150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | S test results

I had the opportunity to try out the new 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | S. So I decided to take it out to photograph Snowy Owls in some extreme cold and windy conditions. I wanted to test the focus abilities and tracking abilities while photographing an erratic white owl. The snowy would be flying 35km/h against a white background with the odd high contrast background object that could confuse the auto focus when panning horizontally and vertically.

I used the lens on a Nikon d3 and a Nikon d600 and hand held for the entire day versus using a monopod or tripod.

The first thing i was eager to test was the new manual override (MO) switch which is now incorporated as an option. It is activated by rotating the focus ring while using the autofocus.

In the image to the left i used auto focus and then used the manual override to adjust the focus on the snowy because i intentionally focused just in front of the owl in order to test the MO function.... and it worked nicely on a subject that was almost stationary and slightly moving side to side.

Sigma boasts updated optical stabilizer (OS) features with an accelerometer for improved panning photography both horizontally and vertically, essential for birding, wildlife and motorsports photography.

The Sigma 150-600 Sports also touts a new zoom lock switch that can be locked at any focal length. In addition, the lens is also equipped with advanced technology including an optimized, quieter AF, water/oil repellent coating on front and rear elements.

The Snowy on a cold winter, blowing day was the perfect subject to test weather proofing and the increased stabilization. The image below was taken with a Snowy Owl flying right at me. As the owl went vertical on an angle,  I took the photo while panning upwards. I think the image result speaks for itself. I was quite impressed with the result of this image and many others that I took while using the lens for the day.

I will say. There is some falloff of towards the corners. But I would also say that this is typical for a lens covering this range. The corners being a stop darker than the center at maximum aperture at 150mm and still a fair bit darker at 600mm.

A proper exposure, without darkened corners throughout the image is achieved by setting the aperture at f/8 at 150mm and f/11 at 600mm. The image below is proof of that. There is little distortion or vignetting in the image below. It was taken at 600mm at f/7.1 with minimal crop at the corners.

You will also find that some mild distortion is present throughout the zoom range. At 150mm there is very minimal distortion, which increases slightly at 600mm. But this should pose very few issues in normal use.

You will be glad to hear that the distortion pattern is uniform across the photo. This made for applying corrections in image editing software very easy and correctable.

Yes, there is no hiding that the lens is much larger and heavier than the 150-500 or the 50-500mm that i have used in the past. But to prove that the lens is superior to the previous versions, I did hand hold the lens all day.... and with the images that i produced, I can say with assurance that there is no comparison in image quality. The 150-600mm is far superior.

Sigma has upped their game once again with the recent addition to the sports line of lenses. The 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | S proved itself in some extremely harsh conditions and I would not hesitate to take it out again... I mean, come on, 600mm for a price point just over $2000 Canadian... its calling my name already.

I think Sigma is going to have a hard time keeping up with sales of this lens and I hope they have the product on the shelves now that it has been announced.

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Kevin A Pepper

Kevin is a photographer and educator based in Waterloo, Ontario. His first love is photographing nature, regardless of the season or weather condition; the Ontario landscape and its wildlife are his inspiration. But you will also see other styles of photography in his portfolio. From street photography to urban exploration of abandoned buildings and architecture, he loves to capture it all with his camera for his corporate clients and his growing personal portfolio. Kevin’s images have been featured in Canadian Nature Photographer, PHOTONews Canada, Photo Technique Magazine, The London Free Press, The Weather Network, and National Geographic Online. His diverse client list includes the City of Cambridge, Olympus, GORE Mutual, TVO, and African Lion Safari. Kevin also operates “Northof49 Photography”, a company launched in 2012 dedicated to teaching amateur photographers through International and Canadian-based workshops. In the coming year, Kevin will be leading workshops in Iceland, Mongolia, Tanzania, Venezuela, Provence, and numerous destinations across Canada. Website: www.kevinpepperphotography.com