The Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM ‘Contemporary’ is the smaller and more lightweight of Sigma’s 150-600mm super-telephoto zoom lens, the other being the ‘Sports’ edition. While matching the Sports lens for aperture rating as well as zoom range, the Contemporary version is much more manageable for handheld shooting.
Mount: Canon EF, Nikon F FX, Sigma SA
Full frame: Yes
Image stabilization: Yes
Lens construction: 20 elements in 14 groups
Angle of view: 16.4-4.1 degrees
Diaphragm blades: 9
Minimum aperture: f/22
Minimum focusing distance: 2.8m
Maximum magnification ratio: 0.2x
Filter size: 95mm
Although designed with an eye on the price tag, the budget-friendly Sigma boasts an impressive feature list. Posh glass includes one top-grade FLD (‘Fluorite’ Low Dispersion) element and three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) elements. Despite the price drop from Sports line lenses, you still get the full range of switchable dual autofocus, giving priority to either AF or manual override, an AF range limiter, dual-mode optical stabilization for static and panning shots, and two switchable custom modes. These can be set up with Sigma’s optional USB Dock, to tailor various functions like how visible stabilization is in the viewfinder, and the speed of autofocus.
The 150-600mm Contemporary lens isn’t as extensively weather-sealed as the Sports edition but still has a rubber gasket on the mounting plate, along with fluorine coatings on the front and rear elements to repel moisture and greasy fingermarks. The zoom lock switch can be engaged at any zoom setting that has a marked focal length.
All aspects of performance are very respectable, from the rapid autofocus speed and 4-stop optical stabilization to the lens’s image quality. Sharpness is excellent in the shorter half of the zoom range but drops off a bit towards the long end.
We run a range of lab tests under controlled conditions, using the Imatest Master testing suite. Photos of test charts are taken across the range of apertures and zooms (where available), then analyzed for sharpness, distortion and chromatic aberrations.
We use Imatest SFR (spatial frequency response) charts and analysis software to plot lens resolution at the center of the image frame, corners and mid-point distances, across the range of aperture settings and, with zoom lenses, at four different focal lengths. The tests also measure distortion and color fringing (chromatic aberration).
Levels of sharpness are very good indeed in the 150-250mm sector of the zoom range. It’s still pretty good at the 400mm mark and adequate at 600mm. Importantly, given that it’s not a ‘fast’ lens, sharpness is at or near its best when using the widest available apertures.
Color fringing can be a little noticeable at the short end of the zoom range, towards the edges of the frame, but is slightly reduced at longer zoom settings.
Fairly minimal pincushion distortion remains very constant at all focal lengths.
Ideal for handheld wildlife and sports photography, this Sigma lens has a manageable size and weight, along with effective optical stabilization. Image quality and overall performance are very good, making it a great buy at the price. It’s well suited to full-frame Canon and Nikon DSLRs, while giving an even more extravagant maximum ‘effective’ telephoto reach of 240-960mm or 225-900mm on the two brands of APS-C format cameras, respectively.