I have wanted to add a telephoto zoom lens to my kit bag for quite a while now; they can be a great asset to allow you to get up close and personal with the amazing landscape. Then the perfect opportunity presented itself with a planned trip to the Torridon area of Scotland with fellow photographer and vlogger Ben Kapur. So I decided I would take the SIGMA 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary lens along with me.
My usual set-up for landscape photography is the Sony a7r3 with the SIGMA MOUNT CONVERTER MC-11 and SIGMA 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM | Art lens. Therefore I was confident that replacing my lens with the new SIGMA 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary lens in the same set-up would give me the same great results. Plus I’d have the advantage of the longer focal length without a great deal of weight since the Contemporary line is designed for portability.
At first, I was a little concerned that there was no tripod collar. It is quite a big bit of glass to be hanging off the front of your camera body. I wondered if it would it be possible to keep it still when on a tripod for example. The answer was yes, but you do have to take this into account when shooting. A remote release or timer is needed for perfect results. When shooting hand-held this was less of an issue, as you can cradle the lens, and use the very effective image stabilisation.
Landscape images were my main goal for this trip so the F5-6.3 aperture of the lens would not cause an issue for me and in fact, I feel I captured some nice landscape and nature images with it. The SIGMA 100-400mm | Contemporary is also reasonably priced and many might wonder if it is any good compared to the super telephoto Sports product line. My answer again is yes! It performs like a high-end professional lens and I was very impressed with it.
Unfortunately what didn’t play ball was the weather, for most the time we had very dull and hazy weather. The images below are the results I was able to achieve.
The area around both Loch Clair and Loch Coulin provided some excellent opportunities to start using this lens. First up was a nice scene looking over Loch Coulin towards an idyllic holiday cottage. I liked being able to frame it with the mountains and clouds in the background.
Next up is a zoomed in image in mono of this wonderful lone pine; once again with some stunning background.
Whilst in this area we also spotted a few Highland Cows. I manged to capture this one from the other side of a river, showing the excellent reach of the lens. It’s a testament to the sharpness of the lens that I also managed to capture it mid-dribble.
The car park where we had parked also provided us with the chance to quickly grab a nature shot. This is Derek the deer, known to all those that park in this car park, who seems to have made it his home. He also seems to have lost a few battles with fellow stags!
The haze really kicked in for the next few days, but undeterred I used the conditions to allow me to separate the wonderful Scots pines located in this area and also focus on some layered images with the mountains. Loch Maree has some stunning scenes, here are a couple where I was aiming to show the trees with the mountains once again as their background.
If you look at the image above, you will notice a family of pines again on the end, with different framing from closer, I could also separate them out. Also, we had a rare bit of light.
Now on to those hazy layers, you have two shots below, where you can see the conditions, but you can also still make great images.
To finish off this article, I thought I would show you 3 great images that I captured on our way home. We travelled back via Glencoe and took some nice images focusing in on the details of the famous Buachaille Etive Mòr as it wore its scarf of hill clouds. With the weather like this earlier on the trip, I feel I would have used this lens a lot more, as I love the details you can get by isolating a certain area of the impressive mountain and landscape.
To conclude my views on this lens for use in landscape photography, it is a lens that I would have in my bag. It does require some thought on the way you use it, but at its price point its an exceptional lens, and it marries very well with my Sony via the SIGMA MOUNT CONVERTER MC-11. I would like to compare it with the faster aperture SIGMA 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | Sports lens, but would I actually notice enough of a difference for landscape work to warrant the extra cost of the robust model? That question remains unanswered for now.
You can read more about Andi’s trip and see more example images on the following links: http://andicampbelljones.com/photographing-torridon-and-scotland/