Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Contemporary vs Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 VC
How does the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Contemporary optically compare to the Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 VC? Let’s take a look at the different focal lengths from 150mm to 600mm:
We can see that the Tamron 150-600mm VC does not particularly like mid-frame and corners at close distances – it does visibly worse in comparison to the Sigma. The Tamron also suffers more wide open, although its performance at f/8 is very solid.
Here are both lenses at 300mm:
As we zoom in towards 300mm, the situation changes a bit for the Tamron, which shows better sharpness wide open. Stopped down to f/8, both lenses are similar, but you can notice how much worse the Tamron looks in mid-frame and the corners.
Let’s see what happens at 500mm:
The Sigma 150-600mm C did not do well wide open when compared to the Tamron, but once stopped down, the two lenses perform very similarly in the center. Interestingly, the Sigma does worse in mid-frame and the corners here, so the situation is pretty much flipped.
And lastly here are the two lenses at 600mm:
Once again, the Sigma did not do all that well wide open and even stopped down to f/8, the Tamron 150-600mm VC seems like a better overall performer. The Sigma 150-600mm tries to catch up at f/11, but that’s most likely not the aperture you would be using at 600mm, which makes the Tamron 150-600mm VC a better lens overall, at least judging by the two samples of lenses I used for testing.
In summary, it looks like both lenses have their strengths and weaknesses at different focal lengths. The Sigma starts out pretty strong, with even overall performance, but gets much worse towards the long end of the range, while the Tamron starts out weaker at short focal lengths and tends to keep the performance well-balanced towards the long range.
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Contemporary vs Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G VR + 1.4x TC
What about comparing the Sigma to the Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G VR with and without a teleconverter? First, let’s take a look at 300mm and see how the sharpness compares between these lenses without any teleconverters involved:
From here we can see that both lenses are equivalent in center frame performance at pretty much every aperture. However, the Nikkor 80-400mm VR is visibly worse in the corners (not that it matters all that much). The Sigma edges out the Nikkor in the mid-frame as well.
Next, let’s see what happens when a 1.4x TC is attached to the 80-400mm, giving us a 560mm combination:
Now this is an interesting situation, because the Nikkor 80-400mm clearly shows better performance at f/8, even with a TC attached. If we compare the above numbers to the Tamron 150-600mm, we will see that the Tamron is the sharpness leader at the longest end, surpassing the Nikkor. It is important to note that there are two “gotchas” here. First, the Nikkor is obviously a slower combination at f/8 vs f/6.3 and second, the AF performance with the TC14E II or TC14E III is not reliable, particularly when shooting in low-light conditions.
Looking at the three lenses, my pick would be with the Tamron 150-600mm VC, which seems to be optically superior at the long end compared to the other two lenses. Its autofocus is also much more reliable when shooting in less than ideal lighting conditions when compared to the Nikkor.
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Contemporary vs Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Sport
Let’s take a look at how the Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary compares to its bigger brother, the 150-600mm Sport. Since Sigma made two versions of the same lens, one might wonder how much difference we can expect from a much heavier lens that costs twice as much. Let’s take a look at the two lenses at 150mm:
Starting out, both lenses seem to be somewhat on-par in the center. The Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary seems sharper in the corners and in the mid-frame.
Here are both lenses at 300mm:
Once again, the Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary seems to be a tad better at closer distances.
Now let’s push the zoom ring towards 500mm:
Now this is where things completely change in favor of the Sport – look at how drastically different the performance of the two lenses is at 500mm. The Sigma 150-600mm Sport only seems to improve towards the longer focal lengths!
And finally, the two lenses compared at 600mm:
And here we can clearly see why the Sports version is a completely different beast. The Contemporary cannot even remotely keep up with the superb performance of the Sport.
Obviously, this is no apples to apples comparison, as the two lenses are completely different weight, size and price-wise. But if I were to pick between the two, I would surely go for the Sport. Yes, it is that much better!
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