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Old Nov 11, 2010, 5:45 PM   #1
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Default Sigma 150-500 Impressions

I stopped in at the local camera shop near my home (The Photo Center in Brick, New Jersey) earlier this week to pick up the Panasonic 50-200mm lens for my micro four-thirds kit.

It's a friendly, family-owned shop and when I spotted the 150-500mm Lil' Bigma in the case (for some reason I hadn't noticed it before), the owner offered to take it out for me. The only one he had in stock was a Nikon mount so he put it on a D90 and let me walk around with it and play for a while.

This was the HSM version with OS. I have to say I was very impressed. The build quality was higher than I expected and what fun it was to use! While far from small and light, it was lighter than I expected and certainly lighter than the "real" Bigma, the 50-500mm. A tripod might be the best way to use it but using it handheld was quite reasonable.

In the absence of such a focal length in the modern Pentax lineup (I'd love a 135-400 to go with the new 18-135), I could definitely see this eventually joining my kit for wildlife work.

Surprisingly, the lens sells very well despite its price and size. The shop owner said he sells four or five of them a week if all mounts are taken into consideration. Of course, this small shop can't match pricing from B&H, Adorama or Amazon. Even though I can (and often do) visit B&H and Adorama when working in New York City every day, I like having this local shop around and might try hard to see if I can justify the pricetag (just under $1000).

Edit: I take that back. The price is no cheaper at B&H.

But it won't happen right away. I'll have to see whether the K-5, some DA Limited primes or this Sigma 150-500 comes first. Any other Pentaxians have any experience with this lens?

Last edited by Biro; Nov 11, 2010 at 10:44 PM.
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Old Nov 11, 2010, 10:51 PM   #2
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No, but I tried the Sigma 120-400 mm on a Canon. I echo your comments about build quality and weight.

It was a big chunk of glass. I liked it.

I would prefer an up to 500mm, zoom Sigma though.

I've been holding off, as I wish Pentax would bring out something in the 400-500mm range...F 5.6 would be fine for me.

I don't want to wait much longer though. I have one of the first 55-300mm lenses and I really like it, tack sharp at 300mm...but like Oliver in Oliver Twist...I want more.
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Old Nov 12, 2010, 12:27 PM   #3
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I have a Sigma 120-400 in Olympus mount. It has front focus issues with my E-1 but seems to do better with the E-500 for some reason. Decent lens but really only to 300mm or so. After that it is no sharper than my old Tokina 400/5.6. I rarely use it anymore, not worth the weight, I'll just take the Tamron 80-200/2.8 to use on the Oly bodies (faster and as sharp or sharper) and the Tokina for the Pentax. My guess is that with the 150-500 you'd get a good 400mm lens and a usable 500mm but not a great one.

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Old Nov 12, 2010, 1:49 PM   #4
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If Pentax brought out a 135-400mm f/3.5-5.6 - or even f/4-5.6 - with WR to go with the new 18-135 WR, they would have me in a second. But there seems to be no sign that Pentax will be bringing out a zoom to cover 400mm and/or beyond any time soon. In the absence of such a lens, the Sigma 150-500mm is very attractive as an option for birding and other nature shooting. Perhaps in-len OS will help with IQ at 500mm. In-body SR, from all that I've read, tends to reach its limits at about that point.
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Old Nov 13, 2010, 4:19 AM   #5
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I tried both 150-500mm and 120-400mm in my local shop , compared the results immediately on he's mac 27' screen and the results were the same , both reasonably sharp in the center and corners .
My initial idea was : if the 150-500mm is as sharp and neat as the 120-400mm i'll go for the extra reach and at the end i did choose the 120-400mm because of the ergonomics , much more comfortable in hand and zoom was much smoother too.

Look at what it can do handheld at 400mm & 1/60s

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Old Nov 13, 2010, 1:37 PM   #6
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That's pretty interesting. $100 cheaper and half a pound lighter than the 150-500mm. A full stop faster at the long end and a tad faster at the wider end as well.

And then there's either a Sigma or Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8. $100 and $170 cheaper than the 120-400 and $200 and $270 cheaper than the 150-500. 1.2 and 1.7 pounds lighter than the Lil' Bigma as well. I wonder how'd they'd do with a 2x converter on them at the long end?
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Old Nov 13, 2010, 6:28 PM   #7
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i have the 150-500mm hsm but no OS in mine - newer ones have OS option too even in pentax mount - but since i mostly use hte lens on a tripod it doesn't bother me too much not having it

generally i've been pretty happy with the lens if you go to my flickr page - nearly everything from the airshow sets were taken with it except the wider angle shots of the display teams - initially results weren't that great but that was user error not the lens - been getting better with it slowly though

also most of the images taken from the highland wildlife park were taken with it too - so thats the tigers, goats, polar bear, red panda's and snow monkeys

speed of the lens is fine and doubt the 120-400mm is any faster at the same focal lengths just its state range looks faster because it doesn't go out so far - but at 400mm chances are its same as the 150-500mm at 400mm

if you get the k5 too and can up the iso then smaller aprerture is more desirable for the extra dof when gets pretty narrow at 500mm

personally would not trade mine in - love it

throw in afew samples










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Last edited by John.Pattullo; Nov 13, 2010 at 6:37 PM.
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Old Nov 14, 2010, 1:14 AM   #8
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Some great work there, John. Were the air show shots taken at 500mm? The EXIF data appears to be missing from them.
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Old Nov 14, 2010, 5:36 AM   #9
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exif data should be on flickr must hve been stripped with linking from there for some reason - but

quick run down

250mm - monkey
150mm - tiger
500mm - red panda
340mm - harrier
500mm - typhoon
500mm - vulcan
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Old Nov 14, 2010, 11:59 AM   #10
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See, I look at the Panda, Typhoon and Vulcan shots and say "How can anyone expect more at 500mm?" And I'm guessing they were handheld. I'm sure there's a learning curve with any such lens... but I'm very impressed.
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