Sigma 60-600mm Sport f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Review by David Rogers
David Rogers writes about his impression of the Sigma 60 – 600
I recently went on assignment to Botswana for ORMS* using the Sigma 1:4,5-6.3 DG 105 Sport 60 – 600 mm lens. I usually travel with the Nikon 80 – 400 (1,3 kg) and 200 – 500 (2,3 kg) that being able travel with this one lens at (2.7 kg) and cover an even wider range was a bonus. As a photo guide, being able to pack, travel and shoot with one lens for 90% of the time on a shoot was just groundbreaking. I like to work on my clients shots and do not want my gear to compete for space with my clients. Being able to shoot wide and shoot close means that I could get close up and wider shots with a twist of the wrist. For most of the time on this shoot, my second camera, a mirrorless, equipped with a wider-angle lens stayed in my camera.
The build and weight
If there was a happiness index for shooting I would give this lens 10/10. The lens is made in Japan and it shows. It is certainly more solid than the Nikon lenses in the same range particularly the Nikon 80 – 400 which is a flimsy lens. It is a fairly heavy bit of lens at 2.7 kg and you need to be sure that you are comfortable with the weight of the glass. I could pan and follow birds very easily. I also took the lens up on a helicopter flight when I really enjoyed the benefits of shooting with one camera. It performed perfectly and I did not find the weight an issue. I gave the lens to a couple of women in the group who were using the lighter Sigma 150 – 600 and and they said that they found the 60 – 600 too heavy for their liking. The lens does not balance very well with my light weigh z series mirrorless cameras but with my D850 it felt great. II’s standard ARCA groove integrates with my Wimberly head and also the ARCA plates on my tripod. The tripod collar is also really solid and firm.
Quality of image
As you will see from the images that I took during the trip, the sharpness and quality of the images was pretty fantastic especially in the longer range. It was every bit as sharp as my Nikon 200-500 and just so much more flexible. It was a little soft on the corners when shooting wide frames (60 – 120mm) and at wide open apertures but I was also able to get images that I would not have been able to get had I been shooting with two cameras. When a flock of birds flushed into the sky in front of me I was able to zoom wide and capture them in the sky. Similarly as leopards and lions approached the vehicle from afar I was able to go from zoom to wide very easily and get great shots. OK, its not going to give you the stand out quality of a f2.8 lens or the bokeh effects you can get from a prime lens but the quality is fantastic.
The glass and focus
The lens has 25 different elements that include 3 FLD and one SLD element. This means that its corner to corner sharpness through the focal range is a priority for the builders of the lens This lens is basically a wildlife tool with the bonus of being able to shoot wide . At 600mm its is really very sharp especially if you shoot at a decent aperture of F8 or more. And given the ability to setup up ISO its possible to shoot at this sort of range even at low light. I would say though that being a landscape shooter, I would always have a second 24 – 70 mm 2.8 lens to cover this side of the range. But since landscapes don’t move you have plenty of time to get the second camera out the bag. My overall impression of this lens is that it is sharp, covers a wide zoom range and has excellent stabilization (rated as 4 stops) allowing for easy hand hold shooting.
The lens comes with two stabilisation settings — and I tends to use Setting 1 was this allows good up and down stabilisation but does not affect panning. It also comes with a focus limiter but is not something that I bother with too much. There is also a Manual Overide setting which allows you to lock focus even when using Continuous focus. It might be useful for some shooters, but as I tend to use back button focus most of this time so this was not that useful.
I missed a few of the early shots getting into the zoom position mostly because the rotation works the reverse of Nikon but I got used to this fairly quickly. The lens has a pumper zoom, but it was well weather sealed and dust sucking did not appear to be an issue. All of the focussing occurs internally and this also adds to the speed of focus. Amazingly the lens is able to focus at just over half a meter at 60 mm and at less than 3 meters at 600 mm. At 600 mm it was sometimes a bit hard to grab focus especially for dark subjects, but this could be the same with any lens of this length.
As a Nikon user for more than 40 years, I have always worked with branded Nikon lenses as they promised the highest quality and build. Sigma has been chomping at Nikon heels for many years and in 2011 was actually sued for infringing on its VR technology. Their wide Art lenses are said to be even better than Nikon and am interested to try them out too. I really liked this lens and on a happiness level it gave me 10/10 and I was also really impressed with the sharpness particularly at the high end. It is a game changer for wildlife and sports shooters wanting to work with just one camera. If you want to blow your images up airport size then you might see the effects of quality on the edges, but if you are not a pixel peeper you will find that this image is going to provide really impressive prints. Considering that it’s really two lenses in one and could save you the price of an extra wildlife body the prices of R30 895 it is extremely good value. It was launched in October 2018 and which has fittings for Nikon and Canon Cameras.
Written by Sigma Pioneer, David Rogers