Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Ewe Kidding ME? Sigma Sport 500mm f4

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In the Field

Ewe Kidding ME? Sigma Sport 500mm f4. Columbia Valley, BC, Canada. January 21, 2017.

I captured this image while testing two exceptional super-telephoto lenses - the Nikkor 500mm f4E VR and the Sigma Sport 500mm f4. This image was captured using the Sigma 500 paired with a Nikon D5 body during the "Just Shooting" phase of my lens testing. When "Just Shooting" I go out and just use the lenses like I would during my normal day-to-day shooting. This phase of my lens testing is less "structured" than other aspects of my testing, but it gives me a real good feel for how the combined attributes of the lens in question come together in a field setting. As an example, it may tell me if the balance and optical stabilization of a lens will allow me to shoot sharp hand-held shots at the shutter speeds I often use in the field - which often translates to 1/focal length of the lens or slower (so 1/500s or slower for a 500mm lens).

Some wildlife photographers almost always shoot their super-telephotos from a tripod. While I would LIKE to shoot the majority of my super-telephoto shots from a tripod (hey, even the LIGHTEST of the super-telephotos aren't really that light!), my reality is that I use a tripod with my "big lenses" only about 10% of the time. Why? Well, I commonly shoot from a Zodiac inflatable boat where a tripod is not practical. And, while on photo tours, I often put aside my tripod so I can "duck under" the tripods of my clients and stay out of their way! And, I have to say that I have come to like the freedom of hand-holding lenses wherever possible. So this ends up meaning that a critical question for for ME to answer when choosing a lens is this: Can I get a high rate of sharp shots while hand-holding the lens at relatively low shutter speeds (i.e., at shutter speeds that won't force me into the ISO stratosphere)?

In the early phases of my head-to-head comparison of the Nikkor 500mm f4E VR and the Sigma Sport 500mm f4 super-telephotos I found them to be almost identical optically. Their image stabilization systems have similarities too, but they also have their differences (in terms of their available stabilization "modes", how stable the image appears through the viewfinder...and whether or not you can adjust the appearance of the image through the viewfinder...and more). But at the end of the day both of these lenses allow me to capture a high proportion of "keepers" when hand-holding the lenses at shutter speeds considerably slower than 1/focal length of the lens (with both lenses the MAJORITY of shots in hand-held 10-frame bursts down to 1/125s were keepers!).

Here's a larger (2400 pixel) version of this Bighorn Ewe:

Ewe Kidding ME? Sigma Sport 500mm f4: Download 2400 pixel image (JPEG: 0.9 MB)


1. This image - in all resolutions - is protected by copyright. I'm fine with personal uses of them (including use as desktop backgrounds or screensavers on your own computer), but unauthorized commercial use of the image is prohibited by law. Thanks in advance for respecting my copyright!

2. Like all wildlife images on this website, the subject(s) is/are fully wild and completely unconstrained. Besides the potential impact of my/our presence, nothing has been done to intentionally alter or affect the ongoing behavior of the subject and, of course, there has been no use of any form of bait or other form of wildlife attractants (including vocalizations or sounds).

Behind the Camera

Ewe Kidding ME? Sigma Sport 500mm f4. Columbia Valley, BC, Canada. January 21, 2017.

Digital Capture; Compressed RAW (NEF) 14-bit format; ISO 125.

Nikon D5 paired with Sigma Sport 500mm f4. Hand-held. OS on and in "OS1" mode, with OS1 stabilization customized to Dynamic View mode; AF customized to Fast Priority AF.

1/500s @ f7.1; -0.33 stop compensation from "recommended" matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Ewe Kidding ME? Sigma Sport 500mm f4. Columbia Valley, BC, Canada. January 21, 2017.

RAW Conversion to 16-bit TIFF using Phase One's Capture One Pro 10. Four raw variants (different versions of a single raw capture) processed, with the variants differing in exposure settings (0.65 stop total difference between the variants), and shadow recovery settings.

Further digital corrections on resulting 16-bit TIFF files using Adobe's Photoshop CC 2017 and Light Crafts Lightzone. Photoshop adjustments included compositing (blending) of the three output files from the raw converter and final selective sharpening for web output. Final tone-tweaking performed using LightZone's "tonemapper" tool.


Ewe Kidding ME? Sigma Sport 500mm f4. Columbia Valley, BC, Canada. January 21, 2017.

Ten percent of the revenue generated by this image will be donated to Raincoast.

Species Status in Canada*: This species is not designated as at risk.

Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis) are considered by many to be a symbol of mountain wilderness. They are distributed throughout much of the mountainous areas of western North America from central British Columbia south to northern Mexico. Local distribution of Bighorns appears to be limited by the availability of suitable foraging areas near "escape" terrain (cliffs or very steep terrain where they can escape predators).

This female Bighorn was photographed in the Columbia Valley of the East Kootenays. While this species is not currently considered at risk, many ecosystems within the Columbia Valley face development pressure, including pressure from logging operations.

*as determined by COSEWIC: The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada