Home > My Equipment Review > Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM Review

Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM Review

Sigma 150-500mm f5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM Lens Review

 

Product information:

Website: http://www.sigmaphoto.com/shop/150-500mm-f5-63-apo-dg-os-hsm-sigma

APO –  Stands for Apochromatic.  This is Sigmas mark for their higher end lenses in which they use “special low-dispersion (SLD) glass” in order to produce the “highest quality images” and  “minimize color aberration”.

DG- Stands for digital, as this product is designed for use with Digital SLRs.

OS – Stands for optical stabilization…this is Sigma’s vibration reduction technology aimed at minimizing image blur caused by camera shake.

HSM- Stands for hyper sonic motor…  The lens autofocus motor is driven by ultrasonic waves to provide a quiet, highspeed AF.

Compatible with Sigma, Nikon, Canon, Sony, and Pentax digital SLR bodies.

Compact design weighing only 4 pounds & approximately 10 inches in length when not extended

Personal Experience:

First of all, let me tell you a little about myself as a photographer.  I am predominately a nature photographer and would mainly call myself a bird photographer.   I bought my first digital SLR (Nikon D300) back in 2007, so I am by no means an expert.  Photography has been my main hobby since then, and it was apparent early on that the Nikon 18-200mm lens that I initially purchased with my camera  just wasn’t cutting it for bird photography.  As a result, I started looking for an inexpensive lens that would give me the reach that I needed.   I did my homework and decided on a new lens that was about to come out by Sigma.  So, I purchased the Sigma 150-500mm f5-6.3 lens the week it first came out, and was one of the first people to post my results with the lens.  Of course, my inital impression was probably overly positive since it was such a dramatic improvement from the severely over cropped photos that I was accustom to with my Nikon 18-200mm lens.  Anyone who might have read these initial reviews of the Sigma 150-500mm from a more naive version of me, would have thought it was the best lens ever produced.  Over time using the lens however, my impression of the lens came back down to earth and evolved into a more realistic view that I would like to share in this blog.

Before you read further, I should tell you that I no longer own the Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 lens, but I did use it  for over a year before it was sold.  My experiences with this lens are definitely not all bad.    So what are the postives and negatives of this lens you might ask?  Well to start with a positive note, this lens is one of the most inexpensive ways to get this much reach in a lens.   I purchased mine for $979 which is cheap in comparison to other lenses with this focal length. 

The image stabilization system (OS) does works properly on the 150-500mm, but there is a slight delay from the time you depress the shutter release button half way, until the OS is fully engaged.  I think it was this issue that lead to some bad reviews when the lens was first released.  Some people claimed that the OS system did not work properly.  My theory is that either they in fact had bad copies of the lens or that they were not not allowing enough time for the OS to “kick in” (about a second or two) before they would start firing away.   As a result, you would end up with blurry photos that were not image stabilized.  If you allow the OS a second or so to properly engage, then it works just fine.  This is different from the Nikon lenses that I own in which the image stabilization is almost instant.  The major drawback to this delay is the obvious potential to miss photos while you wait for the OS to engage.  With that said, the lens is extremely handholdable when the OS is activated.  I used it almost exclusely handheld during the time that I owned it.  Because of its hard plastic body construction (not metal), it is actually a relatively light lens for the size. I think most people, including my mother-in-law who owns this lens, can handhold this lens all day and not get tired. 

The autofocus speed is completely acceptable though not as fast as my nikon lenses.  It is also not completely quiet compared to my Nikon lenses, but overall this was not a problem.  The construction of the lens is decent, as I mentioned before it has a hard plastic body found on many Sigmas.  One minor complaint would be that this lens has a slow lens creep when pointed towards the ground.  The longer I owned the lens and more I used it, the faster this lens creep would get.  Not a huge problem for me overall, but annoying.  Fortunately there is a lens lock button, but it can only be engaged when the lens is fully retracted at 150mm. 

As one would expect with an aperture range between f5 to f6.3, speed is not the strong point of the lens and thus nor are low light situations.  I found myself using it often during times of day with less flattering light (mid day) simply to obtain the shutter speeds that I needed to eliminate camera shake and freeze the motion of my subjects.  This was often a major issue since the early morning and evening are often the best times to photograph wildlife.

Most impotantly and the reason that I sold the lens is that I was not completely satisfied with the image quality that I was seeing on a regular basis.  Personally, I am a perfectionist and want the ability to take tac sharp photos, assuming my technique is good.  I am probably my own worst critic when it comes to my photographs, but the Sigma 150-500mm lens left a lot of room for improvement with respect to overall image quality, sharpness, and detail.   No matter what I would try (handheld, tripod, wireless shutter release, etc) the image sharpness and quality just wasn’t anything to brag about.  The exception to this weakness would be when subjects are relatively close and you are using the lens to get a tight zoom.   I found the image quality to decrease  as I exceeded 400mm…especially past 450mm.   Because of this, I found myself frequently shooting at 400mm and rarely using it over 450mm in order to preserve some image quality.  Also your distance to the subject greatly affects the image quality with this lens, more so that other lens I have used.  The 150-500mm lens performed relatively well to very good when a subject was close (within 10 yards (9.1meters) or so), but the image quality would decrease as the distance from the subject increased.   It did however provide consistently good results even to 500mm for very close subjects that I was trying to get a close-up/portrait type photos. 

 After over a year of owning the Sigma 150-500mm lens, I purchased the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8VRII lens and the Nikon 1.7x teleconverter (TC-17EII).  This combination would give me up to a 340mm f4.8 lens and this was close to the Sigma for me since I typically tried to use it around 400mm for best results.  For a while, I would shoot both lenses on the Nikon D300 and D90 camera bodies so I would still have the option to shoot 500mm if needed.  During this time, I had the opportunity to take numerous similar photos with both the Sigma 150-500mm, and Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 with the 1.7x teleconverter (some comparison photos below).  It was soon clear to me that I was getting better results from cropped photos with the Nikon 70-200m f2.8 plus 1.7x teleconverter than those with the Sigma (again I only used the Sigma up to about 450mm).  The results with the Nikon combination were overall sharper at the edges, more overall detailed, and had better color and contrast.  After a while, I just didn’t find myself using the Sigm 150-500mm lens anymore, so I decided to sell it.  On a side note…a few months after selling the Sigma,  I decided that the 340mm I was getting with the Nikon 70-200mm plus teleconverter was no where near enough reach for the type of photography I enjoy.  As a result, I made another massive investment and bought the Nikon 300mm f2.8 VRII lens and new Nikon TC-20EIII (2.0x) teleconverter.  This combination gives me up to a 600mm f5.6 with excellent image quailty.  In essence I have gone from one extreme to the other.

Pros & Cons Summary:

Pros:

-Inexpensive lens (~$1000 or less)

-Occasional Excellent image quality

-Very good for relatively close subjects

-Overall effective Optical Stabilization system (but has slight delay)

-Compatible with multiple manufacteur’s camera bodies (Sigma, Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax)

Cons:

-Slow lens f5-6.3  (f5 at 150mm and f6.3 at 500mm)

-Lens creep

-Normal image quality usually Good at best

-Image quality decreases significantly past 450mm

-Distant objects are not a strong point

-Slight delay in Optical Stabilization system

-Hard plastic construction (feels a bit cheaper than metal)

Final Recommendation:

So the million dollar question.. do I recommend this lens and would I purchase it again if I knew then what I know now??

As far as recommending the lens, that depends on the photograpaher who would be buying it.  I would  probably strongly recommend the Sigma 150-500mm  lens to people who don’t see themselves getting too serious about their photography.  I say this because I think only people who do not look at photography as a serious hobby will be completely satisfied by the quality of images consistently produced by this lens.  This sounds harsh to some I am sure, but it is my honest opinion.    For those “soccer moms or little league dads” out there who want to get a little closer to the action  (with adequate lighting of course), or for the nature enthusiast who owns a camera and wants to take some photos to share with family and friends, this is a great lens for you and is a bargain at $1000!   This also could be a good long lens for those photographers who are uncertain whether or not they really want to get serious enough to justify spending  thousands of  dollards on a lens.  Finally, it is a perfect lens for a potentially serious photographer who is on a budget and at the time can not afford a more expensive “brand name” lens.   I would definitely fit into this latter category when I purchased this lens a few years ago.   I would be hesitant to recommend this lens to a serious wildlife photographer without a lengthy disclaimer.

Would I purchase it again if I could go back in time?  Yes, I think I would.  I learned a lot about photography when I owned the Sigma 150-500mm lens.  I quickly learned the lenses weaknesses and had to improvise my shooting style and camera settings to make the most of what I had.  Don’t get me wrong, I was able to take some very usable photos with this lens when I owned and hopefully some photos below demonstrate this.  For me, it was all part of the learning process.  Plus, I take great care of my gear and was able to sell the lens for close to what I bought it for.  So in the long run it is basically like I “rented” the lens for a year at a really great price!  Anyway, that’s my opinion of the Sigma 150-500mm f5-6.3 lens.  Below are some sample photos to highlight the strengths and weaknesses that I mentioned above.  Hope this review was helpful and informative.  Feel free to leave you experiences or other feedback.

  Sample Photos with Sigma 150-500mm lens (below) : These photos are meant to show the variable results (good and not so good) that I captured with this lens on a day to day basis.  These are not meant as a “best of” for this lens.  I recommend looking at the photos at regular and highest magnification.  Highest magnification is where you will see for yourself if these are the type of results you would be satisfied with.  At normal magnification many images are acceptable, while at higher magnification you will see that the lens produces softer edges than you will see with a Nikon or Canon lens ( in my opinion).  Sometimes the results are similar or with only subtle differences.  But see for yourself and make up your own mind…

(BELOW) Sigma 150-500 at 150mm  (there is some atmospheric aberation from the heat)

(BELOW) Sigma 150-500 at 500mm (there is some atmospheric aberation from the heat)

(BELOW) Sigma 150-500mm at 500mm

(BELOW) Sigma 150-500mm at 500mm

(BELOW) Sigma 150-500mm at 350mm

(BELOW) Sigma 150-500mm at 350mm

(BELOW) Sigma 150-500mm at 380mm

Comparison shots between Sigma 150-500mm and Nikon 70-200mm

(BELOW) Photo taken with the Sigma 150-500mm at 290mm

  

(BELOW) Photo taken with the Nikon 70-200mm at 200mm

Notice that the photo below taken with the Nikon has better overall sharpness, contrast and color.

(BELOW) Photo taken with the Sigma 150-500mm at 500mm

Overall this is a nice photo but compare the sharpness and contrast with that of the Nikon combo below

(BELOW) Photo taken with the Nikon 70-200mm with 1.7x tele at 340mm (not cropped)

(BELOW) Photo taken with the Sigma 150-500mm at 450mm

(BELOW) Photo taken with the Nikon 70-200mm with 1.7x tele at 320mm (cropped) – Notice more details of the feathers and talons compared to the Sigma.

(BELOW) Photo taken with the Sigma 150-500mm at 500mm

(BELOW) Photo taken with the Nikon 70-200mm with 1.7x tele at 300mm (cropped)

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS ADDED BELOW  ON  3/6/11

(BELOW) Photo taken with the Sigma 150-500mm at 500mm : This caracara was very far away and the resulting image is very soft at 500mm and this was actually the best of the group. 

(BELOW) Photo taken with the Sigma 150-500mm at 500mm (cropped):  This sickly looking tern was also very far away and this photo has been cropped.  Higher magnification shows that the feathers and beak have some softness at the edges.

(BELOW) Photo taken with the Sigma 150-500mm at 500mm :  This Yellow-crowned night heron was relatively far away and this photo at highest power shows what I would consider “normal” results with this lens.  The edges are soft and have a loss of detail.

(BELOW) Photo taken with the Sigma 150-500mm at 500mm

(BELOW) Photo taken with the Sigma 150-500mm at 500mm:  This shows the strength at closer distances with nice preservation of feather detail.  Subject as also stationary.

(BELOW) Photo taken with the Sigma 150-500mm at 500mm: Another relatively close subject (Great Blue Heron) with nice preservation of detail.  Subject was also stationary.

(BELOW) Photo taken with the Sigma 150-500mm at 500mm : Another relatively close subject with good detail.

(BELOW) Photo taken with the Sigma 150-500mm at 500mm : Higher magnification of this photo will show some loss of feather and beak detail.  At lower magnification the photo is usable IMO.

(BELOW) Photo taken with the Sigma 150-500mm at 500mm:  Actually works as a fairly good macro lens at time.  I was very close to this moth and there is nice detail in this one.

(BELOW) Photo taken with the Sigma 150-500mm at 500mm:  Another photo take very close to the subject.  This is a real strength of this lens IMO

  Feel free to leave your feedback or thoughts…  Also check out Thom Hogan’s review on this lens at the link below.  I think his findings are similar to mine but read for yourself at : http://bythom.com/sigma-150-500mm-lens-review.htm

-KSQ

http://ksqphotography.zenfolio.com/

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Categories: My Equipment Review
  1. maximegousse
    January 20, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    I like how you were able to shoot comparable pics. I too own the Sigma 150-500 OS and I too am now aware of its limitations. Working on getting the money for the next big one…

    Max

    PS: I have shared your review on my blog here: maximegousse.wordpress.com

  2. January 27, 2011 at 5:14 am

    Thanks for the feedback and sharing the link! It is always nice to have people leave comments. Cheers!

    KSQ

  3. David
    March 6, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Good review of the 150-500mm lens. I was thinking about purchasing it but after reading your review I have decided that I’m not going to. I own a Canon EOS 450D.

  4. March 6, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Thanks for the feedback. I actually decided to post several more photos today in order to better represent the lens’s strengths and weaknesses. I don’t want to be too harsh on it since this lens may be adequate for some people’s needs, but not for everyone. KSQ

  5. Cedric
    May 28, 2011 at 10:04 am

    You say: not for everyone. What would you recommend as alternative for someone using a D7000 and who is not willing to buy 3 times cheap but rahter one time good time. [ofcourse considering this lens costs 900Euro in my coutry and I’m not willing to pay 4 times this price]

    greetz

    • May 28, 2011 at 3:28 pm

      Cedric,
      You bring up a very valid question. I will be the first to admit that Nikon has really not given us any great economical options to fill this focal length void. That’s also why I also initially purchased the Sigma 150-500mm. Some might suggest the “dinosaur” Nikon 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 lens, which I am still hoping to see reintroduced with improved optics and VR. Who knows when and if that will happen anytime soon. As you probably read above, I tried the 70-200mm f2.8 VRII with teleconverters for a while. This lens does rather well with the 1.7x and even produces nice reaults with the TC-20EIII (2.0x) teleconverter. But that setup is not cheap at all plus the addition of a teleconverter! So back to square one…bascially that the Sigma 150-500mm is still the best current lens of this zoom range for the price and in absence of other economical alternatives. I wish I had some better ideas but there just really aren’t any in the nikon lineup that won’t cost you a few thousand dollars (Euros) or more. Thanks for the comment
      KSQ

    • May 29, 2011 at 4:11 am

      Cedric (or Greetz),

      Ironically there was a forum posting today regarding the Nikon 80-400mm that I mentioned. Seems like everyone is hoping for an update soon but really doesn’t know. One person posted about his experience with the lens if you are interested at the link below. Specifically make sure to read “PHXAZCRAIG” posting. Hope this at least gives you more idea about this particular lens.

      http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1030&message=38537551

      -KSQ

  6. Jay
    May 30, 2011 at 1:37 am

    Wonderful review.
    Thanks.
    What about trying the sigma 50-500 instead of the 150-500, it seems to get better reviews?

    Also, for me, I am currently using the D7K and 16-85, but am considering the Nikon 70-300. Have you ever had a go at it? Combined with the 2X converter it would be hugely cheaper that your most recent setup. Is it appreciably inferior ?

    • May 30, 2011 at 4:49 am

      Jay,
      Thanks for the comment. Honestly, I do not have experience with the Sigma 50-500mm. I have heard mixed reviews on it though. It sound like some of people’s impressions are depends on the “copy” of the lens that they got. I hear that alot about Sigma lenses with regards to there being “bad batches”, with others working fine. I don’t know about this from personal experience (unless you assume my copy of the Sigma 150-500mm was bad), but it makes me leary of purchasing when the quality of the equipment I am getting seems like a game of chance. You may have seen this forum discussion on dpreview about this topic but if not, check it out below:

      http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1030&message=38534278

      There are plenty more similar postings on dpreview that you can search for that discuss both of these lenses.

      As far as the Nikon 70-300mm, I have not owned it. I know a couple of people who have or had it at one time. I think overall it is a pretty good lens for the price by itself. It is actually not really made for use with teleconverter if you want to still use autofocus. Since this lens is a f4.5-5.6, it will not work with most teleconverter…well at least not with autofocus. You probably could use it manually (not positive of this though) , but either way this really limits your ability to use the lens in my opinion. Both lenses that I use with telconverters are f2.8 (70-200mm f2.8 & 300mm f2.8), so they will still let enough light in with a teleconverter to maintain autofocus. So that is a major difference.

      Hope this helps some…

      KSQ

    • Steve Bootsy
      August 14, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      I own a Nikon D7000 + Nikon 70-300mm and the Sigma 150-500mm. The Nikon is sharper and better detail than the Sigma-but you can’t really use a 2x converter on the Nikon 70-300mm which is bad but you can put a sigma 2x on the 150-500mm (manual focus though). If only I had a few thousand pound/dollars spare!

  7. Jay
    May 30, 2011 at 5:27 am

    Thanks for clarifying about the autofocus not working in the slower lenses, I did not know this. I thought it was just an issue of losing a stop or so and considering that improvements in high ISO you can compensate for that with a new camera for much less money than some of these lenses (300 2.8 > $5K & > 6lbs!!).

    The link you posted from dpr is actually how I found your blog. The picture in that thread by the OP is quite nice I thought.

    what part of the word do you live and where do you shoot those wonderful pictures of them birds?

  8. May 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Jay,

    Yea as a general rule of thumb, teleconverters will maintain autofocus ability with practically all f/2.8’s and some f/4’s (or with a maximum converted aperture of f/5.6..for example my 300mm f/2.8 becomes a 600mm f/5.6 with the 2.0x teleconverter). The f/4’s ability to maintain autofocus is more dependent on the magnitude of the teleconverter you are using and the amount of light available. For example, I know that the 500mm f/4 and 600mm f/4 work great with the TC-14EII (1.4x) teleconverter with proper light and will still allow autofocus. Actually Nikon still puts an astericks “*” by these lenses on the list of compatible lenses for their teleconverter, and states “Only limited AF possible with AF-S 500mm f/4D ED-IF (II) and AF-S 600mm f/4D ED-IF (II).” By the time you get to the TC-17EII (1.7x) teleconverter, autofocus is pretty much gone in combination with most f/4 lenses. Nikon doesn’t even list the 70-300mm lens on the compatibility chart with the teleconverters, so I am not sure if this means that the optical forumla of the lens is not even compatible with the teleconverters, or just that they didn’t intend use with the lenses left off the list. In case you are curious in the future, check out Nikon’s website or here are three links to B&H website for each teleconverter with a list of compatible lenses:
    TC-14EII:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/228165-USA/Nikon_2129_TC_14E_II_1_4x.html

    TC-17EII:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/337511-USA/Nikon_2151_TC_17E_II_1_7x_Teleconverter.html

    TC-20EIII:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/672202-USA/Nikon_2189_AF_S_Teleconverter_TC_20E_III.html

    As far as location…I live in Houston, TX USA. Houston is actually about 45minutes from the Gulf of Mexico coastline and is close enough to the equator that it stays pretty warm year round. So we have tons of birds that live here throughout the year, plus it is on the migratory route for numerous bird species that go south for the winter months from Canada and the nothern United States. In all, it makes for a birder’s paradise 🙂 Actually, I was never very interested in birds until I got my camera. I have grown quite fond of bird watching now however, after taking time to watch their behaviors and photograph them. If you are into bird photography feel free to checkout some of my other photos at link to my photo website below.

    Where are you from and what type of photography do you do??

    http://ksqphotography.zenfolio.com/

    -KSQ

  9. Abe
    June 2, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    Thanks for the link to your pictures. They are stunning! I couldn’t get enough, even my four old loved it!

    I list in South Florida and would have thought we here would have as many birds as your have in TX but maybe I need to get me some serious glass to find out. LOL The only place I got to see very many birds was in Costa Rica in 06. I photograph mostly landscape and people, esp the kids (we have two daughters, 2.5, and 4.5). Birds interest me but you can’t get by bird watching on a shoe string budget. Who knows, maybe that will change. I did order the Nikon 70-300 two days ago, as there was/is a special at B&H that reduces it by $200 when purchased together with the D3100. So I will put the D3100 on Ebay as soon as I get it. And from what I read it seems that for price the 70-300 is decent. I will be using it on the D70s and D7000 until a replacement to the D700 is available. I have been waiting for that since 1.5 ago when my D300 was lost.

    When I had the 18-200 I learned that the long end, the 200, is not really what you get when you extend the lens, unless you are focusing at infinity. It could much closer to 135. The 18-200 was the only long lens I had. But I was told this is standard with all long zooms. Can you tell me is this the same with the prime telephoto lenses such as the 300? and how about when you add the teleconverter, does this add to this phenomenon?

    Do you do a lot of work in post processing? What do you use for PP?

    Abe

  10. June 3, 2011 at 3:52 am

    Abe,
    Thanks for the taking the time to comment and compliment! I also am starting to work on my “people photography”, as my wife and I have a 10 months old son. I can’t wait until he really starts moving around and eventually starts activities like sports, fishing, etc. He and the other kids on his future sports teams will defintely be well documented if I have anything to say about it! This was actually also something I was thinking about when I purchased/invested in the Nikon 300mm f2.8. Man, I sure hope they like sports since I am already making all these plans 🙂

    As far as the 70-300mm lens, I think it is a pretty solid lens for the price. I don’t personlly own it, but know others who do or have, and there were never any complaints with image quality. Sure low light can be a problem for it and it may not be “tac sharp” at 300mm wide open, but I think you will be very happy with it.
    I also own the 18-200mm and find it to still be one of my most commonly used lenses for everyday shooting. Honestly, I am not aware of any change in focal distance depending on how you are focusing. I mean, 200mm is 200mm…so that is news to me if it is different. Where did you read this or hear it from? I am very interested to know…perhaps it was a misunderstanding? As far as the prime lenses, the are “stuck” at a certain focal distance so there is not changing that.

    As far as post-processing, I try to be a minimalist most of the time. I find that photos have a higher tendency to be criticized if you go overboard with post processing, and I have had some people comment that photos I have posted appear over sharpened. This actually taught me a few things about controlling my in-camera setting (which I previousy had not looked at much). First you need to know what your in-camera settings are. For example, if you shoot on “vivid” mode then your photos will be very saturated, the color hue will be exaggerated, and more than likely the in-camera sharpening will be jacked all the way up. So, this will produce photos that really “pop” with color and contrast, but may actually look “better” than reality. Many photographers don’t like this, think it’s amateur looking, and you will hear about it if you are posting these types of photos on forums looking for feedback. Most will “accuse” you of over post-processing when in fact you may not have, but instead the in-camera values were set too high. This happened to me in the past alot until I figured out the problem. Sure some people are just eternal critics and like to find something wrong with every photo, but I received some constructive feedback that said the same thing. So, I discovered the problem…I was a “vivid” mode shooter. As a result, I have been shooting on “standard*” for the past year or so, with the saturation at +1, hue at a 0, and sharpening at 7 out of 9. Personally, I like photos that pop and have good contrast, so I adjust the settings a bit from regular standard mode. Bottomline, you have to like the photos you are taking first 🙂

    With that said, I now try to do as little as possible post-processing. Possibly a touch of sharpening and touch of histogram manipulation to adjust the contrast to my liking. That’s really about it. I use two programs, one is an older program call Microsoft Image Suite for everyday shots because it is quick, simple, and I have used it for years. When I really want to put some effort into my top photos, I use adobe Photoshop CS5. Within the past year I find myself taking more time to do selective sharpening in order to not ruin a nice bokeh in the background. You can do this in any program by selecting only the subject that you want to sharpen, while leaving the rest of the photo alone. I also use the content-aware fill tools a quite often to remove distracting objects from the background of photos when needed.

    And finally, I have been playing around with HDR photography for a little over a year now. I do most of my landscapes in HDR because I like the way the final product looks most of the time, even if it looks better than reality. Heck, we need a break from reality from time to time!

    Anyway, thanks again

    KSQ
    http://ksqphotography.zenfolio.com/

  11. Abe
    June 3, 2011 at 6:01 am

    Here are some links to what I was referring to regarding the focal distances on the tele end of these lenses. I don’t believe you would run into this issue since your are shooting longer distances.
    http://dpanswers.com/roztr/content_show.php?id=101
    http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/18200/18200-focal-length.htm

    This just led me to check on the min focus distance on the 16-85 (purchased 2 weeks ago) and I was pleasantly surprised how close it can focus at 85. The specs say 1.3′ but I think it’s close than that!

    What do you use for HDR?

    Are you shooting in RAW? If so then the camera settings shouldn’t mean much, esp if you not using Nikon Capture to convert them.

    The whole thing about “reality” vs “better” etc is a big debate and different opinions. Basically for many it gets down to what the photographer likes. And here is where editing and selection can get extremely difficult and frustrating.

    10 month old! Are you taking a picture a day of him so that at some point you can do this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02e5EWUP5TE&feature=related
    LOL LOL

    I had the 18-200 for some years and I loved it’s convenience. But the IQ always frustrated me. I was going to sell it about 5 years ago, I put it up on Craigslist… And then Galya was born and I used it and liked the results and kept it. Since I travel as much as I can it makes for such a great travel lens. But then I always get back to the IQ. I love the 18-200 with the D300. Since then I have been using a variety of lenses but nothing telephoto like that. I am now going to try replacing the 18-200 with the 16-85 (so far I am liking it, but it’s really too soon to tell) and the 70-300. The 300 should be 450 which might allow me to take pictures of the kids when they play in the park or on the beach while I stand on my balcony. I should also try to shoot the pelicans.

    I’m still getting used to the D7000. I like it for the most part. But I’m not liking it’s limit of 10 shots at 6 FPS (when shooting RAW).

    The one thing I would have really enjoyed on your picture site that was lacking was exif.

    it’s late… good night/day….

    Abe

  12. June 3, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Abe,
    Thanks for sharing the links. I guess I have never really noticed this phenomenon since I rarely shoot objects at such close range. From what I read, that is the only time you will notice these effects. Rockwell’s review actually praised the 18-200mm with respect to this issue, as it seems it will maintain a true “200mm” at closer distances that may other lenses. Sounds like a large part of this equation has to do with the minimum focusing distance that each lens will allow. Either way, it is not something I have noticed being a problem, but I am curious and may do some comparisons with my 18-200mm and 70-200mm lenses at 200mm for curiosity sake.

    I do shoot RAW for landscapes and use Photomatix for most HDR conversions. I actually don’t do any post processing on the images until after they have been HDR converted. My understanding is that you shouldn’t actually change the photos before HDR, since they are usually taken a fixed positive and negative steps from the average exposure. Maybe you were just asking this in general versus specifically for HDR.

    As far as most bird photos, I do not always shoot in RAW for brids in flight or fast moving critters. I feel like I really need to the top frames per second that my camera can offer in these situations. I will shoot in RAW when subjects are relatively still, when showing upclose & detail is important, or if the available ligting is difficult to work with in the field. But honestly, for day to day shots…jpg is fine with me. It takes too long to convert every photo that you take…at least for me. I will often shoot with the combo jpg + RAW and then I can decide if I want to take the time to work with the RAW or not.

    Have you seen this one…the guy did the photos of his daughter over 10 years from birth!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejbNVWES4LI

    Interesting suggestion abut the exif data. I will look into whether that is an option I can turn on. I am definitely not trying to hide it but it is possible I did not select that option when I started the site. Thanks

    Kyle

  13. June 3, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Abe,
    Just FYI..I was easily able to turn all the exif data on with the click of a few buttons. Great suggestion, Thanks!

    Kyle
    http://ksqphotography.zenfolio.com/

  14. Abe
    June 5, 2011 at 6:08 am

    Hi
    I have used Fotomatix. I didn’t think that there was a problem processing the pictures before HDR besides for sharpening and of course cropping and suchlike.

    How is the buffer on the D300s – how long can you shoot raw before it slows down? The D7K will only do 10 frames before slowing down drastically.

    Yeah, the guy with ten years worth of photos … I think he overdid it, should have strung together every three or 5 days …. but I see there are so many of them now up…
    You ever do any timelaps photography?

    Hey, I never realized that would be eagles flying about in TX… so I looked it up and it seems that there have been sightings of them in FL as well.

    Thanks for opening up the exif. I already started looking at them again.

    Did you do this panning by hand?
    http://ksqphotography.zenfolio.com/p209984540/h13075269#h1ef3b37e

    The 70-300 arrived. I hope to give it some trying tomorrow. The VR though does make a distinct clicking noise when activated and unactivated. This I don’t remember with the 18-200. On the 16-85 the clicking noise is much less audible. I thought there was something wrong withe lens. I posted something on dpr and ppl are saying this is normal. I hope to have some time sunday to use this some.

    abe

  15. June 6, 2011 at 6:14 am

    The buffer on the Nikon D300 fills after 15 shots with the Lexar Pro 300x (45 MB/s) UDMA card (and the same with the 600x (90 MB/s version). The camera write speed is really the limiting factor at only 25 to 30 MB/s. I didn’t notice much difference in the amount of time it took to clear the buffer either between the two cards.

    https://ksqphotography.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/lexar-professional-udma-600x-compact-flash-with-nikon-d300/

    As far as the Bald Eagles, there are several places in Texas whether there are scattered nests. They are very habitual animals and will return to the same nest each year to mate and have offspring. I hear that Florida actually has several good places for Eagle including Meritt Island and the surrounding areas.

    And yes, both the Osprey and Bald Eagle photos from Wyoming were shot handheld. I found them both impossible to track on a tripod due to their speed, so ended up handheld. It wasn’t until about the 7th frame in continuous shutter release that I “caught up” with the Eagle as he was chasing after the Osprey. Immediately after the Osprey caught the fish, I saw a “brown blur” out of the corner of my eye (which was the Bald Eagle). The first 6 frames are all a blur until I finally matched his speed with my pan and at least got a few spots with the Eagle in focus. I didn’t get a photo of what happened next however, when the Eagle swooped down and knocked the fish out of the Osprey’s talons back into the water. It looked like a territorial display and I can tell you my heart was really pumping as I checked the screen to see if any photos had turned out. Hope the new lens works out for you.

    KSQ

  16. GO
    July 19, 2011 at 3:17 am

    Agree with your review nice job.

  17. Nina
    March 27, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    Thanks for your review. I too own a Sigma 150 mm-500mm OS. I bought it to photograph birds and have had relatively good results when working around the 400mm and under.
    Anything beyond that when cropped loses detail and quality of image. As you mentioned early mornings and evenings when the lighting is poor poses a problem for quality pictures.
    I too am happy to have purchased this lens. I have no regrets and am now ready to go up a notch and improve the image quality of my photos. Thanks.

  1. January 20, 2011 at 6:32 pm

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