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I have bought a Sigma 150-600mm F/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | C lens for my Canon 70D. Is it okay for bird photography? Also kindly suggest a filter for the same.

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    Why do you want a filter for that lens? What do you wish the filter to do? Polarize light? Reduce the amount of light hitting the front of the lens? Reduce the amount of light hitting part of the front of the lens? Something else? – Michael C Dec 12 '17 at 9:45
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    When you say, is it okay for bird photography...I would like to ask: okay compared to what? Just about every lens has it's pros and cons - and at a base level, one could accomplish almost any task with almost any lens. But for a specific task, some tools are better than others - but the comparison must be made to draw a difference. So, yes, your lens will work for bird photos. How well it will work needs an element of comparison. – Hueco Dec 12 '17 at 19:20
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Never add a filter unless the benefit outweighs the disadvantage. The major disadvantage is, a filter add two polished surfaces that prompt a light loss due to reflection. A coated filter reduces the light loss from reflections to about 2%. The most commonly mounted filter is a UV. This filter absorbs ultraviolet light and this is helpful because distant landscapes and aerial shots are likely views through atmospheric haze. The UV filter penetrates, to some degree this haze. The UV filter is likely redundant on a digital camera because the image sensor protective cover is also a UV filter. Most folks mount a UV to protect their cherished optics from scratches.

My advice is to buy a polarizing filter. Hands down, this is the most valuable filter for the digital photographer. The polarizing screen filter darkens blue sky causing clouds to standout boldly. A polarizing filter also cuts haze like a UV. A polarizing filter mitigates reflections from non-conductors like glass, plastics, and painted surfaces. Also a polarizing filter allows some penetration so objects near the water’s surface can be imaged. These come in two flavors, buy a circular polarizer.

  • A polarizing filter also reduces light transmission in direct proportion to its effectiveness. With an f/5-6.3 telephoto zoom, that might be critical to AF performance. – Michael C Dec 13 '17 at 11:16
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I have bought a Sigma 150-600mm F/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | C lens for my Canon 70D. Is it okay for bird photography?

My experience with that lens is that it should be fine for bird photography, particularly on a crop sensor camera like the 70D.

I don't have a bird photo handy, but perhaps a squirrel will be a useful stand-in...

Squirrel photo (scaled)

I took this photo with a Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 DG OS HSM | C on a Canon 6D (full frame), with the lens set at 600mm, f/6.7, shutter speed of 1/750s, ISO set to 2500. I think I was shooting handheld, but it's possible that I used a monopod.

I was at least 25 feet from the squirrel, and I'd guess it was really more like 35 feet. Even so, you can see a lot of fine detail in the following crop, including individual whiskers and a reflection in the eye.

Squirrel photo (cropped)

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For bird photography you typically want reach and speed. That lens will give you reach (150-600mm). Is it fast enough (f/5.0-6.3)? With that it's a matter of budget. If you can afford to spend three times as much, then do so and get a faster lens. If not, use this, as it's decent for its price range.

If you want a filter just for lens protection, avoid it. It doesn't protect very well and it adds unnecessary flare and distortion. If you're going to use a filter for some photographic purpose, the baseline is just to try and minimise the flare and distortion a filter adds by ensuring it's multi-coated and a good quality one. Beyond that, what you should get depends on the purpose.

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Is it okay for bird photography?

How do you define "OK?" Maybe it will meet or exceed your expectations of an "OK" lens, maybe it will not.

Also kindly suggest a filter for the same.

Leave the filter off and use the supplied hood. In addition to providing better impact protection than a filter, it will also increase optical performance by preventing flare from off-axis light. Filters, on the other hand, can increase flare and reflections while also decreasing optical performance by placing two additional flat surfaces between your subject and your camera.

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I'd recommend against filters for this lens. I got the premium 95mm Hasselblad UV filter for it, and it reduced resolution by 20%. The same Hasselblad filter mounted on my Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8 E lens showed no drop in resolution. Here's a link to an article I did on that subject: https://www.photoartfromscience.com/single-post/2017/05/11/Do-Long-Lenses-Not-Like-Filters

  • Hi Ed and welcome to Photo.SE. It's great that you've written an article on a subject related to the question, however at the Stackexchange network it's customary to not provide link-only answers, but to quote/summarize the main points as well. This ensures that, if the link goes down, or is changed, the answer still retains its value. So, to improve your answer: could you please quote part of your web-article? Maybe even include some graphs? Thanks! – Saaru Lindestøkke Feb 6 '18 at 11:41
  • It seems like a bit of a leap to assume, based on one sample of a particular lens with a particular filter, that long lenses don't work well with filters, or even that this particular long lens doesn't work well with filters. If your hypothesis is that the long focal length is part of the problem, why not run the same test with the same lens and filter combo, but with the lens set to 150mm, 300mm, and 450mm? – Caleb Feb 6 '18 at 22:09

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