Review Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary
Just like the Tamron 150-600 mm, the Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary is a telephoto zoom for amateur photographers. They are high-quality, extreme telephoto zoom lenses with a list price just above a thousand euros. As far as zoom range and brightness are concerned, the Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary gives nothing up to the more heavily built Sigma 150-600 mm Sports, which we reviewed previously.
Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary vs Sigma 150-600 mm Sports
In order to prevent motion blur, you will usually choose a higher ISO value at the longest focal distance with a large aperture of f/6.7. Even then, the high sharpness at full aperture shines.
Portability vs professional build and image quality
Together with the Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary, there also appeared Sigma 150-600 mm Sports for about 700 euros more. The Sigma 150-600 mm Sports not only has a more complex optical design (24 lens elements in 16 groups vs 20/14), it is also built for use under the most extreme conditions. Both the front lens and the rear-most lens element are provided with the same kind of moisture- and soil-repellent fluorite coating, like the most expensive Canon and Nikon telephoto lenses. The Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary is only treated on the front lens with this special coating. Just like those professional lenses from Canon and Nikon, the Sports version of the 150-600 mm is extra-well sealed against dust and splashwater. The Contemporary version only has an extra rubber seal by the mount. The tripod collar of the Sports version is more heavily built and fixed to the lens. With this tripod collar, you can also turn the lens 90 degrees without having to remove the lens from the tripod. The tripod collar of the Contemporary is much smaller—a bit too small for my taste, so that you can less easily carry the lens by the collar than the Sports version. The tripod collar of the Contemporary can be removed from the lens.
The focus ring for manual focusing on the Sports version is broader and therefore much more comfortable to work with than the small focus ring of the Contemporary design. The sun cap of the Contemporary is made of plastic. The sturdy sun cap of the Sports is made of metal. That is seldom seen, even on professional high-end lenses from other brands.
All these differences are arguments on the grounds of which many professional photographers will prefer the Sigma 150-600 mm Sports above the Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary. On the other hand, the price, more compact dimensions and the lighter weight (1 kg lighter) will appeal to amateur photographers. The filter size of the 150-600 mm Contemporary is impressive at 95 mm, but still small in comparison with the 105 mm filter size of the Sports version.
Build and auto focus
|The build quality of the Sigma Contemporary lenses is nearly the same high level as that of the Sigma Arts or Sports lenses. The lens has a metal mount that, thanks to a special treatment, is stronger and more wear resistant. |
A weight of nearly 2 kg and a hefty length at the longest focal distance makes this no lens with which you will shoot by hand long or often. But it is possible, as you can read in the image stabilization test.
Large zoom lenses have the tendency to zoom out when you point straight down ("creeping"). You don't need to have trouble with that from this lens, because with the help of a switch, you can lock the focal point to one of several focal distances marked on the lens (150, 180, 200, 250, 300, 400, 500 and 600 mm). As soon as you turn the zoom ring, the zoom lock is switched off, and you can choose another focal distance. If you do not use the zoom lock, then creeping is nearly unavoidable with this kind of zoom lens.
The Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary is delivered including a luxurious lens bag, sun cap and shoulder strap.
|The unique "mount conversion service" from Sigma makes it possible to switch your trusty Sigma 150-600 mm lens for use on a camera of another brand in the future, without having to sell all your lenses. All Sigma lenses of the Contemporary, Sport or Art series can be converted to another camera mount. This telephoto zoom is also suitable for the new generation of Sigma teleconverters, which were released simultaneously. With Sigma's unique USB dock, you can install firmware updates yourself simply or fine-tune the AF. ||Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary @ 468 mm f/7.1, 1/160 sec, ISO 160 |
(Click on the illustration above for a partial enlargement at 100%.)
|The Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary is—just like the Sigma 150-600 mm Sports—designed for use on a camera with a full-format sensor. Even so, the front lens is 95 mm; one centimeter smaller than the 105 mm of the Sports version. |
|Usually we test the image stabilization at a focal distance around 100 mm, but for an extreme telephoto zoom, that is naturally pointless. We therefore tested the Optical Stabilizer especially for this lens at 600 mm. It is thus not possible to directly compare the results obtained with tests of image stabilization that we have conducted for other lenses. |
On our Canon 5D MK3 test camera, we achieved a profit of 4 stops at a focal distance of 600 mm.
|We shot equally sharp pictures by hand with image stabilization with a shutter time of 1/30 of a second and without image stabilization with a shutter time of 1/500 of a second. That is even a bit better than we achieved with the Sigma 150-600 mm Sports. I suspect that could hold the combination more still thanks to the more compact dimensions and the lower weight of the Contemporary. For the test shots made without image stabilization, 1 remarkably sharp lucky shot produced a kink in the green curve. |
Click on the illustration for a partial enlargement. Enlarged to 100%, the water droplets on the breast feathers of this drake are no longer razor sharp, but you would never expect that this shot was made with a focal distance of 600 mm and a shutter time of 1/40 of a second.
Distortion Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary
The distortion across the entire zoom range is less than 0.9 % and pincushion shaped. On this point, the Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary loses out to the 150-600 mm Sports version. Given that these extreme telephoto zoom lenses are not so often used for critical architectural shots, but more often for nature photography, most users will not be much bothered by that. Should it ever be needed, any distortion is simple to correct with software.
Flare & chromatic aberration
All large telephoto lenses are more sensitive to internal reflections than lenses with a focal distance between—usually—28 and 200 mm. With such large glass elements and a design with 24 lens elements, it is practically impossible—certainly if you do not use a sun cap, regardless of brand—to completely exclude it. That's why the Sigma 150-600 mm Sports, just like most other extreme telephoto zooms, is delivered with a very large sun cap. Sigma devoted a great deal of attention in an early stage of the design to the prevention of ghosts as the result of internal reflections. Sigma's Super Multi-Layer Coating reduces flare and ghosts, and ensures sharp, contrast-rich shots, even with bright backlighting. During the practice test, we did not encounter any ghosts or flare.
The Sigma 150-600 mm C is built out of 20 elements in 14 groups, including one FLD ('F' Low Dispersion) lens and three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) lenses. These high-quality glass types make an important contribution to high resolution and contrast. The Sports version therefore includes one more SLD element. The even sharpness from corner to center is noticeably good. Just as with most telephoto zooms, the sharpness becomes a bit less as the focal distance becomes higher, but even at the longest focal distance, the sharpness is still impressive.
|Lepelaar: Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary @ 600 mm f/6.7, 1/500 sec, ISO 250 |
(Click on the illustration above for a—compressed version for the web—jpg without additional sharpening.)
|The Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary has, just like the most expensive telephoto zooms, an aperture with 9 rounded lamellae. The limited focal depth of an extreme telephoto lens in combination with the extremely high sharpness at full aperture—as can be seen in the practice shot above—help to separate the subject from the background. The shots of our bokeh test set-up also looked great. We saw no onion rings in the bokeh circles of sharp light sources in the background. |
Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary vs Tamron 150-600 mm
|The question of how the image quality of the Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary is in comparison with the Tamron 150-600 mm is obvious. We are also curious about it. On the internet, we found a direct comparison of the image quality of the Tamron 150-600 mm with the Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary. Just as in our test, it is noticeable how little the sharpness of the Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary in the corners even at full aperture differs from the sharpness in the center. Even when I had Google translate the text into Dutch, I didn't learn much from it. But the image quality of the Sigma 150-600 mm in this test is visibly better than in the shots that are made with the Tamron 150-600 mm. You do not have to carry out any measurements for that. I have not yet found any other comparisons. Hopefully, we will get an opportunity to test the Tamron 150-600 mm this year, so that we can make a comparison of these two 150-600 mm telephoto zooms. |
Conclusion Sigma 150-600 mm C @ Canon 5D MK3
test camera: Canon 5D MK3
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you save the files in the camera as a jpg, where you have applied all available in-camera lens corrections. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".