Bought A Sigma 150-500mm Telezoom Lens

Sigma 150-500mm APO DG OS HSM

The name in full as Sigma put it is APO 150-500mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM. That’s a mouthfull of acronyms. It is the most expensive lens I had bought so far, even more than the body that I had. But considered cheap if it were to be compared to the more expensive lenses in roughly the same focal range. So why the plunged?

I have a liking for sharp beautiful pictures of birds especially eagles but I never did once seriously went out primarily just to shoot birds. On my recent trip to Daik in Pulau Lingga, Riau, Indonesia, I saw a lot of eagles flying, circling around and occasionally dive down to the river in an attempt to catch whatever that it saw fit to consume. I had never shoot wild birds and was only equipped with a Canon EF 75-300mm lens plus a Kenko 1.4X Teleplus Pro 300 DG AF teleconverter for distance shooting. No Image Stabiliser but AF was working. None of the images were sharp.

Bird on pole

It’s not easy to shoot wild and free birds unless it is given to you on a palette like the one shown here of a small bird which I found perched on a pole when I looked out over the parapet wall of the hotel in Daik. Birds were very wary of my approach and ultimately took flight before I could raised my camera. A case why many birds photographers use hides and free meals to attract their subjects. I am not going that road at the moment.

I also found that the eagles were also wary at me even though they were flying above. Many of the shots show the eagles looking towards me including shots that were taken from inside the hotel room and the camera was not out of the window. I need a little distance and image stabiliser. Auto focus not so necessary because I think manual focus might just do the trick or pre-focus at a distance plus lots of shots (continuous) and a little bit of luck. It will all be in Jpeg as RAW will be slow in writing the data into the memory because it’s file size is very big compared to Jpeg.

Bird on antenna

The lens weighs about 1.9 kg and it is quite heavy to lug it around for some times. It came with a padded rectangular soft box, a hood, tripod stand and a lens strap that had it strapping point on the tripod stand. Filter size is huge, 86mm. Attaching it to the Kenko 1.4x teleconverter had it working fine. No issue whatsoever. At least for now and hopefully none in the future.

Having had the baby in hand, I set off to test it on some birds. Birds that are easy to approach, chicken that is. Well…it was like waiting for the bus, I could not find any hen or a cock behind the house but did found a bird perched on a TV antenna at the neighbour’s house. Not a good result shooting hand-held anyway still decent.

As for the non-flying birds, I will post the pictures as soon as I had it.

Update 18 February 2011:

Here are the pictures.

All shots captured at 500mm

Verdict:

Pictures are sharp especially at  about 5 metres. At distance more than 10 metres, you need a tripod for stability regardless of the image stabiliser if shooting for an extended period. At 1.9 kg excluding the camera soon your hand will turn soft. The tiredness coupled with unstationary subject are not a good recipe for a sharp image at 500mm focal length. It is okay to shoot hand-held for a short while. Also, this is not the lens to hold on while you are waiting for your subject.

More here:

Sigma 150-500mm – Getting The Hang of It

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