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Saturday, 4 July 2015

The new Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary!

A couple of days ago I took delivery of a new lens, the Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary. Not to be confused with the more expensive 150-600mm Sports version, which has been out for a few months.
   The 'Sports' version is fully weather and dust sealed, whereas the 'Contemporary' is not, but other than that and a few other extra features, both lenses are supposed to be very similar in the most important aspect, picture quality!
  I couldn't wait to get home from work and go and try it out!

This is one of the first pictures I took in my garden with it attached to my Nikon D7200;

^Above^ - A woodpigeon shot handheld at 400mm, 1/1250secs, f8. ISO 400.

If I'm honest, after using the lens in bright conditions for a day, I was a little disappointed with the sharpness. I've always used a Nikon 70-300mm VR lens, quite a cheap lens, but surprisingly sharp! Being much smaller and lighter than the Sigma though makes it easy to hand hold steady. The 600mm is a beast. Even with good technique, when you look through the viewfinder the subject is jumping all over the place! I used setting '1' on the lenses optical stabilization, which is known as 'OS' in the Sigma range, as opposed to 'VR' on the Nikon lenses.
    This setting is for general use, whereas the '2' setting is supposed to be used whilst shooting from a moving vehicle. I'm thinking that I'm so shaky, I might try using the '2' setting whilst walking about!!
     The other option of course is investing in a tripod. However, I find them too constricting, I like the instant capabilities of hand holding, as with nature, things happen quickly and you need to be at the ready! I would miss many shots with my camera on a tripod!

It might just be a case of getting used to the lens and accepting the trade-off of twice as much 'reach' but less sharp pictures. This is the conundrum all nature photographers on a budget face, we all want sharp pictures with a decent reach, but we can't afford or justify spending 6k or more on 600mm Nikon prime lenses!!
  Below are some more photos taken with the lens in the last day;

^Above^ - More Woodpigeons!

^Above^ - Blackbirds.

^Above^ - Rabbits. The extra reach of the lens really helped here!

^Above^ - Collared Doves.

^Above^ - Racing Pigeons.

^Above^ - Young Starlings.

^Above^ - Young Carrion Crow.

^Above^ - Young Carrion Crows wanting food from an adult.

^Above^ - Female House Sparrow in a Buddleia bush.

^Above^ - Sheep!

^Above^ - Herring Gulls.

^Above^ - Lesser Black Back Gulls.

^Above^ - Greylag Goose.

^Above^ - Preening Mute Swan.

^Above^ - Housemartins. Amazingly, I found them easier to focus on with the Sigma than my Nikon 70-300mm, however was very difficult to get them as sharp, being one stop 'slower'.

^Above^ - Backlit Mallow.

^Above^ - Distant Poppies and Nettles.

^Above^ - Garden Poppy.

^Above^ - The family dog, our Flat Coated Retriever, Charm.

She has her own Facebook page here;

^Above^ - My other half, Nick. Having fun!

^Above^ - Taking a photo in a mirror during our walk!!

All in all, for the price (I paid £900 for the lens, brand new) I'd say it was a good investment, the extra reach will really come in handy! As for the sharpness issues, much may be down to my technique in using a much bigger and heavier lens than I am used to! 
   I'll let you all judge from these pictures how good the lens is, maybe I'm just too much of a perfectionist! :)

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