Photographing Bighorn Sheep With The Sigma 60-600mm Sports Lens

I recently went to British Columbia for business, and figured there was a good chance I would see a bit of wildlife, so I took the opportunity to try Sigma’s new $1999 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports lens. This is the only 10x telephoto lens on the market (that I know of) that reaches 600mm, and I was excited to give it a try.

Sigma 60-600mm Technical Specifications

  • Focal Length – 60 to 600mm
  • Maximum Aperture – f/4.5 to 6.3
  • Minimum Aperture – f/22 to 32
  • Lens Mount – Nikon F / Canon EF / Sigma SA
  • Format Compatibility – Full-Frame
  • Angle of View – 39.6° to 4.1°
  • Maximum Magnification – 0.3x
  • Minimum Focus Distance – 1.97′ / 60 cm
  • Optical Design – 25 Elements in 19 Groups
  • Diaphragm Blades – 9, Rounded
  • Focus Type – Autofocus
  • Image Stabilization – Yes
  • Tripod Collar – Removable and Rotating
  • Filter Size – 105 mm (Front)
  • Dimensions – (ø x L) 4.7 x 10.6″ / 120.4 x 268.9 mm
  • Weight – 6 lb / 2.7 kg
  • Price –  $1999

 

The Photo Adventure

I decided to do a quick visit to Kootenay National Park and then Radium Hot Springs. There, I found a lookout point which offers a spectacular view of the Columbia River Valley. I parked there to enjoy the view for a few minutes… and just as I was about to leave the spot, a group of bighorn sheep showed up! I took opportunity of this great wildlife encounter at a picturesque location to take the big lens out and give it a thorough working.

I was able to shoot a good 90 minutes before some tourists showed up and scared the bighorn sheep away when getting too close, trying to get shots using their phone (seriously people, don’t do that), but in the short time I had to test the lens, I thought it performed very well throughout the entire focal range. Sharp throughout, and at various apertures as well. The optical stabilization on it is impressive, as it provides around 4 stops of light! I didn’t notice much issues with chromatic aberration, and despite the tough light, I thought the colours rendered very nicely.

Mount Rundle

After shooting the bighorn sheep in Radium, I spent the night in Banff, and woke up early to shoot the sunrise at Vermillion Lakes. For just a few seconds, the golden light hit the mountain in a way that made it look like it was on fire. My camera was set up on the tripod with my wide angle lens, and I didn’t want to disturb that composition, but I knew that magic light wasn’t going to last very long, so I quickly grabbed my backup camera (Canon EOS 6D), attached the 60-600mm on it and snapped about 3-4 shots, and then the light disappeared. I’m VERY happy with the results, considering it was still pretty relatively low light, and I was hand-holding this lens (and in a hurry to get the shot!)

 

I would not have been able to get this shot with any other of my lenses. This is a very sharp lens that performs really well in low light due to its great optical stabilization.

Final Thoughts

I’ve owned the Sigma 50-500 for several years, and have had plenty of opportunities to shoot with the Sigma 150-600 Contemporary lens. While these two are good decent lenses that have helped me some amazing images, they don’t compare to the 60-600 in terms of versatility, sharpness and image stabilization. The only downside of this lens is the weight and size… let’s just say it took a bit of gymnastics to make it fit in my camera bag! I can see how hiking all day with that lens on your back might be challenging.

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