A fox den was established in the woods next to me in the spring. Last time I had the 150 – 600 mm Sigma Sport lens I never got a good chance to shoot the male rooting around in our compost pile. Two weeks ago the parents and now large kits stopped showing up around the area and I assumed I’d lost my chance. I rented the 150 – 600 mm Sigma Contemporary for my vacation this week to compare it to the Sport. Today the male fox was spotted a couple of times. So I set up near the compost pile at 6:30 pm and sure enough he showed up. The lens behaved well and I took a bunch of shots. But stupidly I didn’t even notice I was shooting at 150 mm! I was shooting macro all day with the Sony 90 mm macro and I was completely used to shooting everything in the magnified setting so doing it now felt natural. Well, the crops are okay, but that’s got to be the most bone-headed and frustrating mistake I’ve made in at least an hour. But I’m sure to do something stupider soon enough and then I’ll feel better about this one.
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
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.