Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports Review

October 27, 2016 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports is a hyper-telephoto prime lens for full-frame DSLR cameras, and APS-C sensor cameras with an effective increase in the focal length. Designed for the professional sports and wildlife shooter, the Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports features a rounded 9 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out of focus areas of the image, an Optical Stabilizer system that compensates for up to 4 stops of shutter speed with an accelerometer for improved vertical and horizontal panning, an Hyper Sonic Motor for fast and quiet autofocusing, manual override (MO) which is activated by rotating the focus ring while using autofocus, water and oil-repellent coating on the front element, a drop-in rear filter slot, a carbon fibre hood, and a dust and splash-proof construction. The Sigma 500mm F4 is available in Canon, Nikon and Sigma mounts, with the Nikon version featuring the new electromagnetic diaphragm. The Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens is priced at £5999.99 / $5999.99 in the UK and the US, respectively. The Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens is also fully compatible with Sigma’s Global Vision teleconverters. It can be extended into a 700mm f/5.6 lens with the 1.4x teleconverter, or a 1000mm f/8 lens with the 2x teleconverter.

Ease of Use

Weighing in at a whopping 3310g and measuring 38cm in length, the Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports is an incredibly big and heavy lens indeed, although that does include the non-removable tripod collar. As seen in the photos below, it dwarves even a full-frame camera like the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. This is not a lens that you can hand-hold for very long at all, being much more at home mounted on a sturdy tripod or monopod.

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM SportsThe Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens mounted on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM SportsThe Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens mounted on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM SportsThe Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens mounted on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM SportsThe Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens alongside the Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Build quality is excellent. The Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens has a magnesium alloy shell with a mixture of metallic and plastic parts used inside. It also incorporates a brass bayonet mount that's supposed to be more durable. The optical elements are made of high-grade glass with 16 elements in 11 groups, while the lens has a dust and splash-proof construction.

The Beep switch has two settings - Off and On - and it turns audible confirmation noises on and off, essentially allowing you to turn off any sounds that the lens makes.

The AF Function switch has two settings - Preset and Stop - which allows you to set your own autofocus specification. The lens can remember the focus position of your choice or turn off AF until it is needed.

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM SportsSide of the Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM SportsSide of the Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens

The tripod collar has a Click switch with two settings - Off and On - with the former setting allowing free movement and the latter setting enabling 90° click stops, which makes it easier to switch between vertical and horizontal shooting positions when mounting the lens on a monopod or tripod. The click position can be fine-tuned by pressing the Set button and manually adjusting the lens. The lens also comes equipped with a dedicated carry strap for the tripod socket.

Focusing is usefully internal and manual focusing is possible when set via the Focus switch on the lens barrel. Full-time manual focus override is also available by setting the Focus switch to the MO mode and then rotating the focus ring.

The focus limiter switch has three settings, Full, 10m-infinity and 3.5m-10m, which helps speed up the auto-focusing if you know how far your subject is from the lens. You can also use the USB dock to customise these ranges to your own needs. A clear distance scale in both feet and meters runs from the closest focusing distance of 350cm/137.8in to infinity.

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM SportsFront of the Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM SportsRear of the Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM SportsSide of the Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM SportsSide of the Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens

The built-in Optical Stabilizer is activated by the OS switch on the lens barrel, which offers around 4 stops of compensation. The OS system has two modes - mode 1 is suitable for hand-held photography, and mode 2 is best for panning shots of moving subjects in a vertical, horizontal or or diagonal direction.

The Custom switch has three settings - Off, C1 and C2 - with the latter two settings allowing you to configure the lens via the Sigma Dock, and then quickly access those configurations.

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM SportsSide of the Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM SportsRear filter holder

There are four unmarked "soft" buttons on the lens barrel, which are for easily accessing a focus preset.  You can configure a specific focus point, and each time you push any of those buttons, the lens will automatically focus at that preset distance.

The Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports ships with a good quality soft case and a huge circular carbon fibre lens hood (LH1388-01). It accepts 46mm rear-mounted filters via a very neat slot-in system, with a WR Protector filter fitted as standard. A Circular Polariser Filter (RCP-11) is also available to purchase.

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM SportsTripod collar

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM SportsDistance scale

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM SportsThe Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens with the supplied lens hood fitted

Focal Range

At the 500mm focal length the angle of view is 5 degrees.

 Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM SportsField of view at 500mm

Focusing

The Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens has a very large focus ring, and it is ridged for easier grip too. There are hard stops at both ends of the range, making it easier to set focus at infinity.

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports zoom is a quick performer, taking about 0.15 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III that we tested it with.

We didn't experience too much "hunting", either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing most all of the time. It's also a very quiet performer, thanks to the built-in HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor).

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are only conspicuous by their almost complete absence from our test shots.

Light Fall-off

With the lens set to its maximum aperture of f/4, there is significant light fall-off in the corners. Stopping-down to f/8 virtually eliminates this.

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM SportsLight fall-off at 500mm

Macro

The Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports isn't claimed to be a macro lens. It has a minimum focusing distance of 350cm/137.8in and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:6.5. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to your subject, in this case a Compact Flash memory card.

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM SportsClose-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. In the Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens, Sigma employed an iris diaphragm with nine rounded blades, which has resulted in very nice bokeh in our view. We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several 100% crops for your perusal.

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports
   
Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.

Entry Tags

review, samples, photos, test, images, sample images, lens, jpeg, jpegs, full frame, full-frame, zoom, telephoto, sports, f4, people, nature, Sigma, 500mm, telezoom, Sigma 500mm f4 DG OS HSM Sports, Sigma 500mm f4 DG OS HSM Sports review

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