Sigma 150-500mm

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WendyK
WendyK's picture
Sigma 150-500mm

I was using a little Canon EOS 1100D when I bought this lens as a newbie.  I had a terrible time with the lens.  Front focussed badly, it's very tricky if the light isn't strong and I couldn't get a decent shot out of it for love nor money.  So, I went off and bought the 400mm prime.  Great lens, having a ball with it.

Anyhoo, I decided I must have learnt something in the past 12 months so I recently dusted it off and put it on my 7D.  Immediate improvement.  Yesterday I got serious and properly sorted the micro adjustment for the Sigma and lo, today I took my first really decent shots!  Adjustment was +5.  Oh, and a new gimbal head didn't hurt either.

Exhibit A


Little Pied & Little Black Cormorants by GirlinOz, on Flickr

rawshorty
rawshorty's picture

Good to hear you got it sorted Wendy.

I read all the time that Sigma lenses need MA, but i must be lucky as i have the 10-20,17-50 and 150-500 and all were spot on out of the box on both my 40D and 7D. But yes the 150-500 needs a lot of light, if i had a spare $14,000 it would be replaced with the Canon 600 f4wink

Nice pics.

Shorty......Canon gear

Canberra

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rawshorty/ 

WendyK
WendyK's picture

I tell you Shorty, it's frightened me off Sigma for life.  I'll keep this one - the extra reach is great - but anything new will be L glass.  (Got a new 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM coming!)

600mm ... nice!  Sell the car.

Wendy
Mandurah, WA
Peel-Yalgorup System Ramsar Site

http://www.flickr.com/photos/girlinoz/

sparrow
sparrow's picture

I use one now and then it belongs to a friend and I not that impressed by it, not enough to buy one of my own but when you consider the price he paid $650 second hand on ebay less than one tenth the cost of a 500 or 600f4 prime and it has image stablization, he has taken some stunning photos with it.

I mainly use a sigma 300f4 and I would put it up against the Nikon 300f4 any day for IQ and I think the focus is a bit faster on the sigma the only negative is build qualtiy the Nikon is a tank of a lens I use one occasionly for work and it has proven it can take a beating, but I wouldn't want to drop the Sigma .

Nice photos by th way great use of D.O F

rawshorty
rawshorty's picture

Well i love my Siggy

Silver eye-4542 by rawshorty, on Flickr">[/url] Silver eye-4542 by rawshorty, on Flickr

Shorty......Canon gear

Canberra

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rawshorty/ 

sparrow
sparrow's picture

Nice photo,I like the little twinkle in the eye!

Next time I borrow the bigma i'll try fine tuning it and see how it goes ,I love using my sigma 300f4 and would not part with it because it does what a lens is supposed to do,It takes great photos.

I perfer to use fixed lenses and i'm saving to buy a Sigma 500f4.5, yes I would like the Nikon 600f4vr but could not justify the cost plus my wife knows how much they are and would gut me!

dna1972
dna1972's picture

Sparrow,

Are you Nikon or Canon? I have a Sigmonster I am happy to sell for $7,500 (negotiable). It's in pristine condition and hardly been used. Around 10k or so new I think.

sparrow
sparrow's picture

I use Nikon ,Sigmonster, I like that, which lens are you refering too

rawshorty
rawshorty's picture

I assume he is refering to the 300-800 f5.6 (not a walk around lens)smiley

Shorty......Canon gear

Canberra

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rawshorty/ 

dna1972
dna1972's picture

Yes, the 300-800/5.6 Sigma. It's a beast and even I don't hand hold it. I can a 600/4. Easily! The 300-800 is a tripod lens really. Takes good photos, especially in good light!

Too bad you shoot Nikon then. sad

timrob
timrob's picture

I have the sigma 150-500 and am very happy with it on a Canon 60D.  I was recently given - yes given, free as in beer - a 5D Mk1 and a 1DS mk3.  These are fantastic tripod/studio camears but in my experience quite unsuited to walking in the bush (several km) and taking pix of birds - 5D has too few fps for bif, and 1DS MK3 is too heavy.  Reviews suggest that the 5D mk3 is a good birding camera, and if you aren't walking a long way the 1DX may be even better.  Back on track, the 150-500 is for me a solid performer and is quite acceptable with a 2X tele using a tripod and cable release. Shoot in RAW and then use your favourte processing software to make your pix spectacular - much like us oldies did in the darkroom.

As for the sigmonster .........  yes the lens of dreams.

Tim

rawshorty
rawshorty's picture

Hmmm it seems your not happy with a free 1DS3, you could give it to me and i would be happysmiley

Shorty......Canon gear

Canberra

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rawshorty/ 

timrob
timrob's picture

Not quite what I said Shorty, but good on you for trying   hahhaha

Tim

sparrow
sparrow's picture

The 300-800mm sigma is $7,530 new at topbuy  and the 800mm is $5,550 , I showed the wife and she said "yeah dream on" ,I'm thinking of ordering the 800mm even if I do end up sleeping in the shed.

The one I want is the 500f45 its $4,400 at the moment then I wouldn't have to go into hiding for quite so long,..maybe...

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Hi Wendy and rawshorty,I was thinking of getting this lens for my Sony SLT A55V,so in your opinion,is it worth it? What are the pros and cons of it? It obviously is in the cheaper section of lenses,but I don't exactly have 5000$ to spend on a better lens...

dna1972
dna1972's picture

Hi Sparrow

Not sure what Topbuy is, but looking at the website and the amount of different items there I would certainly not be willing to spend big bucks through them. You get what you pay for really. When you see what their original price is you should get an idea they are probably full of it.

Dirt Cheap Cameras in Sydney, who sell genuine Australian product, not grey market, have it just under 10k, so it's as I said.

http://www.dirtcheapcameras.com.au/SLR-Camera-Lenses/Sigma-SLR-Lenses/SIGMA-Telephoto-Zoom-Lenses/SIGMA-300-800mm-F5.6-EX-DG-APO-HSM-Lens-1

Anyway, sometimes you read ads where they stipulate "no time wasters" so I stipulate the same. yes

dna1972
dna1972's picture

BTW neither the 1Ds3 nor the 5D1 are good bird cameras and it's not even to do with the weight. They are not suited for action photography; full stop. Whack a battery grip on a 5D or a 60D and you will experience the same weight issues as well.

Everyone's needs are different, I don't mind trekking through mountains and gullies with my massive backpack that holds two 1D bodies, my 500/4, 100/2.8 macro, 25-85 zoom, flash, brackets etc. It weighs an absolute ton. Not easy, but doable. I would not run with it though.

Alternatively I walk with the tripod, 500/1D combo, a bumbag with converters and bits in it as well.

Again, not everyone's cup of tea either.

WendyK
WendyK's picture

Hi Nathan,

Now that I've ironed out the micro adjustment on my copy, I can say it is a very good lens for general birding in good light, especially if you're looking more at "documenting" birds rather than going for spectacular shots. 500mm is a great length (although no lens is big enough!). Being a bloke, you'd probably be able to handhold this but I need to use a tripod as it's a bit too heavy for me. Best used with a heavy duty ball head and tripod or monopod. My new gimbal head has increased the stability but it's not flexible enough if you need lean sideways to take a quick shot as the head doesn't tilt.

One very good feature is the Image Stablisation feature - if you're not using a tripod, choose setting 1 or 2 (panning) with the switch on the side and half press the shutter to focus and it will sort of "fix" the view in place and minimise shake appearing in your photo. That's probably the wrong description of it but it works.

The main bugbear I mainly have (and this is really important!) is that its maximum apperture at 500mm is f/6.3, making it difficult to get reallly good pics in less than good light (e.g. shade) and the autofocus has trouble - you may find it "hunts" back and forth without fixing on a focus point (which can, of course be, overcome by using manual focus). For this reason I only use it in really sunny conditions for the best shots.

Auto focus can also be a bit slow, especially if going for BiFs.

I mainly use a Canon 400mm f/5.6 prime. It's regarded as one of the best, value for money, birding lenses around - quick to focus, has a slightly better apperture range, great for BiFs and is quite light in comparison to other big lenses, especially zooms. I can hand hold this one. If your subject is too close you can't zoom out but you will find you rarely need that (most people operate at the long end most of the time anyway) and you can usually reframe to take maybe just a head shot instead ... you get lemons, you make lemonade. I can also fix an extender on it to increase it's range. You can't do that with the Sigma - not sure if it's physically possible but an extender will just make your apperture/light problems even worse as it means you'd have a maximum of about f/9 to get enough light in sunny conditions.

Another alternative is the Canon 100-400mm but the price is creeping up and the IQ isn't quite as good as the prime from all reports although still an excellent lens. I've seen some fantastic shots from people using this lens.

Wendy
Mandurah, WA
Peel-Yalgorup System Ramsar Site

http://www.flickr.com/photos/girlinoz/

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I use the Sony kit lense 75-300 mm atm,and one of the great features is the quick AF,and it helps to take photos of BiF which I love to do...

Apparently the Sigma weighs about 2kg,which although it is 4x the weight of my current lens,shouldn't be too hard too maneuver around. I literally never use a tri,bi,or monopod, so the stabilization will come in handy. Thanks Wendy.

timrob
timrob's picture

Despite it's shotcomings - and I acknowledge all those mentioned, as far as value for money goes , the Sigma 150 - 500 is in my opinion hard to beat. I use it on a 60D when we go birding, and when sitting by a lake or wader roost I use it with a tripod.  I would recommend getting a harness ( binos on one side and camera on the other ) if you intend walking any distance, or even walking slowly and carrying it for along time.  The 60D/sigma combo clocks in at just under 2.7 kg, would be quite uncomfortabe on your neck for long periods.  I use an optech harness but there others available.  A good monopod can also be used as a walking support for more tricky tracks, and is also worth considering.

Tim

sparrow
sparrow's picture

Hi Akos ,good to see you back.

Your probably right I have ordered things from other sites only to find the item to be "temperarily out of stock" and the thought of trying to get warranty work done on grey market items is a worry !

I supose the old saying ,if it seems to good ,is probably more true today than its ever been.

My father always said "a poor man alway pays twice" I look at the big third party lenses ,but I know I wont be happy till I get a Nikon and have toyed with the idea of buying a second hand one overseas, if I recall thats how you got your "bad boy" still makes me a bit nervous sending off the money before I see the lens.

rawshorty
rawshorty's picture

Hi Nathan, as Wendy has pointed out it does work best in good light.

I am very happy with mine, it works great on both my Canon camera's. I can't say for sure but i would imagine with the Sony auto focus it should work well but never having had a Sony i will have to leave it to you to decide.

IMPORTANT>>>>>>>>>>>>>> The Sigma in Sony mount DOES NOT have stabilization due to your camera having sensor shift stabilization.

I would suggest you join a Sony forum and ask about it there.

Shorty......Canon gear

Canberra

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rawshorty/ 

timrob
timrob's picture

A couple of pix taken with the 150 - 500 and Canon 60D.  Immature Sea Eagle and parent seen at Sapling Pocket.  By the way a fantastic place for birding if you are in the Brisbane area.  Do a google search for "sapling pocket map" to see our newly minted guide, complete with spelling errors - yes these will be fixed eventually.

Araminta
Araminta's picture

Nathan, as far as I know, the 50-500 mm Sigma has been recalled to be matched to Sony cameras, because it does not comply with Sony cameras. If I was you, I would stick with the Sony lenses. If you want to upgrade, go for the one I use, the Sony 4.0-5.6/70-400mm  G lens SSM. They are not "that expensive". As I 've been saying, get the best out of what you have got right now. Some of my best , (and still best!) photos I post , have been taken with that combination. As I have said many times before, also to my own husband, a bigger lens and a more expensive camera doesn't make you a better photographer, practice and perseverence does.

M-L

Araminta
Araminta's picture

Hi Tim, if I might ask a question? Unless you tell me how far away those birds were, I can’t judge the capability of your lens at all. Only then can I compare to the quality of my Sony 70-400mm G lens. So far I'm not that impressed, sorry. 

Can you put up the original photo?

M-L

Araminta
Araminta's picture

Hi Nathan, this photo was taken with a Sony A-55V, using a Sony 75-300mm lens, hand held, the best lens I could afford,( I didn't have $5000). In my opinion a very nice setup. I was a fair distance away from the bird, can't exactly say how far, was a year or more . There was a  road between the bird and me, and it sat on top of a tree. As I said before, practice mate , practice.... Ain't that bad a photo either, or is it??

M-L

timrob
timrob's picture

Hi Araminta

Clearly my pix are cropped.  The juvenile taking off from the tree was between 50m and 100m away and the pair somewhat more than 100m, but between 100 and 200m by my estimate - a bit hard to judge exactly how far.  Really, given equivalent cameras will we see much difference between a 400mm and 500mm pic?  I suspect not given the capabilities of modern software to crop/sharpen/enhance/tweak our pix.  

I'm very much a "mug" photographer, my main interest being the actual birding with pix being nice to take home and enjoy.  

However I stand by my earlier comment that bang-for-buck the 150 - 500 is hard to beat for my birding camera the 60D. Of course your mileage may vary as the saying goes.

Tim

rawshorty
rawshorty's picture

Hi M-L, just a couple of points from me.

The recall i believe was in 2010.

The lens you are suggesting while a great lens is twice the price of the Sigma.

Distance to subject is affected by atmospheric conditions at the time, for example if it is windy there is a lot of dust in the air and digrades image quality, also the lighting on the subject makes a huge difference to the quality.

To test two lenses against each other they would have to be used in the same conditions by the same photographer and at the same camera settings to be near acurate.

To answer your last question, when i first joined BIBY your Kite pic was the first one i saw and said out loud to myself "WOW what a great shot"

But that being said the Sigma is no slouch either

Black Shouldered Kite-3068 by rawshorty, on Flickr">Black Shouldered Kite-3068 by rawshorty, on Flickr

Shorty......Canon gear

Canberra

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rawshorty/ 

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Hi M-L

The cheapest I can find the 70-400 lensis around 1800-2100$,which is about double the Sigma.It's not so much better quality and a more expensive lens I want,I just want one with more zoom,because I can't really use my legs to zoom out on a lake... I was thinking of a 2x teleconverter,but that would probably add light and quality problems to my photos.

But you definitely have made me rethink getting the Sigma,so maybe I'll wait for something to pop up.

If any of you have ideas that would be awesome,as long as it's under or around 1300$.

Annie W
Annie W's picture

Well I'll be interested to see what the reviews on this new Canon L are after it has been tested in the real world for 12 months (comes out the end of May).

http://www.canon.com.au/About-Canon/News-Events/News-Press-Releases/EF-200-400mm-F4L-IS-USM-Extender-1-4x

Going to retail for a mere $12-14K so I figure I can always consider selling my house wink - perhaps I can then live in the box the lens came in laughlaugh.  Or, there's always that hope of Lotto....

NW Tasmania

WendyK
WendyK's picture

Lot of talk about that one on the net.  I was looking at it only this afternoon.  Looks like a bit of a gimmic to me.  Yes, oh for the lotto life!  I'm working on it!

Wendy
Mandurah, WA
Peel-Yalgorup System Ramsar Site

http://www.flickr.com/photos/girlinoz/

Annie W
Annie W's picture

You could well be right Wendy.  I think they would have been wiser to listen to the masses (or just mewink), and update the 100-400L - almost 15 years between updates is a lonnng time.

NW Tasmania

WendyK
WendyK's picture

Yep, it's been 10 years for the 400mm prime too ... a little IS wouldn't hurt, Canon peeples, so howzaboudid?!

Wendy
Mandurah, WA
Peel-Yalgorup System Ramsar Site

http://www.flickr.com/photos/girlinoz/

dna1972
dna1972's picture

For birds the 200-400 is useless. Unless you are five meters from one! 400mm is not that much really. If one wants to spend THAT much cash, might as well go a 500/4 or 600/4 or even an 800/5.6 instead. My friends and I use all of the above lenses, but we are probably insane for spending money. But perhaps not. All of us are passionate bird photography enthusiasts, who don't necessarily drive fancy cars, don't smoke, drink, gamble or spend on other things we consider unneccesary or wasteful.

Out of all our lenses, my 500/4L IS (Mark I, the older one) was by far the cheapest at under 7k used, from E-bay. Yes, it's a risk. However, my three biggest E-bay purchases (touch wood) have been great. I bought a 1D2n body for 1400 that had taken (I am serious) less than 2000 shots ever. It was as good as a new camera! And it's a 1D series. It is as good today as it was in 2005 when initially released for around the 5-6k mark! I bought my 500/4 and then after dropping the 1D2n and breaking the casing I got an insurance payout rather than get ripped off by Canon with a $2500 repair bill (only had a $300 excess anyway) I got the cash. Then I bought the newer 1D3. The best bit is, despite the fact the 1D2n has lost its watersealing ability due to the fracture near the hotshoe, all functions STILL WORK PERFECTLY! Those things are built like TANKS. I already dropped the 1D3 twice and besides a scratch on the viewfinder casing, it works PERFECTLY> Had Canon check for me.

My friend spent 14k on his 800/5.6 and 7k on his 1Dx. My other spent 8k on his Nikon D3 and 13k on his 600/4VR. So it comes down to what people want, what they want to spend or can afford to spend. My other friend took a loan for 12k to buy the new Canon 500/4L Mark II lens. It's beautiful.

If all you can afford or want is a zoom, try to get one with as little difference between minimum FL to maximum FL as possible. Once you get optics that zoom from 50mm to 500mm you're going to compromise on image quality. The 170-500 would be a far better option as the increase in magnification is something like 2.5 times the shorter length rather than 10x with the 50-500!

The Canon 100-400 or 400/5.6 are still very good lenses for what they can do in the right hands. The 400/5.6 is a magical flight lens and does not necessarily need the IS, though for more static shots it would be useful.

sue818
sue818's picture

Hi Wendy, I have a Nikon 7000D and the Sigma 150-500 lens is back in the cupboard. It was difficult to get a crisp shot. Being a novice I must confess that I do not understand what a micro adjustment of +5 means. Could you please clarify for me as I feel I should give it another go? Sue

WendyK
WendyK's picture

Hi Sue,

I've just checked on the net and your 7000D does have what is called AF microadjustment. It will be somewhere in your menu settings. Also in your settings may be one which wants to know if you want it to remember each lens adjustments or apply across the board or something along that nature. If so, select "each lens". Your camera will then remember the correct settings for each lens and not try to adjust every lens using the same settings.

Make sure your camera is off when you fit the lens. Turn on, then browse through your menus and select AF microadjustments when you find it.

I have a Canon 7D (my old one was a Canon 1100D which didn't have micro adjustment, hence the lens was a bust). In AF microadjustment, I see a scale line. You select along the line + or - depending on how you think you need to adjust it.

Check on the net ... there are a few methods. Firstly, you really need a tripod or a solid resting place for the camera so you can get a steady focus for the clearest result.

There is a focussing pattern which you put on your PC then focus on that with the lens. For this beast, you'd need to be down the back of the garden with the PC on the other side of the road!! to get the correct range.

Another method is to use a ruler which is at a bit of an angle so you can see the measurements clearly and focus on a particular measurement, say 15cm. Take a photo. The resulting photo will show where your camera is focussing and you can adjust back and forth until it pinpoints onto the right measurement. You might aim at say 15cm but the photo is clearest at 14cm. This means the lens is front-focussing. If it was clearest at say 16cm then it is back-focussing. Adjust your AF + or - and take another photo to see if there's improvement.

I was a slacker. I put the camera on a tripod and focussed on the fine stamens on a bottle brush flower. When I hit the clearest focus of those tiny points at the area I was aiming at, that was it. I spent maybe 10 minutes happily playing with it. Well worth the time and you only have to do it the once. I think I'll have a go with the ruler method.

Wendy
Mandurah, WA
Peel-Yalgorup System Ramsar Site

http://www.flickr.com/photos/girlinoz/

sparrow
sparrow's picture

Hi,I have a Nikon d7000 and the micro adjustments are in your manual under fine tuning,there are a few different ways to work out how much + or -

Look up Ken Rockwell or one of the other camera" know alls" and they explain how to go about it .

I had the same problem with my Nikon 80-400mm

sparrow
sparrow's picture

I used the Ruler method !

WendyK
WendyK's picture

Forgot ... make sure you have the zoom out to 500mm if that's the distance you'll be using most. Maybe a little less as most people also say the lens performs better if you're not quite out to the full 500mm. The adjustment may vary slightly at different ranges. 500mm works for me.

Wendy
Mandurah, WA
Peel-Yalgorup System Ramsar Site

http://www.flickr.com/photos/girlinoz/

sue818
sue818's picture

Thanks Wendy and Sparrow. When it stopped focusing last year it was repaired for free under a recall notice so I just thought that could be part of the issue. I never considered using that menu item on the camera but will try the ruler method and play around with it. sue

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