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12 148120 8/29/2008
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Keywords: Sigma Canon Nikon Minolta Pentax Four-Thirds Mid Tele Zoom 35mm DG HSM APO Tested


Registered: August 2008
Posts: 2
Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX DG HSM APO review by hschulze
Review Date: 8/29/2008 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $975.00| Rating: 8 

Pros: value priced, solid, well designed lens
Cons: Not the best choice for wide field astro work

I purchased this lens as a midrange widefield astro-photography accessory to my Canon 40D. At lower zoom, it works well. At full 500 mm zoom, there are minor chromatic and coma, which I don't get with less expensive fixed lens like the now eol'd Orion 80ED 500mm F/6.25, which has similar glass quality and "APO" rating as this lens. The lens is still useful for selecting and framing a shot before activating a fixed-zoom much-hard-to-focus telescope setup.

For the much cheaper manufacturing of the 80ED that originally turned me off on that tube, I would have preferred that the Sigma had the better night performance.

Either way, I still love using the Sigma for what it was designed for, daytime nature and event photography. It is my first real telephoto, and I am happy I picked that one for it's range and other features.

I would have liked to know if the Canon equivalent lens was any better in this astro application, but the price pushes it over competitive high-end designed-for-astro tubes.

Overall though this Sigma lens is solid, very portable and quick to set up.

Registered: June 2008
Posts: 2
Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX DG HSM APO review by blackrex
Review Date: 6/2/2008 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: None indicated| Rating: 9 

Pros: Focal length, range, versatility

I like the weight and solid feel that this lens has, I find that it is a lot easier to hand hold and stabilise due to the mass, especially at the longer lengths. I was easily able to use this lens to photograph motorsport in over cast and foggy conditions, with a fast enough shutter speed and good DOF to capture the vehicles.

The 10x zoom range makes for a very versatile lens, and can be used for portrait work, macro (to a point, it doesn't go 1:1) and long range.

Registered: November 2005
Posts: 2
Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX DG HSM APO review by eteam
Review Date: 3/12/2008 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $625.00| Rating: 9 

Pros: low cost, image quality in good light, focal length range, solid build
Cons: weight and size (comes with the focal length!)

With good light, this is an excellent performer. Don't confuse this with a f/4 $5K lens. Reasonably sharp across the entire 50-500mm range, wide open. For best sharpness 400-500mm, you should stop down from f/6.3 to f/8.

I beat the heck out of this lens shooting college football games, all wide open, with shutter speed set to 1/800 to 1/1000 sec, from the sidelines. The zoom range was a huge asset as play ran near and far. Images were super sharp. There were plenty of pictures I would have missed with having less zoom range or having to carry (and switch between) two camera bodies.

Built like a tank, also. Solid kit.

With this lens, add a vertical grip to your camera body, you stand out from the rest of the crowd of picture takers as a serious gent. This can get you respect from the crowd milling around, and helps give you access to the vantage points you need.

If you want to use this lens for moon shots or 500mm nature shots (or any with shutter speed slower than 1/800 sec), you need to use the skills and technique required to do this well. This means using a solid tripod and head, mirror up mode, stopping down the lens a bit, and using a remote shutter release... and all in a wind protected area. Wait for the mirror vibe to settle before taking the shot, using only a remote release. If you cheat on any of these, don't expect perfection with ANY long lens.

Excellent value for money. If you work within its capabilities (i.e. F/8 or narrower at long end) and you employ proper technique, you will be rewarded with sharp, contrasty images.

Registered: June 2007
Posts: 1
Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX DG HSM APO review by crissew
Review Date: 6/3/2007 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $770.00| Rating: 10 

Pros: Great price, focal range, image quality
Cons: Must understand photographic technique

You will see tons of people commenting on the difficulty with using this lens. You will hear that you can not take hand held pictures with it, that it is soft at the end. None of that is due to the lens, it is due to the user of the lens. A 500mm lens is not going to be as easy to shoot as a macro lens or 50mm portrait lens. Your depth of field at 500mm is only a cm so there is little margin for error. You will get a good number of bad shots but that is part of the game. I hand hold my lens very often and have achieved some beautiful shots. You have to understand what shutter speed you need for the focal length, you have to have good photo shooting technique to minimize camera shake when depressing the shutter button.

Is this lens more work than your average lens? Of course it is. Being new to photography, I had difficulty with the lens initially but I didnt blame the lens. It will take you some time to master this lens, but once you do, it will amaze you. Some pieces of advice. Try and stay in the f8 range. Use the rolling shutter button technique. Make sure your shutter speed is at least 1/focal distance when possible when hand holding. If you can't do that, take a bunch of pictures and a few will come out regardless of the conditions.
John H Maw

Registered: November 2006
Posts: 15
Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX DG HSM APO review by John H Maw
Review Date: 1/14/2007 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: None indicated| Rating: 9 

Pros: Wonderful optics (really). Amazing zoom range.
Cons: Too big to hand-hold if you want best results.

I have the older version of this lens (non DG). Optically it was a huge surprise. Before buying I tested it against Sigma's 135-400 and prime 400 and this was the best (and by a considerable margin). Not what I was expecting at all. Don't even think of hand-holding in most conditions though. It's main drawback is its bulk, but you can't have everything.

Registered: January 2007
Posts: 7
Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX DG HSM APO review by lajos
Review Date: 1/14/2007 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: None indicated| Rating: 8 

Pros: range, price, build quality
Cons: big and heavy, no image stabilisation, mine is not sharp at 500 mm

At this range, this is the only lens that I find affordable. I haven't regretted buying it, but mine is not perfect. The biggest gripe is that it's not very sharp at 500 mm, even in bright sunlight, with a tripod.

If a stabilised version came out, I'd sell the current lens and buy that version. It really needs IS - although hand-held shots are not impossible in strong daylight. Also, the lens is very big and heavy, but that is to be expected. The autofocus is not on par with Canon's USM but it's OK.

Be prepared for some mundane issues if you are not used to this range: at 500 mm, just finding a flying bird or plane in the viewfinder is difficult.

Registered: January 2007
Posts: 10
Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX DG HSM APO review by six100
Review Date: 1/8/2007 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $980.00| Rating: 9 

Pros: Range of course, very good image quality, HSM, EX quality, comes with a soft-case & hood, price.
Cons: 86mm filter size, wish it was at least a constant F4.

(Canon mount)

I will use as a reference for this review the Canon 70-200 F2.8L which, I believe, is one of the greatest sub-2k lens available:

The main reason why I actually sold the 70-200 was the "short" range, and I have to say this is the MOST impressive feature of the Sigma all-in-all. I knew from the beginning this "extra-range" was going to cost me some "image quality", but to be honest, image quality was not that much compromissed and, to my surprise, the lens even shows some highlights where it outperforms the Canon. For example: Though overall image quality of the 70-200 is better, the 50-500 produces a better bokeh in about every situation.

HSM and EX finish are two very pleasant details (even though the lens is not weather sealed, but for a sub-1000u$s this is not surprising).

Another plus: the lens comes with a soft-case and hood.

Now the minuses:

86mm filter size is not cheap at all, but well, considering this lens is "only" about 950u$s and the only comparable lens in the market, the Canon 100-400L, is almost 500u$s+ (talking always about the Canon mount version)...then spending an extra 70 bucks for the UV filter is still a good deal.

Lack of stabilization and excessive weight are complains you can usually read here for this piece of glass, but IMHO any serious 300mm+ lens should be used with, at least, a monopod to achieve better results, and since I always carry a monopod in the backpack, neither of these are considered as minuses by me, but have in mind before buying that this is an almost 2 kilo (4 pounds) non-stabilized lens.

My biggest complain with this lens is the aperture. The F4-6.3 is a real limit to the posibilities of it. Though with an appropriate camera and a careful setting you can almost override most of the "light requirement" limitations and shoot everywhere-anytime. Of course you wouldn´t have to care for all that with a Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM but well, you need an extra 5.5K to get one of those, so in the end this Sigma jewel is kind of a real deal.

Some pics:





Registered: May 2006
Posts: 62
Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX DG HSM APO review by gadgetguy
Review Date: 12/3/2006 Would you recommend the product? No | Total Spent: None indicated| Rating: 6 

Pros: long range
Cons: needs a lot of light, a monopod/tripod, or strong arms; heavy

When shooting in bright daylight (and a high enough ISO to get shutter speeds in the 1/1000+ range) then you can get reasonably sharp images from this lens on the long end.

However, it's heavy, LONG and requires strong arms/shoulders and/or a tripod/monpod if you plan to use it for more than a few minutes.

The range is awesome, but this is one product that would have really benfited from some sort of image stabilization. perhaps if you have this built in to your camera body then you might get better results than on my 20D.

Registered: November 2006
Posts: 3
Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX DG HSM APO review by Gmnicholas
Review Date: 11/26/2006 Would you recommend the product? No | Total Spent: $950.00| Rating: 4 

Pros: Price
Cons: Heavy, soft focus poor bokeh

I had it for a year, just traded it in. Using a good heavy tripod, remote shutter release and mirror lock up, I still had only a 50% keeper rate.

Registered: September 2006
Posts: 2
Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX DG HSM APO review by Tom
Review Date: 9/18/2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $1,000.00| Rating: 9 

Pros: Great zoom range, sturdy, good price
Cons: heavy, hard to hand hold, slow lens

I love this lens, but like the others said here, it's tough to shoot with because of it's weight. I have also experienced "softness" however I think it's from movement. I have had some very crisp shots with this lens - but it's hard. I need a better tripod, I only have used a monopod with this lens. I did get one very nice hand held shot but it was on a sunny day. So there's a learning curve, you have to get used to the lens.

I think it's very well priced too.

If you want to beat the "softness" use a tripod. However, another very important note is the lens says it is a f/6.3. My Canon 20d will actually display f/5.6 as available at 500mm...DO NOT SHOOT AT f/5.6 @ 500mm. I believe it to be an error. Follow the instructions. Shoot at f/6.3 and your softness goes away at 500mm.

Other than that, good lens.

Registered: August 2006
Posts: 9
Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX DG HSM APO review by sduford
Review Date: 8/1/2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $1,000.00| Rating: 9 

Pros: Awesome zoom range, well built, sharp, versatile.
Cons: Heavy, requires a lot of light

This lens works very well when mounted on a tripod or monopod. I would not recommend it for hand-holding as it is very heavy and gets very long when zoomed out. The small maximum aperture and long focal length also means that you need a lot of light and/or use high ISO.

It does get a bit soft at 500mm, but I find it surprisingly sharp throughout the range, as long as you use F/8.0 or F/11.0. It isn't bad wide open in the lower half of the range.

Registered: July 2006
Posts: 1
Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX DG HSM APO review by kristo
Review Date: 7/9/2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $1,200.00| Rating: 6 


Under the right circumstances, this lens is awesome. However, because of the lack of a stabilizer, shooting without a very sturdy tripod is a waste of time. At maximum range, the sharpness leaves a lot to desire. At selective focus with a wide aperture, the background has a lot of noise.


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