Airshows Reviews

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Contemporary user review

November 20, 2015

Many will be thinking of buying the new Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM (either Sports or Contemporary) for use at airshows. Both this and Tamrons new 150-600mm has brought some really great telephoto lenses to the masses with a lens that costs under $1,000. Over the last year or so I have rented both from lensrentals and thoroughly enjoyed both.

As a result I wanted to share some of my thoughts and images taken at this years Chicago Air & Water Show.


Below is a snapshot from my iPhone showing the overall size of the lens attached to the Nikon Df. Its not exactly a subtle lens! But considering what it does and the fact that the hood makes up about 20% of its length its actually not too bad. I used it for an entire day on the beach and it worked flawlessly. I found the AF was fast and accurate. It was probably about the same as the Tamron. Both are fantastic lenses at their price point and allow you to capture some amazing images at a relatively low cost (particularly if you rent!)

The image below was a crop and it was quite dark so I lifted the shadows a fair bit. Gives it an almost painted look. Not to everyone’s taste but it highlights how incredibly precise their flying is!

DSC_9158Shooting the blue angels was relatively easy, as with jets you can bump up the shutter speed and not worry too much without any propellers to worry about! The only challenge was it was about 95F and it was so bright, trying to keep the aperture around f8-10 was actually quite difficult at times! I found the end result though to be impressively sharp all things considered and gave me plenty to work with in Lightroom. You can literally see the pilots face in the image below.

Sigma-150-600mm-2One major issue I did encounter that was nothing to do with the lens was my Nikon had an amazing build up of dirt on the sensor that I didn’t realise was there! You can still see a little bit of it in a few of these images but I used LR spot removal on the worst of it. It has now been cleaned but amazing how it can sneak up on you! I should say, this happened after around 20,000 shutter actuations so probably shouldn’t be a massive surprise.

Overall I would thoroughly recommend the Sigma – its not small but considering the flexibility it gives you combined with something like the Nikon Df its an excellent combination. I am not a massive fan of big bulky cameras and prefer fixed primes for normal shooting but for this type of purpose I love these big zooms. Overall compared with the Tamron it is hard to say if one is better than the other as one was used on a grey day at Duxford in the UK and the Sigma was used on a spectacularly clear day in Chicago. But I would say either would do an admirable job and give you images that you can be quite proud of.

Any questions, please let me know!