As a member of the Sigma Pro Team, it’s always Christmas with new lenses arriving for me to play with. When the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports lens showed up at the door like a baby being delivered by a stork, I couldn’t get it on my camera fast enough. My son had a little league game later in the afternoon, so I was very eager to give the lens a work out of it’s own. As with many things in life, like ice cream, you can have too much of a good thing. With such a small field, I was right on top of the action which was too much for such a strong lens. Instead of switching to a shorter lens, I decided to switch to a bigger field, so I contacted the Rochester Red Wings, the Triple A farm team of the Minnesota Twins.
A few days later I was at a matinee game of the Red Wings vs the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Rail Riders, the farm team for the New York Yankees. Press pass in hand, I was ready for battle with my new toy on a field much better suited for this lens. Whether I was shooting from the field, above the dugout or the walkway above the 100 level, I was able to get intimate with the action anywhere on the field.
I wanted to get a feel for the lens from varying angles to see how it would handle the action with both a clean grass background as well as shooting from down low to place the action against the busy billboards in the background. The lens handled anything I could throw at it, locking on focus faithfully. Shooting down the first and third base lines, I was able to test the lenses ability to track focus while zooming to maintain the composition.
Shooting a professional baseball game is quite a leap from little league, with the size, speed and predictability of the game. It’s actually much easier to shoot action photos when the athletes act predictably allowing the game to flow. With that predictability comes more power making shooting in the foul lanes dangerous. I started the game shooting behind and to the left of the catcher just passed where the net ends. With right handed batters, I had to wait for the follow through to get a good shot of their face, however I could get the entire swing with left handed batters at the expense of being right in line with foul tipped balls. I was getting a little antsy any time a lefty was up so I shifted over to just above the left dugout behind third base. Everything was fine until I saw all the defensive players on the field running toward me looking up in the sky. The closer they got the more I realized the ball was somewhere in the air directly above my head. I did the only logical thing I could think of and that was to hide under the lens. Fortunately the ball came down with a loud smack on the concrete dugout inches from my head, so I didn’t have to test the durability of the lens.
The Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sport is quite possibly the perfect lens for a large stadium baseball game during the day. I didn’t have the chance to try the new Sigma TC-1401 1.4X Teleconverter that was designed for use with the new Global Vision lenses but I could see it being very useful in the larger major league stadiums when shooting from the stands. The lens with the converter has an ability to maintain autofocus down to f8 making it a great companion for day games.
The Yankees are my favorite MLB team however being in Rochester, I had to route for the Red Wings and they didn’t disappoint giving me action of a great walk off play at the plate to end the game.