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Thread: Sigma150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO v. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR

  1. #1
    epmi314's Avatar
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    Sigma150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO v. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR

    I am considering purchasing a new lens for wildlife photography mostly. Both of these lenses have pretty good reviews. There are some that feel the Sigma is a little soft from 300mm - 500mm and the AF is a tick slow. The Nikon lens is similar to the 200mm lens I currently have and use quite a bit so it is a "known quantity". I do like the idea of having the extra reach but if the quality is lacking then it makes no sense to pay for it.

    The second thought would be to get the extra reach with a teleconverter but I have heard similar concerns with softness at full reach.

    Anyone have experience with these two lenses, especially the Sigma?

  2. #2
    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Sigma150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO v. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED

    Scott,

    I have the Sigma 150-500 Canon mount, and I love it. You can see some of my better shots taken with it on these posts on my blog.

    Couple things to keep in mind when looking through them.... First, I'm not the greatest photographer, so many of the problems with the shots may be attributed to my mistakes and not shortcomings of the glass. Second, the shots will be a mix of hand-held and tripod mounted, but even the tripod mounted ones are questionable since it was a cheapie tripod/ball head. Third, some of the shots are taken with a Kenko 2x tele-converter, so any problems with the images may also be from that - though I believe I clearly include that in the shot data when possible.

    With that said, I still really like the lens and am looking forward to getting better with it. I do agree that the AF is a tad slow, but that might just be my impatience with wanting to get better with the lens and finding things to blame.

    I also believe that Geoff has this lens as well, so he'll likely chime in too (probably with much better examples and experience).

    - Bill

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    epmi314's Avatar
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    Re: Sigma150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO v. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED

    Bill,

    Thanks for your thoughts. Great pics, especially the Vroom Vromm series. It is good to hear directly from someone who has the lens. Sounds like it takes a little getting used to but with some patience and practice you can get some really good shots. I'm may or may not be a little overly enamored with the reach at the moment. Trying to sort it out and you have been very helpful.
    Thanks again,
    Scott

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    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Sigma150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO v. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED

    Quote Originally Posted by epmi314 View Post
    Bill,

    Thanks for your thoughts. Great pics, especially the Vroom Vromm series. It is good to hear directly from someone who has the lens. Sounds like it takes a little getting used to but with some patience and practice you can get some really good shots. I'm may or may not be a little overly enamored with the reach at the moment. Trying to sort it out and you have been very helpful.
    Thanks again,
    Scott
    Scott,

    I'll be honest... when I bought the lens, I bought it for *exactly* the allure of the extra reach. I took it out a couple times and came back with absolutely nothing good from it. I had a serious case of buyers remorse and was giving serious consideration to returning it and buying something different. In the end though, I decided to keep it and kept working with the lens, and have since started getting better with it. It might just be me, but I do feel this lens has a bit more of a learning curve than other lenses. Maybe it is just the added reach tends to accentuate little mistakes.

    It definitely is a fun lens to have access to though.

    Good luck in your decision... And thanks for the compliments on the shots.

    - Bill

    PS: What is your avatar a photo of? Is that a dog? lion?

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    epmi314's Avatar
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    Re: Sigma150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO v. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED

    Would have taken a great deal of reach to get me that close to a lion LOL! Actually, it is my dog. The blue eye of my Australian Shepherd to be exact.

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    Re: Sigma150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO v. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED

    Yes, as Bill said, the Sigma 150-500 is a great lens for the money but with a few considerations in the 'small print'.

    My chief reservations are that I would consider it to be a 'good light lens' which is what you would expect at F6.3 and I would recommend using it at F8 or F11 for best results.

    The OS stabilisation does work well, but obviously with a big lens you still get better results with a sensible shutter speed (say 1/250 or faster) when handholding.

    I find that it is perfectly sharp at the full 500 mm which surprised me.

    As Bill mentioned, auto focus is a fraction slow, which is understandable for such a big lens, and with a fair amount of travel between extremes. But when the distance is less (ie you are already at the approx length) it isn't too bad. And auto focus does seem to 'lock on' quite easily.

    I don't know about your alternative lens suggestion.

    Before purchasing the Sigma I did consider a Canon 300mm plus converter; a 400 mm plus 1.4x; and a 100-400 which would probably need a converter sometimes.

    I already had a Canon 70-300 IS but I wouldn't consider that suitable for a converter, and the Canon model doesn't fit anyway.

    Eventually, I thought that the convenience of 150-500 for a long distance general purpose zoom outweighed the alternatives. Although the 400 is well liked by bird photographers; but the long minimum focusing distance (around 11 ft) put me off this option.

    Your Nikon alternative would work better as a general walk around lens but I don't know if it would successfully take a converter. Many zooms give poor results.

    And just to confuse the situation; have you also considered the Sigma (Bigma) 55-500 which is favoured by some wildlife photographers? There is a stabilised version now but I think it is a bit pricey.

    I suppose that a lot will depend on exactly what you wish to photograph.

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    Nass's Avatar
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    Re: Sigma150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO v. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED

    I have the Pentax version which doesn't need in-lens stabilisation - it's produced the goods for me. Sharpness is good across the range, I bought this rather than the bigma because I figured that with the smaller range the quality might be a tad higher. Seems to have worked out. Tried it with a TC a few times but the results were less than stellar.

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    Re: Sigma150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO v. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED

    I just bought the 55-300 Nikkor and when it comes in, I will let you know what I think. I've tried out three Sigma lenses and found them all to be soft and pretty much across the board.

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    Re: Sigma150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO v. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED

    Geoff,

    Thanks a ton. Basically sealed the deal! Hopefully, I'll have some shots up soon.

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    Re: Sigma150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO v. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED

    I wasn't sold on the TC(s). No use in spending good money on something with less than stellar results. Thanks! Don't know if you pay attention to golf but there was a nice little match in Surrey last week. Donald and Westwood, two of my favorites.

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    epmi314's Avatar
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    Re: Sigma150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO v. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED

    Do let me know. Maybe I'll get a the 300mm as well. The price is resonable and I am very accustomed to the 200mm Nikkor. Like I said earlier, I may be too enamored with the extra 200mm of reach the Sigma has. Only time (and about $1500) will tell!

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    Re: Sigma150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO v. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED

    I bought the Sigma 150-500 for my Nikon D5000 in a moment of hubris, and was disappointed enough with the early results to consider selling it. Im sure it is me, and I will be giving it another try this weekend before deciding. Two issues: Handheld does not work for me, and autofocus slow and a bit unsure of itself.

    In my frustration I also bought the Nikon 70-300. The autofocus appears to come from another planet - quick and reassuring, and handheld I get more acceptable photos cropping photos from the Nikon than with the extra reach of the Sigma. So expect to spend time getting on friendly terms with the Sigma, and do not have too high hopes for handheld shots.

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    Re: Sigma150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO v. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED

    Well a fleet footed 70-300 should focus faster than a lumbering giant like the 150-500.

    If you want to use 500 mm for a realistic price some compromises have to be made.

    Try that lens at F8 or F11 with something around 1/500 and you might get better results. But you do need to be a little bit 'gentle' with it and work within it's limitations.

    There was an early batch of these lenses which did have some production problems and produced rather soft images. But I haven't heard of any problems over the past year or so.

  14. #14

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    Re: Sigma150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO v. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED

    I took my Sigma 150-500 mm to a local pond this weekend, to see if I could get on speaking terms with it. I have posted a couple of samples on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/len_elg...7626763213689/ . These are full size unedited JPEGs straight out of the camera. The duck (image #768) was shot at 200 mm, the rest at 500 mm. Tripod mounted, cable release (but I did not use mirror lock up, the strong sunlight made the screen too hard to read..).

    As I suspected, the problems were mostly me, although the "lumbering giant" does take its time to focus at maximum extension. And of course, most birds have camouflage evolved to outwit sharp-eyed raptors..

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    Re: Sigma150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO v. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED

    Nothing wrong with those photos, Lennart. Very sharp and you have even coped well with black and white colours on the same bird, which is always tricky.

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    Re: Sigma150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO v. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED

    I don't use a nikon, but i've seen alot of photos ,from other sites, that were shot with the 300 f/4. It looks to be a very nice lens. Combined with a 1.4TC and your 200mm, you would have a great wildlife setup.

    I personally use a canon 300f/4 and a 1.4TC, with excellent results. There is almost no image loss with the converter, and if your as picky as i am, you won't be happy with a zoom. Most of the time, the upper end of a zoom is not as sharp.(and that is the part you will use the most)

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    Re: Sigma150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO v. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED

    Just a question... Since a 1.6x camera (at least a 1.6x Canon) cannot auto-focus with a lens that has a maximum aperture smaller than f/5.6; what happens with this lens when itis extended all the way out and becomes an f/6.3 aperture?

    BTW: I like my 300mm f/4L IS lens and use it often with a 1.4x TC giving me a 320mm f/5.6 lens with quite decent IQ and AF. I do, however, wish it were a zoom. But, I can't have everything!

  18. #18

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    Re: Sigma150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO v. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Just a question... Since a 1.6x camera (at least a 1.6x Canon) cannot auto-focus with a lens that has a maximum aperture smaller than f/5.6; what happens with this lens when itis extended all the way out and becomes an f/6.3 aperture?

    BTW: I like my 300mm f/4L IS lens and use it often with a 1.4x TC giving me a 320mm f/5.6 lens with quite decent IQ and AF. I do, however, wish it were a zoom. But, I can't have everything!



    The lens will work at f/6.3, but when you add a converter and it becomes a f/8, the auto focus will not work anymore.

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