OK folks, here it is, My thoughts on the look, the functions and the feel of the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports lens.
To set the stage in which the lens was used. I took it for three days and ventured out into the fields to photograph snowy owls in -25 degree Celsius weather in Canada… I wanted to see how it performs in the real world, not in a controlled environment with the lens mounted on a tripod, pointed at a static object.
We tested the lens from 150mm to 600mm, from f5 to f18, on a full frame and on a crop sensor camera. I used it and my brother, Chris also used it… although my images were better (Hey, I had to say it, he’s my brother, he would have. Right Coops?)
Today we will start with the physical appearance of the lens itself…
The lens is about 12 inches long and when the barrel is extended to reach the full 600mm, it adds an additional 4 inches of length. Fortunately it does include a built-in tripod collar, so you won’t leave home without it
One nice feature of the collar is that it can be rotated easily 90 degrees so you can change from shooting horizontal to vertical in just a few seconds. The zoom on the lens can be either adjusted by turning the zoom ring or pushing and pulling..
The Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports lens has a large focus ring, and it is ridged for easier grip too. There are hard stops at both ends of the range, making it easier to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the massive 105mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.
On the side of the barrel, between the tripod collar and focusing ring, you'll also find four switches. From top to bottom these set the focusing mode, focusing range, Optical Stabilisation mode and Custom settings. Starting at the top, the AF mode switch lets you choose between AF, MF and MO which offers manual override during continuous AF operation.
The focusing range switch offers autofocus at a choice of three ranges: full range, 10m to infinity and 2.6m to 10m. The benefit here is that when you know your subject is going to always be more than 10m away, you can set the lens and quicken the autofocus response time be shortening the time of focus hunting by the lens.
The OS switch can be set to 1 for normal use, 2 for panning, or Off. Finally, the Custom switch works with Sigma's optional USB dock to configure various aspects of the lens, including focusing speed and range. You can then store these as two custom presets or go for the default configuration. The ability to customize a lens using the dock and software on your computer is a neat innovation by Sigma that's not being offered elsewhere.
The lens is highly customizable using the Sigma USB Dock and Sigma Optimization Pro Software. In addition to updating lens firmware and adjust focus parameters you can also customize AF speed, focus limiter and OS function. This is a neat function that Sigma has been including in all their newer lenses and I appreciate knowing that throughout the entire range of the lens I can calibrate the focus to be sharper and more responsive with auto focusing.
The lens comes with a convenient and secure carry case that will protect the lens with internal foam mounts for further protection and I must say, the lens hood cover that they added to this model was a nice touch for protecting the lens and the hood itself when in transport.
OK, so let’s discuss the weight… after the launch of the 120-300 f2.8, I kept hearing comments about the weight of the new 150-600 Sport would require a Sherpa to come along on your photo shoots. I’m not going to lie and say it’s not heavy, but it’s nowhere near as heavy as the 120-300mm f2.8 is. The 150-600 comes in at just over 6lbs versus the 120-300mm at 7.5lbs.
It’s also worth mentioning that a new material called TSC (Thermally Stable Composite) was used for some casing parts; it is characterized by a very low level of thermal shrinkage. What’s more, the lens is completely weather sealed, dust-proof and splash- proof… and the outer glass elements are covered by hydrophobic layer that repels water, fingerprints and dirt easier. Here is a humorous video I found on vimeo… http://vimeo.com/106290197
In regards to the physical presence of the lens itself… this black beauty is well build, feature rich and protected by the elements… and I can say that with assurance. We had it in extreme cold temperatures with sunshine, blowing winds and falling snow.
When compared to the 150-500 or 50-500 predecessors, this is head and shoulders above those lenses in durability and features... and when you see the results tomorrow, I think you will be as impressed as I was.
Tomorrow we will discuss the performance of the lens itself and start showing some of the image results.