REVIEWS

Reviews made in a slightly different way.
Reviews where I avoid to write too much about technical specifications and other info that you easily find everywhere on the web.
Instead, I choose to focus on how I use these equipments, what is unique about those and what can those add to my photos.
Reviews based on use and not only theoretical assumptions.
A hint of well selected facts, and then the photos will tell you the rest.

Product reviews on photo related equipment that I choose to highlight.

  • Sigma 150-600 Sports Sony FE
  • NiSi 15/f4
  • Sony 12-24/2.8 GM

A while ago I was asked to try and evaluate Sigma’s new 150-600 sports for Sony FE, and of course I gladly said yes. A 150-600mm telephoto zoom with an aperture of f5-6.3, a perfect versatile tool for photographing wildlife. Sigma has offered many different versions of their 150-600 telephoto zoom and even more recently a 60-600 version, but none of them have been available to Sony FE mount.

When Sigma released their 60-600 telephoto zoom for Canon a few years ago, I used it a lot with my Sony A9 and mc11 adapter and with good results. I have used fast aperture Sigma primes, the 14mm F1.8 and 35mm F1.2m offering world class image quality. They have always been in the camera bag when I have been out on night tours to photograph night landscapes and Aurora Borealis. Sigma also has a number of new lenses in their Art series that perform very well, so my expectations for this new 150-600 telephoto zoom were very high.

So how did it go ?

As for reviews, there are plenty of them online where someone in my opinion sometimes put too much focus on presents technical specifications and theoretical facts that you can quite easily find online and on the manufacturer’s website, here I tried to think out of the box. When the lens arrived, I had two days available to evaluate the lens (two and a half to be exact) and my idea was to use this time to try to take as many photos as possible to be able to show with photos and not only with words what this lens can perform. As I am passionate about landscape and wildlife and this is a telephoto zoom that reaches up to 600mm, the choice to photograph animals became quite easy. Immediately after picking up the lens at the post office, I was on my way out to a place where I know there is a good chance to see moose, and hopefully some newborn calves as well. Since then, I have used all 24 hours of the day to try to achieve something good. When it comes to wild animals, it is difficult to fully plan out and predict what you will get. You have to take it as it comes, be optimistic, have a lot of patience and be prepared to be able to quickly take advantage of what nature has to offer right then and there.

Once settled down, I waited for some moose to appear, finally having some time to carefully go through the lens and all the details. One of the first things I noticed was the weight, the lens is about 800gr lighter than before and already at the first moment felt much more well-balanced than previous versions. A new feature that was a big positive detail for me was a new feature called “dual action zoom” which means that you can easily and quickly zoom by sliding the front part of the lens forward or backward, something I think is very useful. A switch has also been added where you can choose to have the zoom locked or movable with two different torque options.

After a long wait, I saw a full grown moose, a little too far away to be able to take pictures, but I slowly and carefully tried to sneak closer. The camera was set on the AFC and tracking animal eyes. Unfortunately, the light was very poor as the sky was covered with dark gray rain clouds. When I had the moose at a good distance, I shot a series of 32 pictures, unfortunately not allowing me to shoot more before the moose ran away. While I was waiting for another chance, I went through the pictures. Sony’s eye autofocus works extremely well, but I know from experience that just eyes on gray dark moose in low light are incredibly challenging. Of the 32 pictures I managed to get, 24 were in focus, which may sound like few but in a situation like this, it is above expectations. After moving to a new position and ‘only’ half an hour of waiting, the moose cow showed up again, and this time with its two calves behind it. The sky was now much brighter, and there was sunlight behind a thin layer of clouds, absolutely perfect conditions. Could go down to more comfortable iso values and when I lay on the ground with desently solid support, I also dared to reduce my shutter speed. One of the moose calves walked slowly straight towards me and from time to time she twisted its head to keep an eye on the mother. It’s the perfect shooting position! I set the camera to 10 / fps and shot a series that resulted in a total of 314 images before the calf went into tall grass and bushes and disappeared from sight.Excited to see the results, I immediately went through all those images, as I really wanted to know how good they turned out to be. I found only 12 pictures where the calf’s eye was not in focus, and of these 12, I could immediately see in 5 of them that it was due to grass straws between me and the moose that made it harder for the autofocus to latch on the object perfectly. This is incredibly good, out in the forest in situations like these you rarely end up at a hit rate that is so close to 100%

Day number two, I decided to try to photograph squirrels. Squirrels are curious and if you have patience you can manage to get quite close to them. It would be interesting to see how the auto focus works on animals much smaller than moose and with an eye as big as a pinhead. After an hour’s walk in the woods, I found some squirrels at an amazing spot. A beautiful forest area with fine vegetation and the ground covered with moss and blueberry bushes. Patiently I laid down on the ground and waited for one of the squirrels to pass on one of the small elevations that were a few meters away from me.

It took a long time before the squirrels dared to appear when they knew I was there, but after a few hours they started to move. They ran around at very high speed and way too far away. Additionally, the Sun was very bright up in the sky, so the light was awful. After a little more than 5 hours of waiting, two of the squirrels started to get really close, and just when the sun moved behind some thin clouds one of them finally stepped up on the small elevation I wanted to have them on, the joy was enormous! It stopped for almost a minute to eat some seeds from the ground and I managed to shoot a few hundred photos.

The same surprising result, very close to 100% of the images were in focus.

Summary:

As I spend an incredible amount of time out in nature, I hold my gear to very high demands on my equipment. My main setup for shooting wildlife is the Sony A1 and Sony A7r IV together with the Sony 400/2.8 GM is the workhorse, I then supplement it with several different tele zooms depending on the purpose. Coming from a 400mm prime lens with a 2.8 aperture and comparing it to a telephoto zoom can never be fair, and it’s very easy to think “but given the price, and given that it’s a zoom, the result is still quite ok ” Here I have to admit with my hand on my heart that this was the first time I did not automatically think that way. Sigma’s new 150-600 telephoto zoom delivers a completely outstanding image quality and it has surprised me positively on so many occasions.

+ In good light conditions and when it is not necessary to use very high iso iso numbers, the auto focus together with the sony A1 is phenomenally good, the accuracy is usually as close to 100% as you can get. However, I have not had time to try flying birds or some really fast moving animals.

+ Lower weight, and feels much more well balanced. Even after several hours of use out in the field

+ New very useful dual action “push/pull” zoom with adjustable torque

+ Very good image stabilizer, Handheld I was able to go for much longer shutter speed than I had thought.

+ The overall image quality is very impressive, especially in the area from around 350.450mm. Excellent sharpness, contrast and richness of details. And a neutral and fair color reproduction. At the longest focal length, the sharpness decreases slightly, but is still incredibly sharp for a telephoto zoom that reaches 600mm

+ Soft and nice background blur.

+ Dust and splash resistant 

+ Then I also have to point out how enormously affordable this lens is, which of course is a big plus. It is very rare that you get so incredibly much performance in relation to what you pay, I am absolutely sure that this will be a big seller.

I really have to make an effort to try to come up with some disadvantages of this lens. Of course, as always, you can wish for even lower weight and larger aperture, but you can never see it as a minus when you then suddenly talk about a completely different lens and product.

One weakness to mention is that the accuracy of the auto focus is greatly affected by the light. When you are forced up to higher iso values, the number of images in focus becomes fewer. And its not supporting the new Sony a1`s 30 fps.

If you were to look at photos in detail, photos taken simply to specifically compare edge sharpness, etc., you can certainly find something you wish was better. But in my opinion, such details are quite insignificant when it comes to photographing wildlife as everything depends on autofocus reliability/accuracy, sharpness, user friendliness, focus speed and versatility to cope with the most different conceivable situations. Out in the field when you are in the heat of the battle, pictures of brick walls at different aperture numbers to compare the sharpness in the corners are completely irrelevant. That is something I leave to someone else to evaluate.

All photos in this review are photographed handheld and with Sony A1 camera body. During post-processing, only parameters such as light, shadows, hue, saturation, and contrast have been adjusted. Parameters such as Sharpness, blur, texture and clarity are left untouched to give an as fair overall impression as possible.

Specification:

Product Name: SIGMA 150-600mm F5-6,3 DG DN OS Sports
Compatible Mount: L-Mount / Sony E-mount
Lens Construction: 25 elements in 15 groups (FLD 4, SLD 2)
Aperture blades: 9 (rounded)
Min Aperture: F22-29
Min Focus Distance: 58-280cm / 22.8-110.2 in.
Filter size: 95mm
Diameter x Lenght: 109 mm x 265mm / 4.3in x 10.5 in.
Weight: 2,100g / 74oz inc tripod socket

Features:

  • Dust and Splash Resistant Structure
  • Dual Action Zoom
  • Internal focusing
  • Super Multi-Layer Coating
  • Various switches suited for Sports-level build quality
  • Tripod socket compatible with Arca Swiss type screw knob clamp
  • New Zoom Torque switch
  • Compatible with Lens Aberration Correction
  • Compatible with the SIGMA USB DOCK*
  • Compatible with the SIGMA Tele Converters*
    *L-Mount only
  • Designed to minimize flare and ghosting
  • Every single lens undergoes SIGMA’s proprietary MTF measuring system
  • High-precision, durable brass bayonet mount
  • Made in Japan 

Hope this review is helpful and that you find it interesting and relevant. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me through the contact form here on my website.

/ Magnus Winbjork

Day trip in Swedish Lapland with the Nisi 15/f4
Took this photo during a day trip to the area around Kebnekaise mountain massif in Swedish Lapland.
The weather conditions were perfect, cold and a clear nice sky.

I really like to compose with the sun in the frame, and with the Nisi 15/4 all becomes like a dream. Being able to get such clear and distinct sun rays and completely without some unwanted reflections is fantastic. I also shoot a lot in white snow covered landscape where it’s very important that a lens gives as less reflections as possible when shooting straight to the sun. In big pure white areas as winter landscape, even a small reflection will ruin the photo. It’s a big benefit to be able to get this kind of sunbeams already at a quite big aperture, cause using too small aperture will easily give you diffraction which is very visible with today’s high megapixel cameras. The nisi 15mm f4 with it´s special design have really open up a new way of taking photos for me, and I’m now more inspired than ever to compose with the sun as an ingredient in my photos.

Frozen winter landscape lit by the moon and Aurora.
For me and from my photography view this is a very special and quite unique photo. To be able to get crystal clear rays from the sun and moon you mostly need to have an aperture from around f14 to f22. With some few lenses you can get clear ones just before f14 but you are still on very small aperture. Shooting night photos in so small aperture is almost impossible. If you want to have a good light on the foreground and if there is also aurora in the composition, f14-f22 force you to use crazy long exposure time, and that’s not possible cause the stars and specially cause of the moon is moving way too fast. It’s also not possible to use a star tracker cause the foreground is standing still. Thanks to the new Nisi 15/4 which gives you crystal clear spikes already at f4 and together with the Sony A7SIII that can handle high iso very well it gets possible to take a photo like this.

F4 is not ideal for aurora, but by pushing up the iso it was possible to manage to get the right shutter speed also on f4. F4 is also enough for let the NiSi give you crystal clear spikes from the moon.

This is one single exposure, no blending and no stacking.
Photo taken with Sony A7S III + NiSi 15/4

+ Good sharpens already at f4, and perfect sharpens on whole area from 5,6-8.
+ Excellent for shooting straight in to the sun.
+ small, compact and light weight.
+ 72mm filter thread
+ Surprisingly little distortion.
– Only downside I can mention is that there is no weather protection.
Off course I have love to have it faster than f4, but can not take it as a down side cause if it where faster the size, weight and price have also been something else.

Coming Soon !