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Long Telephoto zoom for Bird Photography- Tammy 200-500 or Sigma 150-500 OS?


28 Jul 2011 9:05PM
Hello friends


I use Nikon D90 with Nikkor 70-300G VR lens. I have been looking for some options for a longer reach and internet seems to be filled with Sigma 150-500 OS and Sigma 50-500 OS versions as recommended budget tele-zooms. Now there is one more from Nikkor, 80-400 f4.5/5.6. I almost settled my mind on 150-500OS version as it complements my 70-300VR better.
Now one of my Facebook photographer friend, who swears by Photozone.de, strongly recommended Tamron 200-500 Di version. I read the photozone review of this lens and it seems to be alright, more so if I stop down the lens to f8. I tried to find whether there is any comparative test between Siggy 150-500OS and Tammy 200-500 SP Di version, but there is none from reputed sites.
So may I ask the opinion of the members here about which lens would give me better IQ (150-500OS or 200-500 SP Di)? Is there any comparative test between these two lenses?

Please understand that I shall not be able to afford higher primes which are simply out of my reach.

Please help.
Thank you

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ianrobinson e2
5 1.2k 8 United Kingdom
28 Jul 2011 11:28PM
sigma 50-500mm is a good option it covers a whole lot of focal ground, and takes a great image.
Budget wise a superb lens.

Ian.
29 Jul 2011 3:27AM
Thanks ianrobinson...but I was talking about Sigma 150-500OS, not 50-500. As I already have 70-300VR, this zoom range is not that tempting to me.
StrayCat e2
10 15.5k 2 Canada
29 Jul 2011 5:31AM
It depends a great deal on whether you would like to photograph perched birds, or birds in flight also. I have 4 years experience with the Nikon VR 80-400mm, but none with the Sigmas. I know the Nikon has excellent optics, but is just too slow for birds in flight, and I would think that both Sigmas would be poor lenses for small, fast moving subjects, although you would be wise to get advice from someone with experience. I wouldn't think of using a teleconverter on either of those lenses.
mikehit e2
5 7.1k 11 United Kingdom
29 Jul 2011 7:55AM
If you google "sigma 150-500 versus tamron 200-500" you will get quite a few comments on this.
Both are also in the Reviews section of this website.

When I was thinking of getting the Canon 100-400 I found the Tamron seemed to get slightly better comments.
29 Jul 2011 4:46PM

Quote:If you google "sigma 150-500 versus tamron 200-500" you will get quite a few comments on this.
Both are also in the Reviews section of this website.

When I was thinking of getting the Canon 100-400 I found the Tamron seemed to get slightly better comments.



Oh! I did! Even before posting here, but nothing conclusive...nothing at all, or I could not understand it. That's why I decided to post it here.
I am worried about sharpness. I would go for both BIF as well as perched birds. I thought after reading different links that the tamron has a little bit better IQ at the 500mm end, but as I said nothing conclusive.

Correct me if I am wrong- I do not think either one will be fast enough. For Sigma, it's OS will slow the focus down, for Tamron, no in-body motor will slow it down.

I am also not sure about the CA issue?

So sharpness and CA wise which one would be better? The more I think, the more my thoughts get entangled...and I am getting confused more and more. Sad
mikehit e2
5 7.1k 11 United Kingdom
29 Jul 2011 5:39PM
In general Sigma stuff seems to get mor reviews than Tamron but I am quite taken with Tamron's approach to things. And I am sure I see more adverts with professionals using Tamron than Sigma.

I have seen some very good comments about the Sigma 150-500, and that in all but a few cases the AF performs as well as the Canon 100-400. But as you are a Nikon person that may or may not be of any comfort Smile

It sounds like it is a toss-up between in-body motor versus slightly superior quality...Unfortunately I think it is a case of pays your money and takes your choice. Or if you can find a friencly shop that sells them both, can you talk them into letting you borrow them both. Or hire them and knock the hire cost off the purchase price?
Dave_E e2
6 125 United Kingdom
29 Jul 2011 6:03PM

Quote:Thanks ianrobinson...but I was talking about Sigma 150-500OS, not 50-500. As I already have 70-300VR, this zoom range is not that tempting to me.


As someone who can be regularly found wandering around local nature reserves (or sat in the hides) I can only comment on what I and the people that I meet there think about lenses. And in most cases these photogs rarely carry around more than a one body /one lens set up so I would suggest the 50-500 is not so lightly disregarded.

I cannot comment first hand on any of these lenses as you will either find me with my 100-400L or 500mm but very, very rarely both.

All i can say is I know plenty of others who use one or other of the Sigmas but cannot remember meeting anyone who uses the Tamron.
29 Jul 2011 6:36PM
Thanks for your comments friends

@Dave_E
No question of disregarding 50-500, but imho $600 extra for a lens with part of it's reach already in my bag and spent for, nope it is still not tempting. If I am photographing birds, keeping the 150-500 or 200-500 will suffice, otherwise 70-300VR is a great all round lens. Moreover, I am a bit weary of a 10x zoom range, simple Physics tells me stay away from it if I can. Had there been many other s of this type of Zoom lenses around, I would have considered it more. Lastly the weight, whatever experience I have with Bird Photography, I can assure you that it may not be possible to use a mono/tripod unless you are using a hide or you are quite sure where the birds will be (for example, photographing migratory water birds). So the light weight of Tamron is also another factor to think of.

@Mike
Sadly, there is no chance of getting a first hand experience with either of these two or renting it, in my country renting is very uncommon and I am sure there is no organized sector for it. Sad
29 Jul 2011 7:12PM
I've used the Sigma 150 - 500mm for about two years now.

I love the lens it's never let me down. Yeah it's not a prime 500mm but it doesn't cost 5k!

Would love Nikon to make a similar, there's rumours of 100mm - 500mm BUT only rumours.....COME ON NIKON!!!!
mikehit e2
5 7.1k 11 United Kingdom
29 Jul 2011 10:24PM
Blimey - if you look at the price of their 200-400, I wonder what price a 100-500 would come in at?
30 Jul 2011 3:06AM

Quote:Blimey - if you look at the price of their 200-400, I wonder what price a 100-500 would come in at?


I completely agree with that Mike. Look at the price of 80-400VR (non AF-S), almost the same as Sigma 50-500 OS. I am not comparing these two, but 80-400 is neither a great reach in terms of mm nor it's performance of AF is that great. 70-300VR has a much faster and more accurate AF. Though it's a AF-S lens, still it's price is not that high, imho, the best bang for buck in the mid-range zoom section.
StrayCat e2
10 15.5k 2 Canada
30 Jul 2011 4:35AM
Apples and oranges guys. The 200-400 is in the top echelon of zooms, of any brand. The 80-400 Nikon and Sigma long zooms are comparable, although I would argue that the Nikon wins where the glass is concerned. The VR works fine, but put the lens on a tripod, and give it a go; you will see top notch, pro level optics at work; it was Galen Rowell's favourite drive about lens, as well as mine.Wink
There are reviews on Ephotozine Here and Here there's also this article
I thought there was a direct comparison test on here between the Tamron 200-500mm and the Sigma 150-500 bu I can't find that.
31 Jul 2011 10:01AM
Thanks very much for the links. These are really helpful.
Surprisingly at 500mm it appears that Tamron 200-500 wins over Sigma 150-500 OS all hands down, less CA more sharpness.
aftertherain, how I wish if you could find the "comparison test" between the two lenses.

I did my own research a bit more and could dig out the following, kind of a summarization of thoughts:


-----------------------------Tamron 200-500 ------------------Sigma 150-500 OS

Max Aperture (wide): ----------f5 -------------------------------------- f5.6
Min Focus: ------------------2.5m ---------------------------------220cm ------- Interesting to note,
Weight: ---------------------1237g -----------------------------------1910g ------- Interesting to note
Stabilization: --------------------X -----------------------------------------Y
AF Motor: ----------------------- X ----------------------------------------HSM
Min Aperture: ----------------32 -----------------------------------------22
Lens Elements: -------------13 ----------------------------------------- 21--------- is it lesser the better?
Lens Groups: ---------------10 ------------------------------------------15---------- is it lesser the better?

As I ponder over the above comparison the following questions come to my mind:
1. Less number of elements and groups in Tamron, does not this mean better and consistent Optical Quality?
2. Does the better Close Focusing distance really matters?
3. For bird photography, a common technique is to try to use Sv >=1/500. At this shutter speeds, does the Optical Stabilization feature really matters? AFAIK, at higher Shutter Speeds, it is better to turn off VR as that may introduce blur in the image.
4. For BIF, I think VR is not at all usable.
5. Sigma though sports a HSM, will it really AF that fast? How good the AF speed of Tamron?

I know there can be flaws in my arguments and logic, so I would welcome heartily, if friends here would be kind enough to comment. Thanks again for all your help. You people are great.

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