Bring Nature closer to you

December 08, 2015  •  2 Comments

ReynisdrangarReynisdrangarA sunset at Reynisdrangar sea stacks at Vík in South Iceland.

INFO: Sony a7r2 + Metabones EF-E mount T + Sigma 150-600mm f5+6,3 DG Contemporary @221mm, 1/5000 sec, ISO 400, f/5.6

Bring Nature closer to you

I have been a landscape photographer for many years, more than I actually care to remember, and have mainly used lenses from 14mm to 200mm to capture the greatness of Iceland. Roughly half of what I shoot is from 14-105mm with various lenses, like Canon EF 17-40mm f/4, Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 and Canon TS-E 24mm. The interesting thing is that I have used my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 lens for about 30% of my photos and most of it is for landscape. Maybe it is because I am lazy, that I like to pull the landscape closer to me? No, it is because with a zoom lens you get a different perspective of distant mountains or whatever you are photographing, and that way you bring more details to the photos that you can not get with a wide angle lens.

From Landscape photography to Nature photography

Sony_Sigma_IMG_2979Sony and SigmaSony a7r2 + Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 DG Contemporary Through the years I have not photographed birds or animals in nature. This was mostly because I have not owned the right equipment, but this autumn that changed. I was at an Exhibition (NVPE2015) in USA and tested a Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 DG Contemporary lens on my Sony a7r2 camera. It was a lens with a Canon mount, and I used the Metabones EF-E mount T adapter and it works like magic! This was love at first click! The Sigma has not been introduced with the Sony E mount yet, but that might change with the growing popularity of Sony cameras.

Using the Sigma 150-600mm

I have had the opportunity for the past few weeks to get more acquainted to the Sony/Sigma combo with good results. This is not a highly technical pixel peeping test, but more my feeling of using this combo and realizing the capabilities it brings to my photography. You can read more of the actual facts, figures and testing in The Digital picture reviews.

Icy mountains.Mountains at Öræfajökull glacierThe mid day sun shining on the icy slopes of mountain peaks in South Iceland.

   INFO: Sony a7r2 + Metabones EF-E mount T + Sigma 150-600mm f5+6,3 DG Contemporary @600mm, 1/1600 sec, ISO 800, f/6.3

The sharpness of the Sigma is good in landscapes like this and the details are well acceptable. The shot above is handheld, and the powerful image stabilation works well. Framing a subject properly at 600mm handheld requires steady arms, but OS reduces the steadiness requirement to include a much greater segment of the photographer population. This was shot at 1/1600, so there was little chance of it being shaken.

ReynisdrangarReynisdrangarOn a stormy winters day in South Iceland

   INFO: Sony a7r2 + Metabones EF-E mount T + Sigma 150-600mm f5+6,3 DG Contemporary @600mm, 1/25 sec, ISO 800, f/6.3

Using the lens on a tripod is easy if you fasten a L-bracket or a lens plate on the tripod foot and then it is well balanced. The photo above was shoot in high wind and it was good that I have a sturdy Gitzo tripod with a Really right stuff ball head. 

Bombay Hook_DSC7976Bombay HookSnow geese at sunrise in Bombay Hook. INFO: Sony a7r2 + Metabones EF-E mount T + Sigma 150-600mm f5+6,3 DG Contemporary @600mm, 1/500 sec, ISO 800, f/29

Birding

I had the chance to visit two Wildlife Refugies, Bombay Hook in Delawere and Chincoteague in Virginia where I could test the lens in real life bird photography. Two friends of mine, who are bird- and nature photographers, took me on the tour and showed me how to do it. Thanks Stephen Tabone and Ernie Sears! This kind of photography is relatively new to me and I was excited to try out my new lens. I did not bring my own tripod on this trip, because it is too big and heavy to travel with, so one of my friends loaned me a tripod. Most of the time the lens worked well with the tripod, but not all the time. Using this combo handheld can become strenuous because of the weight of the lens (1930g). However it is not always easy to use the tripod, because it can be impossible to follow the birds long enough to get the shot right. The image above was shot handheld. I was getting pretty good with the AF-C (Continuous autofocus) on the Sony a7r2 and the Sigma 150-600mm.

Snow GeeseSnow GeeseA great big flock of Snow geese was at Bombay Hook that morning.

   INFO: Sony a7r2 + Metabones EF-E mount T + Sigma 150-600mm f5+6,3 DG Contemporary @600mm, 1/640 sec, ISO 6400, f/10

A tripod shot where I followed a part of the flock of Snow Geese when they took off with a thunderous noise shortly after sunrise 

Summary

If you are looking for a lens that will help you move mountains closer without spending lots of money, then this Sigma 150-600mm is for you, and it is not as heavy as some of the major brands. This lens has performed very well for me, both in landscape shooting and birds and the great range of focal lengths is very useful. 

American Bald EagleAmerican Bald EagleCatching a fish at Conowingo Dam. @600mm, 1/5000 sec, ISO 1600, f/8 American Bald Eagle_DSC7265American Bald EagleLoosing it catch. @600mm, 1/5000 sec, ISO 1600, f/8

Great White Egret_DSC8657Great White EgretSitting on a branch at Chincoteague National park. @600mm, 1/1000 sec, ISO 2000, f/8 Bombay HookBombay HookSnow geese coming in for landing. @600mm, 1/500 sec, ISO 800, f/6.3

Beach lifeBeach lifeOn the beach at the Glacier Lagoon, Jökulsárlón in Iceland. @283mm, 1/2500 sec, ISO 1000, f/5,6   MoonMoonIn the morning light the moon is setting behind the Reynisfjall mountain in Vík on the south coast of Iceland. @600mm, 1/500 sec, ISO 1600, f/6.3


Comments

2.Landscape Photography Iceland
Hello Lindsay. Thanks for your questions about the Sigma 150-600 lens. My experience with this lens has mostly been good as I have been learning and getting used to how to shoot with a long zoom lens like that. Camera shake is the worst enemy when reaching up to 600 mm and I have been using a sturdy tripod to minimize that risk. In Iceland we have all kinds of conditions to deal with, and I have been shooting more at high ISO (3200-6400) to be able to have high enough shutter speed (1/1000 or more), and the Sony a7r2 can easily cope with that.

Considering your kind of photography, the Canon 70D should be ok, and I know that the Sony has a high price tag that can be an obstacle if you are not using it professionally. Your step up option from the Canon 70D might be the Canon 7D MK2, which is a great camera for wildlife and activities like sports.

Hope this helps you in some ways Lindsay.
1.Lyndsey(non-registered)
I am in love with my Sigma 150-600mm lenses reach but very unhappy with the quality of the photos I have been getting with my Canon 70D. I am seriously considering getting the A7R2, but the price is kinda hard to swallow for something I do as a hobby. I mostly shoot wildlife, my kids sports games, landscapes, and I dabble in macro.

Would you still recommend this camera and the 150-600mm now that you have a few more months to work with it?

Also I wanted to say that I think your photographs are beautiful. I so wish I lived somewhere as breathtaking as you. Houston, TX USA just doesn't have that many great landscapes to photograph.
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