Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO Review

Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO Review

The Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 is one of three Sigma telephoto zooms with reach out to 400mm or beyond,Since these are relatively low-priced options for telephoto reach, they are somewhat popular with the budget conscious.

Specification:

The optical formula is 21 elements in 15 lens groups, which puts this lens into the “very complex” range of lens designs. Three of them are SLD (Special Low Dispersion) elements. Super Multi Layer (SML) coating helps keep internal reflections to a minimum. Filter size is 86mm.

HSM refers to a built-in lens motor, much like AF-S, so this lens will work on all modern Nikon DSLRs (it won’t work on a number of older film cameras, though). Optical stabilization is built in and features two modes, very similar to Nikon’s older VR system. Sigma claims three to four stops of improvement.Sigma makes two HSM APO teleconverters that can be used with the lens: 1.4x and 2x. However, given the relatively small aperture of the lens, using them will put you beyond the autofocus capabilities of the camera. Thus, you’ll have a 210-700mm or 300-1000mm manual focus lens using them. Also, you’ve already got 30 surface/air boundaries, and adding a teleconverter will add several more. I wouldn’t expect sharp, high contrast images with the converters in place.

The lens covers FX format, presenting a 5 to 16 degree angle of view (diagonally) on FX and a bit more than 3 to about 11 degrees on DX. Close focus is about 7’3″ (2.2m), presenting a maximum magnification of 1:5.2. A removable rotating tripod mount is included, and the handle has finger cutouts for comfort while carrying. The lens has a focus scale, but no DOF or IR markings. An AF/M switch allows you to switch between autofocus and manual focus on the lens. At the minimum focal length, you can lock the lens with a switch so that it does not slide out to a longer focal length on its own, though I didn’t find that my lens had the tendency to do that. There are 9 aperture blades. There is no dust/moisture protection built into the mount.

The lens is about 10″ (252) in length without hood or zoom extension. It’s almost 16″ fully extended. Weight is about 4 pounds, 3 ounces (1910g). Some of the weight reduction is due to the use of polycarbonate in the lens barrel and other pieces.

Handling :

The 150-500mm is a quite manageable lens for getting to 500mm. You don’t need a huge case or a lot of muscle to carry it.

The focus ring is closest to the body and smooth for a budget lens. Focus goes from near to far in about a 60° turn of the ring, which puts it in a pocket between too short a throw that doesn’t allow much discrete focus tuning and too long a throw that forces the hand through awkward position changes. The zoom ring on my sample was also smooth, though stiff. Frankly, that’s better than being non-stiff, which leads to zoom creep as you’re carrying (though the lens has a lock to prevent this should you encounter it). The zoom range goes from minimum to maximum in about 45 degrees, which also feels about right.

The removable tripod mount is nicely done, and easy to tighten down into a very solid platform. You can still get some lens movement if you don’t lock it down really tight, and it’s not perfect, but in practice it’s slightly better than what Nikon gives you on much more expensive lenses.

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