This discussion is a comparison between two tele lenses, the Sigma 150-500mm F/5-6.3 DG HSM (compared here for the Nikon mount) and the Nikon 300mm f/4. These two lenses although are on the longer focal length range are two completely different lenses. One is a fixed foal length lens and the other has a variable focal length.
The Sigma 150-500mm F/5-6.3 DG HSM satisfies the needs of a Nikon user who cannot hope to afford something like the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR retailing at $8500 a piece. At $1400 the Sigma 150-500mm F/5-6.3 DG HSM is definitely a bargain, but is it good enough? Let’s find out.
The Sigma 150-500mm lens with a minimum focal length of 150mm and a maximum of 500mm satisfies the needs of a wild life photographer who wants to get up close and personal with his subject in the wild. The lens is compatible with full frame Nikon DSLR cameras and has a respectable f/5-6.3 at the wider end. However the at 500mm the lens is not that sharp. The lens seems to be great up to 400mm where at f/8 sharpness does seem to be the best.
This lens features Sigma’s Optical Stabilization (OS) system for maximum shake free pictures even when hand held fully zoomed in. it also packs in the HSM (Hyper-Sonic Motor) for silent auto-focusing. This is a handy thing to have specially when shooting wild life photography.
The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4D IF-ED is a part of the f/4 lens range of Nikon. This retails at a price of $1500 and boasts some of Nikon’s state of the art lens technology packed in a FX format lens. The lens is silent while auto-focusing and focuses really faster. In fact the performance is comparable with the much pricier 600mm f/4.0 VR which is of course out of the scope of this discussion. This is a light lens (helps as it has a fixed focal length) and has a relatively wide f/stop (f/4) for shooting wild life in most lighting conditions.
The minimum focusing distance of the AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4D IF-ED is 1.45 meters but it can be further reduced by using a close-up filter. Some purists don’t prefer using a close-up filter. The 300mm lens is also used by portrait shooters for close up tight head shots from a distance. The f/4 gives wonderful bokeh which users can be thrilled about.
A major problem of the AF-S NIKKOR 300mm is the lack of a vibration reduction feature. Hopefully Nikon will work on that and may be come up with a version that has VR in it. This makes the lens some of a frustration to use without using a tripod.
Which one to choose? Cost is a major factor however in this case both the lens are comparable. The 300mm Nikon does not have VR which the Sigma 150-500mm has. However the lack of sharpness of the Sigma beyond 400mm makes it a difficult choice. It all comes down to whether you wish to use a tripod or not and opt for the one that has the best value for money.
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