Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports (Canon EOS) - Review / Test
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published May 2016

Introduction

Sigma has a long and also quite successful history as far as extreme tele zoom lenses is concerned. Back in the days it all started with the 170-500mm f/5-6.3 DG APO. The "Bigma" 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 EX OS DG HSM was among the most extreme designs ever tackled and they even dared to release the "Sigzilla" 200-500mm f/2.8 APO EX DG - just to show off. While they were among the first to offer a zoom lenses up to 500mm, Tamron was one step ahead in the 600mm game. However, Sigma countered with two options - a direct, more budget-oriented competitor and the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports which we reviewed this time. This Sigma lens represents a step up in the food chain in terms of complexity, size and, of course, pricing. It'll be interesting to see in how far this makes a difference. It is also worth to note that neither of the "original" manufacturers dares to explore long zoom lenses this extreme which also illustrates that this 600mm zoom arena is still far from being ordinary. Despite the "amount of lens" that you get for your bucks, the Sigma is reasonably priced at 1600EUR/2000US$. Thus the Sigma is not only longer but also more affordable than Canon's own 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 USM L IS II. If you are in the market of a really long tele zoom lens, this may give you some reasons to scratch your head ...

As far as the mechanical quality is concerned, the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports is, without doubts, a professional grade lens. Everything screams quality here but you also feel it ... in terms of weight. While the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD remains just below 2kg, the Sigma is rated at a whopping 2.86kg. That's not too much of a deal for those used to handle lenses such as a 400mm f/2.8 but normal mortals may be baffled upon first contact. So unless you intend to use a tripod, you better get ready for some extra sessions in the gym! The lens body is mostly made of metal with broad, rubberized zoom and focus control rings. Typical for such long zoom lenses, it extends substantially when zooming towards the long end of the range but the inner lens tube doesn't wobble even at the most extreme setting. The lens is quite a sight at its 600mm especially when attaching the deep lens hood - see below. Interestingly Sigma does not provide a lens cap. Instead they supply a protective pouch for the lens hood. Our sample showed no significant amount of zoom creeping but Sigma implemented a zoom lock which is functional at all zoom settings. The zoom action is a slightly stiff which is no surprise given the heavy lens groups that have to be shifted. The focus ring operates smoothly. A detachable tripod mount is included and also needed when using the lens on a tripod. It is worth to mention that the tripod mount plate is very big and, just to show the attention to details, it has not one mount thread but three.

The Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports features an optical image stabilizer ("Optical Stabilizer" (OS) in Sigma terms). I wasn't able to find an official figure regarding its efficiency. However, based on real world experience with the lens, it seems to provide a gain of 3ish f-stops. UNLIKE its Tamron counterpart, the OS also works well at 600mm. Other than a general purpose OS mode, there's also a dedicated mode for panning.
Sigma's HSM (Ultrasonic AF) is very fast, accurate and virtually silent. The lens is also compatible to Sigma's (optional) USB Dock so the lens' firmware can be updated without sending it to the Sigma service. In fact the firmware was updated just prior of this review - enabling the lens to focus even a bit faster.

As you can see below the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG HSM | Sports is substantially bigger than the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD - despite the same focal length and aperture range.

Specifications
Optical construction24 elements in 16 groups inc. 2xFLD & 3x SLD elements
Number of aperture blades9 (circular)
min. focus distance2.6m (max. magnification ratio 1:5)
Dimensions290.2x121mm
Weight2860g
Filter size105mm (non-rotating)
Hoodbarrel-shaped, supplied
Other features
  • tripod mount
  • OS
  • Dust and splash-proof
  • water-repellent coating
  • zoom lock at any position
  • compatible to Sigma tele-converters (albeit without AF beyond f/8)