one morning at the Bosque del Apache NWR. What is unusual about the images is that I normally use a Canon 1D Mark 3 body, but as fate would have it, the Canon mount Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens got lost on its way to the festival.  What to do? Sigma tech rep and photographer Brett Wells came to my rescue and offered me his Nikon version of the Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens along with his Nikon D600 body. So while it was a bit uncomfortable for me working with a camera body that I wasn’t familiar with, I had no problem putting the lens through its paces.  After all, Sigma makes most of their lenses in Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, and Sigma mounts. As I returned to the festival tent I had a surprise awaiting me as the case with the Canon mount Sigma 150-600mm Sport had just came in and was at our booth.  I could now use that lens for the next few days in combination with my Canon 1D Mark 3 body.

740_150-600_Sport-horizontal-150dpi

Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Nikon D600 body | Focal length: 450mm | Aperture: f/8 | Shutter speed: 1/2000 sec. | ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Nikon D600 body | Focal length: 450mm | Aperture: f/8 | Shutter speed: 1/2000 sec. | ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

That first day, I used the lens primarily at 600mm.  After all, it is that added reach that is really appealing.  The OS really shined in those early morning tests as it allowed me to track and keep focus on the subject even with some pretty slow shutter speeds in both horizontal and vertical positions.  When testing a lens, I feel it is important to see how it performs in difficult situations such as low low light and with a subject that is coming right at you.  This challenges many lenses but as you can see in any of the images above and below, it performed extremely well in all of those situations.

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Canon 1D Mark 3 body | Focal length: 300mm at f/7.1 for 1/1250 sec. and ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Canon 1D Mark 3 body | Focal length: 300mm at f/7.1 for 1/1250 sec. and ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Canon 1D Mark 3 body | Focal length: 380mm | Aperture: f/8  | Shutter speed: 1/2000 sec | ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Canon 1D Mark 3 body | Focal length: 380mm | Aperture: f/8 | Shutter speed: 1/2000 sec | ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

I hand held the lens the entire time I was testing it.  The solid build felt comfortable in my hands but if you feel you may not be able to hand hold the lens, a side mount Gimbal style attachment for your ballhead such as the Induro GHBA will allow you to track and acquire focus on your subject even at 600mm!  The Sport sealing also felt reassuring during one of the many wind storms with dust blowing all over the place.  I simply wiped it down when I got back to the room.  Another great bonus is the metal hood.  When photographing, I often keep the camera and lens on the floor of the car so I have easy access to it.  I have broken plenty of plastic hoods this way so the metal hood is just another fine touch.  OK, so the first few days with large birds proved to be a huge success. But why not try it out on some smaller birds that were around the refuge…after all smaller ducks and birds are much faster and would really test the capabilities of any lens, so on a few mornings, I went out to do just that.  Below is an image of a northern shoveler just taking off in early morning light. The bird is quite skittish and I knew he would take off no matter how quietly and slowly I approached.  Finger on the trigger and lens held tightly against the body, he suddenly blasted off.  The Sigma 150-600mm Sport acquired and locked on the subject as I burst off about 6 frames with the up wing position being my favorite and the downward stroke my second.  Given that 5 of 6 frames were keepers (last frame he started to fly away) is impressive for any lens with such small birds.

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Canon 1D Mark 3 body | Focal length: 600mm | Aperture: f/7.1  | Shutter speed: 1/2500 sec | ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Canon 1D Mark 3 body | Focal length: 600mm | Aperture: f/7.1 | Shutter speed: 1/2500 sec | ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Canon 1D Mark 3 body | Focal length: 600mm | Aperture: f/7.1  | Shutter speed: 1/2500 sec | ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Canon 1D Mark 3 body | Focal length: 600mm | Aperture: f/7.1 | Shutter speed: 1/2500 sec | ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

After the festival, I was able to visit some new areas that a friend wanted to share with me.  She had found and area where there were some courting western grebes.  I have never seen that behavior personally so I was absolutely thrilled to have that chance.  When we got there, the birds were just going about their normal business of fishing and having territorial disputes and with the calm winds, it made for some beautiful portrait and behavior images.

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Canon 1D Mark 3 body | Focal length: 600mm | Aperture: f/8  | Shutter speed: 1/2500 sec. | ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Canon 1D Mark 3 body | Focal length: 600mm | Aperture: f/8 | Shutter speed: 1/2500 sec. | ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Canon 1D Mark 3 body | Focal length: 600mm | Aperture: f/8  | Shutter speed: 1/2500 sec. | ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Canon 1D Mark 3 body | Focal length: 600mm | Aperture: f/8 | Shutter speed: 1/2500 sec. | ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

Unfortunately as soon as the courting behavior started, the winds picked up substantially and put an end to any chance we could get at capturing it.  I know I will be headed back there again and this time spend a week or more with these beautiful birds.

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Canon 1D Mark 3 body | Focal length: 600mm | Aperture: f/7.1  | Shutter speed: 1/1600 sec. | ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Canon 1D Mark 3 body | Focal length: 600mm | Aperture: f/7.1 | Shutter speed: 1/1600 sec. | ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Canon 1D Mark 3 body | Focal length: 370mm | Aperture: f/8 | Shutter speed: 1/1800 sec. | ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Canon 1D Mark 3 body | Focal length: 370mm | Aperture: f/8 | Shutter speed: 1/1800 sec. | ISO 800 hand held. © 2014 | Roman Kurywczak

Another great location for you if you are ever in the Albuquerque area is the zoo.  They have hundreds of beautiful “wild” ducks that inhabit their ponds.  I used the term “wild” because they are free to come and go as they please but given that people love to feed them at the pond, they tend to stay around for the free handout.  The wood duck and American widgeon pictured above are just two of the many beautiful species that inhabit the ponds at the zoo in great numbers and that poses many compositional challenges.  This is where the versatility and range of the Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens really shines.  I was quickly able to use the zoom to compose on subjects that were close to me (like the widgeon) to isolate it among the 100’s of other ducks and then zoom out when one swam away from the group.

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Canon 1D Mark 3 body | Focal length: 499mm | Aperture: f/7.1 | Shutter speed: 1/1600 sec. | ISO 800 hand held.

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens on Canon 1D Mark 3 body | Focal length: 499mm | Aperture: f/7.1 | Shutter speed: 1/1600 sec. | ISO 800 hand held.

One of the biggest challenges you face in an environment like that is you don’t have much room or time to track a subject that is flying.  I was photographing the wood duck when a few children spooked a flock of birds.  I wheeled around, zoomed, acquired, locked focus, all against a difficult background and the image above of the landing mallard is the result.  I was genuinely impressed.

As I packed the lens up to ship it back, I thought about how versatile the lens was and how well it performed even in difficult situations.  The sport seal makes this a perfect walk around lens for me as I am always out in environs that don’t necessarily treat my gear nicely.  The build quality is outstanding and the zoom was stiff enough to allow for smooth zooming without catching or sticking.  The stabilization and tracking performed flawlessly even maxed out at 600mm.

I am looking forward to testing the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Contemporary as well to in order to compare the two but given that my gear is subject to some very harsh environs, I know the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Sport lens will soon be a vital part of my bag.

 

As usual, you can find more information about my workshops, tours, lectures, blog, eBooks, and more at:www.roaminwithroman.com

 

5 comments so far

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  1. tested one a couple of weeks ago at a u.k reps demo ,very very impressed ,pulling out all the stops to get one asap

  2. I went to work to find one of these new lenses on the market. After working the internet hard, over a couple of weeks I found the lens that had just arrived at a store in the Seattle area. (Talls camera). I think I got lucky. I had the new lens the next day.
    Yes,Yes. Buy it now- because this new lens is first class.
    I am a nikon shooter and this new sigma lens is just the perfect fit. I am 100% happy with the performance of this new lens. FIRST CLASS GLASS.

  3. Join the club…I’ve been waiting since early November! However, in the meantime, I purchased the Sigma 120-300 f2.8 – my first ever non-Nikkor lens! I’ve been putting it thru it’s paces and all I can say is, “WOW!” Sharp, fast and heavy! My 150-600 S is supposed to arrive by mid February and I’m looking forward to using my 2nd-ever Sigma lens.

  4. Well after using this new lens, I’m so impressed. I’m considering selling some nikon glass, and going with some of the new sigma lenses. The 150-600 is so good that could write a book on it’s outstanding performance. The people at Sigma are really producing first class lenses.This new 150-600 lens has opened my eyes for the first time to none Nikon glass. You are never to old to learn new things.Think about it.

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