I have tested the Sigma 60-600mm Sports lens out on my Roamin’ with Roman workshop in the Grand Tetons for three days and wanted to share with you my initial thoughts on the sharpness, performance, as well as build quality and compare it to the Sigma 150-600mm Sports lens.
Upon opening the box, I immediately noticed a few distinct differences. The first was the hood. The Sigma 150-600mm Sports (bottom lens in image above) has an all-metal hood while the new Sigma 60-600 Sports has a carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) which is very strong but lighter weight. As you can see in the iPhone image above, the new Sigma 60-600mm lens comes with an Arca-Swiss style foot built in. My Sigma 150-600 has the TS-81 tripod foot accessory added. The length of the Sigma 60-600mm Sports was also about an inch shorter, which was surprising. Most other physical differences were less apparent but worth mentioning.
The first one was the weight. Like I said, not very noticeable as with my accessory foot attached the Sigma 60-600 Sports is roughly ½ pound lighter than my 150-600mm Sports but without the added TS-81 foot would only be about ¼ pound difference which most people will not notice. As I mentioned before, the build quality of the Sigma 150-600mm body is all-metal and as you can see in the iPhone image above, I often place it at my feet when driving on my workshops. That is the physical beating that my lens has taken over the last two years including getting soaked with no issues although I am supposed to say dust and splash proof. The new 60-600mm lens is made up of a variety of materials which I believe help keep the weight down yet maintain the weather seal and durability of the 150-600mm Sport. The materials include the above-mentioned CFRP as well as a Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) while sections closer to the neck of the lens are made of a Magnesium alloy. This multi-material construction helps keep it tough, yet lightweight, while packing 25 elements in 19 groups for that 10x zoom ratio. I’m sure full specs will be available on the Sigma website shortly, but I want to talk about what really matters to this nature photographer, the image quality!
On the first day of testing the Sigma 60-600mm Sports, I had really poor light although I did have a fairly cooperative moose! As you can see in the image above and below that day I had to push the ISO up and keep the f/stop wide open to get enough light yet both images were extremely sharp with all the images hand held. I also noticed another thing when reviewing my images, which may be subjective, but it appears my backgrounds had a much better bokeh when comparing it to the 150-600mm Sports.
The next day I had better luck with the sun so I set out chasing the abundant wildlife in the Grand Tetons. A very cooperative pronghorn as well as an American Bison gave me the results I was looking for with very sharp detail throughout the animals fur.
Morning brought out a surprise visitor of a much younger bull moose running through a field right at me. The zoom feature was as smooth as the Sigma 150-600mm Sports (you can also push/pull) with focus acquisition and tracking equal or close to that of the 150-600 and will require more testing to see if there is a difference but for now will call it minimally better in the 150-600mm Sports.
I do feel the Sigma 150-600mm Sport is sharper towards the outside edges but maybe that is why I feel the bokeh on the 60-600mm Sport is better as we rarely have important parts of an animal at the outside corners. Further testing and comparison will still be required to make a final decision. As with all the Sigma Global Visions superteles in the lineup you can also customize the 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 Sport to your shooting style with the USB dock.
When I first heard of the announcement of this lens I was wondering where it would fit in the lineup especially as a second Sports model at 600mm tele end. After testing it for a short 3 days, I can honestly say it fits perfectly in between the Sigma 150-600mm Sports and Contemporary. How? With the wider zoom focal ranges it has a bit more versatility. As most of you know, I consider the Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary the ultimate budget wildlife lens. Its light weight is also a huge factor for many people especially when hand holding although you need to take care and cover it in severe weather and definitely don’t put it on the floor of the truck like I do. I feel the 150-600mm Sports still reigns supreme in the super telephoto market, as it has a Roman-proof build, with videos attesting to that combined with great sharpness through the entire range and edge-to-edge. Given that I had one of the few 60-600mm Sports in the US to test, I didn’t dare treat it as poorly as my personal 150-600mm Sports although I did have it out in the rain and snow and have no doubt that the weatherproofing is equally as fantastic and durable. With its slightly lighter weight, great sharpness, more versatile zoom range, combined with a beautiful bokeh, this lens is definitely the next big thing!