Once people start to move past the beginning stages of wildlife photography, I see a lot of people asking themselves, “now what?” Upgrading to a better lens can help you find new ways to capture what what you see, to see things differently, become more creative, and to have more fun. And Sigma’s two Sport zoom lens offer incredible performance and features for wildlife photographers.
There are so many choices available today, it can be difficult to find the right lens for you. I’ve listed a few points to think about to help those looking to move past the beginner stages of wildlife photography and to talk about the strengths of the two main lenses that I use today, the Sigma 150-600mm Sports Lens and the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 Sports Lens.
The Sigma 150-600mm Sports Lens already has an awesome focal length range for wildlife photography, but on a 1.5x crop sensor body (like a Nikon DX or Sigma sd quattro) the 150-600 turns into a 225-900mm equivalent hand-holdable lens, on a 1.6x body (like a Canon crop-sensor camera) its equivalent to 240-960mm!
When you only have just seconds to frame and capture the action, like this alligator about to attack, a zoom lens is the way to go. The Sigma 150-600mm Sports Lens gives you the option of using the zoom ring or a push-pull technique.
To use the push pull technique, my favorite way to zoom with the Sigma 150-600mm Sports Lens, use your index finger to grab hold of the hood clamping knob and use the top of your hand to support the weight of the lens. Now you can zoom by pushing and pulling the front of the lens. This works great from a tripod, handheld, in horizontal, or in vertical orientation.
The combination of fast f/2.8 aperture and the wide zoom range on the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 Sports Lens is perfect for shooting wildlife. Over the last couple of years, using this lens has gotten me so spoiled, I could never go back from a 300mm f/2.8 fixed focal length prime lens for wildlife.
With a high level of image correction and fast f/2.8 aperture, the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 Sports Lens makes a great lens for using the 1.4x or 2x teleconverters to extend the range. I have no problem at all using teleconverters on the 120-300. The 1.4x will give you a high quality 168-420mm with a fast f/4 aperture. The 2x will turn the 120-300 into a constant aperture 240-600mm f/5.6!
Over the last few years lens design has really improved to the point where modern zoom lens image quality is even better than many older fixed focal length designs, something unheard of a couple of years ago. I have been relying on these two lenses, the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 Sports Lens. and Sigma 150-600mm Sports Lens for almost all of my professional work for three years now. The newest generation of Sigma lenses, called Global Vision lenses, are individually 100% checked before they leave the factory in Japan and it seems to be working to ensure each lens delivers incredible image quality.
For some photographers, the 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | Sport plus the 2.0x teleconverter may be the way to go to get a constant-aperture 240-600mm F5.6 zoom lens for both the F2.8 flexibility and internal focusing. For others, the higher 4x zoom ratio of the 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sport might be the right solution, with the advance Optical Stabilizer accelerometer to detect panning orientation, and a more economical pricetag, may be the deciding factors. Either way, both of these Sigma Sport lenses deliver winning results!
One accessory that I recommend for both the 120-300 and 150-600 is the Sigma USB dock. This accessory keeps my Global Vision lenses up to date with the latest firmware updates and can set-up custom parameters like custom focus limiters, AF speed tuning, and multi-zone microfocus tweaks.
If you have any questions or comments be sure to share ’em in the comments section below.
For more information on my wildlife tours be sure to visit my site.
Robert O’Toole is a Sigma Pro and has been a professional photographer for more than 20 years. Robert leads photography workshop tours across the US and internationally. For more info visit Robert’s web site at robertotoolephotography.com