Hands-on with the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS Sport
Ladies and gentlemen, feast your eyes upon Sigma’s latest lens release – the 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS Sport. This lens is an all-new, designed-for-mirrorless update to Sigma’s ‘Contemporary’ offering for DSLRs, and judging from our initial shooting, it turns in impressive performance (check out our sample gallery to see for yourself). But presumably you’ve arrived at this article because you’re interested in seeing how this beastly superzoom handles. Well, let’s take a tour of the 150-600mm and find out what’s what.
Size and balance
First of all, you’ll notice that this is a pretty sizable lens, though the deep grip of the Panasonic Lumix S1R it’s mounted to here will help you with stability if you’re out shooting hand-held. The lens isn’t terribly heavy for what it is (and at 2.1kg, comes in at 760g, or 1.67 lbs, lighter than the DSLR version), but you may find yourself wanting a monopod or a tripod for extended shooting sessions.
Look at that zoom
Here you can see the 150-600mm in its fully zoomed-in state. Filling that barrel are 25 elements in 15 groups, with four ‘FLD’ elements (Sigma’s highest-level low dispersion glass available, similar to fluorite) and two SLD (special low dispersion) elements. In our testing, we found the lens is easily a match for the 47MP sensor in the Lumix S1R shown here, as well as the 61MP sensor in the Sigma fp L. Bokeh is generally pretty smooth, though it can look a bit busy in transition zones and at image peripheries (due to mechanical vignetting).
As you zoom in, the balance of the lens necessarily shifts forwards, but if you’re supporting the lens with your hand on the zoom ring, it doesn’t feel too unwieldy. It’s worth noting that despite the extending zoom design, the lens comes with seals throughout to combat dust and moisture incursion.
On the side of the 150-600, you’ll find an array of switches. First up is a standard AF/MF focus switch – and the lens uses a stepping motor for autofocus, which offers relatively responsive focus speeds, though it’s not as swift as the linear motors found in some of its peers.
There’s also a two-setting focus limiter to keep the lens from hunting unnecessarily depending on your shooting. Limiting the lens’ minimum focus distance to 10m speeds up focus speeds dramatically for more distant subjects. It’s worth mentioning that the lens can focus close enough to offer 1:2.9 magnification at 150mm, so it’s a great fit for close-up work.
Finally, there’s a two-setting switch for built-in optical stabilization (to accommodate both standard and panning shots), and a custom switch for custom stabilization modes that L-mount users can specify using the UD-11 USB dock.
Switches, there’s more
Further down the barrel you’ll find another switch, with ‘L’, ‘T’, and ‘S’ settings. This customizes the behavior of the zoom mechanism. ‘L’ stands for Lock, and allows you to lock the lens at its shortest 150mm position for stowage and travel. ‘T’ stands for Tight, which keeps the zoom from creeping in or out while handling the camera, yet still allows for the photographer to turn the zoom ring to adjust framing. ‘S’ stands for Smooth, and allows the zoom to move freely – so freely, in fact, that you could operate the zoom in a push-pull fashion by grabbing the rubberized ring at the front of the lens if you so desire.
Tripod mounting and custom buttons
The Sigma 150-600mm comes with a (very sturdy) detachable tripod foot with an Arca-Swiss compatible dovetail, and it also comes with pronounced click-stops at 90-degree intervals as you rotate it.
You can also see, above the zoom lock switch, a customizable button, which is one of three total around the barrel of the lens. Their default behavior is focus lock, but other functions may be assigned to them from within the camera’s menus.
Mount and teleconverters
Surrounding the mount of the Sigma 150-600mm is a rubber gasket to help with weather-sealing, and you’ll also notice a fair bit of space in the barrel between the mount and the rear-most element. That space allows the 150-600mm to be compatible with Sigma’s TC-1411 and TC-2011 teleconverters, which offer 1.4x and 2.0x conversions, respectively.
Front element and diaphragm
Around the other side of the lens, we find the front element which has a water and oil repellant fluorine coating to resist moisture, fingerprints and oils. The filter thread measures a fairly large 95mm.
If you were to peer further down through the front element, you’d see a rounded aperture diaphragm with nine blades, which gives round out-of-focus highlights even when stopped down to F8, though you’ll see some cats-eye effect.
Hands-on with the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN Sport
Included in the box is an LH-1034-01 lens hood, which is reversible and secured by a thumb screw. The end is rubberized and It can also be reversed and re-mounted for storage.
And that does it for our tour of Sigma’s latest ultra-telephoto zoom, the 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN Sport. While there are a few other options for it to compete against in Sony E-mount, this lens is sure to be a welcome addition to sports and wildlife photographers using an L-mount system. Be sure to let us know what you make of it in the comments.
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