The NEW Sigma 60-600F4.5-6.3 OS Sport!

Recently I made a post about the Red Bull AirRace, and teaching a photo workshop/expedition with Roberts, Sigma, and Benro.  What I didn’t mention is that at the race Sigma had planned on having me demo their NEW Sigma 60-600F4.5-6.3OS Sport for feedback/Review.

(Courtesy of Sigma’s Website)

Unfortunately, the lens didn’t make it in time due to problems in shipping, but luckily only a few days later the 60-600 was in my hands ready for an adventure!  So an adventure is what I went looking for, or really more like a Safari.

(Canon 1Dx, 1000ISO, NEW Sigma 60-600F4.5-6.3OS Sport@600mm. 1/60th@F6.3)

And here is the usual disclaimer. Neither Sigma nor Roberts is paying me for this review. Roberts Camera rental department as usual stepped up and loaned me the Canon 1Dx for the demo/review of the 60-600 (because Canon units usually ship first), but than a loaned camera body, no money has changed hands for this review and the opinion that I’m getting ready to share is mine, and mine alone.  So let’s get going.

(Canon 1Dx, 4000ISO, NEW Sigma 60-600F4.5-6.3OS Sport@600mm. 1/640th@F6.3)

The build quality of the 60-600 is on par with sigma’s current offerings. Very sturdy metal construction that is, according to Sigma, fully weather sealed. (The ads include the lens covered in water drops, which is pretty great).  The EXTRA LARGE Arca swiss style foot is a nice touch as its super convenient and it does also double as a great way to hold and carry the lens considering the foot is practically the length of the width of a hand as opposed to a smaller foot that you can only hold with a finger or two to carry around. The foot also can be rotated around the lens with the collar which is pretty much the same on all lenses with a tripod foot/collar.  This Sigma, however, goes one step further and clicks at every 90-degree interval around the lens, which is a really nice touch.  There is also a strap that is included with the 60-600 that attaches to the lens, not unlike the 500F4, or any of the Nikon or Canon exotic glass.  The strap attaches to metal eyelets on the outside of the lens, so there should be zero worry about it going anyplace.  The lens barrel does extend as you zoom, which you should expect for a lens that has such depth of zoom, however when you don’t want the lens to extend while you are walking or shooting you can lock it with a switch.  The lens lock fully locks when the lens is at 60mm, but as an added benefit it also semi-locks at every single major focal length. Semi-lock means that the lens won’t creep, but if you give it a little wrist action on the zoom you can pop it out and move it.  Super cool.  It’s also worth noting that the lens has the same C1 and C2 custom setting options as a lot of the rest of Sigma’s lineup, all programmable via the Sigma USB Dock, which I did not get a chance to try because this lens was a pre-production copy, and I don’t have a Canon Dock anyway.  The dock allows you to update the firmware on all of Sigma’s newest lenses, and also on the Sport and Contemporary line change things like the focus limiter, and even Autofocus Speed, which is super cool.

(Canon 1Dx, 1000ISO, NEW Sigma 60-600F4.5-6.3OS Sport@196mm. 1/400th@F6.3)

So let me backtrack a bit.  I made a joke about going on Safari, but in reality, I went to the Indianapolis Zoo, which is as close to a safari as I can get in the middle of Indiana on somewhat short notice on a budget that consists of just about zero. (Unpaid review remember?).  This also had the advantages of having other animals than birds, as well as significantly varying distances to the animals.  Sigma’s 150-600 is a great range, but the 60-600 is a MUCH better one.  You never realize how often you want a little bit wider when working with a really long lens, but the Sigma 60-600 scratches that itch perfectly. Here is an example of the difference between 60, and 600mm in this kind of application.

Photo of some Lilly Pads at 60mm

Same exact spot, but at 600mm.


Another itch the NEW Sigma 60-600F4.5-6.3OS Sport is with the stabilizer.  Anybody who looked through the lens was absolutely marveled by how quickly, and how solidly the stabilizer snapped into place and the frame practically stopped moving.  This is at any focal length.  So much so, that with a few shots as a burst out of the 1Dx I was able to get a sharp frame at as low of a shutter speed at 1/15th at 600mm.  Granted, I shot about 9 frames, and only 1 was sharp, but at 600mm 1/15th handheld? That’s stupid good.  STUPID GOOD. In fact HERE is a very unscientific video showing how good it is.

(Canon 1Dx, 100ISO, NEW Sigma 60-600F4.5-6.3OS Sport@600mm. 1/15th@F6.3.)

That’s correct, I did not take a tripod to the zoo.  Let’s be real, carrying around a big lens is one thing but carrying around a big tripod is something else.  Most folks aren’t going to go around attempting a 600mm handheld shot at 1/15th, but 600mm at 1/60th?  Lots of folks would attempt that and the stabilizer in this lens means its possible pretty much every time.  Shots like this one below with the bear and the waterfall become super possible at any focal length.

(Canon 1Dx, 400ISO, NEW Sigma 60-600F4.5-6.3OS Sport@85mm. 1/13th@F22.)

Something else that is very unique to this lens as a super zoom is its ability to be a macro lens at 200mm.  At 200mm the lens has a close focus distance of just about 2 feet.  That’s 2 feet from the sensor mind you, not the end of the lens, and at 200mm the lens is a little longer than a foot.  With a reproduction ratio of 1:3ish at 200mm this lens can be used as a telephoto macro lens.  Whoa.  At 400mm, close focus is about 4 feet, and at 600mm close focus is at about 6 feet, which means there is no shortage of ability to reach out and touch something with your camera.  I was sure the shot below was at around 400mm, however, the EXIF data says it was at 600mm.  Still crazy sharp too.

(Canon 1Dx, 1000ISO, NEW Sigma 60-600F4.5-6.3OS Sport@600mm. 1/640th@F6.3.)

This brings us to the sharpness.  The biggest factor of a lens that zooms so darn much is that at some point there is a soft spot in the range or an “except at this circumstance” kind of focal length.  In reality, however, the 60-600 was super crazy sharp throughout the range.  600mm, 0r 60 or anyplace in between it was crazy sharp.  A good example of an “Except would be with my Nikon 200-400F4, which at 400mm infinity is a little soft.  The Sigma 60-600F4.5-6.3OS Sport does not have a pitfall like this that I could find in my time with the lens.

(Canon 1Dx, 4000ISO, NEW Sigma 60-600F4.5-6.3OS Sport@600mm. 1/320th@F6.3.)

The lens handled motion well too, and while I did not have the opportunity to track moving race airplanes as intended, the bit of tracking I did on animals at the zoo left me more than pleased with its ability to follow and track movement. Before getting the lens back to where it needed to be, I did shoot some cars in traffic outside of Roberts.  The photos aren’t all that interesting, and I’m sure the folks in the Lincoln Towncar, and two jeeps were wondering what I was doing, but the punchline is that at 30mph the 60-600 tracked them perfectly.  If you don’t believe me, you can download the sequence here.

(Canon 1Dx, 2000ISO, NEW Sigma 60-600F4.5-6.3OS Sport@310mm. 1/400th@F5.6)

Whew.  That was a lot to cover, almost like going from 60-600mm.  I am not sure if this lens is intended to augment or replace the current 150-600 Sport, but to be honest with this lens on the market I don’t know why you would buy the 150-600.  Having used them both, and being impressed with the 150-600 I can’t help but feel like the 60-600 is superior in every way.  Don’t believe me?  Call the folks at Roberts.  A good number of them had a chance to play with it for a bit before it was shipped back to the Sigma Mothership in New York.

(Canon 1Dx, 4000ISO, NEW Sigma 60-600F4.5-6.3OS Sport@196mm. 1/640th@F5.6)

So there you have it, all the information I can think is important about the NEW Sigma 60-600F4.5-6.3OS Sport.  At $1999 its a helluva lens for birding, nature, sightseeing, or even taking on a hike because it won’t break the bank; or your back.  If you are looking to get one, be sure to check them out on Roberts Camera’s website, or call down there and talk to the good folks.  Yes, we DID throw it onto the Canon EOS R, in fact, it was moments after I picked the lens up.  Yes, it Did work perfectly.  If you call and ask for Juan, he may even tell you about putting it on his Sony A7R3 with the Sigma MC11.  More Soon.