About a yr and a half agone, I bought the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.iii Contemporary lens. I don’t photograph wildlife very oft these days, merely I wanted a lens handy for those occasional times when I needed some extra reach. I ended up keeping it in the trunk of my motorcar, permanently, for those times when I’d spot some wildlife from the road, but I also got some use out of information technology for shooting sports. Information technology’s cheap for a 600mm lens, at about $999 (or fifty-fifty less).
Higher up Photo: Frank Clark, #55 defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks, shot with the Sigma 150-600mm lens at 600mm at 2018 preparation camp.
Just months subsequently I purchased the lens, though, Sigma announced a new lens: a more compact 100-400mm f/5-6.iii. With a similar price tag (about $700, now) and identical aperture range, I was initially surprised that anyone would consider trading the actress reach for a smaller lens, but I quickly started hearing from readers that this was the kind of thing that they were looking for, so when Sigma sent me i to test out, I was intrigued to find out which i I’d prefer using myself. This is what I plant.
Size and Weight
Size and weight are the simply reasons that I’d consider going for the smaller lens, here, though for some people, particularly APS-C camera owners, the accomplish of a 400mm lens is sufficient. You’ll accept to decide based on what kind of work y’all shoot, just when information technology comes to bird and wildlife photography, I notice that more than achieve is e’er better.
There is a significant size difference. The 100-400 is actually smaller than a Canon seventy-200mm f/2.viii IS Two/Three lens, weighing ii.55lbs compared to the Canon’s 3.28lbs, and the Sigma is 7.2″ long while the Canon is vii.viii″.
The Sigma 150-600, on the other hand, weighs iv.3lbs and is just over 10 inches long, with its hood adding another three.5″ to that length. It looks pretty impressive, if you’re the blazon of photographer who cares about that sort of thing. Sometimes looking the part is important, after all.
It’s worth mentioning that both lenses are compatible with the Sigma dock, but simply the 150-600 ships with a tripod-mount collar. The 100-400 is merely pocket-size enough that you lot can probably get past without one, which is practiced because you’ll have to…. there’s no accompaniment collar available.
Let’southward start off with the basics: how large a difference is there, really, betwixt a 400mm and a 600mm lens? Is 400mm enough? I can’t answer the second question for you, only I tin can give you an thought of the departure.
Here’southward an image I shot with the 100mm cease of the 100-400mm zoom lens from Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, with Mt. Rainier in the background.
I re-framed and shot the mount top, and also the peak of the Space Needle at 400mm and 600mm. The differences can be seen here (click to enlarge).
Similarly, I shot the downtown scene at 100mm and at 150mm, the near finish of each zoom. In this case, the wider lens offered a much more bonny field of view, being able to capture the skyline and Mt. Rainier at the same time, but of course, the practicality of a particular lens depends entirely on your goals and location.
Here we have a couple of shots of the acme of the Infinite Needle (again), one from the 400mm end of the 100-400mm at f/6.three and one shot at
(according to the metadata) with the 150-600mm lens, as well at f/half-dozen.3, where there is well-nigh likely to be a difference in prototype quality.
These are 100% crops.
For these to be 100% crops, you’ll need to view the images on a screen large plenty to display 900px wide images
The differences are minimal at this resolution and are confounded by the slight deviation in focal lengthii
This is more than than the 3mm difference; likely the 400mm end of the 100-400mm lens does non quite reach a true 400mm focal length, as is the instance with almost zooms.
and the mile of air betwixt the lens and the subjects.
Out of curiousity, I decided to meet what the image quality from the 400mm lens would await similar if information technology were scaled up to lucifer the resolution of the 600mm. Does it play out equally expected?
Yes, the scaled-upwards image quality is actually quite bad compared to the native 600mm, as expected.
It was mid-winter when I started testing these lenses, and I wanted to check their autofocus capabilites, then I began by looking for some winter wildlife. Unfortunately, fifty-fifty with a 600mm lens, the harbor seals in Port Gardener Bay stayed beyond of my reach.
Football game season was long past (for the Seahawks and local schools, anyway), and long telephoto zooms like these are no employ for indoor basketball. Then, I headed upwardly to Stevens Pass to see how things looked on the slopes.
And there, I had ameliorate luck. With the reach of these long lenses, I didn’t have to hike besides far up the mountains to catch the action. I took several hundred shots, and had no problem with either lens tracking skiers and snowboarders every bit they shot down the runs. Autofocus performance was very similar between the two lenses, and they both did well later on achieving initial focus, which was sometimes slow.
I was hoping that I’d discover a major difference in autofocus speed or tracking capabilities to requite me a good reason to recommend one lens or the other, simply with my Catechism 5D Mark III, the tracking was quick and reliable with both, fifty-fifty in poor calorie-freeiii
I misjudged how much daylight I’d accept at the time of year in the mountains, and the northern slopes where I was shooting were in deep shadow for nearly of the time that I was shooting, which forced me to employ an ISO of 3200 or higher to become decent shutter speeds.
As a general rule, I was always happy to be carrying around the lighter 100-400mm lens while I was moving, but there was rarely a fourth dimension when I was shooting that I didn’t wish I had a little more attain.
In fact, when shooting with either of these lenses, I found that I shot overwhelmingly at the long limit of the zoom range, either 400mm or 600mm. Shooting at sports events with the 600mm end gave me the liberty to capture more than intimate, portrait-like shots of players. On this detail twenty-four hour period at the Seahawks practice facility in Renton, WA, I shot 496 shots with the 150-600mm lens. Of those shots, 306 were at 600mm, and another 88 were shot between 500 and 600mm (more often than not simply below 600mm).
Similarly, on the day at Stevens Laissez passer, I took 504 shots with the 100-400mm lens. Of those, 261 were shot at 400mm (with 368 betwixt about 300 and 400mm). These numbers would accept been even college had I not been testing the autofocus by shooting subjects that were closer to me (and, thus, harder to focus).
Both lenses are splendid for providing sharp, close-upwards details of small or distant subjects, just more than importantly to me is their ability to compress distant backgrounds into a frame and to isolate interesting shapes and patterns for better compositions. Of course, that’s true of any long telephoto lens.
Where the coverage of these two lenses overlapped, I didn’t find whatever significant difference in image quality; they were both sharp and moderately contrasty, without too much baloney, though there is some pincushion at the telephoto ends that needs correcting. And while they are sharp, they do non accept the vibrance and contrast of a Canon “L” prime number telephoto, which is to be expected, since these Sigma lenses are most ane/10th of the toll. However, a modicum of judicious post-processing brings them very close.
Autofocus was as well accurate and moderately fast, though achieving initial focus tin can sometimes be dull.
So, should you go the 100-400mm or the 150-600mm?
Since in that location are no major differences in image quality, yous tin safely make the decision based on your knowledge of yourself equally a lensman. The 150-600 will requite you better zoom range and, thus, more detail when shooting distant subjects,
but only if you’re willing to carry information technology. If you’re the blazon of photographer who is going to leave it behind considering y’all don’t want to deal with the size and weight, information technology won’t practise you lot whatsoever good… of course, the best telephoto lens is the 1 that you accept with you lot.
If yous’re going to be traveling light with your equipment and take express infinite in your luggage, then the choice is obvious: the 100-400mm is an excellent selection and gives you bully image quality and reach.
However, if you’re not absolutely constrained past size restrictions and y’all call back you’ll be able to forcefulness yourself to deport the extra weight,
going with the 150-600mm lens. It covers almost the entire range of the smaller lens but gives you lot plenty more to really make a difference, specially with skittish wildlife. Incidentally, I bought the cheaper (about $810) “international version” and purchased a 3rd party warranty with it that gave me broader coverage, and nevertheless ended upward paying less.
As usual, I’m happy to answer any questions that y’all might have near these lenses and their employ. Just let me know in the comment section below.