Sigma 150-600 Sport - Some Thoughts (Images)

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Lihkin
Lihkin Senior Member • Posts: 2,566
Sigma 150-600 Sport - Some Thoughts (Images)
7

Hi all,

I have been a Nikon shooter for all my photography life. A week or so ago, I managed to get reservations to photograph the coastal bears at Lake Clarke in Alaska and thus decided to finally purchase a telephoto zoom. The choice was between the Nikon 200-500 and the Sigma 150-600 Sport. My experience with the Nikon has been pretty bad. Long story short, I got two copies of the lens and both were not sharp at 500 mm. I tried to fine tune my copies, but they still were not sharp. Honestly, I haven't seen many photos that are really sharp with the 200-500 lens.

I stumbled upon Nasim Mansurov's review of the lens at https://photographylife.com/reviews/nikon-200-500mm-f5-6e-vr. He found that the Sigma 150-600 Sport was significantly sharper than the Nikon at 500mm (he posted the test graphs that show the same findings and I have appended them below). Additionally, he also found that the Nikon 200-500, while sharp at 500mm at close distances, is soft at 500mm when focused at infinity or longer distances. This pretty much mirrored my experience too.

As you can see the Sigma is sharper than the Nikon. I was looking to buy the Nikon, but after two copies and seeing pics online, decided to go with the Sigma. I got my lens last week and calibrated it using the Sigma dock. The importance of this dock cannot be stressed enough. Whereas you can fine tune a Nikon on the D850, you can do so using the Sigma dock at 4 different focal lengths (150mm, 250mm, 400mm and 600mm) AND 4 different focus distances - a total of 16 points. This is huge in making sure that the lens focuses correctly. I took my lens for a spin a couple of days ago and couldn't believe how sharp this lens was (especially compared with the Nikon).

All in all, I am supremely happy with this lens so far and am looking forward to shooting the bears in two weeks. Highly recommended. I am appending some images below.

Cheers,

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mensch plus kamera
mensch plus kamera Regular Member • Posts: 118
Re: Sigma 150-600 Sport - Some Thoughts (Images)

Great shots, thanks for sharing.

Do you conclude that finetuning is a must? I'm asking because so far I've shied away from it. Shots lacking sharpness are more likely due to my lack of practice and skill, rather than due to the lens.

Cheers

m+k

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 Nikon D750 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | S +1 more
Bing Chow Senior Member • Posts: 1,722
Re: Sigma 150-600 Sport - Some Thoughts (Images)
3

mensch plus kamera wrote:

Great shots, thanks for sharing.

Do you conclude that finetuning is a must?

I have 4 Sigma lens and IMO, fine tuning is a must. That's not saying that Sigma lenses have poorer QC and thus they need correction. I'm saying that the Dock is a powerful tool and if you want to extract the best your lens has to offer, you should FT it. But FT is tedious, if you want to do it well. And that means tripod, mirror up, remote, setting up square to your targets, and doing it at the 4 different distances. Once you learn how to do it, you open yourself up to all Sigmas and Tamrons.

I'm asking because so far I've shied away from it. Shots lacking sharpness are more likely due to my lack of practice and skill, rather than due to the lens.

Cheers

m+k

While I know long lenses require a different skill set, you still need a lens that can AF accurately to begin with. If you find yourself with a fuzzy shot, what do you blame? If you think it's your technique, when it reality your lens front focuses at distance, you're gonna chase your tail trying to breathe properly and brace your elbows and still end up with soft shots. OTOH, if your lens is accurate "on the bench" then you can focus (no pun intended) on technique.

Once I realized that my Sigma 35 Art's had close/far errors, I knew I had to commit to learning AF-FT. Once I realized that my Nikons were not immune, I wished Nikon would make a dock too.

mensch plus kamera
mensch plus kamera Regular Member • Posts: 118
Re: Sigma 150-600 Sport - Some Thoughts (Images)

Thanks!

Might have to give Reikan a try then. I think doing it all manual will be too tedious and error prone.

m+k

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 mensch plus kamera's gear list:mensch plus kamera's gear list
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SushiEater
SushiEater Veteran Member • Posts: 8,412
Re: Sigma 150-600 Sport - Some Thoughts (Images)

mensch plus kamera wrote:

Thanks!

Might have to give Reikan a try then. I think doing it all manual will be too tedious and error prone.

m+k

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/61335025

Easy if you have the right tools.

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Bing Chow Senior Member • Posts: 1,722
Re: Sigma 150-600 Sport - Some Thoughts (Images)

mensch plus kamera wrote:

Thanks!

Might have to give Reikan a try then. I think doing it all manual will be too tedious and error prone.

m+k

I don't know how those commercially available targets work. My guess is that it's done at one distance so that the target occupies some significant area in the frame. The problem arises when either the FL is too wide, or distance becomes too great, that the (little) cardboard target is way too small. In my experience, in order to easily see the amount front or back-focus, the target has to take up a large enough part of the frame. So that when you view 1:1, there are enough pixels. One size target cannot fit all FL from 24 to 600mm or from minimum focus distance (MFD) to infinity.

To get around this problem, I've made my own high-contrast target with a slanted ruler for indoor distances. For longer distances, I use whatever buildings I can find and use adjacent structures (street signs, other buildings) to determine front/back-focus.

This is what I mean by tedious. Not difficult, just time consuming. But I've arrived at this method over couple years of owning Sigma Arts and it makes the most sense to me. Once I think I've got the lens calibrated, then I go shoot handheld at normal subjects and verify my result with what I get on the tripod and using live view.

mensch plus kamera
mensch plus kamera Regular Member • Posts: 118
Re: Sigma 150-600 Sport - Some Thoughts (Images)

Well, as far as I understand, Reikan Focal is mostly a software that takes control of the camera (via USB tethering) and establishes the correction values.

m+k

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 Nikon D750 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | S +1 more
SushiEater
SushiEater Veteran Member • Posts: 8,412
Re: Sigma 150-600 Sport - Some Thoughts (Images)
2

mensch plus kamera wrote:

Well, as far as I understand, Reikan Focal is mostly a software that takes control of the camera (via USB tethering) and establishes the correction values.

m+k

That is correct but it controls the camera not the lens. In order to make lens to focus correctly you need to change values inside the lens that only USB dock can do.

 SushiEater's gear list:SushiEater's gear list
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MILC man Contributing Member • Posts: 742
Re: Sigma 150-600 Sport - Some Thoughts (Images)

that's a nice set of pics.

Rexgig0 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,975
Re: Sigma 150-600 Sport - Some Thoughts (Images)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and your wonderful images.

I tested a pre-owned Sigma 150-600mm Sport, with my D5, and bought it. Test shots inside the very large camera store were accurately-focused and were beautifully sharp. Subsequent results with three-dimensional, living subjects in a flower garden, with one of my wife’s D500 cameras, were similarly good. We have yet to test it on her D850.

We had previously handled a Nikkor 200-500mm, and been less than pleased with its handling, especially the quite long rotation of the zoom ring. The Sigma 150-600mm Sport is noticeably heavier, but has a handier zoom ring, and it can also be zoomed by holding the outer part of the lens barrel, and pushing or pulling to adjust focal length. Neither of these lenses are realistically hand-holdable, for us, anyway, so the difference in weight is negated by the tripod or monopod.

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I wore a police badge and pistol, and made evidentiary images at night, incorporating elements of portrait, macro, still life, landscape, architecture, and PJ. (Retired January 2018.) I enjoy using Canon and Nikon gear.

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dwa1 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,141
Did you test the 200-500 VR without a UV filter?

Lihkin,

Thanks for your comparison / evaluation between these 2 lenses. They are the only ones on my "birding lens candidates" list.

Did you test the 200-500 VR without a UV filter?

This person thought that he had a bad copy and eventually found out that his UV filter was cause. Here is the link to his "found the cause" post.

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/61308900

Also, look at the images in his original post in that thread.

I do like the fact that the Sigma has the big advantage of being able to AF-calibrate for 4 x FLs at 4 x distances (for each FL). A long process, but others who have done it claim it was well worth it. Although this AF-calibration is limited to only one body, others who have used the USB Dock claim that the lens also focuses very well on their other bodies. I suspect that for other bodies, a minor AF Fine Tune / AF Micro-adjust would be enough.

fwiw... Sigma USA Service has been great for my 150 f2.8 non-OS macro.

I understand that Sigma Service offers a $100 service for doing the USB Dock calibration. There was a recent thread about this in this forum. However, it did not get many responses from DPR members who had used the service. I could not find anything about this on Sigma's website. Sounds like a big time-saver.

Continued good shooting to you with your new Sigma S.

Wayne

 dwa1's gear list:dwa1's gear list
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Lihkin
OP Lihkin Senior Member • Posts: 2,566
Re: Did you test the 200-500 VR without a UV filter?
2

Hi Wayne,

Yes, I didn't have a filter on the lens. It was just not good at long distances. This has been discussed in other forums too. If you do decide to get it, do test it properly and especially at long distances (if that is your main usage).

The Sigma has been just incredible so far. I have taken quite a few photos in the last few days and it nails focus each time. I just bought the Wimberly gimbal and am going to take it for a spin with that.

Have fun with your setup (whatever you decide to buy).

Cheers,

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dwa1 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,141
Re: Did you test the 200-500 VR without a UV filter?

Lihkin wrote:

Hi Wayne,

Yes, I didn't have a filter on the lens. It was just not good at long distances. This has been discussed in other forums too. If you do decide to get it, do test it properly and especially at long distances (if that is your main usage).

The Sigma has been just incredible so far. I have taken quite a few photos in the last few days and it nails focus each time. I just bought the Wimberly gimbal and am going to take it for a spin with that.

Have fun with your setup (whatever you decide to buy).

Cheers,

Ok. Thank you Lihkin for the follow-up and suggestions.

Wayne

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FredInMN1 Regular Member • Posts: 221
Re: Did you test the 200-500 VR without a UV filter?

A bit off topic, but could a Sigma expert describe the main differences with the Sport and Contemporary lenses, say the 150-600 ?  Optically, build quality, ergonomics, image quality ?  Notice the selling price of the S is twice the C.  Twice the lens ?  Thanks.

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Lihkin
OP Lihkin Senior Member • Posts: 2,566
Re: Did you test the 200-500 VR without a UV filter?

FredInMN1 wrote:

A bit off topic, but could a Sigma expert describe the main differences with the Sport and Contemporary lenses, say the 150-600 ? Optically, build quality, ergonomics, image quality ? Notice the selling price of the S is twice the C. Twice the lens ? Thanks.

Hi there,

The Sport has much better build quality and is made in Japan. It is weather sealed (unlike the Cont.). The IQ of the Sport is better than the Cont. The Sport is heavier than the Cont. You can see the differences in the link below (just look at the graphs for either and decide for yourself).

https://photographylife.com/reviews/nikon-200-500mm-f5-6e-vr

Cheers,

 Lihkin's gear list:Lihkin's gear list
Nikon D850 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF Fisheye-Nikkor 16mm f/2.8D Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4D ED-IF +2 more
SushiEater
SushiEater Veteran Member • Posts: 8,412
Re: Did you test the 200-500 VR without a UV filter?

FredInMN1 wrote:

A bit off topic, but could a Sigma expert describe the main differences with the Sport and Contemporary lenses, say the 150-600 ? Optically, build quality, ergonomics, image quality ? Notice the selling price of the S is twice the C. Twice the lens ? Thanks.

I don't have C but what I know is that S has slightly better everything.

Here is comparison from their site.

https://www.sigmaphoto.com/lp/compare-super-telephotos

The way I see it an extra 2lb must do something better.

In use metal hood with the rubber tip and push/pull design plus probably better dust and splash protection must account for something.

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doonie Senior Member • Posts: 1,451
Re: Sigma 150-600 Sport - Some Thoughts (Images)
1

Glad to see you're happy with the new lens. Very nice photos so far. I'm anxious to see what you come back with from Alaska !

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Lihkin
OP Lihkin Senior Member • Posts: 2,566
Thanks much for your prior feedback (some more images)
1

doonie wrote:

Glad to see you're happy with the new lens. Very nice photos so far. I'm anxious to see what you come back with from Alaska !

Hey Gary,

Thanks for your help in the past - I really appreciate it. I am so looking forward to the trip...

I don't regret for one moment buying this lens. Like I said, i have been a Nikon guy and never thought of getting a 3rd party lens. This lens is stellar. Some more shots (heavily cropped, so the sharpness is even more impressive).

I hope the weather cooperates in Alaska (looks to be Sunny for my trip) - I am there from July 17 through July 21 (so excited). I will be at Lake Clarke July 18 - July 20 and then have rented a car for one day to drive to Denali and shoot an early morning (sunrise shot) of the mountain from one of the viewpoints.

Cheers

 Lihkin's gear list:Lihkin's gear list
Nikon D850 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF Fisheye-Nikkor 16mm f/2.8D Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4D ED-IF +2 more
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