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Thread: A dedicated birding/wildlife lens

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    Member GorgeWalker's Avatar
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    A dedicated birding/wildlife lens

    So.

    Contrary to what I originally thought - I've ended up focusing a lot of my time behind the camera staring at wildlife and some of the smallest birds I can find. My 300mm has got me a number of photos I am happy with, but it's pretty tough closing the distances with some species and hoping to invest in a longer lens to help.

    It will be going on a Nikon d3500. All I have is the camera and two lenses. No tripods etc.

    My current research has led me to read a bit about the Sigma 150-600mm C. Reviews are positive and the pricing on this is reasonable. I'm also considering buying it from somewhere where I can pay it off over a few months - the cash is there however would prefer to "spread the spend". Not something I've ever really done before really...

    So - looking for thoughts and opinions? I know there is also the Tamron and there may be a Nikon option but I don't know too much about them?

    Should I consider second hand?

    Cheers,

    Brendan

  2. #2
    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    From memory 1 (or 2) people here have the Σ150-600C and swear by it.
    Mark L may expound the virtues of the same in S (Sports) version (and it
    has them). But that one certainly requires biceps compared to the C, and
    is dearer. Your idea, or the S, or a Tamron or NIkon version should all be
    suitable.

    Yes, consider buying S/H, if you can ensure some reasonable warranty.
    Look online for some simple lens-tests you can do during such a warranty
    period.

    There's also grey market, but Σ (and others) will not cover lenses bought
    that way. That means any repairs (if you don't get a replacement) will be
    by non-Σ/-Canon/-etc authorised repairers. From "normal" retailers you
    should get genuine warranties.
    Last edited by ameerat42; 19-05-2020 at 6:16pm. Reason: Fix a typo...
    CC, Image editing OK.

  3. #3
    Ausphotography Regular Bensch's Avatar
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    Can't recommend the Sigma 150-600 highly enough.

    I've had one of the 'C' versions for several years now, and it has never let me down.

    Great optical quality to cost ratio
    -Andy
    ___________________________


    All CC is greatly appreciated, the only way to learn is if we share our ideas. I can't be offended, so feel free to share your ideas for improvement.


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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    (^Ah, so that's who one was )

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    Ausphotography Veteran tandeejay's Avatar
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    I just got the C version, as an "upgrade" for my Nikon 55-300. I'm glad I got the C version not the S version. The S version has an extra kg on the weight. But if you need the weather sealing, then the extra weight and cost might be worth it.

    I was happy to pay extra for additional 2 year extended warranty

    So far, the Tawny Frogmouth has seen it a few times but I'm taking it out for a walk in Oxley Creek Commons on Saturday.
    Last edited by tandeejay; 19-05-2020 at 7:11pm.
    John Blackburn

    "Life is like a camera! Focus on what is important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don't work out take another shot."


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    What's this weather sealing I keep hearing about? So I can find myself in the odd light shower now and then... will the C be a problem?
    Last edited by GorgeWalker; 19-05-2020 at 7:53pm.

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    Ausphotography Regular Bensch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GorgeWalker View Post
    What's this weather sealing I keep hearing about? So I can find myself in the odd light shower now and then... will the C be a problem?
    I've been caught in a few light showers while out with the C version, and hasn't been an issue, but I also have a LensCoat cover on it as well (well worth the money).

    Anything more than a light shower, and I take out a rain cover for the lens/camera, haven't had an issue so far (knock on wood).

    For me, it wasn't worth the trade-off for weight and cost to go for the S version. I do believe that the S also has a couple of extra elements in, but I've been perfectly happy with the C.

    Happy to post some images captured with the lens, if you'd like. Just let me know

  8. #8
    Ausphotography Veteran tandeejay's Avatar
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    regarding weather sealing, I don't believe your D3500 is weather sealed, so getting a weather sealed lens, it would still not be wise to be out in the rain as your camera body would not like it...

  9. #9
    Ausphotography Regular J.davis's Avatar
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    I have the C lens and bought it through 'The Good Guys' on interest free. Worked perfect.
    PS get the dock as well while your at it. Can be very beneficial.



    Last edited by J.davis; 19-05-2020 at 9:31pm.
    Regards
    John
    Nikon D750, Sigma 105mm OS Macro, Tokina 16-28 F2.8, Sigma 24-105 Art, Sigma 150-600C,
    Benro Tripod and Monopod with Arca plates


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    Member formerly known as : Lplates Glenda's Avatar
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    Both the Sigma and Tamron lenses give good results. The one thing you will have to get used to with Sigma lenses is that you have to turn them the opposite way to Nikon ones to zoom. Otherwise for their price, I'd go with one of them over the usually more expensive Nikon.
    Glenda



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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Weather sealing, the primary important aspect of it is dust, more than anything else.
    Dust enters lenses very easily, especially zoom lenses. Think of them as vacuum chambers, as you zoom in and out. The lens extends and retracts, and to make this physical size variation easier, it need to vent air.
    If water can't get into a lens that's weather sealed, then it will be a lot harder for most dust particles too as well.

    I'd reckon that any of the lenses currently mentioned will be fine.
    From experience tho, I think all will be a bit unwieldy on the small D3500(same as the D5500), for me they don't feel comfy at all. Not enough counter grip on the body for the right hand to help keep it on the straight and level.
    On the D300 and D800(both much larger bodies) ..
    The problem isn't the weight so much but the length, no matter at 150mm or 600mm, on a small body they feel far too front heavy by comparison to when fitted to a larger bodied(ie. grip) camera.

    In terms of IQ, the most important aspect of this is going to be how you train yourself for it.
    I'd say all these 150-600mm lenses are more like 500mm lenses. The drop off in sharpness between 500-600 can be noticeable, more so when cropped. But again, this drop in sharpness between 500 and 600mm is probably going to be less noticeable than your ability to shoot with it as you learn to use it.

    If birding, some use tripods, some use monopods. When some of the best photographers use tripods you know they must work.
    I just do it handheld myself, can be tiring, and I'm lazy and I generally give up easily, so when the birds are being obnoxious and anti social, I'll pull out the tripod and shoot landscapey stuff

    I've mentioned this before, but the 100-400 lenses from Sigma and Tamron could also be a viable option.
    From all tests I've checked they appear a bit more higher quality in terms of resolution at 400mm than the 150-600's do at 600mm, and even some of the lenses at 400mm.
    More importantly they're smaller light, and this helps with IQ at long focal lengths. They're cheaper too. IQ will be better than the Nikon 70-300 by some margin too.

    That would be my recommendation, maybe the Sigma 100-400(plus the USB console) .... but I reckon the Tammy version would give good results too.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC

    {Yongnuo}; -> YN35/2N : YN50/1.8N


  12. #12
    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    ^A few pics from the users here would test these ideas about IQ drop-off.
    The two pics above, when you dig into the EXIF info on the Flickr site, show
    that they were shot at f=500mm (35mm equivalent). The actual focal length
    would be good to have... John?

    There are some shots like that on AP, but searching...

    Here's one with the Σ150-600S at f=600...
    http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...browed-Finches

    Now for some Cs, Tammy...
    Last edited by ameerat42; 20-05-2020 at 9:25am.

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    Ausphotography Regular Bensch's Avatar
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    Here is a couple taken @ 600mm with the Sigma 150-600 'C'








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    Quote Originally Posted by ameerat42 View Post
    ^A few pics from the users here would test these ideas about IQ drop-off.
    The two pics above, when you dig into the EXIF info on the Flickr site, show
    that they were shot at f=500mm (35mm equivalent). The actual focal length
    would be good to have... John?

    There are some shots like that on AP, but searching...

    Here's one with the Σ150-600S at f=600...
    http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...browed-Finches

    Now for some Cs, Tammy...
    There's a photo of a silver eye in Johns album @600mm that's pretty convincing... so is that little finch!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Bensch View Post
    Here is a couple taken @ 600mm with the Sigma 150-600 'C'
    Yeah....sold lol!
    Last edited by GorgeWalker; 20-05-2020 at 9:31am.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Mark's thread? - I counted 19 finches all up, which nearly comes to two feet

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    Quote Originally Posted by ameerat42 View Post
    Mark's thread? - I counted 19 finches all up, which nearly comes to two feet
    No - in J.Davis' flickr album. Not sure I'm allowed to link - but was a few photos up from the ones he posted in this thread. Really nice photos, as are Bensch's (Just noticed what you did there )

    - - - Updated - - -

    Additional question, a complete noob question.

    I understand the Sigma 150-600mm C is a full frame lens, correct?

    My understanding is this will work fine on my current body, which is a crop sensor. And would also work on a full frame camera if I ever upgrade that way in the future?
    Last edited by GorgeWalker; 20-05-2020 at 9:49am.

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    Ausphotography Regular Bensch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GorgeWalker View Post

    Additional question, a complete noob question.

    I understand the Sigma 150-600mm C is a full frame lens, correct?

    My understanding is this will work fine on my current body, which is a crop sensor. And would also work on a full frame camera if I ever upgrade that way in the future?
    Correct, it will work perfectly on both crop and full frame

  18. #18
    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Re linking to non-yours images: you can't display them, but you can quote the web-page
    they are on. And you can't ask for CC on them (See Site Rules in tab above). You can anyway link
    to a particular post here on AP. To ensure you link to the specific post you want, rather than to the
    whole thread, go to the post, then click on the #post number (eg #16). The post moves to the top
    of the screen, and then you can copy the URL. It will be for that post.

    On lenses...
    And be prepared for people quoting you "equivalent focal lengths" for crop-sensor cameras.
    They mean "equivalent field/angle-of-view", but the intent gets easily blurred into the idea
    that such lenses (for full-frame cameras) give crop-sensor cams some magical "extra reach".
    This can then become a belief

    Do some simple geometry/trig/maths on subject/image sizes, FL/Subject distances...
    Ie, the image size subtended by any given lens does not change with camera sensor size.

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    I may have gotten shutter finger happy....

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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    Weather sealing, the primary important aspect of it is dust, more than anything else.
    Dust enters lenses very easily, especially zoom lenses. Think of them as vacuum chambers, as you zoom in and out. The lens extends and retracts, and to make this physical size variation easier, it need to vent air.
    If water can't get into a lens that's weather sealed, then it will be a lot harder for most dust particles too as well.

    I'd reckon that any of the lenses currently mentioned will be fine.
    From experience tho, I think all will be a bit unwieldy on the small D3500(same as the D5500), for me they don't feel comfy at all. Not enough counter grip on the body for the right hand to help keep it on the straight and level.
    On the D300 and D800(both much larger bodies) ..
    The problem isn't the weight so much but the length, no matter at 150mm or 600mm, on a small body they feel far too front heavy by comparison to when fitted to a larger bodied(ie. grip) camera.

    In terms of IQ, the most important aspect of this is going to be how you train yourself for it.
    I'd say all these 150-600mm lenses are more like 500mm lenses. The drop off in sharpness between 500-600 can be noticeable, more so when cropped. But again, this drop in sharpness between 500 and 600mm is probably going to be less noticeable than your ability to shoot with it as you learn to use it.

    If birding, some use tripods, some use monopods. When some of the best photographers use tripods you know they must work.
    I just do it handheld myself, can be tiring, and I'm lazy and I generally give up easily, so when the birds are being obnoxious and anti social, I'll pull out the tripod and shoot landscapey stuff

    I've mentioned this before, but the 100-400 lenses from Sigma and Tamron could also be a viable option.
    From all tests I've checked they appear a bit more higher quality in terms of resolution at 400mm than the 150-600's do at 600mm, and even some of the lenses at 400mm.
    More importantly they're smaller light, and this helps with IQ at long focal lengths. They're cheaper too. IQ will be better than the Nikon 70-300 by some margin too.

    That would be my recommendation, maybe the Sigma 100-400(plus the USB console) .... but I reckon the Tammy version would give good results too.
    Thanks for the feedback re weather sealing.

    Regarding the lens and body combo - I reckon I'll eventually upgrade the body. When the time comes.

    With a 300mm in the inventory, I don't really feel like a 400mm will be much of an upgrade. I think having the 300mm and a 600mm will be the perfect combo.

    I ended up purchasing the Sigma (yes, I know, happened quick but was on special and thought may as well get it over and done with!). Also bought the dock, the hood and got cheeky and threw in a Manfrotto tripod. Yes...cheeky indeed.

    Completely forgot to look at a bag... as I think I will need a backpack now!

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