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Archive for the ‘Muskoka’ Category

Sunset on Horseshoe Lake in Muskoka near the town of Rosseau, Ontario, Canada

Sunset on Horseshoe Lake in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

Its hard to believe that another year has flown by and that we are now heading into 2016. It is also that time of year when I like to share with you some of my favorite images that I created throughout the past year. One of the highlights of the past year for me was to spend two weeks on the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac, where I quite literally spent more time in the ocean than I did on land, and while on land I spent much of that time photographing Brown Booby birds at the nest with chicks. The day before I boarded the plane for Cayman Brac I was rewarded with our resident, over-wintering Snowy Owl perching in a dead tree across the road from my home. I also spent quite a bit of time photographing frogs, as I usually do :), and created my most favorite Bullfrog-scape to date. My travels throughout much of the year was somewhat limited as I was staying closer to home to assist my elderly parents. I was however able to attend a personal invite to the Algonquin Radio Observatory on Lake Travers in Algonquin Provincial Park and do stay tuned as I will be setting up a workshop at this location during the summer months. In September I finally made the trek up to The Crack in Ontario’s Killarney Provincial Park despite a bad flare-up with my lower back and a bad right foot. My foot problem was corrected with a small surgical procedure that prevented me from doing much hiking in October and November, but I am all healed now and ready to hit the trails in 2016.

I hope you enjoy viewing these images again here in this Top 10 for 2015 post and do remember to click on each image to view the larger, sharper versions.

See ya in 2016 :)

Happy New Year to all and safe travels to those of you who are traveling during this time.

Bullfrog (male) in wetland on Horseshoe Lake Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

Bullfrog (male) in wetland on Horseshoe Lake
Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

 

Stonefish camouflaged on the ocean floor Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

Stonefish camouflaged on the ocean floor
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

 

High-key Common Loon on Horseshoe Lake Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

High-key Common Loon on Horseshoe Lake
Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

 

Sunrise on Pollard Bay Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

Sunrise on Pollard Bay
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

 

Snowy Owl in dead tree Thornton, Ontario, Canada

Snowy Owl in dead tree
Thornton, Ontario, Canada

 

Brown Booby (male) with chick Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

Brown Booby (male) with chick
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

 

Octopus Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

Octopus
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

 

The Crack over-looking Killarney Lake LaCloche Mountain Range Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The Crack over-looking Killarney Lake
LaCloche Mountain Range
Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

 

Sunrise on Lake Travers Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Sunrise on Lake Travers
Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

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Winter details on the Skeleton River in Muskoka Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 31mm ISO 100, f16 @ 0.6 sec.

Winter details on the Skeleton River in Muskoka
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 31mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 0.6 sec.

 

While I am patiently waiting for winter to arrive I have been reviewing some older winter scenes that I captured a few years ago on the Skeleton River in Muskoka near the town of Rosseau, Ontario. While going through some of these older images I came across a few that I had forgotten about and just now have taken the time to optimize the image files. I often enjoy visiting winter rivers to explore the frozen details that develop, especially during periods of extremely cold weather when the ice really has time to create interesting designs. By Christmas day the forecast is for temperatures of near +12 degrees Celsius and rain :( Hopefully we will get some decent snowfall and cold temperatures soon so that I can get out for some fresh winter imagery, but for now it looks like we are going to be having a green Christmas.

Please remember to click on each image to see the larger, sharper version.

Skeleton River in Winter, in Muskoka near Rosseau, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 18035mm lens @ 35mm ISO 100, f16 @ 1/5 sec

Skeleton River in Winter, in Muskoka near Rosseau, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 35mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 1/5 sec, Polarizing Filter

 

Winter Details Along the Skeleton River Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 100mm ISO 100, f32 @ 0.6 sec

Winter Details Along the Skeleton River
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 100mm
ISO 100, f32 @ 0.6 sec, Polarizing Filter

 

Winter Details on the Skeleton River in Muskoka near Rosseau, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 180mm ISO 100, f16 @ 0.6 sec

Winter Details on the Skeleton River in Muskoka near Rosseau, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 180mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 0.6 sec, Polarizing Filter

 

Winter Details on the Skeleton River in Muskoka near Rosseau, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 185mm ISO 100, f16 @ 0.5 sec

Winter Details on the Skeleton River in Muskoka near Rosseau, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 185mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 0.5 sec, Polarizing Filter

 

Skeleton River in Winter in Muskoka near Rosseau, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85mm lens @ 62mm ISO 100, f16 @ 1/5 sec

Skeleton River in Winter in Muskoka near Rosseau, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85mm lens @ 62mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 1/5 sec, Polarizing Filter

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Autumn Colour, Parry Sound, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 200-55mm VR Lens @ 500mm ISO 800, f11 @ 1/100 sec Handheld from canoe

Autumn Color, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 500mm
ISO 800, f11 @ 1/100 sec
Handheld from canoe

A follow-up to my previous post where I featured the juvenile Common Loon that I photographed using the new Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR Lens. After I was finished photographing the very cooperative young loon, I spent some additional time in the canoe paddling along the shoreline of Horseshoe Lake and also exploring the nearby wetland. One of my most favorite things about the 200-500mm zoom range of this lens is that it fits so perfectly with my love of creating intimate landscapes. Being able to zoom in on a given scene and extract various intimate scenes from within the grand landscape is a ton of fun. Here is a selection of my three favorites, each created using the impressive 4.5 stops of vibration reduction while handholding the lens from the canoe.

Please click on each image to view the larger, sharper version.

Eastern larch in Autumn Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm Lens @ 500mm ISO 400, f11 @ 1/160 sec Handheld

Eastern larch in Autumn, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm Lens @ 500mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/160 sec
Handheld from canoe

Autumn color, Parry Sound, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm Lens @ 500mm ISO 800, f11 @ 1/160 sec. Handheld

Autumn color, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm Lens @ 500mm
ISO 800, f11 @ 1/160 sec.
Handheld from canoe

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Common Loon - juvenile Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 500mm ISO 1000, f9 @ 1/4000 sec

Common Loon – juvenile (Gavia immer)
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 500mm
ISO 1000, f9 @ 1/4000 sec

Recently I have been using the new Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR Lens for my wildlife imagery and intimate landscape scenes. I will do a full review of the lens once I have had more time with it, but I must admit that so far I am lovin’ this lens – money well spent :)

On the weekend past, the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, I was up at Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario to close-up the family cottage for the winter. Amid doing the various chores that needed tending to before closing up the cottage I noticed a juvenile Common Loon slowly making its way along the shoreline of the lake. I quickly grabbed my gear and jumped into the canoe and paddled towards the loon. This youngster will hang out on the lake for about another couple of weeks before flying to southern, coastal waters where it will remain for 2-3 years prior to flying north again. As I made my approach I slowed down to ensure I did not startle the loon and was glad to see that it was going to be a co-operative. Once I had the canoe into position I sat in the bottom of the canoe to gain a slightly lower perspective and photographed the loon while it swam about the canoe looking for a fish dinner below. On occasion the loon would come in almost too close to the canoe and I would have to wait for it to swim further away from my position. I experimented with using the lens in both the Full Frame format and the 1.5 DX Sensor Crop feature on the Nikon D800. I will select this sensor crop on the Nikon D800 when I wish for a little more “reach” as it will create an effective focal length that would be roughly the equivalent to adding a 1.4 Teleconverter onto the lens, however, there is no loss of f-stops. When working with the 1.5 DX Sensor Crop the 200-500mm lens becomes a 300-750mm lens.

Here is a sampling of some of the photos I created of this juvenile Common Loon with the new Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens. Please do remember to click on each image to view the sharper, larger versions.

Common Loon - juvenile Nikon D800, Nikon 200-555mm VR Lens @ 500mm ISO 800, f8 @ 1/1250 sec

Common Loon – juvenile (Gavia immer)
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 500mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/1250 sec

 

Common Loon - juvenile Nikon D800 (1.5 DX Sensor Crop selected) Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 440mm (660mm effective focal length) ISO 1000, f10 @ 1/1000 sec

Common Loon – juvenile (Gavia immer)
Nikon D800 (1.5 DX Sensor Crop selected)
Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 440mm (660mm effective focal length)
ISO 1000, f10 @ 1/1000 sec

 

Common Loon - juvenile Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 480 mm ISO 1000, f10 @ 1/1000 sec

Common Loon – juvenile (Gavia immer)
Nikon D800, Nikon 200-500mm VR Lens @ 480 mm
ISO 1000, f10 @ 1/1000 sec

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Sigma 180 Macro_4363

In 2012 Sigma released the Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens. In July of this year I had the opportunity to spend about a week with the lens, to give a thorough workout, as it was on loan to me from Gentec International, the Canadian distributor for Sigma lenses. The Sigma 180mm Macro lens is physically a large lens yet does handle very nicely. It is equipped with Sigma’s Optical Stabilization feature, which will compensate for about 4 stops. At the time of this lens’ release it was the only 180mm Macro lens to offer such superb stabilization. It is also a fast lens with a maximum aperture of f2.8 therefore the viewfinder is bright making manual focus easy (should you prefer to manually focus your macro lenses – I generally do). Since my main objective was to use this lens handheld from the canoe for frog photography and wetland details too, I was very eager to put the Optical Stabilizer to the test. Some other features that are noteworthy to mention for this high-performance lens are:

  • Three low dispersion glass elements for excellent correction of both axial chromatic aberration and lateral chromatic aberration.
  • Hyper Sonic Motor delivers auto-focusing that is quiet, fast, and accurate.
  • Multi-layer coatings to minimize flare and ghosting.
  • Accepts 86mm size filters.
  • Tripod collar to easily switch from horizontal to vertical orientations.
  • Minimum focusing distance of 18.5 inches.
  • Magnification ratio of 1:1 at the minimum focusing distance.

Let’s head out into the Horseshoe Lake wetland in the canoe and see what we can find. Do note additional info that is provided in the image captions.

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 800, f11 @ 1/160 sec.

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 800, f11 @ 1/160 sec.

 

Bullfrog Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 800, f11 @ 1/100 sec.

Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 800, f11 @ 1/100 sec.

One of the first things that did take some getting used to on my part was working with the greater minimum focusing distance. Since I am most accustomed to using my Nikon 105mm Micro Lens which has a minimum focusing distance of 12 inches I often found that I was getting in too close with the Sigma 180mm Macro lens and would have to adjust my positioning to accommodate for the greater minimum focusing distance. This is by no means a hindrance though, in fact the greater minimum focusing distance has many benefits to it. If you enjoy photographing butterflies, small lizards, snakes or other often difficult to approach subjects, the Sigma lens will permit photographing from a greater distance which in-turn will lessen the chance of entering the animals comfort zone causing them to take flight.

Hand-holding the Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens in the Horseshoe Lake wetland was a very enjoyable experience and allowed me to create numerous images that would have been difficult to do otherwise, as it would have been impossible to set-up a tripod in the soft mucky bottom. Do note that macro lenses as a rule are some of the best optics available and I will often use them for landscape imagery as well, including some of the intimate wetland scenes below.

Fragrant White Water Lily Blossom Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 200, f16 @ 1/80 sec.  Hand-Held

Fragrant White Water Lily Blossom
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 200, f16 @ 1/80 sec.
Hand-Held

 

Spatulate Leaved Sundew Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 800, f11 @ 1/50 sec. Hand-Held

Spatulate Leaved Sundews at the Edge of the Wetland
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 800, f11 @ 1/50 sec.
Hand-Held

 

Wetland Details Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 800, f8 @ 1/250 sec Hand-Held

Wetland Details
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/250 sec
Hand-Held

 

Arrowheads at Edge of Wetland Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 800, f11 @ 1/80 sec. Hand-Held

Arrowheads at Edge of Wetland
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 800, f11 @ 1/80 sec.
Hand-Held

After photographing several different scenarios in the wetland environment I decided to head into the woods with my tripod and photograph some woodland details. Many years ago I used spend much of my time in woodlands photographing woodland plants, tree bark details and any bugs that I could find. It was a ton of fun to take the Sigma 180mm Macro lens into the woods to re-visit my photographic roots.

Staghorn Sumac Leaves Close-up Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 400, f16 @ 0.6 sec Tripod Mounted with OS off

Staghorn Sumac Leaves Close-up
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 400, f16 @ 0.6 sec
Tripod Mounted with OS turned off

 

Silver Birch Tree Bark Detail Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 200, f29 @ 6 seconds Tripod Mounted with OS turned off

Silver Birch Tree Bark Detail
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 200, f29 @ 6 seconds
Tripod Mounted with OS turned off

 

Daddy Long-Legs on White Birch Tree Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 200, f32 @ 8 seconds Tripod Mounted with OS turned off

Daddy Long-Legs on White Birch Tree
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 200, f32 @ 8 seconds
Tripod Mounted with OS turned off

And last but not least, I could not resist the temptation to create a pleasing blur of a lovely cluster of ferns growing alongside of the cottage road. To create the blurred effect I simply stood at the edge of the road, looking down upon the ferns and using an in-camera sideways motion with a shutter speed of 1/15 created an image that revealed the subject matter, yet had a pleasing amount of blur to it as well. This is a technique that I learned from colleague, mentor and friend Denise Ippolito.

Pleasing Fern Blur Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens ISO 800, f8 @ 1/15 sec Hand-Held with a Sideways Movement

Pleasing Fern Blur
Nikon D800, Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/15 sec
Hand-Held In-camera Blur with a Sideways Movement

Conclusion: The Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens was an absolute joy to use. The 18.5 inch minimum working distance took some getting used to on my part, but is very beneficial to photographing subjects that are prone to spook very easily. The Optical Stabilization feature’s performance is superb offering a stable solution to creating hand-held imagery in often difficult situations. While I mainly used the lens hand-held, the tripod collar did make switching from horizontal to vertical orientations effortless when a tripod was in use. Alternately, the tripod collar would offer an excellent and very simple solution to mounting an off-camera flash for night-time macro photography, much like I do for my night-time frog imagery whereby I use flash 100% of the time. I would highly recommend this lens to anyone looking for a macro lens, or looking to upgrade to a longer focal length macro lens. It is a large, sturdy, and well built lens that delivers superb image results. I only wish that I had more time to fully explore the capabilities this lens has to offer.

Please do click on each of the images to see the larger, sharper versions.

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The Milky Way Over Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm ISO 6400, f3.5 @ 30 seconds

The Milky Way Over Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm
ISO 6400, f3.5 @ 30 seconds

I have just returned from another week up on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario. During the past seven days I spent a lot of time exploring the night sky. Photographing the starry night sky is quite addictive and each night, roughly two hours after sunset I would head down to the dock and create images of the Milky Way above the lake. Fortunately, the Milky Way can easily be seen from the dock, however, there is some noticeable light pollution from the town of Parry Sound, visible on the right side of the images. In the above photo I was quite surprised by the subtle green and pink hues present when I viewed the images on the computer the next morning. I did not see any of these colors in the sky as I created the images. In addition, I was also quite surprised at how each of the night scenes photographed considering that each was created at roughly the same time each night. Isn’t nature amazing :)

Here are a couple of additional photos of the starry sky above Horseshoe Lake. In an upcoming post I will cover the learning curve to creating and the special processing techniques to these addictive images. I found on my Nikon D800 that I was getting the best pin-point stars at 20 second exposures. In the opening image the 30 second exposure the stars are not all quite pin-points, some have tiny trails starting.

Please remember to click on each of the images to view the larger, sharper versions.

 

Milky Way Above Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 20mm ISO 6400, f3.8 @ 20 seconds

Milky Way Above Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 20mm
ISO 6400, f3.8 @ 20 seconds

Milky Way Above Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm ISO 6400, f3.5 @ 20 seconds

Milky Way Above Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm
ISO 6400, f3.5 @ 20 seconds

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Common Loon Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom ISO 800, f8 @ 1/200 sec Handheld capture from canoe on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Common Loon
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/200 sec
Handheld capture with OS function turned on from canoe on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

During the week of July 19th, Gentec International, the Canadian distributor for Sigma lenses, kindly loaned me the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Telephoto Zoom  for review. The first thing I noticed about this lens upon arrival was the impressive, professional build quality; all metal construction, sturdy metal lens hood, silky smooth rotating tripod collar with click stops, and a beautifully smooth zooming action. This lens weighs in at 6.3 lbs, roughly 5 lbs lighter than a Nikon 600mm prime lens – a light-weight when compared to a hefty prime lens and at a fraction of the purchase price too. Another noteworthy point is that this lens’ minimum focusing distance is a mere 8.5 feet compared to Nikon’s 600mm prime lens which has a minimum focusing distance of 15.7 feet. This will allow this lens to very functional in creating imagery of smaller subjects such as Chipmunks, Chickadees, and Frogs. When reviewing lenses I do not pay attention to lens charts and such or other on-line reviews of the product. I prefer to take the lens out into the real world and judge its performance capabilities based on my preferred locations, subjects, and shooting style.

Beaver eating lily pad leaves Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sports Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/160 sec. Handheld from the canoe with OS turned on and the 1.5 DX sensor crop activated for an effective focal length of 900mm

Beaver eating lily pad leaves
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sports Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/160 sec.
Handheld from the canoe with OS turned on and the 1.5 DX sensor crop activated for an effective focal length of 900mm

When designing this new Global Vision lens Sigma clearly had professional use in mind. The lens is weather sealed to protect it from dusty environments and it is splash proof as well. In addition, the front and rear elements of the lens have been treated with a new oil and water repellent coating. This lens is sure to withstand the demands of the professional photographer.

Great Blue Heron on fallen tree Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 370mm ISO 1600, f6.3 @ 1/320 sec Tripod mounted from canoe with OS turned on and loosened ballhead for additional support. The 1.5 DX sensor crop was activated for an effective focal length of 555mm

Great Blue Heron on fallen tree
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 370mm
ISO 1600, f6.3 @ 1/320 sec
Tripod mounted from canoe with OS turned on and loosened ballhead for additional support. The 1.5 DX sensor crop was activated for an effective focal length of 555mm

Another noteworthy point; the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Telephoto Zoom is compatible with the optional Sigma USB Dock and Sigma software allowing the user to apply custom settings and autofocus calibration settings. I did not use the Sigma USB Dock to set any custom settings prior to conducting this review.

Common Loon Nikon D800, SIgma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/250 sec Handheld from canoe with OS turned on. This loon was photographed at the minimum focusing distance of the SIgma lens which is 8.5 feet.

Common Loon
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/250 sec
Handheld from canoe with OS turned on. This loon was photographed at the minimum focusing distance of the Sigma lens which is 8.5 feet.

In the photos below you can see the zoom lock switch conveniently located just behind the zoom ring which locks the lens at 150mm and all other controls are nicely arranged vertically on the side of the lens barrel. First is the Focus switch, followed by the AF distance limiter switch, Optical Stabilizer switch, and lastly the Custom settings switch. For the purposes of my review I used the autofocus position, the AF distance limiter switch in Full, Optical Stabilizer in Position 1 (for static subjects – Position 2 is for panning action), and the Custom switch OFF as I did not program any custom settings. Each of the photographers accompanying this review were either handheld or tripod mounted. This will be noted in the image captions for each photo.

The Sigma 150-600mm Sports lens barrel showing the layout of the controls on the left side of the lens

The Sigma 150-600mm Sports lens barrel showing the layout of the controls on the left side of the lens

The vertical arrangement of the Focus, AF Limiter, OS, and Custom switches

The vertical arrangement of the Focus, AF Limiter, OS, and Custom switches

IN THE FIELD PERFORMANCE & IMAGE QUALITY
To review the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Telephoto Zoom was mounted on my Nikon D800. I was excited to try this combination due to the selectable sensor crop features of the Nikon D800. As a result I would often switch between the FX (full frame) sensor and the DX 1.5 crop sensor. The latter is like having a built-in teleconverter at your disposal, ready and waiting. When using this lens with the DX 1.5 sensor crop activated the lens has a 35mm equivalency of 225mm to 900mm (folks using DSLRs with APS-C size sensors will particularly enjoy this long reach). This extended reach proved to be most beneficial in capturing flighty subjects such as Great Blue Herons, Beavers, and for close-ups of Bullfrogs too. At the lens’ minimum focusing distance of 8.5 feet and an effective 35mm focal length of 900mm this lens was quite deadly for Bullfrogs :) Be sure to read the captions for each of the images below as I have indicated which sensor crop was selected to create each image.

Bullfrog in wetland on Horseshoe Lake Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sports Telephoto Zoom ISO 800, f8 @ 1/80 sec Handheld from canoe in overcast light

Bullfrog in wetland on Horseshoe Lake
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sports Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/80 sec
Handheld from canoe in overcast light with OS function turned on

Bullfrog in wetland on Horseshoe Lake Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom ISO 800, f8 @ 1/80 sec. DX 1.5 sensor crop selected for an effective focal length of 900mm. A lifejacket over the side of the canoe provided the needed support while handholding this capture

Bullfrog in wetland on Horseshoe Lake
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/80 sec.
DX 1.5 sensor crop selected for an effective focal length of 900mm. A lifejacket over the side of the canoe provided the needed cushioning and support while handholding this capture with the OS function turned on

To zoom the lens in and out the zoom ring is turned in the same direction as Canon zoom lenses – the opposite direction to Nikon zooms. This took some getting used to on my part but by the end of the week the correct zooming direction had become second nature. My chosen location to put this lens through its paces was the wetland on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario, in the Muskoka District and a short excursion down the Seguin Trail in Parry Sound. I used the lens both handheld and tripod mounted with the latter mode utilizing a loosened ballhead for additional support with the Optical Stabilizer (position1) activated. Once again do note the captions for each image for greater description on capture information.

Great Blue Heron in Spruce Tree Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom ISO 1250, f6.3 @ 1/200 sec I found this heron roosting in the spruce tree late in the day. Dialing in an ISO of 1250 and using a wide open aperture of f6.3 and the tripod with a loosened ballhead for additional support and the OS function on the lens yielded excellent sharpness for this image

Great Blue Heron in Spruce Tree
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 550mm
ISO 1250, f6.3 @ 1/200 sec
I found this heron roosting in the spruce tree late in the day. Dialing in an ISO of 1250 and using a wide open aperture of f6.3 and the tripod with a loosened ballhead for additional support and the OS function on the lens yielded excellent sharpness for this image. The 1.5 DX sensor crop was selected for an effective focal length of 825mm

NOT JUST FOR WILDLIFE
The Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Telephoto Zoom is not just a lens for wildlife it is also a serious performer for landscapes too. I often utilize longer focal lengths to extract intimate scenes from the grand vistas before me. When doing so the lens was tripod mounted with the Optical Stabilizer turned off and the ballhead controls firmly locked. The mirror lock feature on the Nikon D800 was also utilized to eliminate any vibrations resulting from mirror-slap from degrading image sharpness. For landscape use I would highly recommend the use of a polarizing filter – this lens would require a 105mm filter size.

Intimiate view of Horseshoe Lake shoreline details Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 150mm ISO 800, f8 @ 1/80 sec Handheld from canoe

Intimiate view of Horseshoe Lake shoreline details
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 150mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/80 sec
Handheld from canoe with OS function turned on

Nameless Lake on the Seguin Trail near Parry Sound, Ontario Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 150mm ISO 100, f16 @ 13 sec Tripod mounted with OS function turned off.

Nameless Lake on the Seguin Trail near Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 150mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 13 sec
Tripod mounted with OS function turned off. I do like the way the 13 second exposure rendered the falling rain drops in the water

Wetland, Rosseau, Ontario Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 200mm ISO 200, f16 @ 1/20 sec Tripod mounted with the OS function turned off

Wetland, Rosseau, Ontario
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 200mm
ISO 200, f16 @ 1/20 sec
Tripod mounted with the OS function turned off

BACK AT THE COMPUTER
After a week-long shooting spree with the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Telephoto Zoom I arrived home to upload several thousand images to the computer. As I began editing and optimizing these image files I did note that aside from chromatic aberration being very well controlled, the resulting image quality surpassed my expectations with excellent fine details present. Any images that were not sharp was the result of me pushing the Optical Stabilization passed its limits. It is important to push new gear to its limits to know what you can accomplish in the field. Know your gear and know its limits.

Juvenile Raccoon Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm ISO 800, f8 @ 1/160 sec Handheld in a crouched position using knee for additional support

Juvenile Raccoon
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/160 sec
Handheld in a crouched position using left knee for additional support with the OS function turned on

Juvenile Raccon Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm  ISO 800, f8 @ 1/160 sec Although the lens was set to 600mm I had activated the 1.5 DX sensor crop on the Nikon D800 for an effective focal length of 900mm

Juvenile Raccon
Nikon D800, Sigma 150-600mm Sport Telephoto Zoom @ 600mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/160 sec
Although the lens was set to 600mm I had activated the 1.5 DX sensor crop on the Nikon D800 for an effective focal length of 900mm. Again this photo was created handheld in a crouched position using my left knee for additional support with the OS function turned on. Cropping the sensor, in camera, was the best approach to prevent any undue stress on this young raccoon due to a closer approach

CONCLUSION

If you are ready for the extended reach of a 600mm lens the http://www.sigmacanada.ca/product/sigma-sport-150-600mm-f5-6-3-dg-os-hsm-lens–sos1506dgs/ is highly recommended – professional quality images, in a weather sealed design, at an affordable price. The 150mm to 600mm zoom range is very versatile, allowing for tight portraits as well as scenes that take in the surrounding environment too, without the need to change lenses. This saves time that in-turn may yield more results when the action heats up. The light weight design yet solid build makes this lens a joy to handhold when photographing birds in flight or when working from a canoe, as I did, which is something folks that already own heavy weight prime lenses may be interested in if they are looking for a lighter alternative. The Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Telephoto Zoom is my new favorite lens and be my go to lens for all of my long lens work. The Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Telephoto Zoom surpassed my expectations!!!

Please do remember to click on each of the images to view the larger, sharper version :)

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