Living in Oregon, my free time is spent wandering the incredible nature that encompasses the Pacific North West. Like many people who share this pastime, finding a balanced hiking setup is a real struggle. Over packing can really drain your energy and weigh you down, while under packing could leave you disappointed that you’re missing a great shot with the gear you left at home.
Recently I have been trying to cut down on many of the non-essential gear that comes with me. My goal is to get rid of the clutter and focus on technique and challenging myself to create imagery without a 50lb bag on my back… and out comes the Sigma 18-300mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM | Contemporary. This little gem of a lens has been surprising me time and time again to the point where it’s pretty much attached to my 70D constantly. The 18-300 is in the Contemporary line, and a lot of folks aren’t quite sure what that means. To put it simply, the contemporary line is geared more towards consumers and defines the merging of compactness and great image quality. Don’t be thrown off because it doesn’t say Art, this little lens is stocked with Sigma’s premium glass (4 FLD) along with great macro capabilities and an optical stabilizer, plus the versatility is insane!
Here is a shot of the gear I usually haul with me (of course this all changes depending on what climate I am going to- coastal, forests and desert regions all vary). Here we have: Sigma 105mm 2.8 Macro, Sigma 24-105mm F4 | Art, 150-600mm 5-6.3 DG HSM OS | Contemporary, Cokin ND filter set, Benro Tripod, Canon 6D, Sigma dp0 Quattro, black rapid strap, memory card holders, waterproof sleeves, leather man. This stuff is heavy!
With my recent goals of cutting back, I’ve become more and more reliant on the 18-300 to cover all my needs and the more I photograph with this compact lens, the more it has become apparent that this lens wont be leaving my bag for a very long time. Here is a shot of the gear I’ve been using for the past 3 months now. Here we have: Sigma 18-300mm 3.5-6.3 DC HSM OS C, Sigma AML- Close Up filter, Sigma 8-16mm, Benro tripod, Cokin filter set, leatherman, memory card holder, black rapid strap, waterproof sleeve, Sigma dp0 Quattro (my favorite landscape camera, ever).
Compared to the two bags, I shed close to 5.2lbs with 18-300mm setup. On some recent hikes, it’s been enjoyable to focus on the images and the scenery rather than gear and the weight. The macro capabilities of this lens are nothing to scoff at and using the AML- close up filter allows for 1:2 macro on the go. The 18-300mm is equivalent to a 27-450mm on a full frame camera and I find the long end with the AML macro filter is incredible for insect imagery when you don’t want to get too close.
On the wide end it’s a solid performer for sweeping landscapes but if you need wider, consider the super wide angle Sigma 8-16mm. It’s been very interesting to see my hiking bag formula change over time and this little lens will always have a spot in my bag.