Review Sigma 150-600 mm Sports @ 650D
A few years ago, Sigma--as a result of their global vision--started releasing three fantastic series of lenses: Contemporary, Art and Sports. The Sigma Art lenses have since then one by one raised a furor with the highest possible build and image quality, with a price that for such quality would not be thought possible. Sigma is a modest player in the photography market and was surprised by the worldwide, surprisingly high demand for Sigma Art lenses. Less well known, but at least as good, is the Sigma Sports series, which has since recently consisted of two telephoto zooms: the Sigma 120-300 mm f/2.8 Sports and the Sigma 150-600 mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports.
|Both Sigma Sports zoom lenses distinguish themselves from the current Arts lenses because the Sports lenses have built-in image stabilization and because the AF is more customizable with help from Sigma's USB dock. These differences between the Art and Sports series, given the application of telephoto zoom lenses--the recording of quick actions, whether on the sports field or in nature--are obvious. It is the intention that the Sigma 150-600 mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports is delivered with a Canon, Sigma or Nikon mount. These lenses are so popular that the first mount with which they are are delivered (Canon) are regularly sold out.|
Sigma 150-600 mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports @ Canon 650D
Sigma 150-600 mm Sports @ 300 mm f/11, 1/400 sec, ISO 160
Build and auto focus
|The Sigma 150-600 mm Sports is delivered including a luxurious lens bag, sun cap and a shoulder strap. The build quality of the Sigma Sports lenses lies at the same high level as that of the Sigma Arts lenses. Just as with the most modern high-end telephoto lenses from Canon and Nikon, the front lens is fitted with a special grease- and moisture-resistant fluorite coating. The lens has a metal mount that, thanks to a special treatment, is stronger and more wear-resistant. A weight of nearly 3 kg and a significant length at the longest focal distance--this zoom lens does not have a constant length and becomes longer as you choose a longer focal distance--means this is not a lens with which you will shoot often or for a long time by hand. The tripod collar is therefore not removable. The tripod collar clicks every 90 degrees, so that it is easy to switch from a lying to a standing format.
Large zoom lenses have the tendency to zoom out when you point them downward ('creeping'). You do not have to worry about that with this lense, because with the help of a switch, you can fix the focal length to multiple focal distances across the zoom range. You do not have to use the switch again in order to set another focal distance: as soon as you turn the zoom ring, you overrule the zoom lock. That works very well in practice.
|There is a CUSTOM switch on the lens with 3 positions: OFF, C1 and C2. With the help of the optionally available USB dock, these functions can be set for specific AF modes. With the USB dock, the degree of resistance before the manual override of the AF takes place can also be set. During our testing of the Sigma 120-300 mm Sports, we tried out the USB dock (I was very pleased), but during this test, we did not have a USB dock available.
Sigma checks each individual Sports lens with its proprietary MTF measurement system, which makes use of Sigma's modern Foveon sensor before it leaves the factory. Such solid quality control is exceptional.
The unique 'mount conversion service' from Sigma makes it possible to switch your trusty Sigma 150-600 mm Sports lens to a camera of another brand, without having to buy all new lenses. All Sigma lenses of the Contemporary, Sports or Art series can be converted to another camera mount. This telephoto zoom is also suited for the new generation of Sigma teleconverters, which are released at the same time.
AF and MF with the Sigma 150-600 mm Sports
|The AF range can be limited with a 3-way switch to distances under 10 meters, from 10 meters to infinity, or the full range. This benefits the speed of the AF in critical situations. Because the lens makes use of internal focusing (IF), the front lens--with an impressive 105 mm filter size--does not turn when you focus. The HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) really provides fast and silent AF. Thanks to a further improved AF algorithm--in comparison with the previous model--the focusing efficiency of the continuous AF (AF-C) has been improved by about 5%, according to Sigma. The speed of the AF in the standard configuration in which the Sigma 150-600 mm Sports is delivered is, to my feeling, a bit less fast than the AF speed of the Canon 200-400 mm f/4 L. How the speed of the AF relates to that of other telephoto zoom lenses, we did not test, but it would not surprise us--if you make use of the focus-limiter--if it were a photo-finish.
Manual focusing is a pleasure with this lens, as we noticed during the test of the Sigma 150-600 mm Sports with a Metabones Speedbooster on a Panasonic GH4. On the zoom, the focal distances of 150, 180, 200, 250, 300, 400, 500 and 600 mm are indicated.
|The Sigma 150-600 mm Sports is designed for use on a camera with a full-frame sensor. Thanks to the smaller sensor of the Canon 650D, you will actually never have trouble from vignetting. At full aperture, the vignetting of about a half a stop can become visible in very critical situations, but after stopping down 1 stop, the vignetting is guaranteed to disappear at all focal distances. A very good performance from Sigma.
|The OS (Optical Stabilizer) offers two OS-functions: 'function 1' for general photography and 'function 2' for motorsports and other kinds of photography whereby tracking in the horizontal direction is necessary. It works whether the camera is in the lying or standing position. From our test of this lens on a Canon 5D MK3, we know that a profit of 3 stops (1 stop less than with the much more expensive Canon EF 200-400 mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x) will be achieved. At a focal distance of 600 mm, with image stabilization, we shot sharp pictures by hand, although it can be seen from the measurement results that it is less sharp than pictures taken from a tripod. At the same focal distance and shutter time, the shots made without image stabilization are too blurred to be usable.
Distortion Sigma 150-600 mm Sports
The distortion across the entire zoom range is less than 0.4% pincushion-shaped, and thus really quite negligible.
Large telephoto lenses can, due to the enormous amount of glass that is applied, be more sensitive to internal reflections. Because the light can reflect on the sensor, flare can occur and ghosts can be created. Therefore, extreme telephoto lenses, including the Sigma 150-600 mm Sports, are almost always delivered including a very large sun cap. In an early stage of the design, Sigma paid a lot of attention to the prevention of this phenomenon. 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 come across any ghosts or flare. Do not expect here, however, the same sensational insensitivity to flare as with the much smaller Sigma Arts lenses. With such large glass elements and a design with 24 lense elements, it is practically impossible--certainly if you do not use the sun cap--to completely eliminate flare and ghosts.
This lens has two FLD ('F' Lowe Dispersion) glass elements and three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass elements, which make an important contribution to the high resolution and contrast. The even sharpness from corner to center is remarkably good. Just as with most telephoto zooms, the sharpness slowly becomes less as the focal distance becomes higher, but even at the longest focal distance, the sharpness starting at full aperture is already fantastic for a lens at this focal distance. Compare this lens in our list with results per focal distance with other lenses that we have reviewed to date with a focal length above 400 mm (converted to a full-frame sensor).
If you photograph by hand with an extreme telephoto zoom, you often use higher ISO values in order to prevent motion blur, so that the camera becomes the limiting factor when it comes to image quality.
At the longest focal distance, we see a difference in our Imatest measurements between the measured resolution at the longest focal distance of a standard sharpened jpg file and an unsharpened RAW file. In practice, that difference fades because you also sharpen a RAW file.
Both longitudinal and lateral chromatic aberration--visible as colored edges at sharp contrast transitions--are negligble across the entire zoom range. Here, the application of multiple, special high-quality glass types in the design of this lens pays off. This lens has two FLD ('F' Low Dispersion) glass elements that deliver the same performance as the more expensive fluorite glass (which is known for its low color separation, high resolution and contrast). In addition, there are three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass elements applied in this lens.
The Sigma 150-600 mm Sports has an aperture with 9 rounded lamellae, which in most cases provide an attractive background blur (bokeh). The limital focal depth of an extreme telephoto lens and the extremely high sharpness at full aperture also help to isolate the subject from the background.
Conclusion Sigma 150-600 mm Sports @ Canon 650D
Look in our list of all reviewed lenses or the lenses we've reviewed with a Canon mount in order to compare the performance of this lens with that of other lenses.
test camera: Canon 650D
WYSIWYG score: D the camera as 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".