Once in awhile you stumble on a product, where it is clear, that the manufacturer just went all the friggin way, making all the right choices in all the right places. Such a product puts a smile on your face every time you use it, and I just feel like giving a big hi-five to the manufacturer. In this case it is the japanese lens and camera company, Sigma, for making the Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sport.
I don´t know the inside story, of how Sigma stepped up from making a range of average to decent, good value-for-money lenses, to making lenses that are a complete no-brainer to choose, even over Canon L lenses. (I am a Canon user.) But fact is, that it happened. I realized that, when I bought the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART. (An awesome lens that Canon simply does not have a match for, yet. People would still buy it at twice the price.)
So, given that *something* very good had happened to the Sigma company, I was very intrigued by the launch of the 150-600 Sport.
When I was invited to go to Cape Town and shoot kiteboarding for the company Woo, I went with my gut feeling, and bought the 150-600 Sport a few days before take-off. I had been shooting kiteboarding and surfing in Cape Town before: First time with a Canon 400mm f/2.8 (with 1.4x TC). Second time with only 200mm f/2.8 (with 2x TC) as the longest. I knew if the 150-600 Sport was as sharp as tests were showing, it would be killer. I was also contemplating the new version of Canon 100-400, but it was just not available yet, which made the choice dead easy.
These are some of my thoughts about using the Sigma 150-600mm Sport: (Note: I am not going to be scientific at all, nor post specs and pictures of the lens. You can easily find that elsewhere.)
Yes, it is not exactly lightweight, but there is no doubt in my mind, that there is a good reason for that. The build quality is outstanding as is the design. Sturdy, smooth operating and beautiful. I will not go into all details, but a few highlights:
The tripod collar rotates with the smoothest feel ever, and clicks gently into place at 90 degrees. (Canon designers: Take notes. 🙂 )
The zoom can easily be locked at marked intervals.
The lens shade is soooo well built, with a thick rubberized lip, because that is what you want, when you let your camera/lens stand in vertical position on the ground.
One thing that is very important to me is: I can use it handheld. Not for a whole day, but for an hour or so: no problem. (I am not particularly strong.)
The zoom can be operated by turning the zoom ring or by just pushing or pulling the outer part of the lens. By now, I never touch the zoom ring. Ever. Why? Because push and pull just works perfectly and intuitively for me. It gets me to where I want to be instantly, and ergonomicly it just works too. I love it.
The tripod collar with its 90 degree clicks: Ahh. So sweet.
I am happy. Fast enough for anything I could throw at it.
Yes baby, yes. I have been shooting with a Canon 5d MkIII, and I could not be happier. I have used it primarily wide open, and I never felt the urge to stop down because of lack of sharpness. (Not the case when I shot with Canon 400mm 2.8 with 1.4 TC. )
Contrast and colour: Great. Nothing to report, really.
Vignetting: Vignetting is noticeable, but I think Sigma did the exact right compromise here. When building a big zoom lens like this, there are choices to be made, in order to not make the lens ridiculously big and heavy, nor exeedingly expensive. The vignetting is precisely the *flaw* I can live with. Correcting it in Lightroom is piece of cake, and the consequences are very slim.
The proof is in the pudding as they say, so take a look at some of my shots.