When I returned the rental Tamron 150-600 mm lens yesterday, I also rented a Sigma Sport 150-600 mm lens.
If I had known it was the Sport, I would not have gotten it. My fault for not being more specific.
The Sigma Sport costs $1,000 more than the Sigma Contemporary, and while it is supposed to take sharper pictures, I had decided that its weight, a massive 6.3 pounds, was a deal killer.
The Tamron weighs in at 4.5 pounds, and after a week of rental use, I (or my wrist, arm, and shoulder, if you will) had determined that 4.5 pounds probably was my limit for a carry-around lens. I went on day outings to the Ramona Grasslands, the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, Santee Lakes, Railfest in Fillmore CA, and the La Jolla Cove.
The tripod mount on the two lenses can be rotated 180° to make it a carrying handle, but the Sigma Sport is uncomfortable and unwieldy using the mount as a carrying handle. It’s not conducive to carrying at one’s side and raising it quickly to snap off a picture. The Tamron’s tripod mount, on the other hand, made for a very ergonomic handle although I just noticed that the tripod mount on my rental lens was the tripod mount for the original Tamron 150-600. I had rented the most recent version, called the G2, and pictures, like that below, show a completely different mount that won’t be as ergonomically friendly.
My only real problem (other than some idiosyncracies from a rental lens) were the four controls on the barrel of the lens: Focus Range, Auto Focus/Manual Focus, Vibration Compensation On/Of, and three Vibration Compensation custom modes (see right side in the picture below).
The way I hold my camera results in me inadvertently turning the Auto Focus/Manual Focus switch from Auto to Manual, probably when I finish taking pictures and swing the lens down to my side. When one is taking pictures of wildlife, especially birds, one’s not going to be doing manual focus. So I missed quite a few pictures. Even towards the end of my 7-day rental period, I had not gotten used to inadvertently turning the Auto Focus to Manual, and kept missing pictures. Fortunately, while I was at the La Jolla Cove taking whale pictures, I kept checking the Focus button each time I finished taking a burst of pictures, so I got the whale picture I showed in my previous post.
One of the reasons why it has taken me so long to get a lens of this size is because I’m don’t like using neck straps, shoulder straps, monopods, or tripods. I just like to carry my camera around and take what they call “hand held” pictures. That usually means that I need a fast shutter speed to get clear, sharp pictures. Fast shutter speeds mean I need lots of light. Lots of light means that I need big aperture openings. These comparatively inexpensive zoom lenses typically have maximum aperture openings in the 4.5 range. Both the Tamron and the Sigma are f/5 at 150 mm and f/6.3 at 600 mm. Would those maximum apertures let in enough light to let me take good hand-held pictures?
My unequivocal answer is, “Yes!”
Interestingly, the Tamron 150-600 appears to let in more light than my Tamron 28-300 at equivalent focal lengths of 150, 200, 250, and 300, and it was truly rocking at 600mm. I had not a single problem with light. Granted, technology changes, and the Tamron 28-300 is about ten years old, so that might be a factor.
The Sigma Sport, on the other hand, seems to have some issues occasionally because the picture comes out almost black. Retaking the picture provided a normal shot. Not sure what is going on with it other than the fact that it might be a rental lens, and one never knows how rental anythings are treated by previous users.
Another difference I have noticed between these two lenses is the quality of the bokeh, or the blurred background behind the focal point. Tamron was giving me absolutely stunning pictures of tiny flowers, like this one little wild rose:
So what was behind that wild rose that got blurred so well? Wild grasses. Grasses, grasses, grasses. Having a background of blades of grasses would really have distracted from the beautiful little rose.
Following is a cluster of small flowers that always looked crappy when I previously took their picture over the years with the Tamron 28-300mm lens. With the Tamron 150-600mm, they look spectacular.
When I get ready to use that picture for Photographic Art, I will photoshop that blurred flower at the lower left outta there! Symmetry almost always is beautiful!
I find it interesting that the direction the zoom ring rotates is not standardized. Canon and Tamron lenses rotate to the right. Nikon and Sigma lenses rotate to the left. I have a Canon camera and have been using a Tamron 28-300mm lens for ten years. I guess you know which direction I like the zoom ring to rotate.
The Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens sells retail for $1,399. The Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary retails for $1,089, and the Sigma 150-600mm Sport retails for $1,999. eBay and Amazon can provide prices lower than retail.
I much prefer the Tamron over the Sigma Sport, and considering what my main use will be (nature, particularly flowers and birds), I’m not sure I will rent the Sigma Contemporary. I’m leaning heavily toward the Tamron. Just gotta check on that tripod mount to see if I can get the older, more ergonomic one.
For my Friday Flower Fiesta this week, I will be featuring teeny tiny flowers that hold their own with the Tamron 150-600mm lens.