The focusing was really good, was able to shoot through fences and focus on animals, it was fast and responsive. Hardest thing is being able to position the focus point on the eye/head at 600mm. The minimum focus distance is a little lacking and quite noticeable (260cm) in comparison to the canon. Will be interesting to see if it works with macro tubes.
The lens collar is awesome, well balanced (albeit a little front heavy at 600mm), it turns and clicks into place every 90 degrees which is nice. It was easier to use on top of my manfrotto 055 than I expected, and the ball head was able to lock the heavy lens in any angle i wished.
The Manual override focus worked quite well, while I didn't use it much, it was handy for the bee shot or anything which was very small that I wanted to focus from close range. I haven’t played with the focus limiting switch much yet, mostly because I didn’t really have many issues with the camera getting focus quickly.
The instructions indicate OS mode 2 would stabilize in the vertical plane only. This was a bit of a disappointment to me as I had hoped it would sense the direction of motion like some of the canon lens’ do. I haven't tested, but I assume this means i couldn't track an object moving vertically.
[UPDATE - Sigma America have read this review and informed me that OS 2 does in-fact detect vertical or horizontal panning and corrects accordingly] :)
So rather than ranting on, I think you all agree that the proof is in the pudding, or the images at least. I will share a bunch of sample shots here, with their 100% crops (ie. Actual pixels, zoomed in to 100%), with no modification at all to the RAW, simply saved as jpeg straight out of lightroom.
Note: mouse over each image to see details of the shot
The reach and versatility of this lens is awesome. Below is comparison of the lens shooting on a tripod from 150mm (widest), and 600mm… Thats quite a bit of reach! :)
This is one of the few images that were shot with direct front lit sunshine. It shows in the 100% crop, this lens is amazingly sharp when paired with 100iso. Just imagine this one if I shot it at f8 ! :) This shot also highlights how good the autofocus is that I could find the spot through the twigs and focus on the bird without issue... Handheld.
This shot shows off its ‘macro’ ability.. It has a 1:5 magnification ratio. This shot was taking in fleeting light, fully shaded as the sun went behind the hills. Its taken about 1cm from its minimum focus distance (260cm) handheld. (yeah, it was one of about 15 attempts :) )
I have always wanted a lens that could shoot the moon. Hrm, I wonder how it would go with a 2x converter! This one was taken on a tripod. The moon was high in the sky right at sunset. It was a good test to use the zoom lock and stop the lens creeping back down when pointed over 45 degrees. I just love the detail in this shot! yay :)
On the downside, it does show one of the few flaws of this lens. The quite strong vignette. This doesn't really worry me though, its one click in lightroom to add the lens profile and fix this up. I tent to add vignette to most of my images anyway.
This lens deals fairly well with solar flare. At least at 600mm pointing directly into the sun. Loses a stack of contrast and has some artifacting, but nothing that really put me off.
These little wallabies posing ever so nicely behind some cyclone fencing.. No worries, at full zoom, you can shoot straight through and wouldn't even know it existed!
This handheld shot shows the ability of the Sigma 150-600mm lens to focus and capture moving subjects in low light. It's also testament to the Canon 6d's low light ability. Oh and that's not ice. It's the N of the 'MOUNT PANORAMA' sign (kinda like our version of the hollywood sign, lol).
With all these 600mm wide open shots, I thought I better show one in the more mid range. This is Handheld at 210mm. It also shows off some colour reproduction in the fleeting light.
Wow, how cool is this handheld shot.. Its pretty much a solid colour background, who would have guessed there is paddocks and trees and kangaroos back there. I haven't played with really long lenses before, but wow, what a pleasing result :)
|Lens Construction||24 Elements in 16 Groups|
|Angle of View||16.4º-4.1º|
|Number of Diaphragm Blades||9|
|Minimum Focusing Distance||260cm/ 102.4 in|
|Filter Size (mm)||105mm|
|(Diameter x Length)||121x290.2mm|
|Canon mount (others available)||DG,OS,HSM|
Well to summarize... I don't see the point. I'm sure teleconverters have their place, and obviously people get some great results. But in my sort time with this lens, body and teleconverter, I found the results underwhelming. I think I would achieve results just as good simply heavily cropping my images without the tele.
First of all, I was worried about the stability and weight of so much gear hanging off this lens, but that was unfounded. The camera body is relatively light, and the 2x extender is well built, It felt solid locked in, no dramas there.
The second major issue is no autofocus.. I'm not saying it's bad.. It's non-existent, it doesn't even try. Having said that, chances are if you are shooting at 1200mm you will be on a tripod, and is manual focus that bad if you are on a tripod. I find myself usually using the live view at 10x and manually focusing anyway when mounted on a tripod shooting a static object.
Now this is a borrowed 2x converter from a friend. They have not reported any issues with it. However on this lens probably 40% of the time I connect it, the aperture zeros out. After disconnecting and reconnecting its normally fine and I can control aperture again.
I have included a 100% crop of the 600mm shot, then the 50% crop of the 120mm teleconverter shot (i guess you would call it a 50% crop, it's the same content area as the 600mm shot then resized for comparison. Finally the 100% crop of the teleconverter image. Hover over image for details. This is where things start getting a little ugly. Personally unless you are a bokeh hunter, i think the quality of the image without the teleconverter is better even when digitally zoomed to the same level.
Ok, perhaps that wasn't entirely fair as f13 is effectively wide open with the teleconverter. I stopped these next shots down to f16 1/320sec ISO640 same process / order as above. This seemed to perform much better. Some of the image in the comparison shot is sharper in the teleconverted image though the depth of field is narrower. In retrospect a comparison between no teleconverter at f6.3 vs with the teleconverter at f13 would have been interesting..
Well, each to their own, but I won't be buying one. End of the day, the downsides far outweigh any benefit. Perhaps the Sigma teleconverter would perform far better, or the 1.4 might be a nice compromise. I'm pretty happy with the lens as is. There are moments when I wish I had more than 600mm, but not with all these caveats.
So my favorite resource for researching new lenses has been updated to include the Sigma 150-600 S, C and the Canon 100-400 II. Super cool. Looks like the C is a touch sharper at the 150 end, can the S is a fair bit sharper at the 600 end. The Canon 100-400 II is WOW. Super sharp across the whole zoom range. The cool thing is, the website also tests with teleconverters on. At 560mm which is the max zoom of the canon with the 1.4x its softer than the Sigma at 600. Its minimum aperture is f8 and the sigma allows you to go back to f6.3 which is about equal sharpness or a tad softer. The faster the better at those distances. It is a tough call which lens to go for. If weight/size is an issue then the 100-400 is a no brainer. If reach is important, then perhaps the 150-600 is for you. TBH I think the vast majority of my shots with the sigma is at 600, so I am not having too much buyers remorse. :)
So now I have had this lens for quite a while I thought it time to update you all with some usage data. I have reviewed all the meta information on my photos taken with this lens and the numbers speak for themselves. You can never have too much zoom! I shoot a bit of everything with this lens, landscapes, portraits, sports, wildlife, you name it. The vast majority of my shots taken on this lens are at maximum zoom, 600mm. I skipped through my photos at 600mm and most looked to be sports and wildlife. At 150mm which is the other big category is a real mix of subjects.
So whats this saying.. Well, it's a really versatile lens. I often find myself wanting to go wider than 150mm and even tighter than 600mm, usually the latter. I think that for me this lens has been a good investment. Yes its heavy, yes its bulky, but the numbers speak for themselves. 50% of the shots I have taken with this lens were >400mm (ie. what I could get with the Canon 100-400mm II).
Thought I would share some of the images I have been taking with this lens... Enjoy.
600mm f8 250sec IS2000 handheld
600mm f/11 125th sec ISO100 Tripod
600mm f/6.3 250th sec ISO640 Handheld
600mm f/8 125th sec ISO320 Tripod
150mm f/7.1 1000th sec ISO200 Handheld (rested)
490mm f/6.3 125th sec ISO640 Handheld (panning with vertical IS)
Well, finally got to try out this lens with motorsport.. And well, it rocks. I had so many nice sharp photos from this session. I shot pretty much all handheld. Its heavy but I rest between shots, and consider it a free gym session :) Autofocus seemed to track cars nicely even when cars coming toward me. 150-600 gave really good versatility to capture cars pretty much full frame from most places on the circuit.
150mm f/5 800th sec ISO200 (Handheld)
Makes for nice lanscapes too :)
600mm f/10 400th sec ISO640 (Tripod)
One of my favorite images, a seascape taken with a telephoto! :)
309mm f/6.3 160th sec ISO160 (Handheld)
Did someone say sharp!?
150mm f/10 640th sec ISO100 (Handheld)
Even nice for landscapes every now and then :)
600mm f/6.3 400th sec ISO2500 (Handheld)
Nice and sharp, nice bokeh, even with high ISO on the 6D.
600mm f/6.3 640th sec ISO250 (Handheld)
Nice and sharp, even with a heavy crop
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