New lens, new obsessions

A brief play with the Sigma 150 – 500 mm f5/6.3

As I talked about in another post, one of my current frustrations is that most of my local nature reserves are designed with the hides a long way back from the action. So, I bought a new lens! (Why only go to a reserve? Well there are a few reasons, but I’ll talk about that somewhere else.)

Well, the lens arrived, and the first thing to say is it’s massive. Huge. Ginormous. Silly. I love it!

There is something so reminiscent of being a child about open a huge parcel, especially when it weighs a lot. I tore the parcel open, then delicately opened up the branded box (I keep all the boxes, I’m not really sure why, but it feels important somehow. Getting rid of them would be much more sensible because I am seriously lacking camera storage space at the moment!). The lens comes with its own padded carry case, and I also bought a 3 year warranty, which I have put somewhere safe and already can’t remember where it is…

Anyway, I packed up my camera bag, into which the new lens barely fits (no matter, I have a bigger bag arriving on Saturday (its Wednesday now)) and set off for the nature reserve. Now, I have to be honest, once I placed the order for this lens, which was quite expensive and really at the very edge of my budget, I was quite nervous. I have bought non-canon lenses before, and been very disappointed. When it comes to wildlife images I really want nice, crisp, sharp images, and nothing upsets me more than spending hours shooting, just to find out when I get home that all my images are soft (they always look soft on the camera LCD, so that isn’t much to go by). So this first run out was of very high importance. This was going to decide whether this lens was a fantastic purchase, or something that I’m going to be trying to justify for a long time…

I went to a very commonly used hide first, and because it’s so often used the wildlife doesn’t really come anywhere near it, so I thought it would be a perfect test of the full 500 mm, after all, that’s why I bought this lens. Ironically, I was proven wrong by a heron hunting about 30 ft in front of the hide, but I still shot at 500 mm to really see if this lens could actually produce the sharpness I was after. It was a grey day, poor light really, and I had boosted my ISO to 640 to get a reasonable shutter speed. I was shooting at f8 because in my experience, using the fastest aperture (which on this lens is 6.3 at 500 mm) is always quite soft.

I got home, copied up the images and set about a little workup in Lightroom (I’ll write in another post what I normally do). This is the final result.

A grey heron walks past me

Grey heron coming to feed

Worth the money? Oh boy do I think so!

I really can’t wait to get out again with this beastie, and really see what it can do! If only I had a suitable tripod… How fortunate that my birthday is coming up!

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