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Super-telephoto lens options


I mainly take photos with an EF-S 55-250mm IS(1) on an 80D and recently I've been hankering for a little more reach. My budget unfortunately won't stretch to anything like the 100-400mm L IS II and the Mk1 seems a little too old to keep up with a high-res crop sensor so I've mainly been looking at third party options. The Sigma DG 100-400mm Contemporary looks good, but a part of me wonders if 400mm will be enough. I'm also looking at the slightly older 150-500mm APO and the 150-600mm C but at nearly double the weight of the 400, they may be a little too heavy for comfort.

Does anybody have any experience with the 100-400mm Contemporary on a crop body?

Any people experienced with lugging these bazookas around while chasing birdies, do you think I could get enough detail cropping from the 400mm or is it worth the extra physical reach despite the weight?



Compared to cropping or using a teleconverter, there is no substitute for having a lens with the actual focal lengths you need.  When it comes to photographing wildlife, there is almost no such thing as having too much focal length.  [insert comment here, 2000mm is too much]

I had the Sigma 150-500mm APO.  My advice is to avoid Sigma APO anything.  They are older designs.  I had to leave the OS turned off in my copy because it was constantly getting into a tug-of-war with the AF in the camera.  I do not believe updating the lens firmware is an option.  Sigma introduced the 150-600 C, instead.

I would recommend the Sigma 150-600mm C with the Sigma Docking Station over the Sigma 100-400mm.  Are those 150-600s big and heavy?  Yeah.  Do I shoot with one hand held?  No, i use a monopod or a tripod.  How do I carry it around?  I use a holster that is designed to carry it.


I prefer the holster over a harness for the added protection when hiking and against the rain..

I recommend buying the lens you want, not something to get you by for now.  It is cheaper over then long run.  Because you will wind up buying the lens you really want at some point down the road, anyway.  And, the lens you buy now to get you by for now becomes a paperweight.

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For 5 or 6 years my initial camera setup, purchased before a trip to Botswana, was the 60D and 100-400 mm lens (Mk I lens). This was in 2013. About 5 years later I bought the Mark II version of the 100-400, which I use now on a 7DII, photographing mostly birds. The 60D and 7D have APS-C sensors. Honestly, I saw no discernibile difference in the photos from these two lenses. I know the performance with the MkII lens is supposed to be better, and others might say it is, but I have not seen it. I still slightly prefer the slide zoom design of the MkII lens.



There are several factors here to consider.  Your budget, your subject and what you will produce- by which I mean the format and size of images you need for your output - be it print or digital.  Finally, but not insignificantly, what you are prepared to carry.

So far, I know you are shooting with a crop sensor, your subjects are birds, but not what you will produce.   I can only concur with my esteemed colleague Bill (Waddizzle) for every point he has made.   I have shot wildlife for four decades and agree that 400mm is challenging for reach when photographing birds.   I too have the Sigma 150-600c lens and find it has a great range - on your crop sensor body it has an equivalent focal length of 240-960mm, which is great.   I shoot hand-held in available light and have found the lens handles well  for me, but I make the effort to do weights to handle the lenses I use, which include much heavier lenses than the Sigma we are discussing.  I would definitely agree that a holster is a good idea for protection of the lens and your comfort.

The lens, for its reach, is one of the lightest available and as Bill pointed out, with the Sigma docking station you can upgrade the firmware and tweak the setting for focus speed and image stabilization for your needs.  It has some weather sealing but is not as well sealed as the much heavier and expensive sports version, which has much the same optical performance.
If price is an issue, you may well come across a good used one, as a constituency of photographers dispose of their EF lenses to get native RF optics for the new R-series mirrorless cameras.

There are many reviews of the Sigma available on You Tube, and I would suggest checking out a few that may indicate that they use DSLRs like yours: sigma 150-600mm and canon eos 80d - YouTube.

BTW, I had the Canon EF 100-400 MkI and sold it to get the MkII version.  Personally, I did find a difference in the quality and usability, and unlike my colleague Edward, I prefer a twist system over the push-pull one - but that is purely a personal matter of taste.  I still have that lens, but use the Sigma far more for its extra reach.

cheers, TREVOR

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I'll give a 3rd nod for the Sigma 150~600c

v2.03 is the latest and probably the last FW that will be released for it.



  • It has optimized the exposure during viewfinder shooting when used in combination with the EOS 90D and the EOS-1D X Mark III.
  • It has fixed a rarely-occurring communication problem during Live View shooting when mounted on the EOS-1D X Mark III.

They can be had used for a very good price.  The dock is a wise investment, especially if you plan to own other Sigma (Global Vision) Art, Contemporary or Sport) lenses.  It will work very well with your 80D.  

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And one more endorsement for the Sigma 150-600 C lens. I bought it as a general purpose lens for hiking and the performance is far better than I expected.

Weight wise it doesn't seem heavy to me but I shoot sports hand holding a Canon 400 f2.8 and although I normally use a monopod with my Canon 800 f5.6, I have used it handheld.  So I may not be the best judge weight wise but the Sigma feels pretty light to me.

The photos below were from the first trip where I used it last year. I think it came in about a week before I took off for the Smoky Mountains so all I did before leaving was to make sure that it worked and I also dialed in the AF adjustment using the AF micro focus adjustment in the camera.  So there wasn't much of a learning curve with it.

It isn't of the quality of my Canon 400 and 800mm primes but the price of the Sigma is just a fraction of the cost of either and it is lighter and more versatile.  I have used it more than I originally expected.



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Now for my take. If I were buying today I would buy the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2. I also agree you should get the lens you need and not settle for one that is almost as good. It is always cheaper in the long run. You can buy used if you need to help reduce the cost. I have owned and continue to own all the releases of the so-called super zooms. The Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 is the best of the bunch. Not that the Sigma offerings are bad they aren't but the Tammy is just a tad bit better IQ wise and is weather sealed some margin more than the Sigma C models. The Sigma Sports model is sealed better than a bank vault!

My regular super zoom I use all the time is my Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens. I am 77 and if I can carry this anchor all day you can certainly carry a Siggy C or the Tamron G2. I use the Black Rapid Sports strap. I choose this model as my goto lens for its extreme build and total weather sealing. I can carry it and take it anywhere knowing its as tough as my 1D Mk IV and 1DX.

My experience with the Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM Lens is long. I have had three copies of this lens. The first two were not good, useable perhaps, but this third one is excellent. It works perfectly. It is sharp. Its OS works as expected. So if you get the chance to buy one make sure you try it on your camera before you lay your money down. Anybody that downs a lens because they had trouble with one copy is an idiot. One copy is not a sampling of the entire model run. I mean it could be but several copies must be compared before such a statement can be made. If you find a good one you will have a good lens.

I think if you settle for a 100-400mm you will regret it later. I have the Sigma TC-1401 1.4x Teleconverter whichs works. You need to know that it will add some limits but if you can overcome them the tel-con works well on either the SIggy C or Sport model. I have not tried the Tamron G2 with a tel-con as I do not like teleconverters in general and don't have a Tamron tel-con. I am not even sure they make one but I suspect they do.

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