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150-600mm Contemporary vs Sports

Sigma has published the MTF charts for the 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary lens.

Click on “Compare Images” below to see how it fares against the Sports version. Note that I chose the “Diffraction MTF Chart” as it reflects what to expect in real-world images (for sharpness and contrast), as opposed to the “Geometrical MTF chart” which is the result of a theoretical calculation.

As expected, the S is a bit better at 600mm throughout most of the frame, but the C slightly surpasses its bigger sibling at 150mm.

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports

Legend

  • Red lines: Measurements at 10 LP/mm (contrast)
  • Green lines: Measurements at 30 LP/mm (fine detail)
  • Dotted lines: Meridional measurements
  • Solid lines: Sagittal measurements

[Source: SIGMA 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary – Telephoto Zoom Lenses – SigmaPhoto.com]

  • Nikos Delhanidis
  • Veselin Gramatikov

    The sport are better at 600mm 6.3 than the 200-400/4 + 1.4. This is great how 2000$ lens outperforming optically ,a 6000$ pro-lens. Sure you do not have 200-400/4 with the Sport. Sport is 200-400 5.6-6.3. And the Nikkor is far better at 200-400 ragne. But? For photographing birds i do not found to 200-400 range is enough when used at Full Frame camera. I do not like this 200-400/4 lens for birds. Expensive, heavy, small range and slow f-stop. For general birds photography and for the money Sport is better as reach, weight and optical performance after 400mm. I found my self when i got the Sport i will use this lens mostly at 400-600 range and zooming back to 200-300 range only to include environment round the subject. You can not do that with prime lens 🙂

  • Nikos Delhanidis
  • Jeff Cohen

    having owned and used the sport for a month now ,my feelings are its a stunning lens .the weight which so many keep on about is still lighter than a comparable canon or nikon 500mm ,but you gain a useable 100mm over them and when needed CAN shoot at f6.3 and still retain sharpness taking into account d.o.f .
    no one that i know has yet seen the C MODEL so wait till its out then comment .if i had taken notice of some of the test reports etc i wouldn’t have gone with this sports lens but luckily i had tried a demo one back in december and fell in love with it ,so reading some reports made me wonder what was the intent of some .
    o.k these lenses are not going to produce what you can with canon or nikons 500 or 600 lenses but its a tiny proportion of what you would pay for one of them and unless your earning money with your photography its a no-brainer i.e 600mm at £1500 or 600mm at £7500 go figure !!!

  • Nikos Delhanidis

    A comparison with the Nikkor 200-400+TC-14E II/III i would very much like to see

    • plainsman

      I hear that the 200-400/4 is only good at short range so I suspect that even the Tamron 150-600 @600/8 will be much much better at middle distances than this nikon heavyweight will be at 560…..

      Remember that both Canon Nikon are optimised at short range so they look good in mtf chart tests at 12 metres or so!!!

      • Nikos Delhanidis

        i found someone made some rough comparison tests with 150-600 S, 200-400+TC-14E II, and 500 f/4, i need to find again the links , but so far his tests were with all lenses wide open ( i am hoping he will also post test with f/8 ) the 150-600 S is just a tad better than the 200-400+TC (560mm) at their longest ends. While the 500 f/4 (as expected in theory but very much more impressive in actual images) shows what really means sharp …

      • Peter

        Hi, i have been using a Nikon 200 – 400 F4 Vr for a few years now and i can assure you that whoever told you that it only performs at short range needs a course in photography, i only hand hold this outfit (d300s and d7200 + 1.4 ) for wildlife, ( mainly birds) and have won accolades worldwide for my results, RSPB have used numerous images of mine. I have hundreds of action shots, birds in flight that are extremely sharp. mind you i have been with other users of this kit that do not get the same results,my advice to them is to practice panning etc and not expect the camera gear to work wonders. cheers, Pete.

  • Veselin Gramatikov

    Minor difference between those is important. Minor difference is not very important when we speak for super performance prime lenses. Minor difference here means that the Sport lens will be good but contemporary not as good. Seems the difference is same as Sport version and the Tamron. Tamron is good on the dead center even at 600mm but too soft 15% from the center until f/8.0-11. Wide open performance here is critical.. I ordered Sport because when i have 6.3 at 600mm i want to work at 6.3. Not close down to f/8-11. This is too dark when using in winter time in Europe for wildlife. Even for Full Frame camera. Working perfect at 6.3 means 1 stop slower iso and in winter time this means 3200 and avoiding 6400. Or 1600 avoiding 3200 witch is good. When i look the MTF`s i believe both will be almost equal on crop sensor camera in the center. On Full Frame will be difference in the corners or 20% from the center. Also sport is better built witch means better value for long term period. When i buy lens i think i will use this lens at least 5 years from now. I don`t need plastic lens. 1000$ more for better build and optical performance is good deal when you plan to use this lens in harsh conditions for long period of time. Of course if you want just own some supertelefoto C version and the Tamron are far better deal. Is not about witch lens are better is about who are you and how do you plan to use this lens. If you plan to use it hard….1000% less now maybe will mean 1000$ more tomorrow. Sport is as far as i know and read best supertele vario lens in todays market. Seems better than the Nikkor and maybe same as Canon variants and for wildlife will be better because of the extra reach. I do not expect same AF performance but maybe close. 200mm more is big deal when you use Full Frame camera.

    • Nikos Delhanidis

      “When i look the MTF`s i believe both will be almost equal on crop sensor camera in the center.”
      By “both” you mean the two Sigmas?

      Who else here supports this impression interpreting the charts?

  • Nikos Delhanidis

    May the reviews start pouring in 😛

  • Nikos Delhanidis

    C shipping info would had been nice 🙂

    • Florent – SigmaRumors

      Then you should like this: http://sigmarumo.rs/HSsAe

      • Nikos Delhanidis

        LOL thanks. Yeap and 5 mins later shipping info i got 😀

        • Florent – SigmaRumors

          Haha. Thuth is, the info was posted 5 mins before you asked for it 🙂

          • Nikos Delhanidis

            *blaming time zones*

  • Nikos Delhanidis

    i need to have a high end sports capable DX body and tele before or during spring, pereferably Nikon, D7200 is still very elusive and a mystery. And while we are on February, S availability is still on halt, nowhere to be found. No shipping info on C either ….

    • Peter

      hi, i have been using a D7200 for a couple of weeks now after a few years with a D300s, the D300s was/ is great, the D7200 is better, focusing for me is slightly quicker even with a 1.4 convertor attached, having the 1 third crop is very useful too, i mainly shoot wildlife ( birds in particular ) better burst rate and higher ISO, try one. Pete.

  • Pittsburgh Kid
  • Pittsburgh Kid

    B&H 24 Art

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1120086-REG/sigma_24mm_f_1_4_dg_hsm.html

    no price or delivery of course, use Florent’s links when ordering

    MTF charts at photorumors link.

    http://photorumors.com/2015/02/10/sigma-24mm-f1-4-dg-hsm-art-lens-announced/

    Sorry for the hijack!!!

  • Pittsburgh Kid

    Whoa!

    “Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens for Nikon F mount announced”

    NikonRumors.com: http://nikonrumors.com/#ixzz3RJp0GbIq

  • CERO

    no news on the price yet? Its amazing that they did reduce the weight a lot. even a little less than the Tamron.
    Is the design all plastic?

  • animalsbybarry

    Florent..its about time..thank you for publishing these charts ASAP…great job.!

    • Florent – SigmaRumors

      You’re welcome! I thought of you immediately when I saw the charts, haha.

  • Nikos Delhanidis

    i have unfortunately no idea yet how to read MTF charts. A question, is it safe to asume that roughly 0-10 in image height scale is maybe the APS sensor area? (and 0-20 the full frame area?)

    • EarlFargis

      This is the best article I know of on reading MTFs: https://photographylife.com/how-to-read-mtf-charts . I need to refresh my memory as well. I forget the term when the line curves back up leading to inconsistent sharpness across frames but I recall seeing the phenomenon with the Contemporary. Still on my smartphone so my analysis is iffy.

      • Nikos Delhanidis

        Thanks. great info. and assuming those MTF’s are on wide open aperture?

        • Florent – SigmaRumors

          Yes, Sigma’s charts show measurements made wide open.

      • Nikos Delhanidis

        Ok, according to this info, the APS area extends from 0 to 15 mm on the image height scale.

    • animalsbybarry

      Based on these charts..and looking at yhe 600mm.
      Compared to a top notch prime like the 600mm Canon..this lens is not in that ballpark
      Compared to anything else this lens is spetactular.
      Wide open in the center the performance is really good….this is very inportant because if you use crop sensor or 1.4x teleadapter this is the portion you will use.
      Up to 10 the performance is reasonably good, making this great for crop snsor.
      As you aproch the edges and corners of the ff image you will notice that resolution in one direction is very good while in the other direction is terrible..therefore corner sharpness will actually very depending on whether the subject detail is parrallel or perpendicular to the image center.

      These are really good mtf charts for this type of lens and I would consider both of these lenses to be the best of thier class.
      We need to see actual image tests, but the actual images on sport are real good with similar specs and similar optical desighn.
      This is just my interpretation, hope it jelps..if you are looking for a suprtele zoom both of these Sigma lense are in a class by themselves and you can’t go wrong with either one.

      • Nikos Delhanidis

        Thanks for the analysis. What would you say about comparing with the tamron 150-600, and sigmas own 120-400 & 150-600 ? Someone in DP-review forums actually supported with extensive testing his impression that the 150-600 S provides similar IQ (if not a tad better) with his Nikon 300 2.8 + TC-20E III. Would be safe to assume that in the center and in the APS area the IQ of C would be indistinguishable from S?

        I wonder also how those C mtf possibly compare to Nikon 200-400 + TC-14E II, (which was my tool combo till got stolen in September)

        • animalsbybarry

          There is no comparison..the sigmas are far better than the tamron.
          Wihile ther is not too much differrence on the shott end the Tamron is universally considered soft at tje 600mm end.
          Since that is why you buy the lens I would not even consider the Tamron if you can get a Sigma instead.
          I have not been considering the shorter Nikon focal lengths you ask about as the do not meet my needs, so I will odstain from that part of the question…I think however Earl may have tried that and might offer an opinion.

          • EarlFargis

            I don’t own the 300 f/2.8. I do own the Nikkor 300 f/4 and two Nikon teleconverters. Yet, as you can see, I’m still shopping 150-600mm lenses. ;^)

            I vaguely recalled a guy testing out the Nikkor 300 f/2.8 and doing a comparison with the Tamron so I looked it up. I read it ( http://wild-places.com/2014/06/09/nikon-2-8300mm-vs-tamron-5-6-3150-600mm/ ) and I’m still shopping 150-600mm lenses. ;^)

            I see a theme! ;^)

            Seriously, I have a Nikon TC-14EII and the TC-17EII. Mated to the Nikkor 300 f/4 I can recommend it with the TC-14EII. Not so much with the TC-17EII. I think if you stop the latter down a bit you’ll be okay. The TC-20EIII? Based upon my research – I took a chance on the TC-17EII which had mixed reviews but some said it was a nice compromise – and my subsequent experience with the TC-17EII I don’t think I’d personally go the 300mm + TC-20EIII route.

            Note Nikon has a new Nikkor 300 f/4 just released in the CP+ show run-up and it looks really sweet. Much more compact and light than my 300 f/4 which is very hand-holdable in its own right. The new lens is more expensive, around $2k. However, it’s priced like the Sigma 150-600mm Sports while sporting [pun intended] better ergonomics and it will be sharper at 300mm and 420mm. With the TC-20III I seriously doubt it but can’t prove it. There’s also, of course, the Nikkor 400 f/2.8 which gets you nice reach with the TC-14EII.

            Of course either of the Nikkor f/2.8s costs a lot more and weigh more than even the Sigma 150-600mm Sports.

            In the end, I spent a lot of time looking at the Nikkor 500 f/4. Specifically, a used Nikkor AF-S 500mm f4/ D II IF-ED. I think they’re one of the lighter 500mm Nikkors and being relatively cheap while only giving up VR. Keep in mind “relatively cheap” = $4k-$5k. I’ve come close to picking up nice copies on Fleabay for ~$4,200 but can’t quite seem to pull the trigger.

            As Barry said, the Sigma 150-600s are the best price/performance. Outside of professional use or amateurs for which cost doesn’t matter, they’re the way to go, IMHO. I suspect the Sigma Sports is a hair better IQ-wise than the Contemporary but the Contemporary should be hand-holdable.

          • Pittsburgh Kid

            Any thoughts on the Nikkor 300PF?

            Lensrentals had a one-off preliminary test against the old 300f4 and the PF was similar (but was slightly decentered)

            Thanks Florent for the charts!!!

          • EarlFargis

            That’s interesting. The 300 f/4 PF looks really terrific in most respects. The only problem is PF flares lights but the sample I saw didn’t bother me. My only complaint is the price has skyrocketed. I find the old version hand-holdable but do miss VR. My biggest complaint with my legacy version of the 300 f/4 is lack of a rear element. I haven’t had a problem with it but people claim you’ve got to be careful or you’ll have problems with dust. Most people keep the 1.4x teleconverter on it.

            All that said I don’t plan to upgrade What I have is good enough and if I didn’t have it I’d probably pick the older version used because you know the price will drop as people dump it to upgrade to the newest toy. In the context of an alternative to 150-600 Sigmas if you use teleconverters I’d say all 300s are the same. Nikon 1.4x teleconverters work well and are safe with any telephoto lens. Longer is iffy.

      • EarlFargis

        Well, when I was looking at the Sports MTF back when it came out I’m pretty sure to get a feel of it’s quality I tried to find a Sigma zoom lens with an outstanding reputation to compare it to which led me to look at the 120-300mm. I get it’s got 1/2 the focal length on the long end but I was curious. Neither 150-600mm hold up to it, if I recall. Of course, it’s a lot more expensive but it’s the source of my earlier whine I wish Sigma had buffed up the 150-600mm Sports specs up more and just charged more. It’s also the source of my whine I don’t think the 150-600mm Sports lives up to that line’s standards.

        The Contemporary, by contrast, looks spot-on. It’s more than up to the task of competing head-on with the Tamron. I’m expecting slightly better optics while being significantly lighter than the Tamron. It’s really an appealing package. Seriously. I’m really questioning my Sigma 150-600mm Sports pre-order. I get the Sports is built like a tank and weather sealed but I continue to question that lens’ purpose.

        Compared to Sigma’s Bigma, sure, both of the new Sigmas appear to be making significant progress. In that context, sure the new Sigmas look a bit the stunner. Otherwise, I still think both are mid-range, consumer-grade glass targeting amateurs.

        • animalsbybarry

          I think the Sigmas are the best value..especially for birding..
          Good combination of price weight quality and versatility

        • Nikos Delhanidis

          thanks again. have maybe some input on my 200-400+ΤC-14E II possible comparison question ?

  • Would really be nice to have an idea for a ship date for the contemporary version for Nikon. Due to Tamron being back ordered I ended up without buying one last year. I want one for this years season (for me spring to fall) and have a feeling the Sigma won’t be out early enough for me to consider it. Pity really.

    • animalsbybarry

      Most of us that want this type of lens share your need to have it by the spring or lose a shooting season.
      As a Nikon user if you prorder the sport you might be ok.
      As a sony user I think Sony should come out first because we cant buy the sport.

  • EarlFargis

    Not only do I want to thank you for posting this but cudos on the way it was posted to make comparing easy. I’m using a smart phone

    • animalsbybarry

      The CA is claimed to be in the corners primarily at 600mm and correctable on the computer…Sigma claimes very little differrence in resolution, and these charts agree with that…
      With a 600mm focal length differrences in atmospheric conditions and shooting technigue will far more substantial than the minor quality differrence between lenses.
      The Sport does however still offer weathersealing and closer focus.
      For a lens primarily used in the field and subjected to harsh conditions I would still consider the Sport a great value…but ifI get the contemporary in Sony mount I do not need a differrent camera too.
      I therefore repeat my earlier request for Sigma to make the Sony version first..because they dont have the sport version..and to release a 1.4x in Sony mount.

  • CERO

    thanks for the information man! good to see finally… some info of the contemporary.

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