Saturday, July 29, 2017

Happy Days Are Here Again!!! Sigma’s 150-600mm Contemporary Lens; Safari Update; and Eclipse Photography


Good Afternoon Everybody,DAZ-New-LR-PR-Pic_thumb3

Actually the Happy Days have never really left – Life is good! I sure hope you are having a great summer.  I have a great post for you today featuring some lens testing I’m excited to share with you, my 2018 African Safari Update,  and some recent wedding work. On a personal note, LaDawn and I have been busy as usual with some studio work, travels, cruises, and a seminar now and then.  All in all, life is great! On top of that LaDawn has become a grandmother for the second time and she is over the moon! 0001_DZ723829-Edit-Edit_thumb3Here is a quick photo of BIG Malcolm 90 minutes after he was born – yes, 90 minutes – look at those eyes!

Even though we have slowed things down a bit we’re still pretty busy with client work, album designs, family portraits, and extensive travel planning which will result in over 40,000 images later this year. That said, let’s get right into today’s post.

Check Out My New Eclipse/Safari Lens – Sigma 150-600mm, Fantastic!

Sigma-150-600_thumb2Earlier this Spring, in preparation for our upcoming 2018 African Photo Safari I contacted my friends up at Sigma and asked if I could test-drive one of their longer telephoto zoom lens. I had been hearing a lot about the lighter weight Sigma 150-600 Contemporary lens – it’s getting some great reviews over at B&H as well as Amazon -  and asked if I could give it a try. A few days later it arrived on my doorstep and I was fired up to run the lens through it’s paces.

Although I packed it along for our travels through Florida in April and even took it with me on a 2 week Caribbean cruise all the way to South America, I never really encountered any “wild” animals to speak of out on the Caribbean Sea or any of the exotic stops along the way. But…

After we arrived home we decided the best place to find wild animals was the world famous Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens so off we went. I wanted to discover three main things about the lens:

1. Was it sharp?

2. How Close could I go?

3. How is the image stabilization? Here we go.

1. Was it sharp?

The quick answer is VERY SHARP! Because I was hand-holding for all of these images most of my images were taken at the higher shutter speeds but mostly wide open at F6.3. Check out these photos below.


This image of the famous Cincinnati Zoo white tiger was shot  maxed out at 600mm F6.3 @ 1/800 sec at 1250 ISO. It sure looked good to me.


This image of this rhino was also shot nearly maxed out at 468mm F6.3 @ 1/640 sec at 800 ISO.  We printed up six of the images to 24x36 prints and they looked fabulous even upon close inspection.

2. How Close Could I Go?

Pretty darn close. I have to tell you, my inclination was to zoom in as much as I could but I found myself racking out slightly because the 600mm range really was too close for many of the animals I was photographing. The main reason -  was the fact that I was shooting with my Canon 7D Mk2 which added the 1.6x magnification factor to the actual zoom length. Hence the 600mm length stated above was really 960mm – that’s a pretty darn good zoom.  Check out the two images below.


This image of the orangutan is one of my favorites. It too was taken with the lens racked out to 600mm or effectively 960mm on my Canon 7D Mk2. Photo specs were 1/640 sec @ F7.1, ISO 4000. This is actually a slightly cropped image but you still see it is really sharp.


The image of the cute little meerkat again verified the sharpness of the lens. It too was taken with a shorter 310mm or effectively 578mm on my Canon 7D Mk2. Photo specs were 1/640 sec @ F6.3, ISO 250.

So how close could I go – I’d say about as close as I wanted to. Consider this, the Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary ships with a 1.4 tele-extender included…. at least mind did. That means that with the lens racked out to 600mm with the 1.4 tele-extender would give me an effective 840mm focal length. Now add that combo to my Canon 7D Mk2 with it’s 1.6x magnification factor and you get a whopping 1344mm effective focal length!

3. How is the image stabilization?

Those of you who have followed my blog over the years know I am very keen on image stabilization for my photography - seldom to never using a tripod. I was really curious about the IS properties of this lone telephoto lens. Check out the following photo.


This image was taken at 1/60 second hand-held @ F5.6 at 8000 ISO with focal length set to 293mm or effectively 469mm on my Canon 7D Mk2.  Folks, that’s nearly a 500mm optic hand-held at a super slow 1/60 second and still coming out pleasantly sharp for this experience!

A Few More Thoughts…

All in all I found this lens to be a fun lens to shoot.  It’s not the lightest optic weighing in at 4.3 pounds but still lighter than other options available. With  the shoulder strap that is included, it would be fine for carrying around a few hours.

One thing I really loved about the lens was it’s very fast auto-focusing.  The lens just snapped into focus easily even at the longer focal lengths.

This is not a lens for wedding photography – it’s just too long a focal length for that kind of shooting but it is a perfect lens for wildlife and bird-watching. Yes, this is the lens I’ll be traveling with on our upcoming 2018 Photo Safari – hope to see you there.

2018 10 Day African Photo Safari Update

Hey gang we still have a number of seats for our February 22 – March 4, 2018 Ten Day African Photo Safari [link].  Our first Safari sold out in 48 hours so we added a second set of dates to accommodate all who want to join us on this once in a lifetime adventure.


This adventure is absolutely First Class all the way and at a cost that will not break the bank - like so many other safaris. The cost for this safari is about 50% less than many safaris you see advertised and is ALL-INCLUSIVE!  That means accommodations, all meals, beverages – wine, beer, soft drinks, and water are all included. Air travel is still on your own but exploring departure cities and booking flights early will definitely save you money.


 A few comments from recent adventurers:

…Your safari was the most amazing trip ever! I have been to a safari lodge in Kenya and one in Uganda and they don’t compare .?

…The best safari and Lodge experience ….(LOVED !) the wonderful staff . And the wildlife was definitely the most prolific I have seen! Ps.. Got amazing shots that are canvases hanging in my home. The food was fabulous the people in our group were wonderful .. Making lifelong friendships.

Please drop me a line to me personally at with your contact info and I’ll fill you in on all the details. I would love to hear from you. Or you can contact Kevin Dooley, whom I’m working with directly on this trip, directly at his cell: 505-401-2988. Kevin is an award wining photographer and certified African guide and has been conducting these Safaris for over 18 years – he can give you the complete details.

So… How About That Famous Eclipse Coming to America on August 21, 2017

What would be the optimum focal length for that once in a life-time event? Funny you should ask. LaDawn and I are heading to Nashville, TN – one of the optimum viewing cities for the eclipse. Weather permitting, I plan to take a few “Eclipse” pics of the event.

I’ve been doing a little research on the event so we can come back with some great images.  Regarding the best focal length lens for this very rare event – B&H Photo and Video has a great article on how to photograph the upcoming eclipse right here [link].

In their very informed discussion the subject of best focal length to use comes up.  In fact they posted a chart showing the varying focal lengths cropping effects on the eclipse.  Here is is below.


You know what that tells me don’t you? My brand new Sigma 150-600mm at 600mm with 1.4x tele-extender on my Canon 7D Mk2 should put me right in the ball park with  my resulting 1344mm optics.  I can’t wait.  I promise I’ll do a posting after so you can check out my results.


Hey gang,

That’s going to be it for me today.  Hope you enjoyed the post today and I hope to see you down the road - hopefully in Africa ;~)

Cheers for now,