Monday, October 10, 2016

Reviewing the Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 for Nikon

This lens has been around for quite some time. There is already a newer version of this lens, which is actually a 150-600mm lens, not to mention it comes in two versions, sports and contemporary. The present review is about the older 150-500mm lens, one of those so-called "Bigma" lenses that Sigma produced, with a high zoom ratio reaching to long focal lengths.

A 500mm lens can be very useful for (very) long shots

+ very useful range in (very) long focal lengths
+ now that there is a newer lens available, there are screaming deals on this older one
+ you can think whatever you want, but Sigma's build quality has been pretty great in the past decade

- image quality is not bad, but don't expect miracles, particularly at the final 100mm
- heavy, chunky, big, fat, pick your adjective...
- slightly inconsistent autofocus (it's an f/5-f/6.3 lens, remember)

Straight out of the camera at the longest focal length. We've seen worse, we've seen better. I think you get about what you pay for, and maybe a bit more. A bit of post-processing could greatly improve this image.

Intended Users
Great for:
  • despite its shortcomings, it's (still) an awesome introduction to wildlife photography
  • for the paparazzi out there, and paired with a DX camera that makes it a 750mm lens at the long end, expect a very long reach on your neighbors ;)
  • sports? Sure, but with plenty of light

Not for:
  • low light. It's a slow-aperture lens, and together with the long focal lengths you'll need plenty of speed to achieve a sharp picture (OS helps but it's not panacea).
  • if weight is important (and sometimes it is in wildlife photography), consider your options. Then again, there aren't many small and light long lenses.
  • in absolute terms, we've seen better in terms of image quality. But certainly not at this price range

Final Verdict

Like with so many other lenses, the Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 is about value: now that the new model is out, the value of this old lens is on very good levels. You get a lot of "lens" for your money, and especially people interested in wildlife photography should definitely take a look. Does it have shortcomings? Yes. Can you work around them? Mostly yes, depending on the situation. Would I rush and buy a much more expensive lens without trying this one first if I were an amateur? Definitely not.

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