In working for Fstoppers, we often get the chance to test and review new gear. When an assignment to try the new Sigma 150-600mm popped up, my ears instantly perked up. Superzooms are my secret weapon, and I am excited to share the results of my testing with you.
I have spent my career traveling the world, photographing wildlife, from great gray owls to wild horses, peregrine falcons, red foxes, wolves, puffins, and so much more. What have I been photographing all of these animals with, you ask? Barring when I am testing gear, the tool in my kit is a Sigma supertelephoto zoom. This entire time, one lens has created nearly my whole wildlife portfolio, and that is the Sigma 50-500mm. Tried and true, this glass has survived harsh conditions from snow to salt and has been reliable. This lens is many years old, however, and I have to use an adapter to fit it to my mirrorless camera. So, how would the latest and greatest update of the iconic “Bigma” in E mount fashion fare in my hands out in the wild? Well, let me tell you a tale of an epic thunderstorm, two hurricanes, and little ole me out in the field, crafting through it all with this versatile lens.
Behold the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Sports Lens for Sony E, a beast of a lens in a compact package compared to a prime of equal focal length. The advantage to a 150-600mm is not only in the weight and size savings but also in the versatility of having optical zoom to adjust to changing compositions in the field. Part of the challenge and fun with photographing wildlife is that they move, and a zoom lets you “move” with them. I also find this especially helpful to quickly zoom in for tight shots and then zoom out to create a more environmental portrait showing the wildlife in their habitat.
- E-Mount Lens, Full Frame Format
- Aperture Range: f/5 to f/22
- Four FLD Elements, Two SLD Elements
- Super Multi-Layer Coating
- OS and Custom Mode Switch
- Dual Action Zoom System
- OS Image Stabilization
- Zoom Torque Switch, Arca-Type Foot
- Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm
- Durable Brass Bayonet Mount
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Specs
- Focal Length: 150 to 600mm
- Maximum Aperture: f/5 to 6.3
- Minimum Aperture: f/22 to 29
- Lens Mount: Sony E
- Lens Format Coverage: Full Frame
- Angle of View: 16.4° to 4.1°
- Minimum Focus Distance: 22.8″ / 58 cm
- Maximum Magnification: 0.34x
- Macro Reproduction Ratio: 1:2.9
- Optical Design: 25 Elements in 15 Groups
- Diaphragm Blades: 9, Rounded
- Focus Type: Autofocus
- Image Stabilization: Yes
- Tripod Collar: Removable
- Filter Size: 95 mm (Front)
- Dimensions (ø x L): 4.3 x 10.5″ / 10.9 x 26.7 cm
- Weight: 74.1 oz / 2.1 kg
The new Sigma 150-600mm is a huge upgrade from my old 50-500mm. Sigma has completely overhauled the lens, and the “redesigned autofocus system offers both speed and precision by incorporating an AF actuator driven by a stepping motor, as well as a high-precision magnetic sensor.” As someone who has used both lenses, I can feel the difference in the speed. The Sigma 150-600mm quickly picks up targets and in my camera’s continuous mode, which is my go-to for birds in flight or wild horses, the autofocus stayed locked onto the subject. Precise gear like this can be the difference between getting the shot or missing a key moment.
What I Enjoyed Most About the Sigma 150-600mm Lens
My favorite aspects of the Sigma 150-600mm lens are that its compact size allows it to easily fit in my carry on camera backpack, it has the versatility of the zoom, and the weight is hand-holdable, with the backup of a strong optical stabilizing system. It also has some extra features that photographers may enjoy including a zoom torque switch to customize the zoom resistance, OS mode switch, focus limiter, and three customizable AFL buttons. The luxury of the customizable zoom and AFL buttons felt great. Sigma took note of how much of a valuable tool telephoto lenses are for us and added so many ways to adjust and tweak the lens to suit your specific needs.
What Didn’t Work For Me
In using the Sigma 150-600mm for several months, the only part that I wished I could change was the included tripod foot. This is a nitpick for sure, as it has nothing to do with the stellar optics but rather the design of the exterior. As an avid hand-holder for my gear, the tripod foot is much smaller than that of my older Sigma 50-500mm. I use the tripod foot as a handle, and the older, much longer version even has finger indents for this exact use. I did some digging and saw that Sigma offers an optional replacement foot for purchase. The Sigma TS-81 Lens Foot for 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sport Lens is much longer, but it still has the same flat design, no finger indents. It would totally work as a handle, but I am spoiled by the grip of a tripod foot with indents for your hand.
In The Field
So, what adventures were had with this beast of a lens? Well, first off, I took the lens around locally just to get a feel for it. With many trails near home, I was able to test it on some birds and local wildlife like deer and squirrels. With the rut about to begin, I went hiking where I hoped to see deer and caught a gorgeous young buck crossing the river. A few fawns in tall grass were a good test, and the lens accurately picked the fawn over the blades of swaying grasses. This was a great first impression.
Next I had plans to take it on assignment with me, and then, disaster struck, literally. Two back-to-back hurricanes completely ruined my plans. I was able to reschedule, and that is where the fun began. Rescheduling meant all my trips were now back to back, so the lens got tested in all manner of conditions, from the salty sandy beaches, to photographong wild horses, to the mountains of New England for alpine wildlife.
While out on an island, photographing wild horses, a maritime thunderstorm blew in. You could feel the pressure drop, and the air got a strange quality of humidity and static. The clouds were coming in, and I was knee-deep in the tidal marsh, photographing the horses. The Sigma 150-600mm handled the low light like a champ, and the zoom capability allowed me to pull back to 150mm and get photos showing the gorgeous clouds. I quickly went to high ground, and as a fun aside from reviewing the 150-600mm, brought out my Sigma 17-50mm to capture the epic lightning storm that went all through the night.
In the following days, I tested the Sigma 150-600mm on the wild horses as they galloped across the beach, fought over territory, and even raced through the surf.
Next, I had two back-to-back trips to New England for the amazing spectacle of autumn color. I look forward to these trips every year, and nature did not disappoint. While traditionally a landscape trip with wide angle lenses, I found use for the 150-600mm in creating tighter images. While on a lake teaching a photography workshop, the lens was perfect for capturing kayakers drifting by and the distant mountains ablaze in fall color. I also brought it hiking for the smaller wildlife one sees in the iconic old growth New England forests. The quick and tiny flitting birds, red squirrels, and chipmunks all put on a show for testing this lens.
Back home with many full memory cards of photographs from testing this lens, I can say that in all kinds of weather, light, times of year, and subject matter, it was able to perform. As a full-time photographer specializing in wildlife and landscapes, the Sigma 150-600mm seamlessly fit into my kit. If you would like to pick one up for your kit, you can find them in stock now at B&H.