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Canon 100-400 II vs Sigma 150-600 Sports....which is the real "Pope lens"...

MichaelVMichaelV Member
edited February 2015 in the gear
I have oftentimes remarked when I went to see the Pope at the Vatican in Italy.  Well, you dont go to see the Pope, but you mingle in a massive football stadium like crowd in a wide open area and HOPE to see the Pope.  At the time, I had the 70-200 2.8 II with me.  A great lens which everyone should have, but this one did not quite cut it.  In fact, if the Pope did not happen to get close I would have not gotten a single shot.  I surmised that I needed at least 600mm (but preferably more) to get any decent shots.  Photographing the Pope is like photographing wildlife.  You really need the mm.

Recently, two lenses have come out which have peaked my curiosity.  The Canon 100-400 II and the Sigma 150-600 Sports.  I have come to really appreciate the Sigma brand and its recent advances in quality.

In comparing the two lenses I have come up with some conclusions:  

The Sigma 150-600 lens body is as beastlike as the Sigma 120-300 with a bowling ball like weight and cant fit in most camera bags.  You need one of those backpack style camera bags specially built for these long lenses to really be able to carry it around.  The camera and lens body combined you feel like you are carrying around a newborn which came in on the pudgy side.  Not very comfortable.  The huge body always attracts attention and may not be the attention you want.  Lots of guys out there ready to run off with your new lens.  If I was sitting in a public area with this lens there would be security concerns.  However, you do get that extra 200mm which might make the difference.  

The Canon 100-400 II, in comparison, is half the weight of the Sigma and the same length as the lovable Canon 70-200 2.8 II.  As such, it can be placed in most of camera bags and attracts less attention among the masses.  

All of the reviews are still coming in on these lenses.  I have not seen anyone do a a real side by side comparison.  However, my mind is already made up.  The real key deciding issue is the portability and profile.  In a place like Italy where there is no shortage of thieves and there is always a LOT of walking to do you would want the Canon 100-400 II.  Lighter, lower profile and easier to stow.  When you are on the move in Italy with equipment, you want to move fast and confidently.  Neither the Sigma or the Canon are low profile lenses, but the Sigma seems much higher profile when compared to the Canon.  I would certainly love more mm but it would be too much risk and too much weight to carry around the Sigma while traveling especially in Rome which is known for petty thievery.  If weight, security and size are not an issue than the Sigma is what you want to go with.  

In regards to image quality, Im guessing both lenses probably offer comparative quality and only the pixel peepers, folks who use software and zoom in tight with the benefit of a computer, will see the differences in image quality.  I think if we jumbled up a bunch of pictures on a table the majority of people would not be able to guess which lens took which scene.  

So, that said, a Sigma 150-600mm Sports is coming to my residence fairly soon having ordered it from a certain camera shop on Long Island which happened to have one in stock.  Over the summer I did a number of sporting like events which involved sailing.  I found that my Sigma 120-300 was simply not enough and I like to avoid using a teleconverter.   The Canon 100-400mm would be a better option, but only slightly better having only 100mm more zoom than my 120-300.  The Canon would be better to carry around and I would certainly feel lower profile with it.  If I were traveling, the Canon 100-400 would be a lens I would probably rent for the occasion (rent with the extra insurance purchased).  However, for sporting events I would go with the Sigma.  Lets say I did need to use the teleconverter, which I like to avoid, I would have 840mm of magnification with a 1.4x TC and 1200mm with a 2.0x TC.  I truly dislike the converter, but there are those times when it must be done.  So Ill take the weight, length and deal with the security concerns for the mm.  If I need to travel again, Ill rent the Canon 100-400 II.

Bryan over at The Digital Picture seems like he has found a new love in describing the Canon 100-400 and will soon review the Sigma 150-600.

One final note I wanted to put out there to those "not in the know".  Neither of these lenses are good for indoor or night-time photography.  Their main use would be outdoor daylight events or events which have really bright artificial lighting.  Wildlife and nature photography is one use.  Sports photography would be another good use.  Politicians and the Pope yet another use...      


  • MichaelVMichaelV Member
    edited February 2015
    I just got in the Sigma 150-600 and I must say its not quite as heavy as I thought it would be.  Im used to packing the Sigma 120-300 which is 7.5 lbs or roughly the weight of a heavy bowling ball.  The 150-600 is 6.5 lbs.  The Canon 100-400 II is 3.5 lbs.  When you put the 1.4 converter onto the 100-400 II the optical quality drops down to roughly around the Canon 100-400 I area from the reviews Ive read.  

    My thoughts are that weight and portability will be the main things when determining purchasing either lens.  For me, I feel I can handle the weight and much rather desire the extra reach.

    The Sigma 150-600 does feel solid and has a nice look is my initial impression.  More comments to follow after I get a chance to use it.  
  • I decided to use the Sigma 150-600 tonight for the convention. There will be lots of pictures to follow.
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