Shooting at the end of the earth with the SIGMA 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports


Shooting at the end of the earth with the SIGMA 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports

I could shoot penguins all day, they’re such characters!! This was shot at around 540mm.

I was recently fortunate enough to be part of a leadership team on a 10-day photography workshop cruise in Antarctica, concentrated around the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula, otherwise known as Graham Land. I shoot primarily on a Sony A7SIII and A7RV combination, the former used mainly for video and the latter as a b-cam and for stills. Both were with me for this trip along with my trusty SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN ART lens, but I was after something with a little more reach. I don’t often shoot beyond 70mm and have never shot past 200mm, but Antarctica is a place where the long lens is king. After speaking to SIGMA about the 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS | Contemporary and the SIGMA 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports, I decided to opt for the later. Yes, this lens is substantially bigger and heavier, but I felt like that extra reach at either end would be useful, especially for a once in a lifetime trip such as this.

First Impressions

No doubt about it, the 60-600mm is big, and pretty heavy at 2.7kg (which is more than double that of the 100-400mm). Having never really used a lens like this before I had no real point of comparison, but it’s safe to say you aren’t going to be all that covert when using it! My left arm definitely felt like it’d had a significant workout after the first day of shooting, but it didn’t take me too long to get used to the weight. In terms of transportation, it fit nicely in my Shimoda Action X5 bag along with my camera bodies, the SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN | Art, the SIGMA 16-28mm F2.8 DC DN | Contemporary, plus a bunch of filters, microphones and other accessories. Thankfully nobody weighed my bag when passing through the airports – together with my laptop it came in at about 18kg! I managed to take the lens for a test run in my local park before leaving the UK, but it didn’t come close to replicating the conditions I’d be facing 9000 miles away.

I’m a huge fan of the moody lighting in this shot and really like the textures it brings to the scene. When you are somewhere like this, you’ve just got to be ready for whatever conditions are thrown your way. Shot at 150mm.
My favourite shot showing the scale of the place. Antartica makes you feel more insignificant than any other place I’ve been. Shot at 600mm.
I had a hard time shooting Whales given their unpredictability! I like the balance of this shot though with the icebergs, the distant glacier and the perfectly placed Whale fluke. Thanks Whale!

Given the nature of our trip, most of the time we were encountering some sort of movement. Whether that be the ship as we cruised down the peninsula, or on the zodiac boats on which we left the ship for our excursions. Antarctica is also an extremely windy place, so trying to counter these factors when shooting at the longer focal lengths often required a shutter speed of 1/1250 or higher. This was something that took me a little time to get used to! As I often shoot at much lower focal lengths (and from more stationary positions!), I’m normally not shooting anything above 1/400 at the most. Despite the relative brightness, there were a lot of occasions where I cranked the ISO up to achieve the desired shutter speed.

I think too many photographers worry about shooting at high ISO, but with the capability of modern cameras together with the noise removal of the newest software, I really don’t think we need to be. In hindsight, I probably should have removed the lens hood more often than I did, as this certainly caught the wind on the breezier days. I think that when shooting at these longer focal lengths, there are a number of tactics we can use to help steady ourselves and reduce camera movement. On the ship, there were many places where you could get more protection from the wind if you were willing to look for them. I often braced myself against a solid object too in order to gain a little more stability – something like a wall or a railing worked well. If these options weren’t available, I adopted a position where I had both hands on my camera, my elbows tucked into my body and the EVF pressed to my face. Spreading your feet apart can also add to your stability helping you to get sharper shots.

I tried a few more minimal penguin shots, and I think this one works really well despite the penguin looking out of the scene. I feel that the sharp texture of the ice and snow contrasts nicely with the softer sky, and the penguin looks really nice with the backlighting. Shot at 200mm.
A rare penguin portrait. Despite not concentrating too much on shooting wildlife in this way, I think that getting tighter like this is great at showing animal behaviour. I love the background bokeh in this shot too. Shot at 600mm.


For this trip, the versatility of this lens really shone through. So much so that I only ever took it off my camera on a couple of occasions. Antarctica is a place where you need to be able to react quickly, in terms of both photo and video, and being able to access such a huge focal range in just one lens is like a dream come true. I did shoot below 400mm more often than above it, so part of me wants to say that I didn’t need that extra 200mm that I opted for. In truth though, some of my favourite shots were shot at the higher focal lengths. Had I opted for the 100-400mmm, I’d have really missed out on the ‘wider’ end of the lens (if you can call 60mm wide!).

I shot around 120 ‘keepers’ on this trip, and 25 of them were between 60mm and 100mm. Interestingly, another 25 of them were in the 400-600mm range, so you could say that the lens was 100% more effective for me than the 100-400mm would have been! I found that 60mm was also a great focal length for shooting huge sweeping panoramas like this one which is 13 shots stitched together. Given we were often moving though, shooting in this way was rather difficult as you have a really hard time stitching a panorama unless you shoot it from a static position.

This panorama was really hard to execute given the movement of the ship, but the sense of calm it invokes takes me straight back to that moment. 13 shots at 60mm stitched in Lightroom.
I love this Crabeater Seal portrait, she’s clearly just gorged herself on krill and is now enjoying a well earned rest! Taken at 230mm.

Capturing video

When shooting video, the main difficulties I encountered were stability and the filter size, which for this lens is 105mm. Getting steady shots with this lens handheld was tricky, but by using the same tactics that I employed above, I found that it worked pretty well. I often shot at 60fps too which does a great job in reducing any movement. When shooting video, you need to follow the 180-degree shutter rule which states that your shutter speed needs to be fixed at double your frame rate. So, if I was shooting at 25fps which is standard in the UK, my shutter speed should be 1/50. This presents exposure issues as more light is exposed to the sensor. If I don’t want to raise my aperture, and my ISO is at its lowest it means that I have to use an ND filter, and this is where the filter size presented a problem as all my filters are 90mm or 100mm. Shooting at 60 fps helped as I could raise my shutter speed to 1/125, but the benefit of this lens when compared to my 24-70mm is its maximum aperture of F22-32 depending on the focal length. This meant I could raise the aperture significantly to get the desired exposure. It’s not best practice (using an ND would be), but it worked absolutely fine in this situation.



I didn’t really know what to expect from this lens in terms of quality. It’s obviously not a cheap lens, but when you look at its features and the range it covers, it’s nowhere near as expensive as it probably should be! I’m not a pixel peeper by any stretch but I am more than happy with the images and footage I shot with this in terms of sharpness, distortion, everything really. Beyond its size, I’m really struggling to fault it at all, and I’m not really sure what you could do about that! SIGMA have put together a really impressive lens with incredible build quality that more than kept up with what I put it through over the few weeks I had it. Of the 120 keepers I got on the Frozen Continent, a rather impressive 100 of them were shot with the combination of this lens and my A7RV. Not bad considering I never shoot over 200mm!

I made a YouTube video of my trip and feature a lot of footage filmed with this lens (the section at 17:05 being a particularly good example). You can watch he video above. You can see more of the images on my website by following the link below. Following the cruise, I spent a few days in Torres Del Paine, Patagonia. I didn’t use the lens nearly as much here but when I did, the images captured were just as impressive as those captured in Antarctica.

This shot of the seals facing off was shot at 380mm. It took a bit of practice getting the focus through the snow, but the results were well worth it.

About Rick Bebbington /

Rick Bebbington is a Photographer and Filmmaker from Manchester, UK. He primarily photographs landscapes and elements of the built environment. His filmmaking work spans corporate communications and YouTube production for his own channel and other content creators.

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60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG DN OS

The world’s first 10x ultra-telephoto zoom for mirrorless cameras.

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