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Help. What lense to buy.

Marc38
Apprentice
Hi all and thank you in advance for your help! I want to buy a new lense for my dad. He has the cannon 550d. He loves wildlife n taking photos of birds etc. Money is not important it just has to be a really good lense for the job. As im sure you can tell i know nothing about any of this and would really appreciate some pearls of wisdom from the experts! I tink he has a lense that goes 150-500 a sigma i think. I can find out.
22 REPLIES 22

TCampbell
Elite

Sigma makes a 150-600mm "Sport" version and also a "Contemporary" version.  Since you said "Money is not important it just has to be a really good lens for the job"... the "sport" version is the higher cost lens (about $2k) but is the higher performing version.  The "contemorary" version costs about half the price ... but doesn't perform quite as well as the sport.

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da


@TCampbell wrote:

Sigma makes a 150-600mm "Sport" version and also a "Contemporary" version.  Since you said "Money is not important it just has to be a really good lens for the job"... the "sport" version is the higher cost lens (about $2k) but is the higher performing version.  The "contemorary" version costs about half the price ... but doesn't perform quite as well as the sport.

 


A year ago, I would have probably conceded that you are correct, that the “S” has better image quality than the “C”.  

 

The “C” lens was slow to focus, a bit soft above 500mm, and a bit loud when focusing.  I did not carry it that much, and had been considering selling it, or passing it on to one of my sons.  The question of which son is all that stopped me.

 

But, Sigma released a firmware update, which supposedly contained a complete rewrite of the AF system.  I installed it, andI can tell you that that “C” is totally different lens.  Not only is it sharper, but it focuses faster and quieter.  Plus, the OS system seems to do what it is supposed to do, instead of engaging in a tug-of-war with the camera controlling the AF.  I can turn on the OS, and actually use it. instead of leaving it turned off all of the time.

 

I have no idea how they were able to make those improvements strictly through firmware, but Sigma has really nailed it.  I would hope that they may have released something similar for the “S” version of the lens, or maybe it is in the works.

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"The right mouse button is your friend."

I own both versions of the big Siggy super zooms. The "C" and the "S".  There is no debate the "S" is a better lens.  You may debate whether it is worth the additional cost better but not that is it isn't better.

 

Also there is no way a firmware update can make a lens sharper.  It can correct OOF conditions or mis-focus conditions, etc.  A lens is what it is.  Unless it is physically altered it is what it is and will always be.

 

I do agree the latest firmware update was/is worthwhile.  I suspect it effected the OS system.  The big downside to the "S" is it is so heavy.  However, it isn't any different than any big lens in this catagory with this extreme duty build.  If you are used to 'kit' lenses the "S" is going to be hard to get used to. You are better of buying the "C" version.  If you generally use big lenses and big cameras like a 1 series, the "S" is no problem.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

My Sigma 150-600 C got that firmware upgrade & is a killer at my R/C work plus pretty sharp. I don't think I've shared this here but a good friend & pro Canon shooter is also a very skilled R/C pilot. A few years back he had ISS Commander Chris Hadfield plus all the Snowbird pilots autograph 1 wing of a plane he flies & for fun I'd try to get a crisp enough shot to read the autographs. I had been trying at a shutter speed that gave prop blur on a few occasions but on 1 pass on a nice sunny day where he was flying l to R and doing a constant set of rolls I got this shot. The first sample shows the full frame at low res & the second is a crop of the signatures. Canon 1D4, ISO 200, f6.3 @ 468 mm, 1/2000 sec hand held. I have rotated the frame so it & the crop are oriented the same. Remember it's moving left to right & constantly rotating. 

 

INGR8977v1.jpg

 

INGR8977v1.jpg

 

 

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."


@cicopo wrote:

My Sigma 150-600 C got that firmware upgrade & is a killer at my R/C work plus pretty sharp. .  

 


Exactly.  The firmware upgrade created an entirely new lens.  

 

 


Yes, the lens SYSTEM is actually sharper now.  The lens was always pretty sharp when manually focused, but not as sharp when it autofocused.  If you were doing any sort of panning, then the OS had to be turned off.  It was too soft over 500mm.  It was kind of loud, noisy and clunky sounding.

The lens could have been described as missing focus, and in need of micro-adjustments.  I spent months testing and adjusting my lens, and got it pretty sharp below 400mm. But, i still had the issues with noise, hunting, and panning with OS active.  I had improved the autofocus at 500mm and above, but it still seemed a little soft at 600mm.

 

The firmware update fixed all of that.  I recorded all of my in-camera focus adjustments, and reset them back to zero.  Applied the update, and took it out on a few test sessions.  It performed like an entirely different lens.  It was not only quieter, it no longer hunted when tracking.  It acquired focus much faster.  The OS system actually works like an OS system should when you are panning.  

 

Finally, it was tack sharp at all focal lengths, and not in need of any focus micro-adjustments.  Sigma really nailed it.  

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"The right mouse button is your friend."

I haven"t spent any time doing Micro Focus adjustments to any of my lenses since I bought (& MF'd it) the 7D way back when it came out. The lenses I shoot the most seem to be more than adaquate as bought.

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."

" I spent months testing and adjusting my lens, and got it pretty sharp below 400mm."

 

Prhaps you would care to show us some before and after shots?

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!


@ebiggs1 wrote:

" I spent months testing and adjusting my lens, and got it pretty sharp below 400mm."

 

Prhaps you would care to show us some before and after shots?


I tossed all of the test shots.  So, I went through and tracked down a couple of similar "before and after" shots.  Both are photos of a robin, using the 6D at 600mm.  No crop, but I used LR to limit file size to 4500 kB.  All of the shots are more, or less, straight out of the camera.  I only applied an import preset with lens correction, default LR settings, and WB adjustments.

The first image is a "before", which was taken not long after I had purchased the lens.  I noticed that it was slightly front focusing at short focal lengths to major back focusing at longer focal lengths.  It was all over the map, and did not seem to focus consistently, either.  Most of the apparent blur and bokeh distortion is from the OS.

 

IMG_4905.jpg

 

The second image was taken after I was more or less "done" with calibrating the lens.  At some point, I had to stop tinkering with it, and just walk away from that project.  I tried to find a similar shot to the first one, but one that showed DOF.

 

EOS 6D2017_05_189575.jpg

 

I have no comparison shot of a robin after the firmware upgrade.  So, here is a shot of 12 year old, Pee-Wee football, which was shot at 600mm with the 6D Mark.  This shot has +1 Ev of exposure added in LR6.

 

EOS 6D2017_10_221701.jpg

 

Let me know what you think of the differences.

--------------------------------------------------------
"The right mouse button is your friend."

My lens does not and did not exhibit what the first photo shows.  The others look typical for that lens.

 

As a matter of fact none of the other three or four "C" lenses I have used show what yours did for whatever reason.  I suspect yours did have an OS problem.  Even the first two Sigma Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM Lenses I had didn't do that. They were pretty bad believe me.  The third one is nice.  One even went to Sigma but was not any better when I got it back.

 

The "C" just isn't in the same class as the "S", IMHO.  I rarely use it anymore.

"C" below  (before FW update)

1D4_6604.jpg

 "S" below.

_DS33437.jpg

 If menory serves me well, I think both were shot at f8 but different FL.  The Franklin's Gull being the more difficult to do, however.   I usually shoot f8 with Av with any or all of these lenses.  Makes that easy to remember.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

I cannot tell which of your shots was taken with which lens and update.

Meanwhile, here is an uncropped shot from the same game, but at 300mm focal length.  This lens is all I need!

 

EOS 6D2017_10_221791-2.jpg

Cropped version.  Look at the big kid's eyes.

 

EOS 6D2017_10_221791.jpg

 

[turning cartwheels]  I am not sure how they were able to fix an OS problem through firmware, but I would suppose that OS is a 100% software feature, anyway.  Typo in the previous post.  All shots are with the 6D.

My 1D Mark IV is starting to show it's age.  Newer camera bodies seem to get much better performance out of the newer generation of lenses, than the 1D Mark IV.  However, the 1D Mark IV more than holds its' ground with older lens designs.  The Sigma 150-600mm is an older lens design, but the firmware upgrade is really a killer, Ernie.

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"The right mouse button is your friend."
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