Introduction

The Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports is an ultra-telephoto zoom lens for full-frame and sub-frame mirrorless cameras based around either the Sony E-mount or the Leica L-mount.

With 35mm-equivalent focal lengths equating to 225-900mm with an APS-C crop, it’s aimed primarily at still photographers looking to bring distant subjects up close, and will be of particular interest to wildlife and sports shooters.

Available from August 2021, list pricing is set at $1499.

Note that due to smoke from the 2021 California wildfires, our gallery shots from both Seattle and Calgary are affected by haze, which you should bear in mind whilst judging image quality, especially for more distant subjects. Additionally, overcast conditions for our Calgary team have necessitated the use of higher-than-typical sensitivities for some of those gallery shots.

All images edited in Adobe Camera Raw 13 unless otherwise noted, with adjustments limited to white balance, exposure, highlights, shadows, white and black levels. Sharpening and noise reduction at defaults.



Key specifications:

  • Focal length: 150-600mm (225-900mm equivalent with APS-C crop)
  • Aperture range: F5.0 – F22 (wide) / F6.3 – F29 (tele)
  • Stabilization: Yes, 4 stops
  • Filter thread: 95mm
  • Close focus: 0.58m (22.8″)
  • Maximum magnification: 0.34x
  • Diaphragm blades: 9
  • Hood: Included
  • Weight: 2100g (4.63 lb)
  • Optical construction: 25 elements in 15 groups (4 FLD, 2 SLD)

Depending upon whether you’re an E-mount or L-mount shooter, alternatives to the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS ‘Sports’ lens differ dramatically.

On the L-mount, there aren’t really any close rivals. The nearest would be Sigma’s own 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS ‘Contemporary’ lens, but it doesn’t come close to the telephoto reach of the 150-600mm. It’s also weather-sealed only at the mount, whereas the ‘Sport’ lens has seals throughout.

But if you can live with those drawbacks, it’s much smaller/lighter and more affordably priced at just $950. And you can save money on the much smaller filters it accepts, too. Although in fairness if you want a tripod mount – something that’s included with the ‘Sport’ lens and its other alternatives – you’ll want to budget another $130, for a total of $1,080 list.

ISO 320 | 1/640 sec | F6.3 | 600mm | Panasonic S1R
Photo by Carey Rose

Sony E-mount shooters have a couple of excellent alternatives to consider, though: The Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD and Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS.

The Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 is only slightly less of a handful than the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3, even though it has less reach and is less bright at full telephoto. With tripod mounts attached, it’s about 220g (7.8 ounces) lighter, and saves just 5.4cm (2.2″) in length with a 1.6cm (0.6″) narrower barrel.

Nor is it that much less expensive than the Sigma, with a list price of $1399 saving you just 7%. Although if you plan to use filters, you’ll stand to save substantially more than the minimal list price difference suggests, thanks to its use of much smaller 82mm filter threads. And we didn’t like its tripod foot as much as that included with the Sigma, as it lacks 90-degree click detents.

ISO 1600 | 1/400 sec | F6.2 | 476mm | Panasonic S5
Photo by Jordan Drake, edited in Capture One 21

But if you can live with those shortcomings, it saves at least a little in terms of heft and cost, rivals the Sigma in terms of sharpness, and its linear autofocus drive also feels significantly swifter. And video shooters will definitely prefer the Tamron if they want the least possible focus breathing, as it’s a bit stronger for the 150-600mm.

As for the Sony 200-600mm F5.6-6.3, it’s a substantially pricier lens, costing around a third more at its current list price of $2000. We wouldn’t be too surprised to see that reduced over time, though. It’s already been on the market for a couple of years now, and while it was until recently unrivaled, the much more affordable Sigma and Tamron will definitely steal some customers who’d previously been considering the Sony.

It’s also quite a bit larger and heavier than the Sigma. Its barrel diameter is close enough that you won’t notice the difference, but it’s a full 5.2cm (2.0″) longer. And it weighs 2.12kg (4.66lb), which sounds almost the same as the 2.1kg (4.63lb) Sigma unless you note the fact that Sigma includes its non-removable tripod mount in the weight figure, whereas Sony doesn’t.

ISO 1250 | 1/250 sec | F11 | 236mm | Panasonic S1R
Photo by Carey Rose

Yet despite being bigger, heavier and more expensive, Sony’s lens has relatively few advantages. It’s no brighter than the Sigma, and its focal range is quite similar too. In fact it’s the 150-600mm which actually has a bit of an advantage at the wider end. A lens like this will likely see most use at the tele end which is identical for both lenses, though, so it’s really something of a wash.

Nor does it show a huge advantage in sharpness, and while it has an 11-bladed iris instead of the Sigma’s nine-bladed one, its bokeh isn’t noticeably better either, though the Sony will retain circular out-of-focus highlights as you stop down a bit better. Where Sony’s 200-600mm does score a firm win over the Sigma, though, is in its autofocus performance. Thanks to its linear autofocus motor, its appreciably faster at focusing, and so will remain your best bet if you need a 600mm zoom for faster-moving subjects like sports or more active wildlife.

Compared to…

Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS

Price (MSRP)

$1499 $950 $1399 $2000
Mount(s) Leica L and Sony E Leica L and Sony E Sony E Sony E
Optical construction 25 elements, 15 groups 22 elements, 16 groups 25 elements, 16 groups 24 elements, 17 groups
Aperture blades 9 9 7 11
Weather sealed Yes Yes, mount only Yes Yes
AF drive Stepper motor Stepper motor Linear motor Linear motor
Minimum focus distance / max magnification 0.58 m (22.8″) / 0.34x 1.12 m (44.1″) / 0.24x 0.60 m (23.6″) / 0.32x 2.4 m (94.5″) / 0.2x
Filter size 95mm 67mm 82mm 95mm
Diameter x Length
(no hood)

L-mount: 109.4mm x 263.6mm (4.3″ x 10.4″)

E-mount: 109.4mm x 265.6mm (4.3″ x 10.5″)

L-mount: 86.0mm x 197.2mm (3.4″ x 7.8″)

E-mount: 86.0mm x 199.2mm (3.4″ x 7.8″)

93.0mm x 209.6mm (3.7″ x 8.3″) 111.5mm x 318.0mm (4.5″ x 12.5″)
Weight

2100g (74.1oz)

* Including non-removable tripod mount

L-mount: 1135g (40.0oz)

E-mount: 1140g (40.2oz)

* Not including removable tripod mount

1880g (60.8oz)

* Including removable tripod mount

2115g (74.7oz)

* Not including removable tripod mount

It’s worth noting that all lenses here offer stabilization, but Sony and Tamron don’t provide CIPA ratings for effectiveness. Both Sigma lenses are quoted as offering four stops of shake reduction.


Handling

As you’d expect for a lens of this type, the Sigma 150-600mm is pretty hefty. But it’s not terribly heavy for what it is, and as the first ever Sports-line lens designed specifically for mirrorless, it definitely makes the most of its mirror-free format.

By way of comparison, Sigma’s DSLR-oriented 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM ‘Sports’ lens is 2.7cm (1.0″) longer with a 1.2cm (0.5″) broader barrel. And it weighs a whopping 760g (1.68lb) or 36% more than its made-for-mirrorless sibling, even though its focal range and maximum aperture are identical.

Put another way, the mirrorless lens and a fully-loaded Panasonic S5 or Sony a1 body would tip the scales at just a little less than the unmounted DSLR lens alone! But be that as it may, it still weighs 2.1kg (4.62lb) without the camera. So while you can certainly shoot with it handheld if needed, for extended shooting sessions you’ll likely find yourself wanting some support.

The included tripod mount can be removed or swiveled around the lens barrel with nice, firm click detents at the 90-degree positions.

The lens can be attached to a tripod via the included Arca Swiss-compatible mount which connects to a magnesium socket on the lens, or with the mount removed, can be used directly on a monopod. The socket is built into a non-removable rotating ring encircling the rear of the lens barrel whose rotation can be locked with a thumb screw. It has pronounced click-stops at the 90-degree positions, making it quick and easy to accurately switch between portrait and landscape shooting.

The remainder of the lens body is made from a mixture of aluminum and Sigma’s Thermally Stable Composite material, a form of polycarbonate which is designed to expand similarly to aluminum. Build quality is exceptional; none of the controls feel loose, the focus ring is very nicely damped, and the substantial thumb-screw locking hood is a nice touch.

As you zoom in, you’ll definitely notice the balance of the lens shifting forwards. It doesn’t become too unwieldy, though, as you’ll naturally find yourself supporting it with the same hand with which you’re operating the zoom ring. With that said, if you plan on shooting handheld often, it’s definitely best paired with a body that has a deeper handgrip for more stability.

The 150-600mm extends significantly in length as you zoom in, shifting balance forwards noticeably in the process.

Zoom control on the 150-600mm is unusually versatile, and operates in several different ways, as selected by a zoom torque switch which you’ll find in between the zoom and focus rings on the side of the lens barrel. This switch has three positions, labeled ‘L’, ‘T’ and ‘S’.

When set to its ‘L’ position, the zoom can be locked at its wide position, preventing it from being accidentally extended when stored or traveling. The ‘T’ position stands for “Tight”, and while it allows the focal length to be adjusted with a twist of the zoom ring, there’s enough resistance that the zoom shouldn’t creep when the lens is oriented vertically.

Finally, the ‘S’ position stands for “Smooth”, and as its name would suggest this reduces the torque substantially. The lens will definitely exhibit creep if pointed upwards or downwards too much in this setting, but the zoom can be adjusted with much less force. So little, in fact, that you can adjust focal length not just by turning the zoom ring, but also in a push-pull fashion by gripping the lens in front of the zoom ring, just behind the lens hood.

The zoom torque switch allows you to lock the lens when retracted, and adjust torque to prevent lens creep or allow push-pull zooming.

Zooming in this fashion is much faster and also makes it easier to adjust the focal length without accidentally straying from your subject at the longer focal lengths, especially when using the 150-600mm in concert with a teleconverter. And to help give your fingers a little extra purchase when zooming in this manner, the lens barrel narrows at the front half of the zoom ring, and then swells again right behind the lens hood.

As well as this rather clever zoom setup, the Sigma 150-600mm is also unusual in the sheer number of physical controls it offers. As well as the zoom torque switch you’ll also find three customizable buttons on the top, bottom and left side of the barrel between the zoom and focus rings. These default to providing an AF lock function, but this can be customized depending on your camera body.

A little further towards the rear of the lens, you’ll find another four switches. From top to bottom, the first two can select the focus mode, and enable an optional focus limiter that provides both 10m (33ft) to infinity or closeup to 10m (33ft) ranges. The third in the stack selects between the standard or panning-compatible modes for the four-stop optical stabilizer, or disable it altogether. (The panning-friendly mode would be useful for motor sports and similar subjects.)

As well as the zoom torque switch there are three customizable buttons, and four more switches in a stack towards the rear of the lens.

Finally, the bottommost switch is another customizable control, at least for L-mount shooters, who can use it to assign different stabilizer and focus limiter settings that are configured using the optional UD-11 USB dock accessory. Since, at the time of this writing, there isn’t an equivalent dock for E-mount, Sony shooters instead get two preconfigured options for the time being.

When set to the ‘Off’ position on E-mount, the lens uses its default settings which are intended to be applicable to a wide range of subjects. Sigma refers to the ‘C1’ position for Sony as “Dynamic View” mode, and the ‘C2’ position as “Moderate View” mode. In our testing, ‘Off’ behaves as a good starting point for the IS system for general shooting. Switching it to ‘C1’ enables almost a boosted feel, with the lens working to keep the image as stable as possible, while ‘C2’ is a little less intense stabilization than ‘off’. It still keeps high-frequency judders at bay, while keeping the scene fairly smooth – it’s likely a good option for birders or those photographing other fast-moving subjects.

As you’d expect in a lens of this price and class, the Sigma 150-600mm is comprehensively sealed to keep out dust and moisture. With individual seals and gaskets at the lens mount, the seams between sections and every individual switch, button or ring, you should be able to shoot in inclement weather with a degree of confidence.

The front lens element has a hydrophobic/oleophobic coating that helps resist fingerprints or rain drops from adhering.

The front lens element is also coated to repel oil and water, helping both to keep it clear of errant raindrops and accidental smudges. In front, you’ll find a set of 95mm threads with which to attach filters. Of course, with such a large filter diameter you’ll likely find them quite pricey.

One last feature of particular interest is that the rear lens element is inset by quite some distance from the back of the lens. This allows the use of teleconverters, and while we didn’t have these to hand during our review and so can’t comment on image quality, there are two you can choose from – so long as you’re an L-mount shooter, anyway.

Sigma offers both 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters for L-mount. Equipped with the TC-1411 teleconverter, the 150-600mm F5-6.3 is effectively a 210-840mm F7.1-9 lens. And with the TC-2011 teleconverter attached, it functions as a 300-1200mm F10-13. Sadly, neither teleconverter is available for E-mount shooters.

The rearmost lens element is deeply inset, allowing use of Sigma’s 1.4x and 2x teleconverters for L-mount shooters. Sadly, E-mount equivalents aren’t available.

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Autofocus and focus breathing

If there’s a weak spot for the Sigma 150-600mm in comparison to its nearest rivals, it would have to be its autofocus performance. That’s not to say it’s bad, necessarily; it’s still fairly responsive and as you can see from our galleries it’s still up to tasks like wildlife or sports photography. But its stepping motor-based autofocus drive is definitely not as swift as the linear AF used in E-mount competitors from Tamron and Sony.

AF performance varies depending upon whether or not you’re using the focus limiter, obviously. With the full range available, we saw an autofocus rack time of around 1.2 seconds. But enabling the more abbreviated 10m (33′) to infinity range brought this down to around 0.8 seconds, a fairly dramatic improvement. We also noticed that AF performance tended to be better when refocusing from infinity to close-up than it was in the opposite direction.

ISO 1000 | 1/400 sec | F6 | 373mm | Panasonic S5
Photo by Jordan Drake, edited in Capture One 21

Overall, we’d term its autofocus performance as merely adequate. Unless you’re on L-mount, where there are no close alternatives, you may want to consider a rival if you’ll predominantly be shooting more active subjects. But if your subjects mostly won’t vary significantly in distance from frame to frame, the Sigma 150-600mm will certainly do the job.

As noted earlier, the manual focus ring is extremely smooth and well-damped – on a Panasonic L-mount body, you can tell the camera whether you want the focus movement to respond to the speed that you turn the lens ring (non-linear response), or you can have it set so that whatever speed you turn it, the focus shifts proportionally and repeatedly to the amount of turn (linear response).

ISO 160 | 1/100 sec | F6.3 | 150mm | Panasonic S5
Photo by Chris Niccolls, edited in Capture One 21

There’s better news when it comes to close-up focusing, however. At the 150mm focal length, the Sigma 150-600mm can focus to as close as 22.8 inches, yielding a maximum magnification of 0.34x (1:2.9). That makes it quite a versatile lens, capable not just of bringing distant subjects up close, but also of handling close-up photography.

If you need to stay further back from your subjects to avoid disturbing them, though, you can still bring them at least somewhat close at the 600mm telephoto position while keeping yourself a good 3-4m (10-12′) back from the scene. You won’t be able to get nearly as close as you can at the 150mm focal length, though, as you can see in the side-by-side comparison below.

Close-up comparison: Photos taken at minimum focus distance at 150mm (left) and 600mm (right). Images edited in Capture One 21.

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Image quality

A good performance from the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 in most respects, with really great sharpness, a flat focal plane and mostly attractive bokeh. Detail-rich backgrounds can sometimes have a busy, distracting look, though, and flare can be a significant concern even with the lens hood mounted.

Sharpness

At the wide end of its zoom range, the 150-600mm does a really great job, even when shooting wide-open at F5. The focus plane is nice and flat, and detail holds up well to the very high 61-megapixel resolution of the Sigma fp L both in the center and corners. Stopping down to F9 does yield a slight improvement for the centers and a smidgen more in the corners, but you’ll have to pixel-peep to notice the difference for either.

ISO 500 | 1/160 sec | F6.3 | 150mm | Panasonic S1R
Photo by Carey Rose

Of course, you’re not buying a lens like this for the wide end of the range. At its 600mm telephoto, we’re still very impressed with center sharpness even wide-open at F6.3, and there’s only a slight improvement in stopping down to F9. The extreme corners definitely aren’t as strong, though, even when focus is set there. And stopping down to F9 only brings a more modest improvement in sharpness.

Check out our sharpness tests in our sample gallery

For most shots, though, that’s not going to be an issue. You won’t typically put the primary focus of your image in the extreme corners, after all. Overall, we find ourselves very pleased with sharpness from this lens, and happy that the focus plane is flat enough that you don’t need to focus differently for the center and corners.

ISO 250 | 1/250 sec | F5.2 | 161mm | Panasonic S5
Photo by Jordan Drake, edited in Capture One 21

Bokeh

The 150-600mm F6.3 mostly delivers on the bokeh front, too. It can definitely deliver luscious, creamy background bokeh and good isolation, just as you’d expect of an ultra-tele zoom. The falloff in bokeh as you approach and then pass the plane of focus is often quite pleasing, too.

We did, however, find that in some shots whose backgrounds were busy and packed with detail, the bokeh itself could also look rather busy and frenetic, though. (This dragonfly shot is a nice example, as is this flower and this shot of a jet ski on the lake.) This issue can be particularly apparent in transition zones and at the periphery of images, where mechanical vignetting increases.

ISO 250 | 1/250 sec | F6.1 | 423mm | Panasonic S5
Photo by Jordan Drake, edited in Capture One 21

We also noted some issues with specular highlights. The good news is that the nine-bladed, rounded aperture diaphragm yield nice, round out-of-focus highlights even when stopped down to F8 (though this is to be expected, since F8 isn’t stopped down much from wide open, especially on the long end).

But we noted significant cat’s eye effect quite a long way towards the center of the image frame when shooting wide-open towards telephoto, and even after stopping down to F8 it was still quite apparent, if noticeably improved. And while specular highlights are mostly fairly clean, we did notice some slight soap bubble effect at 150mm which became quite strong by the 600mm telephoto. This may contribute somewhat to the busy bokeh we detected in some situations.

ISO 2000 | 1/400 sec | F5.6 | 175mm | Panasonic S5
Photo by Jordan Drake, edited in Capture One 21

With all of that said, overall we found ourselves very pleased by how this lens renders out-of-focus areas.

Flare and ghosting

Sigma includes a lens hood in the product bundle, and it’s definitely worth using. It’s rubberized on the end, secured by a thumb screw, and reversible so you can store it around the lens barrel when not in use.

The reason that you’ll want to use the lens hood is that long telephoto lenses tend to have issues with flare, and this one is definitely no exception. And even with it mounted, when shooting towards bright light sources like the sun you can get a very significant loss of contrast and a washed-out look.

But with it mounted, you’ll at least increase your chances of shielding the front of the lens from the sun in the first place.

ISO 100 | 1/800 sec | F6.3 | 600mm | Panasonic S5
Photo by Chris Niccolls, edited in Capture One 21

Longitudinal / lateral chromatic aberration (fringing)

The Sigma 150-600mm exhibits some lateral chromatic aberration, visible as greenish and reddish fringing around edges at peripheries of the image. However, it tends to only be a few pixels wide at worst, on the fp L’s high resolution sensor, and is easily corrected for in post-processing as you can see below:

Longitudinal chromatic aberration, which typically shows up as magenta and green fringing in front, and behind, the plane of focus, respectively, is well controlled on this lens, and we didn’t find it to be an issue in any of our photos. There’s the slightest bit of bluish fringing in the highlights in the water behind our subject in this photo, but it’s so minor that we almost feel silly for having called your attention to it.

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Conclusion

What we like What we don’t
  • Not as bulky as you might expect
  • Optional push-pull zoom is great
  • Plenty of physical controls
  • Comprehensively weather-sealed, impressively solid build quality
  • Four-stop optical image stabilization
  • Very sharp even when wide-open
  • Nice flat focal plane
  • Bokeh is well-rounded even at F8
  • Chromatic aberrations well-controlled
  • Decent close-up capabilities
  • Competitively priced
  • Autofocus performance lags rivals
  • Rather soft corners at telephoto
  • Bokeh sometimes feels overly busy
  • Significant cat’s eye and soap bubble effects at telephoto, too
  • Quite prone to flare
  • Large filter size adds to cost
  • No USB dock for E-mount (yet)
  • No teleconverters for E-mount either

Since the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports is available on both the Sony E-mount as well as for L-mount cameras from Leica, Panasonic and Sigma, our conclusions will differ depending upon the mount, even though it’s basically the same lens for both platforms.

For L-mount shooters, the 150-600mm is basically unrivaled. The nearest competitor, Sigma’s own 100-400mm optic, just isn’t that close in its intent or capabilities. L-mount shooters also have access to the lens’ maximal versatility, since the company’s customization-friendly USB dock and range-extending teleconverters are only available on that platform.

ISO 640 | 1/640 sec | F6.3 | 453mm | Panasonic S5
Photo by Chris Niccolls, edited in Capture One 21

For E-mount owners, however, there are a couple of direct rivals and also some caveats to bear in mind.

The lack of a USB dock accessory for Sony shooters means you have fewer choices when it comes to customization, at least until Sigma releases a similar accessory for E-mount. And the lack of first-party teleconverters for E-mount means that you’ll either be limited to a 600mm telephoto or will have to assume the risk for trying a third-party teleconverter that could, if you’re very unlucky, result in expensive repairs.

ISO 2500 | 1/640 sec | F6.1 | 429mm | Panasonic S1R
Photo by Jeff Keller

As for the rivals, the Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 offers significantly better AF performance, is better-suited to video, and has both slightly less heft and a slightly lower price. But to get those, you’ll limit your telephoto possibilities and forego any teleconverter support, as well as having to live with a less-bright maximum aperture towards telephoto. And the Sony 200-600mm offers better AF too, albeit for a much higher price and in a much bulkier package.

But overall, we find the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 to be a compelling offering on both platforms. Ergonomically it’s great, in large part thanks to its clever zoom torque control and the push-pull zooming it allows. It’s also a very sharp lens that’s really not as bulky or expensive as you might expect for its focal range and maximum aperture.

ISO 100 | 1/160 sec | F7.1 | 459mm | Panasonic S5
Photo by Chris Niccolls, edited in Capture One 21

And while it’s a bit flare-prone and its bokeh isn’t perfect, it can deliver luscious, creamy backgrounds for many subjects both near and far. Meanwhile, chromatic aberrations are very well controlled. Our major reservations really are around its autofocus speeds. But once you consider its optics, its all-weather versatility, an effective four-stop image stabilizer and a very reasonable price tag, it’s easy to recommend not only for L-mount shooters, but even to those who’ve been considering its E-mount rivals.

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Scoring

Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS | S
Category: Superzoom Lens
Optical Quality
Build Quality
Autofocus
Image Stabilization
Ergonomics and Handling
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports is a great option for Leica, Panasonic and Sigma L-mount shooters. It’s sharp, controls chromatic aberrations well, and provides pleasing bokeh and subject isolation. Flare can be a concern though, and autofocus speeds aren’t as snappy as its peers.

Good for
Landscape and wildlife photographers

Not so good for
Fast action photographers requiring best-in-class autofocus speeds
85%
Overall score

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DPReview TV review

See what our team at DPReview TV has to say about the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS.

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Sample galleries

Please do not reproduce any of these images without prior permission (see our copyright page).

Panasonic S1R

Panasonic S5 and Sigma fp L

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Author: Go to Source