Telephoto Compression with the Sigma 150-600mm DG OS HSM | Sports lens

The other day I was contacted by an outdoor magazine to shoot a cover. The only info I received on what they wanted was that this was for the “Mountain” issue and to get creative. Going on that small amount of intel I decided to get a shot that I have been thinking about for the last few summers. But it was only with the addition of the Sigma 150-600 Sports lens to my kit that this shot was even possible..why? Supertelephoto compression! To get the shot I envisioned I needed some serious telephoto compression, a visual effect which can create big-impact imagery.

I like this image and it sets the scene nicely but it is not quite what I was looking for. Jeff and the tent are small in the picture and the Peaks are not “pulled in” very much. I was at the lens’s widest setting of 150mm. Canon 1DX with 150-600 S 1/1000sec. f/8 ISO 640
I like this image and it sets the scene nicely but it is not quite what I was looking for. Jeff and the tent are small in the picture and the Peaks are not “pulled in” very much. I was at the lens’s widest setting of 150mm. Canon 1DX with 150-600 S 1/1000sec. f/8 ISO 640

Here is the setup: every summer as I return from fishing some high alpine lakes I notice this hilltop to the side of the trail with two Massive fourteeners (Grays Peak 14,270ft and Torreys 14,267) some 21 miles in background! Continue reading Telephoto Compression with the Sigma 150-600mm DG OS HSM | Sports lens

Opening Doors and Opportunities with Sigma Zoom Lenses

I am an amateur photographer that lives on Long Island NY.  I got my first DSLR in 2012 and picked up a used Sigma 120-400mm zoom shortly after.  Here is one of my favorite shots with that lens,which I still have!

© 2016 Mike Busch | Nikon D5100 and Sigma 120-400mm

As time went on I started sharing my photography on Facebook and Twitter and started to see a lot of engagement.  It seems a lot of people that have left Long Island still miss it,and my photography helps bring back a lot of fond memories.  I also was starting to field a lot of equipment questions and started extolling what I liked about Sigma lenses:  quality and affordability.   I started identifying the lens used in many of my landscape and wildlife shots and realized people were following my advice. Continue reading Opening Doors and Opportunities with Sigma Zoom Lenses

Getting the Shot with the “Sigmonster”

Guest post by Scott Bourne, founder of

Here’s the story of my image “Cranes in the Fire Mist” Photo © 2008 Scott Bourne. All rights reserved. 1/4000 F5.6 ISO 800, Sigma 300-800mm F5.6 EX DG HSM at 800mm on Nikon D3.

Around 20 years ago, I saw an image by a friend that contained a lake full of cranes and geese, backlit by a blazing, golden sun.

The image struck me to the point that I spent 12 years trying to re-create my own version of it.

In the image I pre-visualized, there would be one or two birds flying into the pond while the others waited to take off. It’s an almost impossible scenario because a number of factors have to converge in a perfect storm for it to work. Continue reading Getting the Shot with the “Sigmonster”

The SIGMA 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary versus the 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2015. The 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports lens has since been discontinued.

Last year, SIGMA announced a pair of zoom lenses for full-frame cameras, the 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports and 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary. With identical focal lengths and apertures, and advanced feature sets including the SIGMA-exclusive lens customization, these two new champion zoom lenses share a significant amount of DNA. So, what is the difference between the Sports and Contemporary version of the SIGMA 150-600mm zoom lenses?

Contemporary vs. Sports Breakdown

The short answer can be summarized as such: two or so pounds, degree of weather-sealing, and around nine hundred bucks. Yes, the Sports version is built like a tank. It is heavier with an aluminum alloy barrel, and it has a much more weatherized build, with an optical configuration of 24 elements in 16 groups and a larger front element (105mm thread diameter). The higher price reflects these changes.

The Contemporary version has a different optical configuration (20 elements in 16 groups) and accepts 95mm front filters. Between the smaller diameter lens groupings and the barrel being composed of thermally stable composite, it is noticeably lighter at just over four pounds. True, it lacks the squall-braving sealing of the Sports version, but it does offer a water and oil resistant front element and gasketing at the camera mount; and is fully compatible with a variety of aftermarket rain sleeves for tougher conditions.

SIGMA is rethinking lenses. From the innovative zoom lock at all marked focal distances, to lens customization for AF speed, custom focus limiter and more, the 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary is a fantastic hyper-tele zoom lens designed with an eye on portability and performance.

Don’t mistake the slightly less rugged build of the Contemporary lens with a lack of craftsmanship. Total DNA between these two makes them much more similar to one another in terms of exceptional groundbreaking performance and feature set than other competing lenses in the market. The 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary is the most advanced lens in the Contemporary line and shares the most advanced lens customization feature set (via the optional USB Dock) with the Sports version. This includes autofocus speed enhancement, custom focus limiter, 16 zone microfocus adjustments and firmware upgrades, Optical Stabilizer Preview behavior, Manual Override behavior and more. And like its sibling, it offers zoom lock at all marked focal lengths, and a Optical Stabilizer with an accelerometer for automatic detection and correction for vertical or horizontal panning.

Lens Features

Lens profiles for both lenses are included in the current build of Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw, the most popular RAW conversion engine. And SIGMA Optimization Pro and the USB Dock recognizes these lenses, when paired with the teleconverters, as distinct objects for customization; so you create Custom Settings for the lens itself, and for the lens paired with either the 1.4x or 2.0x teleconverters.  Both lenses are swift to autofocus, and are very sharp at all focal lengths, even wide open.

The tripod ring and foot are removable on the Contemporary version, and the lens ships with a great rubberized band that covers the mounting bolts when the collar is removed. I’ve personally never seen this done before for any lens with a removable collar, and like the new zoom lock feature, it really sets this lens apart in terms of total design and usability.

Especially when hand-holding, the weight difference between the two lenses is very noticeable, with the Contemporary version being much easier to hold without a tripod or monopod for longer periods of time, at all zoom lengths. Like the Sports, focal distance can be changed either by the zoom ring, or with a push-pull near the front of the barrel, and when the Sports is fully racked to 600mm, the front of the lens is heavy in the left hand.  The lighter weight of the Contemporary version is appreciated after a long day in the field, hand-holding the lens.

What is the difference between the 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary and the 150-500mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports zoom lens?

When compared to the last-generation 150-500mm DG OS HSM, the 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary is much more the more direct descendent terms of total hand-feel, weight, and build, and of course, street price. The 150-600mm | C is a little larger, and weighs a touch more; and the fit and finish has been updated between the generations. A few more buttons, and switches and features have been added, but there’s a through-the viewfinder similarity of experience that will make the 150-600mm | Contemporary feel instantly like an old friend to photographers upgrading from the 150-500mm.

Obviously, there’s 100mm more reach, as well as the addition of the focus limiter, the two-mode OS with accelerometer, the custom functions settings, the unique new zoom lock switch, manual override, resistant front element and gasketed rear element, a redesigned lens hood and the tripod foot connector bolt covers as new features on the Contemporary zoom; which is really quite a list of upgrades! And, of course, as a Global Vision lens, every unit is tested with the A1 MTF device for optical performance. The 150-500mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM is a superb variable-aperture zoom lens with Optical Stabilizer offering a lot of reach and range in a relatively compact package; and has been a favorite of outdoor photographers for many years. The 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary builds upon that great legacy and is an even stronger performer; thanks to the additions and upgrades between generations.

And the Sports version, to mix a ton of metaphors, is the powered-up, supercharged, race-tuned-and-badged beast mode telephoto zoom version of the 150-600mm: The all-wheel-drive version with fatter tires, an upgraded 16-speaker stereo system, and all the whistles, bells, and gasketing you might imagine.

A Long Look at Winter with the 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS | Sports

Photography in winter can be a challenge. And when I say “winter”, I’m not talking of winter in the sense of majestic snowcapped peaks framed by freshly powdered pines with perfect golden light and fire-toned brushstroke clouds–I’m talking more of the winter of dirty refrozen slushpiles downtown three frigid days after a mid-January sleetstorm around 11:17 on a grey Tuesday morning when it seems there’s nothing magical left in the world worth getting out of warm car with a camera for.

A starling sits atop a weather vane, atop a three story building, captured through the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS | Sports paired with a Rebel T3i at 600mm, for an effective 960mm focal distance. Cropped to near square format for presentation.

Winter has its challenges, for sure, especially in the deciduous zones, where skeleton trees thrust bony fingers at the sky, and vistas and sweeping wild scenes are brushed widely with swaths of stingy browns and grays, instead of the festive pastels of spring, the lush greens of summer and the fall fireworks of foliage palette. But winter has it own charms and own rewards, and for photographers looking to challenge themselves and experiment, it can be a great time to get out and explore with a long lens, like the new 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS | Sports lens. Continue reading A Long Look at Winter with the 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS | Sports

Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 | Sports: Hands-On

The Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports has been generating a ton of buzz since its announcement at photokina in September 2014. This Sports update of the 150-500mm supertelephoto zoom lens is one of two 150-600mm zoom lenses announced at the show, along with the 150-600mm DG OS HSM | Contemporary.

Turkey Vulture on wing as seen through the Sigma150-600mm F5-6.3 Sports lens. 1/1600 F6.3 at 600mm at ISO 500 on a Canon 6D. Focus limiter set to 10m-Infinity

With a significantly updated optical design and feature set over the earlier lens, this Sports lens is designed for capturing images in even extreme real-world conditions that wildlife and outdoor photographers often encounter. Splash-proof and dust-proof design, along with two Optical Stabilizer modes, focus limiter and a newly designed tripod collar are just a few of the upgrades to this new superstar in the Sports line-up.

The 4x zoom range offers a lot of versatility. Here’sthe view of the heavy duty dump truck at 600mm.

And here is the same scene, at 150mm, with focus shifted to the foreground rock formation above the quarry.

Continue reading Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 | Sports: Hands-On

Sigma Global Vision: The Journey Continues

What a difference a couple of years makes!

Two years ago, we were gearing up for PhotoPlus, just days after the announcement of the Sigma Global Vision at photokina 2012. We were preparing ourselves for discussions and briefings to explain the philosophy behind the three new lines being offered.

At that time, many photographers and technical editors were confused as to what Art, Sports, and Contemporary was meant to convey in a lens name. We spent a lot of time that fall explaining the way that Sigma is rethinking lenses and how this relates to the three new lens markings.

The Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports lens is one of the newest lenses in the Sigma line, announced at photokina 2014. This lens is designed for exceptional outdoor performance.

Shortly thereafter, though, the first of the new Sigma lenses, the 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art lens was released, and almost overnight, the conversations changed. Photographers and editors around the world were blown away by the build quality, and more importantly, the total image quality of this new Sigma, full-frame, fast-aperture wide prime. People realized that this new lens, the original Art lens, was something quite special. It defined the Art category and heralded a new era for Sigma under the guidance of new CEO Kazuto Yamaki. It was the perfect proof of the promise of the Sigma Global Vision. Continue reading Sigma Global Vision: The Journey Continues

New York Whale Watching with the Sigma 150-500mm

I’ve been on an extended test-drive with the Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 this year, paired with my trusty Nikon D7100.  The great thing about this match is since the D7100 has a cropped sensor with a 1.5x factor, the 500mm reach effectively becomes 750mm.  Using the in-camera 1.3 crop for added photo burst rate I end up with nearly 900mm of reach at the long end!  That really comes in handy with wildlife photography.  I have had a ton of fun with the lens and have to say I will have a very hard time ever giving it back.  Besides being light enough to carry all day, the lens performs extremely well for wildlife, action sports, and big-orb sunsets, both on land, and on board boats in the waters off Long Island.  And more recently, it’s been my go-to lens for New York whale watching.

Having now  made several whale watching voyages, I have had had no problem getting sharp shots from a moving boat.  The harder part was getting the whales to cooperate by doing anything other than slowly swimming and surfacing briefly!  This all changed when my friend Artie Raslich recently invited me on his 26 foot boat named Ship of Fools to follow a pod of whales that had been feeding actively close to shore within sight of New York City off Long Beach and East Rockaway New York. After passing through Deb’s inlet and breaking through a fog bank we found our first whale that we ended up following for several hours.  One of my first shots was a fairly young Humpback gliding out of the fog.  Artie knows his Whales and quickly identified this one as NYC0015.  Apparently this one and his Mother have been in the area all year feeding on the abundant bunker in the area.

© 2014 Mike Busch

Continue reading New York Whale Watching with the Sigma 150-500mm

Somewhat Secret Superpowers of Camera lenses

The greatest thing about interchangeable camera lenses is the variety of optical designs, from ultrawide to supertelephoto and everything in between, that offer an incredible amount of variety for visual expression, creativity, and optical performance optimized for different photographic situations.  And while it may be sometimes completely and totally obvious what types of photography a certain lens excels at—for example, everyone knows that Macros are designed to capture close-up details; telephoto lenses are great for long-reach wildlife and sports from the sidelines—many styles of camera lenses have lesser-known secret superpowers that can be called upon to make a photo. Let’s take a look!

Supertelephoto Lenses

Long lenses, like the Sigma 150-500mm F5.6.3, or 300-800 F5.6 to name two, are known to be great for making sports and wildlife images. Wide open, these lenses can isolate the subject from the background to really make the images pop. And of course, the wide apertures which give very shallow depth of field feel also yield the fastest shutter speeds, which are necessary to freeze a bird in flight, or an athlete on the move.

Everyone knows supertelephoto zoom lenses are great for long-reach photography at widest apertures for freezing active subjects, like wild birds, with fast shutter speeds. Here, the Sigma 150-500mm is trained on an American Anhinga, at 500mm, wide open at F6.3.

And Landscape, or should we say sky-scape, photographers also know that longer focal lengths also can make for huge suns and moons, the effect of which is amplified when the celestial orb is near earthbound features in the frame. Continue reading Somewhat Secret Superpowers of Camera lenses

Video Quicktips for Photographers

Our new video quicktips series offers advice for photographers who are looking to understand more about the techniques and technologies that can help them make better pictures. Each episode is just a few minutes long and looks to explain and offer advice in an easy-to-grasp way. Check back on this posting all month long as we continue to add new episodes to this series.

Our First Episode demonstrates how to Hold a Big Camera Lens:


And here we explain How, When, and Why to Use Optical Stabilization:


Got a topic you’d like us to tackle? Leave a comment for consideration!

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