• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

50-500mm f4-6 APO EX

Lens, 50-500mm, Sigma
Manufacturer
Sigma

Reviews summary

5
 
42%
3
 
25%
3
 
25%
0
 
0%
1
 
8%
Overall rating
3.92 star(s) 12 ratings
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • price, zoom range, Image stabilization
Cons
  • some softness, focus
I've used it and am happy with the results *mostly.* However, I never get the kind of tack-sharp photos I see elsewhere, even under what seem like perfect conditions. I'm using it on a Canon 60D body. I did a focus test and found that it consistently seemed to be focussing just a little closer than where it thought it was focussing. I have not yet taken this issue up with either Sigma or with Canon...but that might be why my images aren't as sharp as I think they should be.
Recommended
No
Price
500$
Pros
  • Versatility and mobility.
Cons
  • Slow AF, chromatic aberration and soft.
I have owned this lens for approx 2 months now as I decided to get it at the same time as the D300S.

Having used a wide range of lenses in the past I am somewhat disappointed in the general image quality of this lens in terms of sharpness and blue fringing at the far end. Also, one major issue with this lens is bleeding/ghosting of white onto the background if the subject is of a high intensity colour (such as a white seagull against a dark background) to the point where I find it unacceptable. Due to this you have to think about all your shots in order to bypass this quite serious issue. My friend also owns a copy of this lens and has the same problems as me.

This issue also exists on my D3 so it seems a be trait of this lens.

The lens itself is fairly light weight making it very easy to achieve successful shots in reasonable light, however due to the other issues of this lens I would not recommend it.
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • best all around 500mm choice for birding
Cons
  • soft - make break is left on camera in non padded case.
Very useful for people who can only take ONE lens on a trip. I've owned this lens for 12 years. IMO you need at least a 600mm lens to bird because of target size (warbler/hummer) or distance (Savannah/ocean). For me it's just getting a quality image - not pro. I have 1 trip and often 1 chance. Several of my shots are in the opus database. I find shooting with tripods rarely useful in watercraft, jungle, or open jeep (often engine still on). The 50-500 with a Nikon D2H 1.5 crop effectively make this lens a 750mm f6.3. The grip handle is really a must. It allows me to keep the lens in my hands longer than others by periodically switching to it from my camera body grip. I imaged over 250 species in Costa Rica in 10 days with the lens. It was my 1st trip there and life-list seeing the bird Always comes first. I don't use a flash but that would extend getting good images under dark canopy. I found I can not go any heavier hand held. I tried the Sigma 120-300 f2.8 (too heavy) and have found the competition (in the 500mm range) too heavy also - making the image stabilized lens out. Maybe there's a new 500 range lens out there now that beats this lens for hand held for my use - I'd like to own it. I don't have love for this lens. It just fits my purpose. The zoom range is nice and can leave one spoiled.
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • Very well built ,Excelent zoom range. Good on the long end.
Cons
  • Big but not overly so. Dust Sucker.
I have had this lens for about 4 months and find it very good. I often use it hand held at 500mm and get decent sharp images. I use Olympus and with the 4/3s 2 X crop factor I am effectively shooting a 1000mm lens and with the Olympus internal stabilization its a IS lens. Add a EC14 and its a 1400mm IS lens. You do need good light for this lens but we seem OK here in South Africa for light. The lenses really sweet spot is at f/8 at 500mm.

The zoom range for wildlife is very good and I use it for insects like butterflies and dragonflies where you cant get to close. The lens handles very well when hand held. I use the tripod mount cupped in my left hand with my elbow against my chest and the camera in the right hand this seems to form quiet a stable platform.

Yes there are better lenses out there but not at the price performance ratio and versatility of the BIGMA.
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • Crisp sharp images in bright light.
Cons
  • Slightly softer images in poor light.
I have just purchased the Sigma 50-500mm lens and I am really pleased with the results, but it would have been nice to have it image stabilised as I have the Canon450D. The images come out crisp and highly contrasted with true color representation. True it is a little heavy to be lugging around but the results are worth it. I would highly recommend this as a great bird lens.
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • Zoom Range, Performance in Good Light, Value for Cost
Cons
  • Low Light Performance, Weight
I've had the "Bigma" for about 8 months or so and for the most part I am pleased with it. Most of the photos I have taken with it are quite usable to the average semi-advanced amateur. I don't think the lens quite qualifies for pro use though. I use mine with the Pentax K10D and I have found that AF can be pretty slow especially in low light and that hand held shots (if you really want tack sharp) are out of the question in anything other than direct sunlight. Even with a tripod at f/6.7 you will get soft images at the 500mm end. I find that at about 420mm at f/8 or f/9 you get pretty sharp images with a tripod.

I think this is a great beginner lens to "cut your teeth on" and I like that fact that when hiking, I don't have to change lenses much. I hike with this bear attached to a tripod. I really need to get a monopod!

I have used this lens some with the 1.4x tc but AF is pretty much out of the question so truthfully I don't use it much. In-flight bird shots, as mentioned before, are hit and miss and I've found that using it at the 300mm range works best, but they really have to be close for that!

Thus far, I have had no mechanical problems with the lens.

I will say that as I progress to the point of wanting better and better images, I find myself looking at the Sigma 300mm f/2.8 and hoping that the 1.4x and 2x converters will give pretty good reach and AF performance (thus far Sigma has not made the 120-300 f/2.8 in Pentax mount). I simply cannot afford Pentax's 600mm f/4.

So, if you want a good all purpose lens to cut your teeth on, the Bigma will do. Compared to everything else in the 400 to 500mm range, the cost factor alone is worth the investment unless you can afford $5000+ for prime glass. Having said that, as you progress in your hobby, you may find it a bit wanting.

Here are a couple of winners:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2252/2051581472_d506529766_b.jpg

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2218/2155036785_5cf3d999bb_b.jpg

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1191/536697845_d8ae83ff60_b.jpg
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • Flexibility in use..
Cons
  • Paint flakes inside lens ...
The one very bad thing about this lens is that the paintwork inside the lens tend to flake and collect inside. I had it cleaned once for free by the agent, and now the flakes are slowly collecting again. Otherwise it is a good lens. For sharp pictures one has to be very careful of the lighting conditions ...
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • Very good with anti-shake, very sharp
Cons
  • heavy
Coming back after more than one year I am even more in love with the lens than before. Now it is sitting at the front of my new K 10 D and it is possible to take handheld shots at full 500! Absolutely amazing as this makes it roughly 750mm even if the 500 are probably a little exaggerated...
Highly recommended!
Recommended
Yes
Price
699$
Pros
  • Very versatile, in combo with 16-45mm that\'s all you need, image quality, for me easy to handhold
Cons
  • heavy to carry around, especially on camera, flimsy lock-button
I bought the non-DG version for my Pentax *ist D as an end-of-line special offer. I am very pleased with the results. A very solid lens with very crisp and nice picture quality. A slightly colder pic than with my Pentax-zoom but not in any way unpleasant.
Also tried it with a 1.4 TC (Sigma APO) and still delivered crisp pics. The range is simply amazing and I am very pleased with my purchase - especially when I think of the Anti-shake Pentax coming up.
Not to be recommended for those who want to travel light - however, instead of up to four lenses I normally get away with just 2 and a TC.
I cannot comment on the dust-gathering - nothing visible there yet, but then I\'ve only taken 300-400 shots with the lens.
Recommended
Yes
Price
950$
Pros
  • Sharpness, reach, build
Cons
  • heavy (but what 500mm is light besides a mirror?)
I have photographed many birds both stationary and in flight that I otherwise would never have been able to capture had it not been for the 50-500. A few examples can be found here:
http://www.brsd.ab.ca/nnorway/carrweb/oct_2005/oct2Bweb/focus1a.jpg

http://www.brrd.ab.ca/nnorway/carrweb/sept/s26_web/S26%20136_x.jpg

http://www.brsd.ab.ca/nnorway/carrweb/oct_2005/oct2web/oct2%20119.jpg

As for build, well, someone cluelessly forgot that they had left the lens on the top of a vehicle, drove off, and the lens, with camera, fell from the roof, bounced hard on the trunk, and dropped to the asphalt knocking the batteries from the battery grip and breaking the attached filter. Following the accident it was tested and worked perfectly with only a few tiny scratches. The car was more damaged. Above photographs (links) were taken after that unfortunate accident.

If I lost the lens tomorrow (and I use the word, lost, because I think the lens is unbreakable), I would have a new one ordered the next day. I would not be without this lens for any length of time.

The very worst I can say about it is that it is not a 4 or 2.8 so one loses a bit of AF speed and light. I am now using the Mark II body which definitely helps with capturing flight and shooting at high ISO. The combination is excellent. However, I still got extremely decent photographs with the 300D prior to my Mark II purchase.

It is a lens that any serious birder -- who cannot really afford the big L guns -- should not be without. And, even then, it is a lot lighter and easier to hand-hold. All of the above shots were hand-held at 500 to 1000mm
Recommended
No
Price
0$
Pros
  • Nice telephoto range; Big, but not excessively heavy
Cons
  • Very slow lens; Not built for serious trekking; Gets internal dirt very easily
I rarely feel strongly enough about a product to post a review, either positive or negative. But I've owned the Sigma 50-500 for almost 2 years now. I've taken more than 1,000 pics with it, and I have more than just an initial impression. It was also my first "big lens" and to be fair, I have taken some really wonderful bird, insect and nature photos with it. But I feel strongly that if you are considering purchasing this lens, there are other more dubious experiences that I want to share with you. About 6 months ago, I could no longer adjust the focal length because the lens extender was jammed. The mechanism that locks the extender had come loose. Naturally, this was not considered a warranty defect and it cost me $150 to fix. Plus, I have a nasty scar along the tube because of the loose mechanism. Ok, so I could live with that, even though I don't feel as though I am "rough" on this lens. It has seen a lot of miles, but it was very protected. However, there are 2 other issues that lead me to believe that Sigma makes inferior products (vs. Nikon or Canon). First, the lens has managed to accumulate a significant amount of dust on the inner lens groups and requires a full overhaul to get at. No telling how much that will cost. I was told this occurs because of the vacuum created when you extend and retract the lens and there is just enough room for dust to get sucked-in. I now have to remove dust from every shot I take with the lens on my D100. And there's one more thing I think you should be aware of. If you envision yourself taking some great action shots of birds in flight with this lens, you need to consider another lens. After hundreds of missed shots and blurred images, I decided to rent a fixed focal length 300mm lens just to see if it was me or the lens. The first 10 shots I took with the rental lens convinced me that the Sigma 50-500mm was simply too slow to capture birds on the wing.

These are simply the opinions and observations of one birder. Your mileage may vary, and if you are ecstatic with your 50-500mm, then I say good on you. That's how I wanted to be when I shelled-out the big bucks for this lens.
Recommended
Yes
Price
899$
Pros
  • Image quality and image color. Fast, quiet zoom.
Cons
  • Weight. Soft images (lens, camera or user?)
This was my first "Big Lens" purchase and my second Sigma lens with the 105mm EX Macro being my first. Having dealt with the 105mm lens first, which lacks the Hypersonic Motor (HSM), I was very impressed with the quiet and fast zoom of the 50-500. Image quality is very good but appears to be on the soft side when comparing to other images taken with the same camera model (Digital Rebel) and lens. This could be a problem with my camera or user error :) .

The lens appears to be very well built and rugged. The tripod collar is very sturdy and can be removed is desired. It also allows you to rotated the lens inside the collar with a simple twist of a locking knob.

The 50-500 has a locking switch that serves two purposes. With the lens fully retracted, the lock prevents the lens from creeping out when pointed down. The second use is for the 2X EX APO Teleconverter. When using this converter, the lens is adjusted to 100 mm and the lock is then engaged. This prevents the lens from going lower than 100mm and physically hitting the converter when attached. I also own the 2X converter. It takes the 50-500 lens to F11 making it very light hungry and softens images more.

The only negative comment I have is that when the lens hood is in the stored position it covers approximately 1/2 of the zoom ring and can intefere with rotation of the ring in the 50-100mm range.

Overall I am pleased with this lens but have some concern about the soft images. I was expecting to produce images that would be sharp straight from the camera but I find myself doing some type of sharpening on all images. Again I have seen much sharper results so this may be due to my shooting method or may camera.

Take a look at my gallery for a few samples. I would also search on pbase for images taken with this lens. Feel free to contact me with any questions.
Top