Wildlife Cameraman Blog

Sigma 150-600mm Sport lens

Sigma 150-600mm Sport lens

We recently bought a Sigma 150-600mm Sport lens.  The idea is to use it for wildlife cameraman work on a video camera.  I suspect that I will migrate the lens to a different camera soon.  For the time being it will be used on a Panasonic AG AF101 camera.  This camera has a Micro 4/3 mount, and the lens has a Canon EF mount.  I’m not going to go into all that just now, just a few thoughts about using this lens on a stills camera for the first time.  The lens was supplied very efficiently by Park Cameras.  The camera was a Canon EOS 400D which belongs to my wife.  In camera terms its relatively old, but we’ve never been ones for keeping up with the latest stills kit and it still does a good job.

Blue tit taken with Sigma 150-600mm sport lens
This is the male of the blue tit pair using our nest box. It is calling in this shot.

One thing that we never use for wildlife cameraman work is auto focus, so it was a novelty to have that function on this lens. It works brilliantly well, all things considered, though not with the 1.4x converter on it.  Another thing that is not usually used for filming in wildlife cameraman work is image stabilisation.  I switched it on for this lens and was frankly blown away by how effective it was.  The combination makes using a lens this long and hefty relatively easy.  All of the shots are hand held at maximum telephoto.

Dunncok (Sigma 150-600mm Sport lens)
Dunnocks (the hedge sparrow) use our garden a lot.

Here are a couple more photos just for the fun of it.  The female sparrow is one of many that delights in nipping the buds off our maple tree. The blue tit female is taking advantage of moss harvested from my mother in law’s lawn. I was trying to discourage it from ripping up the moss from my bonsai cork oak trees, but it didn’t work.  Our blue tits are well advanced, but the pair checking out the nest box at my mum’s don’t seem to have started building yet at all.  That’s all by the by.

Blue tit (Sigma 150-600mm Sport lens)
Blue Tit (Sigma 150-600mm Sport lens
Female house sparrow (Sigma 150-600mm Sport lens)
Female house sparrow eating buds

As I took a few still my mind turned to using the camera for wildlife cameraman work on a tripod mounted video camera.  That will be a totally different tree full of sparrows.  My first impression of the Sigma 150-600mm Sport lens: very well built.  Reviews say that it tends to soften at the longer end, but with a real live test I wasn’t aware of that.  Only a lens chart under controlled conditions will reveal that, but I will reserve that for the video set up.  For wildlife cameraman work the focus ‘feel’ in manual is excellent.  Not just the physical smooth resistance, but the amount of ‘turn angle’ that you have nearer infinity, which is where a lot of long lens work tends to be.  That aspect is far better than the Canon HJ18x28 that I use a lot.  It’s much sharper too.  The focus ring is nearer to the camera body than the zoom ring, which is a bit unusual.  However, that would be an advantage in certain situations, and you tend to have your hand on the focus ring more than the zoom.  Unfortunately there is way to make the zoom via servo: that would be asking too much.  The zoom action is rather stiff – I’d much prefer it to be slacker for crash zoom re-framing.  This is probably because the lens lengthens with zooming (the HJ18 zooms internally), and it would zoom on its own when tilted if you didn’t stop it manually. There is though a zoom lock for extreme tilt angles, but the slide switches are a bit fiddly and you wouldn’t want to try to use one with gloves on. Those are just a few thoughts on the Sigma 150-600mm Sport lens.  You can buy one for around £1200.  Compare that to the multiple tens of thousands for most video telephoto zooms.