Overarching every other feature of the Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens is the extreme focal length range it provides. Everyone loves a lens deemed the world's first and this one, according to Sigma, receives that designation for being the first 10x optical zoom telephoto interchangeable lens reaching 600mm. Sigma calls it a hyper-telephoto zoom lens and with that extraordinary focal length range, this single lens can cover a range typically requiring several lenses.
Especially with 600mm included in the focal length range, size, and weight are penalties to be expected from a superzoom lens and this lens takes on a rather large and heavy classification. Superzoom lenses typically have some downsides, and sacrificed image quality is a common one, sometimes a showstopper for the discerning. While I cannot say that this lens reaches the image quality level coming from lenses costing 5-digit numbers, from a relative standpoint, this lens' image quality is rather remarkable.
Featuring the excellent build quality, features, and performance that we have come to expect from the Sigma "Sports" lens series, this model has a lot going for it. When you want to take only one lens with you, when you cannot (or do not want to) change lenses, when you cannot change shooting distances, when you need to be immediately ready to photograph practically any subject that does not require wide angles, this lens is likely a good choice.
I opened this review by featuring the awesome focal length range provided by this lens. With focal length range being a primary consideration for lens purchase and use, this lens covers a very large number of needs and can very often be the right choice.
Specifically, what is the 60-600mm focal length range good for? Any subject that does not require wide angles. I know, that is a weak answer. But with standard through super-telephoto focal lengths covered, this lens has the right angle of views for practically every subject aside from those requiring wide angles which primarily includes some landscapes, environmental portraits, and architecture including interior photos.
Until about 6 years prior to the Sigma 60-600 Sport lens hitting the streets, there were no major brand name interchangeable zoom lenses that included 600mm in their focal length range (aside from the huge $7,999.00 Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6 EX DG APO IF HSM Autofocus Lens) and most of the over-400mm lens options were very expensive. The Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD Lens changed the landscape, the Sigma 150-600mm OS Sports Lens was the next to-600mm zoom lens to reach the streets the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens arrived soon after, and then Tamron introduced 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Lens. All these lenses quickly became very popular, especially because of their long focal length affordability.
From an angle of view perspective, one 600mm lens has no advantage over another 600mm lens — unless those numbers have been rounded significantly. Using an unscientific methodology involving relating the distance measurement to a properly-framed ISO 12233 enhanced resolution chart (this measurement is included in our lens specs tool) relative to the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM Lens framing distance, the Sigma comes up a bit short, turning in a 30.51 vs. 32.98' (9.30 vs. 10.05m) measurement. While not a huge difference, the suspicion of some up-rounding is raised. For reference, the Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS III USM Lens frames the same target at 28.45' (8.67m). However, the Sigma zoom has slightly more pincushion distortion at 600mm than the primes and this distortion difference could be a reason for the difference in the test chart framing distances. Focal lengths are rated at infinity and any focal length breathing (this lens has very little) at shorter distances can affect this measurement.
The Sigma 60-600mm Sports lens includes 600mm and extends the wide end very significantly over the 150-600mm zooms and if questioning the long end focal length's actual angle of view, it is also fair to consider the wide end angle of view. The Sigma 60-600mm's 60mm tested distance measured 7.28 vs. 6.98' (2.19 vs. 2.13m) for the Nikon 60mm f/2.8G AF-S Micro Nikkor Lens, showing the two lenses being very close in this regard.
For certain is that this lens' extraordinary focal length is a delight to have at your fingertips with the extreme zoom range inviting significant perspective differences captured during each outing.
Typically, standard angle of view lenses are smaller and lighter than long focal length lenses and also typical is that longer focal length range lenses are larger and heavier than shorter range lenses. Thus, a photographer planning to primarily use only the wider end of this lens' focal length range with little need for the longer end is going to be far more likely to purchase or select to use a considerably smaller 70-200mm class lens. Those opting for a 60-600mm lens are going to at least sometimes need the longer telephoto focal lengths and those photographers are frequently going to be wildlife photographers and, as the lens moniker suggests, "sports" photographers. Those pursuing these photographic disciplines are often required to remain distant from their subjects, including for safety reasons.
Sports photographers are frequently limited in their shooting locations and their focal length requirements can vary by the second. This lens can capture tightly-framed action deep into a sports field or race track at 600mm (even from behind the fence for uncredentialled access) and still capture ideal framing when the action gets very close. Were you ever asked to photograph a sports team to commemorate a big win immediately after the game, while the excitement is still high? At 60mm, the entire team can be fit into the frame — from a comfortable distance (try that with a long prime lens). Use this lens to capture the awards ceremony, the stands full of fans, etc. along with the event's action.
With sports, we're usually talking about photographing people and this lens has the classic perfect portrait focal length range completely encompassed. The Sigma 60-600 Sports lens is a large, heavy lens option for general portrait photography, but it definitely has the focal lengths for and can be used for this purpose. Use a monopod and it will work especially well.
This is a great wildlife photography lens choice. Wildlife is at the top of my list of favorite subjects and a 600mm lens is most often my choice. But, there are times when 600mm is too long and that is where this lens gains a huge advantage. For example, after photographing a portrait of a bull elk filling the frame, immediately zoom out and capture the elk among the beautiful mountainous landscape. Or, there may be a tree, focal length-limited photographer, or other obstacles between the camera and the animal. In that case, a wider-angle of view may be required to fit the animal in the frame when close enough to avoid the obstacle. While at the zoo (or on safari), zoom out to fit the elephant (or the entire herd) in the frame and then zoom in to photograph the egret sitting on an animal's back. Especially at the zoo, the long focal lengths make finding an attractive background, one not appearing constructed, considerably easier.
This is the perfect air show focal length range. Use the wide end to capture the close multi-plane exhibitions and use the long end to tightly frame the distant single planes. Air show performers often use smoke trails as part of their programs and the zoom range enables a variety of smoke trail compositions to be captured rapidly — before the trail design blows away. Even ground displays can sometimes fit into a 60mm frame.
There are many other photographers who can make use of the 10x focal length range. Photojournalists with restricted access to their subjects, paparazzi, and law enforcement groups will find this focal length range very useful.
Landscapes are an additional subject included in a 60-600mm lens' capabilities. Long focal lengths are great for filling the frame with color from even modestly nice sunrises and sunsets. The compressed look that telephoto lenses give mountain landscapes can appear especially nice with the mountains being strongly emphasized in the composition.
Testing a lens with so many focal lengths is a daunting job and creating an example of the focal length range is alone a challenge. The thought process started with identifying a scene and subject to use. If the subject was alive, it would have to be very patient — or at least very slow. As turtles define slow, it seemed like this volunteer would be perfect. In the end, the concept deployed had only marginal artistic value but ... hopefully this example of the 60-600mm focal length range as seen by a full frame camera is helpful.
Place an APS-C/1.6x FOVCF camera behind this lens and the angle of view becomes equivalent to a 96-960mm lens on a full frame camera. These narrower angles of view shift this lens' uses more deeply into the sports and wildlife range. Composing small and distant subjects large in the frame is (relatively) easy at 960mm but help steadying the camera will be appreciated to keep the subject precisely positioned in the composition at this narrow-angle of view.
Finding a subject, especially a fast moving one, in the frame at narrow angles of view can be challenging, having a zoom range facilitates this task. Simply zoom in after acquiring the subject in the viewfinder at a wider focal length.
While long focal lengths will make you want to photograph very distant subjects but under some situations, too-distant subjects should be avoided. Haze can reduce contrast and heat waves/shimmer can quickly destroy image sharpness by micro-distorting details. While haze is primarily limited to affecting long distance photography, heat waves can negatively impact image quality even at relatively close distances. Shooting subjects on a track (the kind that people run on and the kind that people drive on) frequently results in heat wave distortion that noticeably affects final image quality and artificial turf is notorious for generating a huge amount of heat wave distortion on a sunny day.
The 60-600mm focal length contained in a single lens can save the day when lens changes are not possible such as when working in unfavorable environments, perhaps including dust and salt water spray in the air.
This is a great focal length range to have mounted for those whatever-comes-up needs, especially those happening around the house. If you are thinking to yourself "Our eastern gray squirrels do not look like that", we are thinking the same thing. This one appears to have an unusual color phase, especially in its tail. I didn't go looking for any of the sample pictures shared in this review. These subjects all simply showed up and with this focal length range mounted, I was ready to take advantage of a great range of opportunities.
The aperture value (f-stop) is a physical measurement, the ratio of the focal length to the diameter of the entrance pupil. Thus, longer focal lengths require wider physical openings to reach the same aperture opening as a wider focal length. Want very long focal lengths in a zoom lens without an extremely large size, heavy weight, and high price? You are likely looking at a variable max aperture lens.
Like the majority of zoom lenses with focal lengths reaching over 200mm, the Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 OS Lens has a variable max aperture. A variable max aperture means that wide-open aperture exposure settings will change as the lens is zoomed from wide to long focal lengths. Cameras in an auto exposure mode will automatically account for the narrowing max aperture change, but manual mode requires a manual exposure adjustment when using wide-open apertures (unless auto ISO is being used or an in-camera function accommodates the changes).
Here is what this lens' max aperture step down looks in relation to a handful of other comparable lenses:
|Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens||100-134mm||135-311mm||312-400mm|
|Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G AF-S VR Lens||80-134mm||135-249mm||250-400mm|
|Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens||60-75mm||76-138mm||139-347mm||348-600mm|
|Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Lens||100-111mm||112-233mm||134-400mm|
|Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports||150-184mm||185-320mm||321-600mm|
|Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C||150-179mm||180-387mm||388-600mm|
|Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens||100-115mm||116-161mm||162-400mm|
|Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD Lens||100-136mm||137-180mm||181-280mm||281-400mm|
|Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Lens||150-212mm||213-427mm||428-600mm|
I expected this lens' aperture to get narrow very fast and 16mm into the range, f/5 is the new max aperture, going to f/5.6 at only 139mm. Surprisingly, the 60-600 holds onto the f/5.6 aperture until 348mm, slightly longer than the 150-600mm Sports lens does. Still, this lens is slow/dark in terms of max aperture (and optical viewfinder brightness). With the differences in the comparison chart typically not exceeding 1/3 stop, max apertures will not be a decision factor between these lenses for most photographers.
Being realistic, the Sigma 60-600mm, even with "Sports" in its name, is not going to be your best option for capturing low light action. When the sun sets or the clouds roll in, you will be reaching for noisy-high ISO settings to get even an action-stopping 1/1000 shutter speed at f/6.3. On that topic, don't underestimate the shutter speed required to stop motion at 600mm. An in-action subject that was photographed at 300mm will need a significantly shorter (figure a 2x difference) exposure duration when photographed at the same distance (different subject framing) at 600mm due to the subject crossing twice as many pixels in the same time period.
With the sharpness-reducing effects of diffraction kicking in with some strength at f/11 through f/16 (depending on the camera being used), there is a somewhat narrow range of ideal apertures available for optimal use in this lens. Fortunately, those remaining apertures are quite useful.
Despite the aperture opening not being large, this lens, largely due to its long focal lengths, can create a very strong background blur.
Optical stabilization can greatly increase the versatility of most lenses, and when the focal length increases to 600mm, especially on an APS-C body, OS can save the day by virtue of the stabilized viewfinder alone. Framing a subject properly at 600mm handheld requires steady arms, but OS significantly reduces that personal steadiness skill requirement. Of course, stopping camera shake caused motion blur is a primary reason for the inclusion of OS and this OS system receives a 4-stop rating. Four stops of assistance are very significant, though not best-available at this time.
With stable footing and a Canon EOS 5Ds R freely handheld, I could get mostly-sharp results down to 1/6 second at 60mm and at 1/5 second exposures, I was still seeing a healthy percentage of sharp images. The keeper rate slowly declines as exposure durations increase until the last sharp image was made at 0.6 seconds.
Longer focal lengths with their greater magnification require faster shutter speeds to deliver sharp handheld results than their wider-angle counterparts do. At 600mm, the 60-600 gave me mostly sharp handheld results down to 1/40 second exposures with a solid sharp image percentage at 1/30 second. The sharp image percentage slowly decreased as exposures lengthened with the last sharp image coming in at 1/8 second.
Obvious from those sharp exposure durations, this lens' OS system is adding significant benefit. Another image stabilization benefit that should not be overlooked is the aid in AF accuracy. The camera's AF system can produce better focus precision if the image it sees is stabilized.
As is common for stabilized telephoto lenses, the Sigma 60-600 features mode 1 (normal) and mode 2 (panning) options. Using the Sigma Dock, this lens' OS can be further configured to one of three settings described by Sigma as:
Dynamic View Mode – This mode offers a recognizable OS effect to the image in the viewfinder. This helps to ensure the composition of images quickly.
Standard – This is the default setting. The OS effect is well-balanced and suitable for various scenes.
Moderate View Mode – This mode offers an excellent compensation of camera shake, and achieves a very smooth transition of the image in the viewfinder. The composition of the image remains natural even when the angle of view keeps changing.
The lens comes with "Standard" selected by default. I primarily used Standard mode for my testing, but I prefer Dynamic View Mode for subjects that are not moving quickly.
Easily audible clunks are heard at OS startup and shutdown and the viewfinder view sometimes bounces at OS start and stop. During operation, a faint hum is heard and the subject framing sometimes drifts a bit in Standard and Dynamic View Modes. The owner's manual advises that this OS system be turned off when using a tripod and the scene drifting is especially noticeable when the lens is tripod mounted.
Overall, the net results from this lens' stabilizer are quite good. When you need to leave the tripod behind, OS is there for you, helping to ensure sharp images and adding significant versatility to this narrow-aperture lens.
History leads us to raise strong doubts regarding expected image quality from any lens with an extraordinarily long focal length range. While the image quality results from this lens do not approach those from the big prime lens options from Canon, Nikon, and Sigma (comparison links are being shared here), this lens exceeded my expectations.
With a wide-open aperture, this lens delivers good center of the frame sharpness (resolution and contrast), especially at the wide end, with, impressively, little change over the entire focal length range. Sharpness increases as the aperture is stopped down, though not dramatically. With the aperture starting at f/6.3 at the longer focal lengths, the softening effects of diffraction are bumped into before much improvement can be realized from the narrower aperture, isolating the benefits of stopping down to the wide end.
Image quality typically degrades as the image circle is traversed from the center to the periphery, meaning that corners are seldom rendered as sharply as the center of the frame. This lens also performs better than expected in this regard. While I don't see corners equaling centers in terms of sharpness, they are not much softer and again, the performance does not vary much over the focal length range. The image sharpness benefit of using a narrow aperture is similar in the corners as in the center.
In addition to our standard lab tests, I like to share some real-world examples. The images below are 100% resolution center of the frame crops from images captured in RAW format using a Canon EOS 5Ds R. The images were processed in DPP using the Standard Picture Style with sharpness set to "1" (note that even modestly-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the true characteristics of a lens).
When used for wildlife, this lens tends to be at the 600mm setting much of the time and that led me to include some additional 100% crop samples for this focal length. The 600mm squirrel image crop was taken from the full squirrel on tree image shared earlier in the review. It was captured at ISO 800 on a cloudy day. The 600mm ISO 100 robin crop was taken from mid-frame. Both of the wildlife images were captured handheld.
In some lens designs, the plane of sharp focus can move forward or backward as a narrower aperture is selected. This is called focus shift (residual spherical aberration or RSA), it is seldom (never?) desired and mostly, focus shift is not an issue with this lens. Of the tested focal lengths, only 400mm showed noticeable focus shift with the plane of sharp focus moving slightly forward as the aperture was narrowed. With the focused-on subject remaining in focus, this is mostly a non-issue.
Next, we'll look at a comparison showing 100% extreme-top-left-corner crops captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images. These images were manually focused in the corner of the frame.
In the outdoor testing, the wider focal length corners are sharp wide-open and the longer focal length corners are a touch soft, showing some improvement at narrower apertures. Keep in mind that precise testing of very long focal lengths outdoors is a challenge for a variety of reasons including heat waves.
I always prefer a lens be optically razor sharp in the corners, but reality is that corner sharpness does not always matter and telephoto images often fall into the latter category.
When used on a camera that utilizes a lens' entire image circle, peripheral shading can be expected (from all lenses) at the widest aperture settings. Worst case for this lens is a noticeable but not too strong about-2.5-stops of vignetting in the corners at 60mm f/4.5, the widest focal length and widest aperture combination. By 100mm, f/5 is the widest aperture and vignetting drops significantly to about 1.2-stops. Wide-open aperture vignetting then slowly increases over the focal length range through 600mm where the nearly 2-stops of corner shading is recorded at f/6.3. Vignetting gradually resolves as the aperture is narrowed until a remarkably-low about 0.2-stops remains at f/16.
APS-C format cameras, using only the center portion of the image circle, avoid nearly all vignetting. Under certain scenarios, a slight amount of shading (under 1-stop) will be realized at 600mm with 60mm and 400mm having the next-darkest corners with under 0.5-stops recorded.
Vignetting can be corrected during post-processing with increased noise in the brightened areas being the penalty or it can be embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer's eye to the center of the frame.
The effect of different colors of the spectrum being magnified differently is referred to as lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration). Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii) with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the greatest amount as this is where the greatest difference in the magnification of wavelengths typically exists.
While lateral CA is usually easily corrected with software (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide, it is of course better to not have it in the first place. Any color misalignment present can easily be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a set of worst-case examples, 100% crops from the extreme top left corner of ultra-high resolution 5Ds R frames.
There should be only black and white colors in these images and the additional colors are showing lateral CA. All 5 of the focal lengths tested show at least some lateral CA with the color separation being strongest at the wide end and the colors trading sides between 200 and 400mm.
A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light, or more simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to look for. Axial CA remains at least somewhat persistent when stopping down with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing while the spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.
In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.
In the examples below, look at the fringing colors in the out of focus specular highlights created by the neutrally-colored subjects. Any other color is being introduced by the lens.
There is some modest color separation happening in these samples with the 600mm crop showing the least amount.
Flare is caused by bright light reflecting off of the surfaces of lens elements, resulting in reduced contrast and interesting artifacts. The shape, intensity, and position of the flare in an image is variable and depends on the position and nature of the light source (or sources) as well as on the selected aperture, shape of the aperture blades and quality of the lens elements and their coatings. With 25 elements in 19 groups, and especially at the long focal lengths, expect to see strong flare effects with bright lights in the frame.
As is common for a zoom lens, barrel distortion is present at the wide end and the amount is moderate. By a short distance into the focal length range, the distortion resolves and continues to transition into pincushion distortion at the long end. The amount of pincushion distortion is not severe, but it will be noticeable if straight lines are present near the borders of the frame.
Linear distortion can make careful framing of subjects with straight lines more challenging. Most modern lenses have lens correction profiles available for the popular image processing software and distortion can be easily removed using these, but distortion correction is destructive at the pixel level and this technique is seldom as good as using a distortion-free lens and focal length combination in the first place.
Already established is that this lens can create a very strong background blur at the longer focal lengths. The quality of that blur, referred to as bokeh, is quite nice. Here are some f/11 100% crop examples of out-of-focus specular highlights along with a full image reduced in size.
With a 9-blade aperture count, point light sources captured with a narrow aperture and showing a star-like effect will have 18 points. Narrow aperture lenses are not my first choice for creating these effects and this lens' stars are not my favorite.
"The Canon mount version of this lens is compatible with the Canon Lens Aberration Correction function. Matching the optical characteristics of the lens, this function performs in-camera corrections of peripheral illumination, chromatic aberrations, distortion, and more, to further enhance image quality." [Sigma] The level of compatibility depends on the camera being used.
Overall, this lens delivers very respectable image quality, especially for the extreme focal length range it provides.
As with all of the Sigma Art and Sports series lenses to introduced to date, the Sigma 60-600mm Sports lens is driven by Sigma's HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor). This lens internally focuses quietly with only some faint shuffling and clicks heard. The focus speed is decent in the default "Standard AF" mode.
Combined with the (highly recommended) Sigma USB Dock, this AF system is very customizable. Using the dock, two custom modes are available for programming (C1 and C2) and AF speed options of "Fast AF Priority" and "Smooth AF Priority" are available in addition to the standard/default mode. Smooth AF Priority offers slightly slower but very smooth-performing autofocus, ideal for use with video capture. Fast AF Priority is self-explanatory and Sigma has indicated that it comes with a "... slight risk of decrease in accuracy".
The focus speed difference between the modes is not dramatic, but it is noticeable. I like Fast AF Priority because ... I like fast. There may have been AF accuracy impact from using the fast mode, but I didn't notice it.
Unless one is primarily using manual focusing, a lens' autofocus accuracy is very important for realizing the ultimate image quality a lens is capable of producing. In this testing, consistency is especially important as consistency can be calibrated into accuracy if necessary, either in-camera or via the dock. Usually, third party lens manufacturers are required to reverse engineer camera autofocus algorithms and the result is commonly the weakest aspect of these lenses.
Overall, this lens provides reasonable AF performance. At the wide end, this lens has been focusing especially accurately with results being decent at the long end. The focus distance selected, if not correct, was seldom off by a significant amount.
Those using this lens on mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (MILCs) and those autofocusing using DSLRs' sensor-based AF systems should experience stellar AF accuracy.
The 60-600 Sports lens supports FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing. A focus limiter switch provides the full focus distance range or optionally limits the focus range to between 19.7' (6m) - ∞ or 2.0'- 19.7' (0.6m - 6m), for potentially faster focus acquisition. Using the Sigma USB Dock (more on this later) and a custom mode, the autofocus range can be customized as desired. Note that the switch setting is ignored when a customized mode is in use.
Common is for lenses to magnify a scene differently as the focus distance is changed and this lens has that feature, referred to as focus breathing. Unlike most lenses, the 60-600 Sports lens shows very little subject size change during a full extent focus adjustment illustrated below at 60mm.
I usually include the longest focal length in such an example, but ... all you would see is blur at 600mm. Just know that the performance is similar.
Focus distance settings are displayed inside a small window and available at a glance.
While non-cinema lenses are generally not parfocal and that attribute can be individual lens-specific, the review lens is not close to being parfocal. Plan on refocusing after a focal length change, especially if the change involved the longest focal lengths.
The manual focus ring is very smooth with ideal dampening. The 157° of focus ring rotation is ideal for precision work at 60mm with adjustments happening slightly fast at the longer end, though not problematically so. The focus ring being positioned to the rear of the zoom ring is not my preferred design, but there are no alternative designs in this lens class.
This lens has a minimum focus distance spec of 23.6" (600mm) and can produce a very strong 0.30x maximum magnification. While that sounds straightforward, I'll explain some important details after the comparison table.
|Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens||38.4"||(975mm)||0.31x|
|Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens||78.7"||(2000mm)||0.15, 0.21x|
|Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM Lens||165.4"||(4200mm)||0.15x|
|Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G AF-S VR Lens||68.9"||(1750mm)||0.20x|
|Nikon 200-400mm f/4G AF-S VR II Lens||76.8"||(1950mm)||0.27x|
|Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E AF-S VR Lens||86.2"||(2190mm)||0.22x|
|Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Lens||63.0"||(1600mm)||0.26x|
|Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX DG HSM Lens||39.4"||(1000mm)|
|Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens||23.6"||(600mm)||0.30x|
|Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens||102.4"||(2600mm)||0.20x|
|Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Lens||110.2"||(2800mm)||0.20x|
|Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD Lens||59.1"||(1500mm)||0.28x|
|Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Lens||86.6"||(2200mm)||0.26x|
To obtain the maximum magnification a lens is capable of, zooming to the longest focal length range and moving as close as the lens focuses accomplishes that, right? Not this time. The first sign of uniqueness is the lower end of the distance scale indicating a significant range. The minimum focus distance changes dramatically over the focal length range of this lens, growing significantly longer at longer focal lengths. Our tests marked this range at 21.1 – 99.3" (.54 – 2.52m). Complicating matters is that the minimum focus distance increases rapidly enough over the longest 100mm or so of zoom range that the maximum magnification is marginally reduced.
Every anomaly becomes a study and that was the case of this lens' maximum magnification capability. The iris flower shown below measures about 7" (178mm) in diameter.
Working down from the long end, the magnification began decreasing at 150mm, leaving the maximum magnification focal length to be roughly 200mm.
Magnification from standard/normal focal length lenses is significantly increased with the use of extension tubes which are basically as their name implies, hollow tubes (with electronic connections) that shift a lens farther from the camera. Doing so allows the lens to focus at closer distances, though at the expense of long-distance focusing. Expect a less improvement in maximum magnification at longer focal lengths, though these accessories can make the needed difference sometimes.
For a significant magnification increase at any focus distance or focal length with no change in minimum focus distance, mount a Sigma Global Vision Teleconverter behind this lens.
The addition of a Sigma TC-1401 1.4x Teleconverter creates an incredible full frame 84-840mm f/6.3-9.0 OS lens. Magnifying the image by 1.4x does not go unnoticed in the image quality, but especially stopped down to f/11, the results are not bad. Stopping down to apertures narrower than f/11 results in softer image quality due to the effects of diffraction showing stronger (using an EOS 5Ds R test camera). Note that we only test teleconverter performance at the longest focal lengths because the purpose of teleconverters is to obtain focal lengths not natively available in the lens. The 1.4x increases CA modestly and also increases pincushion distortion slightly.
Only cameras with f/8 max aperture-capable AF systems (including most sensor-based AF systems) can autofocus the w/1.4x combination and these cameras typically offer a restricted set of AF points. With the 1.4x mounted, autofocusing remains quick, but focus hunting becomes more common.
Use the Sigma TC-2001 2x Teleconverter to create an amazing focal length range of 120-1200mm with f/9.0-12.6 and OS. While the focal length range on this combo looks jaw-dropping, the resulting soft image quality is not likely to impress you and stopping down is of little benefit due to the effects of diffraction. CA is again increased slightly and linear distortion change remains similar to the with-1.4x results. This combo will not autofocus on any DSLRs using conventional phase detection AF and the viewfinder becomes very dark.
Use the image quality and distortion tools to clearly see the results of the with-extender combinations with your own eyes (links provided at the top of this review).
Just like the other Sigma Sports lenses, this one is very impressively built. The 60-600mm Sports lens feels like military grade hardware. This feel is aided by a significant size and weight, but this is a very well-constructed, pro-grade, weather-sealed lens.
The 60-600mm Sports lens does not forgo good looks, appearing at least as nice as it feels and functions.
This lens, reaching a long 17.24" (437.8mm) at the full 3.94" (100.2mm) extension with the hood installed, is too large to be contained within the site's smaller format lens product images. Because it is interesting to make comparisons between this lens and the smaller lenses, the 60-600 Sports Lens is included in both of the site's product image comparison tools. That some of this lens' images are cropped in the smaller lens format sample set should be expected.
This lens has no play in any parts. Both crisply-ribbed, substantially sized rubber rings are smooth (expect some slip-stick action from the zoom ring at longer focal lengths) with firm (ideal) rotational resistance. The zoom ring, located toward the front of the lens, has a noticeable diameter reduction starting mid-way into it, providing a tactile method for locating. This ring's 123° of rotation provides a nice rate of transition between focal lengths. The zoom ring rotates in the Canon standard direction (opposite of the Nikon and Sony standard). The focus ring rotates in the Canon and Sony standard direction (opposite of Nikon lenses).
Prefer a push/pull functioning zoom lens over the rotational design? This lens has you covered. While some twist-zoom lenses can be extended and retracted by pushing and pulling their objective ends, Sigma makes this option official by providing a groove toward the end of the lens to facilitate easy push/pull zooming. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages, and in this case, your zoom method can be instantly changed at any time.
The end of this lens is heavy, so it is no surprise that the end of the lens moving in the direction that gravity is pulling makes the zoom ring easier to turn with the opposite also being true. Gravity zooming can be a bit of an issue with this lens. If the lens is pointed downward, you will quickly find it at full extension. If you are shooting at a focal length less than 600mm and then direct the lens downward to rest your arms, to review your images on the LCD or for some other reason, the lens will extend fully to 600mm. The desired focal length must be re-established to continue shooting the same subject. Shooting upward at a hard angle? Plan on needing to hold the zoom ring in place to retain your selected focal length. Otherwise, the lens will self-retract.
This problem is not unique to this lens, but this lens exhibits stronger gravity zoom attribute than most. Sigma's solution to this issue is a zoom lock switch. As with most lenses having a zoom lock switch, this lens will not extend even with pressure applied when locked at the widest-angle focal length. Unlike most lenses, the 60-600mm Sports Lens can be locked at any marked focal length. While the lens cannot be locked at any of the in-between focal lengths, the marked focal lengths will lock in place until a modest pressure is applied to the zoom ring or the end of the lens (or the switch is moved to the unlocked position). The lock will support a camera resting on top of the lens when sitting upright while extended – the review lens does not retract (the 150-600 Sports lens retracts under the weight of a camera).
The lock switch along with a host of other switches can be seen in the image below.
Aside from the lock switch, 3-position switches are standard. It is easy to misposition a short-throw 3-position switch such as these, but as usual, Sigma has done a nice job with the solid clicks these firm switches provide. Very nice is the white backgrounds on two of the switches, visually indicating set positions.
I'll briefly mention the Custom Mode switch under the dock subheading below.
This is a relatively large and heavy lens. Here is a comparison chart to put everything into perspective.
|Model||Weight||Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)||Filter||Year|
|Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens||56.1||(1590)||3.7 x 7.6||(94.0 x 193.0)||77||2014|
|Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens||127.8||(3620)||5.0 x 14.4||(128.0 x 366.0)||DI 52||2013|
|Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM Lens||107.7||(3050)||6.6 x 17.6||(168.0 x 448.0)||DI 52||2018|
|Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G AF-S VR Lens||55.4||(1570)||3.8 x 8.0||(95.5 x 203.0)||77||2013|
|Nikon 200-400mm f/4G AF-S VR II Lens||118.6||(3360)||4.9 x 14.4||(124.0 x 365.0)||2010|
|Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E AF-S VR Lens||73.8||(2090)||4.3 x 10.5||(108.0 x 267.5)||95||2015|
|Sigma 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Lens||69.2||(1960)||4.1 x 8.6||(104.1 x 218.4)||95||2010|
|Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens||95.3||(2700)||4.7 x 10.6||(120.4 x 268.9)||105||2018|
|Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens||101.0||(2860)||4.8 x 11.4||(121.9 x 289.6)||105||2014|
|Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Lens||68.1||(1930)||4.1 x 10.2||(105.0 x 260.1)||95||2015|
|Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD Lens||40.1||(1135)||3.4 x 7.8||(86.2 x 199.0)||67||2017|
|Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Lens||71.0||(2010)||4.3 x 10.2||(108.4 x 260.2)||95||2016|
For many more comparisons, review the complete Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens Specifications using the site's Lens Spec tool.
Despite the significantly wider focal length range, the Sigma 60-600 Sports lens weighs less than the Sigma 150-600 Sports lens. How did they do that?
"The use of superior materials in the right place reduces the weight of the overall lens to enhance portability and ensure durability." [Sigma] These high-tech materials include magnesium, Carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), and Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) (vs. conventional ABS plastic). CFRP is "a light but strong material used in the interior and exterior fittings of aircraft, among many other applications." "TSC offers thermal expansion characteristics similar to those of aluminum. Since parts made with TSC expand and contract less due to changes in temperature, they tend to perform better under extreme conditions and help maintain the performance of the lens. TSC also offers outstanding elasticity. Compared to polycarbonate containing 20% glass, TSC offers approximately 70% higher elasticity. Compared to polycarbonate containing 30% glass, it offers 25% higher elasticity. (Comparison is between SIGMA-produced components.)" [Sigma]
Again, this lens is heavy, nearly as heavy as the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM Lens, but it can be handheld for reasonable periods of time. Keep your elbows in to save your shoulders.
Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens
Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens
All of these lenses extend significantly and the addition of their hoods significantly increases their overall size.
Have a collection of 105mm threaded filters in your kit? Have even one of them? I have to answer those questions with a "No." That filters can be used on this lens is a very positive attribute. That filters of this size are uncommon, very large, and quite expensive are downsides.
This is a heavy lens and while it can definitely be handheld, it will be most comfortable to use used when supported, typically via a tripod or monopod. That means the tripod ring will be an important component for use of this lens and this included non-removable (though the foot can be removed via 4 screws) Sigma TS-101 tripod ring is very nice, very solidly built and very smooth functioning.
Especially nice is the built-in Arca-Swiss-compatible dovetail, allowing the lens to mount in a wide variety of tripod head quick release clamps and adding compatibility with a wide range of accessories including flash brackets. With the foot mounted in a quick release clamp, it is easy to adjust the lens balance, important because this lens is heavy and as it extends significantly, the balance changes noticeably – enough that the center of the composition may become lower as the lens is lengthened significantly even when mounted to solid tripod and head combinations. The balance also changes significantly with inclination or declination.
This tripod foot has two threaded inserts measuring 1/4" and 3/8". If directly mounting this lens to a tripod or monopod, the choice of which insert to use can be made for the best balance of the lens, though the size will more typically determine the attachment choice. If two 1/4" threads are needed, a 3/8"-16 to 1/4"-20 Reducer Bushing in the larger threaded insert solves the problem.
The tripod foot works as a camera stand on a flat surface. The tripod foot also makes a nice point for handholding the lens. With the tripod foot comfortably resting on the left palm, the fingertips are ready to use the zoom ring.
The tripod ring's metal lock knob is conveniently positioned for use and the ring locks smoothly with no slip-stick behavior right up until fully tightened. Click stops are provided at 90° rotation settings with marks visually indicating the same. The tripod collar has a pair of attachment points for mounting the included neck strap. Ideally positioned, these attachment points allow the camera to be freely rotated without the strap strangling your neck.
There is a comfortable amount of space for fingers between the foot and the lens, including for carrying the lens. There is not a comfortable amount of space between the camera grip hand's fingers and the foot or lock knob if they happen to be rotated into that location.
Sigma typically includes a lens hood with their lenses and this one comes with the very large Sigma LH1144-01 model. The interior is mold-ribbed and it attaches via a large thumbscrew. The flat end of the hood permits the lens to be placed upright on a smooth surface and the rubberized surface on the end of the hood prevents scratching of the hood or the surface the lens is sitting on. The rubberized hood end also permits a more-sure grasp on the hood when installing or removing it and helps prevent the lens from sliding on its resting surface. Sitting the lens upright is nice for relieving your arms while shooting handheld. This rigid hood affords significant protection from both flare-inducing light and impact, including from dust and rain.
The Sigma 150-600mm Sports Lens ships with a nice (large) zippered, padded nylon case with a shoulder strap permanently attached to a side. A single-side-attached strap rests against the body better than a strap attached to opposite sides.
Sigma provides two lens cap options for the 60-600. The first is the standard LCF III 105mm front cap.
It is big but works very nicely. The other included solution is the Sigma LC-740E Lens Cover.
This is the type of cover typically found on very large lenses, featuring padded nylon that wraps around the lens hood with a hook-and-loop closure. Both caps can be used individually or simultaneously.
Sigma's high-quality Global Vision lenses get a classification of "A", "C" or "S", representing a primary Sigma-intended use of "Artistic", "Contemporary" and "Sports". A full description of these categories can be found in the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art Lens press release. This of course is a "Sports" lens and as such, gets an "S" stamped in a classy chrome circle on the lens barrel. Don't limit the lens' use to its narrow letter designation.
A great feature of the Global Vision lenses is compatibility with the Sigma Dock. The dock, working in conjunction with the Sigma Optimization Pro software, allows the lens' firmware to be updated (bug fixes, compatibility updates, feature enhancements, etc.) and allows precise autofocus calibration at four distances for four focal lengths. FTM focusing can also be disabled/controlled via the dock.
Above are screen captures showing some of the customization capabilities. The custom switch enables two specific setting configurations to be stored for quick recall. Program these modes for specific needs and when those needs arise, move the switch for immediate access to the programmed settings.
The price of a pro-grade lens is typically a hurdle to be cleared. Like the 150-600mm Sports lens, the 60-600mm Sports lens wears a heavy price tag but considering the number of lenses this one potentially replaces and the versatility it holds, the price becomes much easier to accept. Some of Canon, Nikon, and Sony's pro-grade telephoto zoom lenses with significantly shorter upper-end focal lengths are priced in a similar range. Coming from the lower-priced side, Sigma and Tamron both offer lenses with a significant portion of the focal length range at just over half of the price of this lens. An in-the-field failure of a lower-priced lens may leave you regretting the decision to save money up front. This is a substantially constructed lens and the price does not seem misaligned.
The Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens is available in Canon (reviewed), Nikon, and Sigma mounts and the Canon and Sigma versions can be used on Sony E-mount camera bodies via the Sigma Mount Converter MC-11. This lens qualifies for Sigma's Mount Conversion Service in case you later change your mind. Since Sigma reverse engineers (vs. licenses) manufacturer electronics and algorithms, there is always the potential that a DSLR body might not support a (likely older) third party lens. Usually, a lens can be made compatible by the manufacturer via a firmware update, but this cannot be guaranteed. Compatibility with the Sigma USB Dock is risk-reducing as Sigma can make dock-compatible lens firmware updates available for easy download. Sigma provides a limited 1-year limited warranty and Sigma USA provides a limited 3-year warranty extension.
The reviewed Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens was online-retail sourced.
From a focal length range perspective, there is no alternative to the Sigma 60-600mm Sports Lens. If one can give up 90mm on the wide side, several 150-600mm options come into play.
First up is the closest alternative, this lens' Sports-designated sibling, the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens. In the image quality comparison (visualize the camera resolution differences), we see the 60-600, despite its big focal length range advantage, hanging right with the 150-600 in terms of sharpness. The two lenses trade slight advantages in some comparisons. For example, I like the 60-600 results slightly better at 300mm but I like the 150-600 results slightly better at 400mm. The 60-600 shows modestly less flare.
Looking at the specs and measurements, the Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens vs. Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens comparison shows these two lenses being quite similar. Surprising is that the 60-600 is slightly smaller and lighter despite the two lenses being built to a similar quality level. The 60-600 has a considerably higher maximum magnification capability (0.30x vs.0.20x) though at a much shorter minimum focus distance (23.62 vs. 102.4", 600 vs. 2600mm). If you can't get close to your subject, the two lenses will be more similar in their max magnification capabilities at 600mm. While promotional discounts may vary, these two lenses have a very similar price. If the price discount differences are not strong, I lean toward the 60-600 in this decision.
Sigma has a second 150-600 lens to include in this comparison, the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens. Optically, the Sigma 150-600 lenses perform similar to each other and that reflects in the 60-600mm S vs. 150-600mm C image quality comparison. The linear distortion profiles are different with the Contemporary lens showing stronger pincushion distortion at the long end.
Looking at the specs and measurements, the Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens vs. Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens comparison shows the 60-600 being the larger and considerably heavier lens. You will prefer carrying the Contemporary lens around all day. Sigma's contemporary lenses are not as ruggedly built as the Sports variants, but they are still very nice lenses. The Sports lens has larger filter threads (105mm vs. 95mm) and a higher maximum magnification spec (0.30x vs. 0.20x) though at a much shorter minimum focus distance (23.6 vs. 110.2", 600 vs. 2800mm). At roughly half of the price of the 60-600mm Sports lens, the Contemporary lens will gain a significant advantage in the eyes of most.
The other lens manufacturer with a 150-600mm lens in the game is Tamron with the 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Lens In the image quality comparison, we see the two lenses performing very similarly. I'll give the Sigma the overall advantage and the Tamron's stronger lateral CA is especially obvious at 600mm. The with-teleconverter results amplify the Sigma's sharper performance at the 600mm end and 600mm will likely be the most important focal length for many using these lenses. The Tamron shows modestly less peripheral shading at the long end.
Looking at the specs and measurements, the Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens vs. Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Lens comparison shows the Tamron being narrower and noticeably lighter. The Sigma lens conveys a more-rugged build quality, but the Tamron is also nicely built. The Sigma lens has larger filter threads (105mm vs. 95mm) and a modestly higher maximum magnification (0.25x vs. 0.20x) though at a much shorter minimum focus distance (23.6 vs. 86.6", 600 vs. 2200mm). The Tamron is considerably less expensive.
When the Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens was announced, I immediately became very skeptical about its potential image quality. Decent image quality certainly could not be maintained over this incredible focal length range, right? Upon seeing the "Sports" moniker, I began thinking a bit more optimistically. The Sports series include Sigma's best lenses, always feature-filled including solid build quality, a good AF system, smooth functionality, weather sealing, and optical stabilization. And, good image quality is never sacrificed. The relatively high price for a third-party lens (the Sigma mount version is excluded from the third-party designation) solidified positive expectations.
Upon seeing the image quality test results, my excitement needle moved even farther up the positive scale. Do not expect high-end prime lens grade image quality, but for the crazy-long focal length range, the results are quite impressive.
This lens does not have a wide aperture and it is not a small or light, though significant efforts have been made to keep it small and light for its capabilities.
When you can only take one lens and need long telephoto focal lengths, including for sports and wildlife, the hyper-versatile Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens, a world's first, has you covered.
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