Being an ex-owner of a Sigma 175-500mm from many years ago, I have been leery of buying Sigma supertele photo lenses since then – for good reason. But then the ART series was introduced a couple of years ago and it started to turn heads, mine included. However, my interested became more fine-tuned a few months ago, when the 150-600mm ‘Contemporary’ lens was announced. I have kept an eye on it through various stores and websites but almost all of them have the item only available for “pre-order”. I contacted them but they had no idea when they’ll get some from the manufacturer.
Anyways, finally I got my hands on one of those highly sought-after lenses. Right away I took it for a drive test. Picking the lens up for the first time, it felt like the weight of a 70-200mm f/2.8 except slightly heavier and bigger. No problem, since I’m used to handholding the humongous 500mm, 600mm, and 800mm primes. Construction seems sturdy. When mounting it on the camera body, it didn’t go in as smoothly as a genuine Nikon lens would. The tripod collar is not very suitable for handholding IMO, since it does not give good balance. Also, it makes the zooming action difficult and slow to operate.
Now comes the important part – autofocus. When I tested the lens, I was at a park where there were shades in a thick wooded area. The AF hunted a bit under dark conditions but eventually locked on the subject. I soon figured it out, and the focus acquiring time reduced to almost instantly. The trick was in the camera setting. I kept switching between Single focus point and 51-points, depending on how accurate my aim was and how far away the subject was.
Contrary to many reviews and “common knowledge”, the lens is sharp even at the 500-600mm range. I made several shots at the extreme focal length of 600mm just to see for myself, and it was very sharp. You’ll get a chance to see it for yourself from the pictures below.
The lens has a lock switch which will keep the chosen focal length fixed, at positions of 150, 180, 200, 250, 300, 400, 500, and 600 (every marker there is on the lens). For my experience, I tried various OS (anti-vibration) settings, and found that the “OFF” position gave me better results more consistently.
Alright, enough words. Time to see the pics. All images taken with Nikon D7000 body and Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary lens.
I was handholding it throughout the 4 plus hours (from around 2-6 pm, aka harsh light) I was out testing it. The lens (attached to a camera) felt very comfortable when I was walking/hiking with the gear slinging from my shoulder.
Another note I want to make is… I found little difference (at least not noticeable to human eye) between stopping down and shooting wide open.
Is there a future for the supertele photo primes? Canon and Nikon better take notice!