Previously I rented the Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Sports DG OS HSM Lens for Canon. With both lenses I was using the Sigma MC-11 Canon to E-mount adapter to shoot them on my Sony A7 III. My impression of this lens is positive. It has good sharpness even at 600mm and autofocused well on the MC-11, Sony A7 III combination. Comparing this lens to the Sport version I would say that you are looking at a number of trade-offs. I’ll start off by saying that both of these lenses are good. Both have good image and build quality.
But the Contemporary lens is half the price ($990 vs. $1,800) and 2 pounds lighter (4 ¼ lbs vs 6 ¼ lbs).
On the flip side the Sports lens is a solid metal lens and has superior image quality.
Comparing their image quality, I would say the Sports lens has decidedly better contrast that holds up better at high light levels. So, there you have it. If either a 6 ¼ lb weight or an $1,800 price tag is too much for you then you will get a good lens for your $990. But for the best image quality you’ll have to go for the Sports lens.
This post is only for the long suffering Sony A-mount users. You know who you are. You bought the A900 or the A850 and you were looking forward to Sony re-issuing all those great Minolta lenses and competing head to head with the Nikon D3S. You saw nothing but upside from a technology powerhouse like Sony improving the DSLR. And then they pulled the rug out from under you. Translucent mirrors that lost a half stop of light. LED viewfinders that lagged by a second or two when you triggered the shutter. And then the true mirrorless camera with contrast detect autofocus that didn’t focus. The NEX series that was unbelievably small but suffering from all these problems. And then the A7 cameras. Series one then series two. Painstaking progress. Slowly the potential of the mirrorless becoming real but always something still missing. And then the A9 the camera that had all the pieces! And a $4,500 price tag!
But now, the A7 III. Oh my brothers I just must joyously exclaim. It is a real camera made by Sony. Hallelujah, hallelujah, halleleujah. The joy of picking a point in the viewfinder, half-pressing
the shutter and seeing the autofocus work instantly and precisely. I could barely see the result through my tears of joy. Huzzah, huzzah. Never again would I focus, then magnify, then manually refocus to save the shot. Now I go through the pictures afterward and every shot is perfectly focused. And ISO 800 and 1600 and 3200 are perfectly usable and even ISO 6400 is often fine! And if I want to do a macro shot with a non macro lens I use magnify to get precise focus on the exact spot I want and the 24 megapixels give me plenty of room to crop.
Nirvana, Valhalla, Heaven, Elysium, Paradise. I’m home. I don’t need to wait or hope or give up and change systems. It’s done. I’m there.
Sony you are finally forgiven for keeping me out in the wilderness all these years.
Anyone who has been following my various macro lens posts knows that I am still fiddling around with available lenses to construct a long macro rig to photograph butterflies with the A7 cameras. Another problem I’m investigating is finding a tripod head that would provide quick release on the monopod but also could hold the weight of a 200mm lens. Previously I used the Manfrotto 327RC2 light duty grip ball head with Quick Release but the weight of the Minolta 200 macro caused it to flop over. I recently bought the Vanguard Alta GH-300T Grip Head. It differs from the Manfrotto which had a spring loaded trigger. The Vanguard has a friction toggle switch that you engage with your thumb. So far it’s working excellently. The test will be to see if the friction element is long lasting. Now I’ll have to determine if the Minolta 200mm f\4 macro and the LA-EA4 adapter is better on the Sony A7 III than the Sigma 180mm f\2.8 A-mount on the LA-EA3.
Up until very recently the Sony E-mount ecosystem has been extremely deficient of telephoto options. Recently, 300mm and 400mm focal lengths have appeared in native zoom lenses. But suffice it to say that there still remain a number of gaps in the lineup. Sigma has a lot of long glass. And Sigma lenses are decidedly less expensive than Sony’s. And lately Sigma has produced some extremely well regarded lenses. So, for both of these reasons I was very interested when I heard that Sigma had successfully developed an adapter that allowed Sigma lenses to behave like native Sony lenses on the A7 cameras. The MC-11 adapter allows 15 of Sigma’s Art Series, Sports Series and Contemporary Series lenses to perform auto-focus, optical stabilization and other functions as if they were Sony E-mount lenses. Although there are some very exciting Art Series lenses and possibly also the Contemporary Series items that may be of interest in the future, what I specifically wanted to try was the 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM – Sports Series Lens. It had a good reputation and 600mm was a useful focal length for sports and wildlife, one that currently is completely unavailable in E-mount.
I can say categorically that Sigma has succeeded. The lens mimics all the focus and drive modes of the E-mount lenses on an A7 cameras. The one that I appreciate is staying in magnified view while autofocusing. And continuous autofocus functions also. Now when I say it functions I mean it deploys. But honestly, I’m not a sports shooter and this lens is so heavy that even panning was sometimes beyond my poor skills to perform. But when I pointed the lens at something it autofocused extremely quickly and very accurately. And the images are tack sharp all the way up to 600mm. In fact, one of my Canon shooting friends loaned me the Canon 1.4 teleconverter and even at 840mm equivalent the images were very sharp (see photos and 100% crops below). Physically the lens is solid as a rock but that also means it’s as heavy as a brick. It weighs in at a little over six pounds. Hand holding it is impractical and even a monopod needs to be pretty substantial to provide stability. But with the right support this lens is perfect for a sporting event or a wildlife shoot. Add it to the list of available E-mount options.
I wished that I’d had better weather during the two weeks I rented the lens but I learned enough about it to know it was an excellent item. One day I’ll try out the Contemporary series version. It’s supposed to be optically very similar but half the price and two pounds lighter.
And now that I know that the MC-11 works I’ll look at the other Sigma lenses for items that Sony hasn’t provided yet. Here’s the full list.
12-24mm F4 DG HSM | Art
14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM I Art
24-35mm F2 DG HSM | Art
24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | Art
24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM | Art
100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary
120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | Sports
150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports
150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary
14mm F1.8 DG HSM | Art
20mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art
24mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art
35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art
50mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art
85mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art
135mm F1.8 DG HSM | Art
500mm F4 DG OS HSM | Sport
The thirty degree mornings have relented. There is a break in the seemingly endless succession of torrential rain and wind storms. I have a non-work day where I can cut the grass and put the yard in post-winter order.So today may be a bit slow. What’s on tap and coming up soon:
Photos from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Photo essay on the Sigma 150-600 Sports lens on the A7 III.
Book Review on Robert Silverberg’s “Valentine Pontifex.”
Book Review on “Kill Team (Galaxy’s Edge Book 3).”
Book Review on “Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past.”
Review of the Vanguard Alta GH-300T Grip Head for heavy lens shooting.
Review of Deadpool 2.
Review of Capture One 11 Photo Editing Software.
President Trump’s summary firing of the intelligence agency conspirators. Wait I’m not supposed to write that. Let’s call that Trump Humor.
And some of these may not be in this order. I am human after all and sometimes the mood strikes me to switch stuff up. So stay tuned.
As mentioned in earlier posts I rented the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens for Canon EF and the Sigma 180mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro for Canon EF to use on my Sony A7 III with the Sigma MC-11 adapter. I had heard on a “The Camera Store” video that the MC-11 paired with Sigma Canon mount lenses was practically equivalent to native e-mount lenses with respect to autofocus on A7 cameras. The only caveat was that the Sigma lenses for which this was true were restricted to three series, the Art Series, the Sports Series and the Contemporary Series. Unfortunately for me I was interested in the Sigma 180mm f\2.8 macro lens which is not in any of these series. So I rent ed this lens and the 150-600mm sports Series lens to compare how they performed with the MC-11. I can now confirm that the lens series that are specified by Sigma for use with the MC-11 do indeed autofocus with Sony A7 cameras utilizing all the various capabilities of the autofocus system of the Sony A7 III (at least as far as I was able to determine). And unfortunately, I can also confirm that lenses that aren’t in those sanctioned series of lenses have much less autofocus capability than those that do. Many functions such as autofocus while remaining in magnified view don’t work at all. As far as the accuracy of the autofocus it’s not as clear whether the capability of the lenses differ that much because I was using it as a macro lens and that type of lens usually doesn’t autofocus as quickly as normal lenses. My sense is that it is less capable. It feels like the autofocus that was available on the first generation of A7 cameras.
But the main message of this post is if there are Sigma lenses that extend the lens range for the A7 cameras in one of these three lens series (Art,Sports, Contemporary) you can expect to get near native autofocus capability with the Canon mount versions on the MC-11 adapter.
Because it’s been raining and cold for weeks here I took the Sony A7 III with the Sigma MC-11 Adapter and the Sigma 180mm f\2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS for Canon to a “butterfly conservatory” to get in some macro shooting.
This was a fairly challenging environment for the auto focus because the light level was low. What I found was that the autofocus works but it is far from fast and because it is a macro lens it can get lost in the focus wind up if the light level is low or the subject contrast is low. Several times I switched the lens to manual to reset it after it lost its mind. But as I said it was a fairly challenging lighting situation. My take on this is that the 180 mm Macro is an acceptable autofocus lens on the MC-11 but far from state of the art. The lens itself takes excellent macro and other photos. I am seriously thinking of getting it either in the Canon mount or possibly the amount for use with the LA-EA3. I’ll have to rent that mount version soon to check it out and see if it’s any better.
By the way, the turkey vulture wasn’t at the butterfly place. It was in a tree pretty far from my spot on a road side. It’s a pretty extreme crop so the autofocus was working well when the lens was used as a telephoto lens.
Shooting with extremely long lenses like the 150-600mm Sigma requires higher shutter speed and to compensate for this, higher ISO levels are required. This gave me a chance of seeing the result of using 6,400 and 10,000 (and higher) ISO sensitivities. And I will tell you I am extremely impressed. I have a hummingbird picture at 6,400 that is perfectly fine. I’m sure if I subjected it to very close scrutiny and blew it up to 200% I’d find issues. And that would be crazy. My point is this camera has really excellent 6,400 ISO results. The next test is to take some photos at that sensitivity in a low light indoor environment. If it passes that test then this is the camera I was looking for when I was looking for a successor for the Sony A-850 in 2011. The A850 was a great camera. It had a best in class 24 megapixel sensor and shot beautiful 100 ISO photos. Even 200, 400 and even kinda sorta 800 ISO photos were also very good. but try to take photos in a restaurant at 100 or even 800 ISO. You’ll have motion blur and worse. So I used to take 3,200 and 6,400 ISO shots that looked like a Monet painting with color noise swirling around everything. I tried to convince myself that I liked the result but it was pathetic. Now here I am a mere seven years later and all’s right with the world. Well, that’s assuming the indoor tests go as hoped. That also assumes the low light autofocus is as advertised. Stay tuned. Results will follow soon.