Sigma 150-500 first reactions.

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by roypanos, Aug 12, 2009.

  1. After long dithering I just picked it up having managed to get my usual supplier to agree to accept it back if it's sub-par. I've read so much argybargy about this lens (and not only this lens of course) and the prevalence of "bad copies", that I was nervous about buying it, not least without anything with which to make a direct comparison. I have 70-200 2.8 and a TC17E which gets me up to 340mm, but whether this represents a useful benchmark is questionable. Anyway, after some slightly heated exchange (me heated) they agreed that I could return it even though I would be collecting itt from them: had I received it mail order it would have been their legal obligation - absurd. I thought it might be worth posting my immediate reactions to this purchase, and to enquire about other users' reactions. I'm primarily going to use it on a D700.
    Well, it's lighter than I expected; I have a 70-200-VR... The finish is quite good if a bit brittle and looks as though it will mark up quickly. The lens hood is feeble and insecure feeling. The mount fit to the D700 body is ok (many reports of slackness) if not as close as it might be - but better than I'd feared. The zoom barrel is very stiff indeed. My tripod (Manfrotto 190x with FLM 32 FB ballhead) is all but useless with this focal length, even weighted down with about 15KG of books. However I managed to bang off a few shots with MUP and a remote release at reasonable shutter speeds.
    My immediate very unscientific evaluation, compared to nothing so far, is that it is pretty good, even close to 500mm. Most users seem to suggest that the lens falls down at about 480mm - it looks markedly less contrasty at 500mm. I shot at max aperture, F8, F11, F16 at a range of focal lengths. Not bad at all. Vignettes mildly at all the apertures I tried. Most of the shots were a little bit underexposed but I was using matrix metering with a bit of very bright sky in some of the shots, so it wasn't a real test. There's quite a lot of ca in the corners which NX2 eliminates automatically. I think there's quite a bit of pincushion distortion at the long end but I haven't shot anything that would enable me to get a clear idea of exactly how much.
    I realy have very little experience with lenses >200mm (except on ENG/EFP TV cameras long ago), so this is all very new to me. Maybe when I can get some samples I'm confident about as representative I could post them and get some feedback from other users of this lens to compare examples. But so far it looks pretty good. Incidentally two people I spoke to at the suppliers said that they felt that Sigma's QC had improved a lot, and that they were getting very few returns these days. FWIW!
  2. Good analysis. Any sample shots?
  3. Roy,
    thank you.
    I have been thinking of buying this lens for some time now, but I have not yet decided, as my budget is small (I have bought too much the last two years ;) ), and I have feared exactly the same as you - all those copies which are said to be bad....
    Your analysis made me a bit more asssured, thank you.
    However, I got the understanding that a Manfrotto 190 would not suffice? I have a 190 at home, and would prefer NOT to change it - after all I hate bringing a tripod with me anyway. Are you sure that the OS was switched off when you mounted the 150-500 on the tripod?
    I'm looking forward to photos, both the good and the bad ones!
  4. I'll post snaps when I've had a chance to shoot something a bit more representative and useful. This may not be for a day or two as I have commitments.
    Re tripod. I think the problem's more my ballhead which is quite small, however this focal length probably requires something pretty solid in the way of a tripod. I'm sure someone out there knows the score. I don't... I was shooting off a carpet (hence the big bag of books) which didn't help. I have also heard the tripod collar of this lens criticised (looks OK to me) but I think that the whole tripod/head is under-spec for the focal length no matter what lens is involved. But I'm no expert on long lens technique or support with regard to still cameras. BTW I did have the OS off. When I was using TV cameras professionally I was accustomed to using very solid tripods (Vinten Cygnet, various Sachtlers etc) and I could often see my heartbeat at long focal lengths. The bigger and heavier the better. Unfortunately.
    I forgot to say that the few frames I shot hand-held were mostly sharp.
    Never seen a proper analytical review of this lens anywhere. Maybe it's too "cheap".
    I spent too much last year also...
  5. Roy and all....
    I've had this lens for about a year now and haven't had any issues with it. It's a nice (abeit heavy) lens and certainly draws attention when you pull it out at an event.
    I shoot it hand held and haven't had any issues. I'm not at a computer that has my portfolio on it at the moment, but will try to post a sample photo of my daughter swimming that I shot with the "beast" as I call it.
    I purchased it specifically for sporting events, outdoors in summer and some wildlife shots.
    I haven't had any issues with chips / dents or dings in the finish as of yet.
  6. Do I need to be a subscriber to post examples on this forum?
  7. I just noticed something. The exifs seem to misreport. Even though I'm just lining up the focal lengths by eye on the lens barrel all the values are reported as exact round numbers - 150, 250, 400, 500.
  8. Roy and David: Thank you for the info. I'm looking forward to the images.
  9. Do I need to be a subscriber to post examples on this forum?​
    No, you can add an image to your post (the last menu after you have confirmed your text) or you can add images to your portfolio. Being a non-subscriber, there is a limited number of photos you can upload.
  10. I have had this lens for around 4 months and I can honestly say that it is the bargain of the year IMO. I paid less than £600 for it and have had no negative issues at all to report. With regard to the zoom ring being stiff.... Mine was never noticably stiff but was a little firmer that it is now. Now it is smooth as butter. The general build quality of this lens is very good and pretty well balanced for a lens of this size. (it is indeed a beast) It is at its best at around f8 - f11 and a little soft at 6.3. I have even tried it with a kenko X2 ie 1000mm @ 12.6 (manual focus of course) and was very pleased with the result. Obviously the light fall off is noticeable at this focal length, and I wouldnt want to have to shoot in this way all the time, but it was a very pleasing experiment.
    I am not saying that there aren't better lenses out there. There are, but for the price you get much more than you pay for. I dont regret a single penny that I paid for it.
    Just for anyone thinking of buying this lens.. IT weighs almost 2kg it is BIG and it sucks the life out of your camera battery if you use it with OS. So if you decide to buy it then consider also a spare battery and maybe a couple of sessions at the gym to build up that left arm. After a while hand held... your arm will start to notice.
  11. Here's one of my daughter - 1/800 ISO 400 D300 hand held.
    As for the focus ring - mine is a little stiffer than the other 2 Sigmas that I have (70-200 f2.8's) but it is usable.
  12. Apologies for not adding any pix so far. I have shot some but hand held and unsystematically. I will try to put a few up over the next few days. Meanwhile, havng had little experience of shooting live action sports I'm battling with the D700s af variables. Posting a question about this separately.
    One thing about the Stigma, as Mark says it sure does gobble up batteries! The zoom ring frees up very quickly - I just hope this is indicative of something other than wear rate!
    If I have a criticism that occurs immediately, it's that I'm always wanting to shoot wide open - at these apertures the subject isolation isn't great anyway - and it's clearly best at less than wide open and less than 500mm.
  13. I'm thinking about buying this lens but i'm still debating between the Sigma 120-400, Sigma 150-500 or the slow focusing nikon 80-400 with the better glass. Any reviews or opinions on these lens would be greatly appreciated. My camera setup is a D300 and I usually shoot handheld out in the field. Is the nikon worth the extra money? Do the Sigmas lose sharpness and quality? For Sports & Wildlife Photgraphy - Which one would be most realiable in the field without finding the perfect focusing spot on every shot? Etc.. Thanks.....
  14. I have also considered getting this lens. Here in the U.S. it run $900+,and although not cheap, it's one of the least expensive ways of getting 500mm artillery for my D700! Right now, ALL my lenses, except my 50mm f/1.4D Nikkor are Nikon zooms. 14-24 f/2.8, 24-70 f/2.8 and the 70-200 f/2.8 VRII. I'm absolutely ecstatic about the image quality I get with all three zooms. This would be the only non-Nikon lens in my arsenal. I'm like all of you. I want top notch image quality! But after spending well over $8000 on my camera, lenses and filters over the past 18 months, I cannot afford the king's ransom required for the Nikkor 200-400 or the 500mm prime! Not only that, we're talking about almost needing a truck to haul around the 500mm Nikkor! :) I would use THIS lens for portraiture and nature photography. In the collective opinion here, is this lens up to the job? For my home gallery I usually print either 11.7 x 16.5 or 13 x 19 (Epson 3880 printer). How would such enlargements look with minimal cropping when using this lens?
  15. this lens is AMAZING !

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