Shooting in Adirondacks with the Sigma 150-600mm Lens

Upon receiving the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Sport lens last winter, I was anxious to see if the lens could perform as well as many of the favorable reviews it has received stated. With New York’s Adirondack Park as my backyard, I am fairly demanding of my photography equipment, as it is exposed to some pretty harsh conditions.

For my first outing with the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 S, I decided to test its sharpness while photographing birds from a blind. With the lens Mounted on a Nikon D4 and firmly secured on a Gitzo tripod, with a Wimberley head, I spent about two hours photographing in single digit temperatures. If you look at the two attached images of the American Gold Finch and the Downy Woodpecker I think you will agree that the level of detail on the birds is quite impressive, especially at these ISO levels.

© John DiGiacomo 2016 | American Gold Finch (Focal Length 600mm, ISO 1000, F7.1, 1/400sec)
© John DiGiacomo 2016 | Downy Woodpecker (Focal Length 600mm, ISO 1600, F6.3, 1/200sec)

To test the lenses focusing speed and performance at different focal lengths, I decided to use it while covering a collegiate alpine race at Whiteface Mountain (Lake Placid, NY). With skiers reaching speeds of approximately 60 mph, course safety is a top priority for race officials, especially when allowing media access to the event. Having witnessed some horrific crashes over the years you gain a real appreciation of the race officials concerns. Needless to say, access is limited along the course and requires photographers to be versatile in their equipment selection.

The lenses versatility in focal lengths coupled with the ability to hand–hold afforded me a fair amount of flexibility throughout the race. Although I hand-held the lens for the entire race, it is on the heavier side and you may want to use a monopod when photographing sporting events. The focal length versatility allowed me to photograph individual skiers at multiple slalom gates.

© John DiGiacomo 2016 | Focal Length 600mm cropped, ISO 800, F7.1, 1/5000sec
© John DiGiacomo 2016 | Focal Length 270mm, ISO 800, F7.1, 1/5000sec
© John DiGiacomo 2016 | Focal Length 600mm cropped, ISO 800, F7.1, 1/3200sec

During the competitors second and final run, I decided to do a little experimentation. I realized I was positioned in a location where I could potentially capture the same skier at four different slalom gates on the same run. The four images depicted below were captured as part of this experiment.

© John DiGiacomo 2016 | Focal Length 600mm cropped, ISO 800, F7.1, 1/4000sec
© John DiGiacomo 2016 | Focal Length 600mm, ISO 800, F7.1, 1/4000sec
© John DiGiacomo 2016 | Focal Length 360mm, ISO 800, F7.1, 1/4000sec
© John DiGiacomo 2016 | Focal Length 250mm, ISO 800, F7.1, 1/5000sec

As you can see from these examples the lens lived up to its positive reviews.

This fall I had an opportunity to capture a few fall images with the Contemporary version of the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 C. The Contemporary version is approximately 2lbs lighter than the Sport version, contains 20 Elements in 14 groups versus 24 Elements in 16 groups and retails for approximately half the cost.

The focal length of this lens afforded me the opportunity to revisit scenes I had previously photographed and render them with a different perspective. The narrower field of view and the compression produced by the longer focal lengths provided me with images I was pretty happy with.

The Barn image allowed me to compress the scene and give the appearance that the barn was enveloped in fall color. The Ski Jumps image allowed me to compress the ski jumps with the mountains in the background, while giving me the flexibility of deciding how much of the trees I wanted to include. These choices allowed me a fair amount of artistic interpretation.

© John DiGiacomo 2016 | Barn (Focal Length 150mm, ISO 200, 20, 1/15sec)
© John DiGiacomo 2016 | Ski_Jumps (Focal Length 280mm, ISO 400, F18, 1/3sec)

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Since 1961, SIGMA has worked towards a single, simple goal: to imagine and develop the technologies that will allow the attainment of the perfect image. In addition, we do our best to provide photographers with the information and inspiration they need to bring their creative endeavors to the next level.

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