Thursday, January 31, 2013

Shooting 700mm with the Sigma 150-500mm lens

Yes, you read the title correctly. I took Paul's advice last summer and bought a 1.4x teleconverter for the Sigma lens just to see what it would do. I have to admit that the results were less than spectacular. Keep in mind that these whales were waaaaay out there but even factoring that in I still wasn't that happy with the photos.

This first shot is an uncropped version so you can see the actual results. The lens shoots a lot darker and less crisp than a Nikon prime or even just the Sigma 150-500mm by itself. It also vignettes some in the corners and the colors weren't true to the scene. This photo was shot at f10 during the middle of the afternoon with full Hawaiian sun and I even brightened it up a little in photoshop. Even at f10 the background isn't clear and you don't get a clean, crisp photo.

The next photo is the same image cropped at 50% and the photo after that is another shot from the same distance and also cropped 50%.

As a comparison, here is a shot taken on the same day with the Nikon 28-300mm lens at f8. The whale in these shots was at about the same distance as the shots with the Sigma and teleconverter give or take 50 feet or so. The first shot is an uncropped version and the 2nd shot is the same photo but cropped 50%.

All in all I can say that if you have to have a photo and need to really reach out there the Sigma 1.4x teleconverter will do the job but your not going to get National Geographic qulaity photos with the combination. The only other negative I found was that you can't auto-focus with the teleconverter on the Sigma. That wouldn't be a problem if you are shooting a subject that is stationary for a few seconds or more at a time but when it comes to shooting whales, you never know when they are going to pop up or where so I had to just set the focus at a distance I thought one would jump at and hope for the best.

Next trip to Hawaii I hope to have a Nikon prime lens to replace the Sigma with.


  1. Great subject matter and location for evaluating the Sigma 1.4x teleconverter and good honest review!
    I didn't realize the colors would be changed so much though I suspected that there would be autofocus issues. Difficult to see with these small examples how much loss of clarity by using the teleconverter. Sorry for the disappointing advise on my part.
    Have you tried this teleconverter with any of your other lenses? I'd be interested to see how good or bad it performs with your Nikon 28-300 for example.

    1. I agree with you Paul, it's all your fault! LOL

      I have found out that with the teleconverters they will not focus on any lens with an aperture smaller than f4. Sigma warns not to use their teleconverters on anything but a Sigma lens and Nikon warns not to use the their teleconverters on anything but a Nikon lens. It has something to do with the electronics and connections and they say you can screw up your lens if you try it. I don't understand how they can be different but apparently they are.

      I will be listing this teleconverter on e-bay so I can make some money to put towards the new camera. I had planned on investing in a Nikon 1.4 teleconverter until I read Q's comment so now I'm not sure. Instead of spending 10 grand on a f4 600mm I was going to invest in a 200-400 with a teleconverter but now it seems Q is going to make me spend more money. LOL

    2. Well the one consolation about buying good glass is you will probably have it over a number of camera bodies and good lenses hold their value quite well.

      That's one advantage to having the DX sensor size camera bodies over the FX... I already have a 180-600mm lens! (Sigma 120-400.

      What about getting a good DX sensor camera to use with your Sigma 150-500 just for those long shots. Nikon will soon be coming out with their replacement for the D7000 which will likely be a fairly capable 24mp body.

    3. I don't think I will ever go back to DX Paul. It seems the main focus of most of my photos is landscapes (and sunsets) so the FX format works better for me and I like the photos I get fromt he FX sensors. That's why I've been looking at the D800. Everything I have read about it says it has a extreme amount of detail in the photos because of the high MP count on the sensor. I think a D800 with the Nikon 17-35mm lens woudl be a good combination for landscapes and then I can use the D700 for underwater and anything that needs a high frame rate.

      You are right about the lenses though, they hold their value well and Nikon has been very good about making sure all of their glass works on all the camera bodies so spending money on lenses won't be wasted. All I have to do now is find the money! LOL

  2. the auto-focus issue is exactly why i've never attempted to get a teleconverter. i af always. my eyesight isn't good enough to do manual focus.

  3. I have used 1.4X teleconverter on my 200-400mm before, and I'm not impressed with the picture quality. Also, I can see the colors has shifted for the pictures above with the teleconverter.

  4. Comparison photos certainly get to the point. Thanks for the review.

  5. What a sight. He must have been having a great time.

  6. Let's all get one! LOL


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