src="http://www.mirrorlessons.com/wp-content/themes/mirrorlessons The red kites are back! - Sony A7r II, a6300, Sigma MC-11 and 150-600mm Contemporary lens - MirrorLessons - The Best Mirrorless Camera Reviews
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Date: 29/08/2016 | By: Mathieu

The red kites are back! – Sony A7r II, a6300, Sigma MC-11 and 150-600mm Contemporary lens

Sigma-MC-11-150-600mm-red-kites-featured

The red kites are back! – Sony A7r II, a6300, Sigma MC-11 and 150-600mm Contemporary lens

It had been a while since I last went to my favourite red kite feeding station to photograph these magnificent birds in flight. Luckily for me, a new opportunity came up when I received the Sigma MC-11 EF to E-mount adapter to review last week. One of the lenses I asked the brand to send along with it was the 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Contemporary, which I’d used on the A7r mark II for the same purpose but with the Metabones mark IV adapter last year. I was curious to see if the new MC-11 would communicate better with a Sigma lens and give me better results.

Update: the MC-11 full review is now online!

I brought along not only the flagship A7 camera but also the a6300 whose autofocus system is faster. The latter looks minute with that DSLR lens mounted on it, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that the combo is more uncomfortable to hold (but the results are more consistent than on the A7r II as I will explain in a moment).

 

I’ve shot the red kites many times now but I am always surprised by how difficult it can be to follow them. They are really fast and it’s not easy to choose which one to track as it might not go in the direction you wish.

One of the best shots you can take is when one of them flies just above the lake. That happens especially when some food falls into the water. If you see it happen, you generally have a couple of seconds before one of them dives in and grabs its prize.

sigma mc-11 birds in flight
a6300, 1/2000, f/6.3, ISO 800 – 600mm
sigma mc-11 birds in flight
a6300, 1/2000, f/6.3, ISO 400 – 600mm

One of the advantages of using the Sigma MC-11 adapter is that all the AF settings are available, just as if you were using an E-mount lens. For example I can set the Zone area instead of the Wide area which I find more precise and easier to use for this specific genre.

I’ll be honest: the results I got exceeded my expectations but it’s far from perfect.

sigma mc-11 birds in flight
A7r II, 1/2000, f/8, ISO 800 – 600mm

The combo takes a while (3 or 4 seconds sometimes) to lock onto the subject. This means you have to start tracking the bird as soon as possible while half-pressing the shutter release button to make the camera focus properly. Sometimes you need to half-press multiple times if the camera refuses to focus correctly. Then you keep the shutter button half-pressed (you will see the phase detection points “dance” on top of the subject) and wait for the right moment to take the burst.

sigma mc-11 birds in flight
A7r II, 1/2000, f/8, ISO 800 – 600mm

It is common to end up with completely mis-focused shots (background instead of the subject) or blurry pictures. However when the camera locks focus correctly, it is accurate most of the time. You will get some slightly soft results but in many burst sequences the camera was able to track the subject very well. This is the first difference I noticed in comparison to the Metabones IV. The MC-11 seems to be more accurate when it comes to nailing the focus point precisely.

sigma mc-11 birds in flight
A7r II, 1/2000, f/8, ISO 800 – 600mm

With the A7r II, I got an overall keeper rate of 50%, which is not dissimilar from the results I got with the Metabones mark IV adapter last year.

AF settings used on the Sony A7r II:

  • Manual shooting mode with Auto ISO (max. 800)
  • Continuous shooting at 5fps
  • Continuous AF
  • Zone Area
  • AF Priority set in AF-C

 

sigma mc-11 birds in flight
a6300, 1/4000, f/8, ISO 800 – 600mm

With the a6300, the keeper rate went up to 55/60%. Unsurprisingly the APS-C camera performs better and it’s not just because of its more recent AF system. The burst rate is faster and having live view at 8fps helps you to track the birds more accurately.

AF settings used on the Sony a6300:

  • Manual shooting mode with Auto ISO (max. 800)
  • Continuous shooting at 8fps
  • Continuous AF
  • Zone Area
  • AF Priority set in AF-C
  • Setting Effect Off on Live View Display

 

sigma mc-11 birds in flight
a6300, 1/2000, f/8, ISO 800 – 600mm

On the a6300, the lens gives you an equivalent field of view of 225-900mm (35mm format reference). Being able to shoot at an equivalent of 900mm would make you think that you can catch pretty good close-ups of the birds (if you manage to frame them!) but even this focal length can be too short if the kites don’t fly close enough. Indeed, I had to crop many of the shots you see here.

You do have the chance to take close-up shots when the birds fly at a shorter distance from you but this can prove a challenge for the AF system.

sigma mc-11 150-600mm
a6300, 1/2500, f/8, ISO 800 – 600mm
No crop – Slightly soft
sigma mc-11 150-600mm
a6300, 1/2500, f/8, ISO 400 – 600mm
No crop – Out of focus

I used the MC-11 with other Sigma lenses on both Sony cameras in different situations (motorsports included) with mixed results. For birds in flight, I have to say that it did better than I had initially expected.

The full review of the Sigma MC-11 is now available. Below you can enjoy more sample images taken with the A7r II and a6300 below!

sigma mc-11 150-600mm
a6300, 1/4000, f/8, ISO 640 – 500mm
sigma mc-11 150-600mm
a6300, 1/2000, f/8, ISO 160 – 600mm
sigma mc-11 150-600mm
a6300, 1/2000, f/8, ISO 400 – 600mm
sigma mc-11 150-600mm
a6300, 1/4000, f/8, ISO 400 – 600mm
sigma mc-11 review
a6300, 1/2000, f/8, ISO 800 – 600mm
sigma mc-11 review
a6300, 1/2000, f/6.3, ISO 500 – 600mm
sigma mc-11 review
A7r II, 1/2000, f/8, ISO 800 – 600mm
sigma mc-11 review
a6300, 1/2000, f/8, ISO 800 – 500mm
sigma mc-11 review
a6300, 1/4000, f/8, ISO 800 – 600mm
sigma mc-11 review
a6300, 1/2500, f/8, ISO 800 – 500mm
sigma mc-11 review
a6300, 1/2000, f/6.3, ISO 320 – 600mm
sigma mc-11 review
a6300, 1/4000, f/8, ISO 800 – 600mm
sigma mc-11 review
a6300, 1/2500, f/8, ISO 800 – 600mm
sigma mc-11 review
a6300, 1/2000, f/6.3, ISO 800 – 600mm



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About the author: Mathieu Gasquet

Mathieu Gasquet is a professional photographer with French and Italian origins. Besides running his own video and photography studio 3Dit Lab, he is also the official photographer for the National Cinema Museum in Turin. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • Robert Moore

    So glad you posted this review! I agree, Sony would sell many and engender much love with an e-mount 100-400 :) I’m not greedy, a simple 400/5.6 would be nice as well.
    Having Pan-Leica 100-400 and Oly 300/4 I’m very curious if Photokina will produce an OMD M1 mk II or GH-5 that can AF and AF-track like the a6300.
    Then there is the rumored EOS M5. Surely Canon sees us adapting EF lenses to the Sony platform….what was a trickle of blood is now a hemorrhage and an effective M-mount that could AF/track like the a6300 would stop that.
    We’ve recently added tje FE70-300 just to get another 100mm’s but still not enough even with the crop factor.
    Well for Sony I’m hoping Photokina gives us wildlife/birder lovers something.
    For mFT I think the time is now=make or break for many whether they can pull off the above.
    Canon, hmmm. Well we know their track record with the M models!
    Personally I’m awaiting the Tam 150-600 G2, would be nice if Tamron would offer up a nice e-mount adapter :)

  • https://shifteleven.com pope

    Cool. Thanks

  • Paul Stuart

    Interesting how much do think the keeper rate improves with a native mount lens attatched

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    When the E-M1 came out, it was the best for C-AF. Now it is 3 years old and naturally the competition managed to surpass it. I am sure Olympus knows that and I hope they bring a substantial update in that direction.
    Using an adapter is an option but the best performance comes with native E-mount lenses. I hope that Sony will release a FE 100-400mm at some point.

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    With the recent Sony cameras (A7r II, A7 II, a6300) you don’t need the LA-EA4 because the phase detection areas on the camera can be used directly. I tested the LA-EA3 with the 70-400mm II but the results weren’t as good.
    The LA-EA4 has its own phase detection sensor inside and is meant to be used with cameras like the A7s or previous models. The performance is slower however.

  • https://shifteleven.com pope

    Nicely done. I have a follow-up, have you ever tried the A-mount version with one of the Sony adapters? I wonder if it’s still as crummy a hit rate or if because it’s from Sony it does better… specifically the LAEA4. Cheers!

  • Paul Stuart

    will be interesting to see if the much anticipated for omd em-1 mk2 gets anywhere near these % of keepers ,sort of been waiting a long time for its coming.
    At the moment m43 is a long way short of even the best mirrorless (x-t2and a6300) let alone dslr territory when it comes to c-af
    I sort of rely on single af a lot with my m43 cameras ,
    Mathieu great shots of the red kites must be a joy to see those ,we do not see many in sussex compared to other birds of prey
    Looks as thought sony are getting there bodys to good focus ability but not sure if I want a system that rely on an adaptor to get some focal lengths could do with more native mount options?

  • Sean T

    Some lovely photos Mathieu. Yes, it’s not perfect and I’m fairly certain that even my old D7100 would have a higher hit rate (native mount matters!) but the MC-11 is an option anyway. I’m looking forward to your complete review of the exciting adapter.

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