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A couple of years ago, I wrote a post titled Buy to rent: enjoying travel gear without buyer’s remorse. Spoiler alert: the post wasn’t really about renting, it was about buying an item I wanted for a trip and selling it later (lucky for me, I sold it for more than I paid for it). The item in question was a lens I brought on a safari (the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM ‘Contemporary’ Lens) and that same lens is now available for a slightly better deal than what I paid since you can currently stack an Amex Offer, so I figured I’d write up some information about it and the deal for those interested. You could also go through a shopping portal for a bit further savings yet. I haven’t kept on on competing lenses, but I can’t recommend this particular lens highly enough and the price for this lens is great. The pictures in this post are all photos I took with the lens I’m writing about here on my trip to Kruger National Park in January 2017.
- Adorama is offering the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM “Contemporary” Lens for both Canon and Nikon for $649. Stack with an Amex Offer for $25 or 2,500 Membership Rewards points back on $250+
- Note that portal terms indicate that rewards are not paid out on purchase or redemption of gift cards (check portal terms for any other key details prior to purchasing)
Again, I’m writing this post up because it is a product that I owned and I loved this lens for its purpose: to take some nice animal photos on safari. I am not much of a photographer, but this lens served us well on our self-drive tour of Kruger National Park in January 2017. I know nothing at all about photo editing, so these photos are all the images straight off of the camera, with no editing. Here were a few favorites (you’ll see these and more in that post linked at the top):
So if you’re a DSLR owner and interested in a lens with some moderate reach, this could fit the bill. To give an idea as to my distance from some of the animals in those pictures, here’s a shot of me in the car taking a picture and the picture I was taking:
I’m not a photographic equipment expert, but I paid more for this lens than you’ll pay through this sale if you can stack it (note that I did receive an additional accessory — a dock for updating the lens firmware — though that accessory is not included in this sale, the price is enough better to make up for it when stacked).
The current prices of the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM ‘Contemporary’ Lens at Amazon are interesting in that the used prices are all more than the new price (apart from one used lens that notes it is damaged, the used lenses start higher than the current $724 Amazon price, with the first Used – Good price starting at $740):
When the used price is higher than the new price, that’s an indication that the lens is on sale (and probably doesn’t often dip that low, hence the higher used prices).
However, camera superstore Adorama is offering the same lens for $649, and it can get a bit better yet as there’s an Amex Offer out that I noticed earlier today that is good for 2,500 Membership Rewards points when you spend $250 or more (I assume there is likely also a cash back version good for $25 back).
That drops the price down to $625. That’s a great deal for this lens and puts it in the territory where, similar to the post I linked at the top of this post, I would consider buying the lens just to bring it on a single trip and then sell it afterwards.
Don’t get me wrong, as I wrote about the last time I covered buying and selling this lens, there is some risk involved. Things can go wrong when reselling. However, quality lenses like this tend to hold decent value. When I bought mine, I figured I should be able to sell it and come close to breaking even — even if I were down $50 in the end, it was $50 worthwhile in getting a chance to use the lens during the trip. In the end, I sold it for more and actually came out ahead (as you’ll read in that post, I actually bought a few to resell for profit as well).
If you’re playing the game in 2-player mode (with a spouse or partner who has their own Amex accounts), you might even be able to stack this one a bit farther by having one of you buy a $250 Adorama gift card and the other use the gift card and pay the balance with the other partner’s Amex card (assuming you both have the offer synced of course). That said, I don’t know how long this lens will be on sale / available and the last time I tried to do that I recall the gift card processing taking a day or two, so YMMV. Alternatively, a purchase like this could be a good way to hit minimum spend if you’re comfortable reselling it. Again, look before you leap — but you might be able to get your money back out of it.
In terms of shopping portal rewards, it looks like you can choose between about 2% back or 3 JetBlue TrueBlue points per dollar. However, note that portal terms indicate that rewards will not be paid out on the purchase or redemption of gift cards. I’m not sure whether either or both are true. That drops your net cost a bit further yet potentially.
Again, I’m no J.M. Hoffman, and I haven’t studied the current lens landscape. I’m sure that you can get something better for double or triple the price. But when I went on my trip a couple of years ago I had done some research. This was the lens I wanted because I felt confident that it would take the pictures I hoped for and it would be something I could fairly easily resell after the trip because, well, I’m no J.M. Hoffman.