I've been an amateur photographer for 17 years starting off with a Sony F717 bridge camera before buying my first DSLR, the Minolta5D with in body stabilisation. When I upgraded to my first Sony DSLR (Sony A700) I purchased a Sigma 170-500 f5-6.3 super zoom lens. It had no stabilisation which wasn't a problem as the A700 was stabilised and the performance was average but I wasn't a competitive club photographer in those days and used it to capture air shows and some wildlife simply for my own pleasure.
The big drawback was the size and weight of the lens as it wouldn't fit in my camera bag so after a year I sold it and bought the more practical Sony 70-300 f4.5-5.6 SSM. I was heavily into macro flower photography at that time and this new lens was wonderfully sharp with fast auto focus and the minimum focus distance of around 3 feet made it ideal for flower photography and indeed some of my best flower photographs have been taken with this lens.
|Sony 70-300 f4.5-5.6 SSM|
Switching camera systems is always stressful and expensive. Sony started putting all of their R&D into their new E mount mirrorless system and their A mount was being neglected so I made the difficult decision and switched to the E mount mirrorless system to be future proof. I sold the A700 and all of my A mount lenses bar the Tamron 90mm f2.8 macro and purchased a Sony A7mk2 and 70-200mm f4 lens. It's a terrific lens but the focal length of my photography was getting shorter every year and I missed the longer length in my lens line up. The problem was there was nothing longer in the E mount for years.
The Covid-19 lock down has given me the chance to think about my photography and it's future direction. I've only been photographing flowers in my garden for the past three months and I felt that I needed to broaden my range of photography to wildlife, nature and sport once the virus has receded and life has got back to some sort of normality. That meant purchasing another super zoom lens.
It's taken a long time for Sony and third party lens makers Sigma and Tamron to supply a good range of lenses for the Sony E mount. Wide angle primes and mid range zooms dominate the lens line up. Sony had brought out the Sony 100-400 (£2,300) but the super zoom range was sadly missing.
This Spring Sony released the Sony 200-600 f5.6-6.3 G lens (£1,700) to fantastic reviews but when searching Youtube for reviews I stumbled across videos testing the Sigma 150-600 f5.6-6.3 Contemporary lens with the Sigma MC11 (Canon EF - E mount) adapter on E mount mirrorless cameras. My camera is the Sony A6400 APSC mirrorless camera.
The reviews on the Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary lens were excellent for a lens priced at only £749. The MC11 adapter brought the package to £970 and my choice of super zoom lens to buy was made. Is the Sony 200-600 mm a better lens? Yes it is, but for an occasional wildlife photographer like myself the financial saving is significant.
During testing I've found the Sigma 150-600mm auto focus to be quick and accurate and the images to be sharp if you understand the limits of shooting hand held at 600mm (900mm on my APSC crop sensor camera) There are also two custom mode settings for the auto focus and stabilisation. These can be set to your preferences depending on your type of shooting using the Sigma USB dock which I've also purchased.
Below are my first test shots using my new lens. They were all taken hand held from 150 - 600mm and have had minimal processing. When you consider that the 600mm range is a whopping 900mm on my APSC camera, I'm extremely happy with the image quality and I have a few candidates for club competition through testing alone.
|Hand Held 600mm, ISO400, f6.3, 1/1600 sec|
|Hand Held, 172mm, ISO1600, f6.3, 1/1600 sec|
|Hand Held, 150mm, ISO400, f8, 1/2000 sec|
|Hand Held, 600mm, ISO400, f8, 1/2000 sec|
At the moment we're still in semi lock down. Sports are only just re-starting again while many nature reserves are still closed. I'm looking forward to the challenge of wildlife and sports photography that I've been neglecting over the years. It should be fun.
Adendum: Two weeks after purchasing a Canon version of the Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary, Sigma released their first zoom lens for the Sony E mount system and not before time. The Sigma 100-400mm f5-6.3 (£899) is getting excellent reviews on Youtube. Tamron are sure to follow soon.