Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports Review
The Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports Lens takes one into the big leagues of sports and wildlife photography at a fraction of the price of the previous options, those by Canon and Nikon.
The day I received the lens from our local vendor - AAB World Kuwait, I made up mind to shoot only places I would shoot will be at the pivot yards, Qatar and the natural reserves at Kuwait for a complete different experience from the earlier ones by shooting bird life. In fact, these places are very well known for the maximum number of migratory birds in the middle east.
I was fortunate enough to be welcomed by a cormorant at a very close focal range at Irqaya farm, Qatar. The above headshot was the result as I was enjoying the power of the 500mm f4 Sport lens.
Checkout this newbies features,
-- Full-Frame Format
-- lens Aperture Ranging from f/4 to 32
-- Super Multi-Layer Coating on glass
-- Hyper Sonic AF Motor with Manual Override
-- Optical Stabilizer
-- Drop-In Filter Slot
-- Magnesium-Alloy Barrel with a Brass Mount
-- Dust- and Splash-Proof Construction
-- Rotatable Tripod Collar with Click Stops
-- Compatible with Sigma Tele converters to increase the focal length
The weight of the lens is approx. 3.3kg, add on my 5dmk3, and a mere 4.5kg in my hands, easy on the hands and shoulders compared to other brands of the same size. Over all was a very good experience to use this lens.
To avoid stress, highly recommend to use a tripod or monopod especially when doing long day shoots.
The weather at the farm was very pleasant, with slightly cool wind occasionally blowing. This was the day my wish came true, happen to find many species of birds of different sizes. Not leaving aside the crested lark, warblers, water birds & owls to mention other few.
In actual this huge tank is a hyper-telephoto prime lens for full-frame DSLR cameras but can be used on all APS-C sensor cameras as well, with an effective increase in the focal length depending on the camera used.
The lens has been designed keeping professional sports and wildlife photographers in mind, built of magnesium alloy shell and a mix of metallic and plastic parts It also incorporates a brass bayonet mount that's more durable.
The optical elements are made of high-grade glass with a dust and splash-proof construction.
There are three focus modes with this lens. which is AF, MF & Full-time manual focus override is also available by setting the Focus switch to the MO mode. Besides the MO button, there is focus limit switch which 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. It was very helpful while i was shooting the Owl in the farm which happen to be very close.
The Optical stabilization has 2 modes, Mode 1 is suitable for hand-held photography, and Mode 2 is best for panning shots. 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.
We can save three pre - focus settings in this lens. If we are on tripod or we need to cycle three different focus points in a single frame, there are three unmarked "soft" buttons on the lens barrel, which are easily accessible. Everytime you push any of those buttons, the lens will automatically focus at that preset distance.
The tripod collar is a substantially-sized, non-removable, rock solid and smooth-functioning. The locking knob is also large, well rounded and smooth functioning. There is plenty of room for fingers to maneuver the knob and also a lock is adequately placed to rotate the ring smoothly.
The provided lens carry bag is very spacious and convenient where I packed the 500mm, 2 camera bodies, a 20 mm ART all weighing in a little less than 8 Kilos. Not for the 2nd body, this will align with the standard in cabin weight for planes.
While the bag went through the airport security scan, it was fun to see monitor, the lens is coming like a big machine. and most of the officers would want to have a peek. It gives me a good experience, that you can even carry this lens by hand without any problem, because of the overall weight is less.
A top handle makes lifting the case or carrying it upright easy. A set of lightly-padded, heavy-duty adjustable shoulder straps are provided and they are surprisingly comfortable for the simplicity of their design.
After two days of shooting in Qatar, I returned to Kuwait, Natural reserve for further tests.
One of the reasons to choose the reserve, was because, this reserve is strategically placed in the migratory path of a large number of birds. Every year more than 240 species of birds passes through Kuwait which makes it easy to find birds all throughout the year
The focus ring is very large, which makes it easy for manual focus. 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. Thanks to the built-in HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor), the lens accurately focuses quickly all the time.
Depth of field is awesome, very smooth / creamy / harsh etc. The Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens employees an iris diaphragm with nine rounded blades. Below are few 100% crops for your perusal.
The tight crop from the frame, will show even the sharpness and beauty of details.
All these images are shot with factory calibration. The buy comes with a USB dock which will help in calibrating if needed.
A great feature of the Global Vision lenses is compatibility with the Sigma Dock. The dock, working in conjunction with the Sigma Optimization Pro software (can be free download from sigma global vision website) allows the lens' firmware to be updated (bug fixes, compatibility updates, feature enhancements, etc.) and allows precise autofocus calibration.
Overall, this lens is a really nice one. The build quality appears in great levels, ready for heavy duty outdoor use. The image quality coming from this lens is speechless. very light weight, handy & superfast focus lens.
Below is a video I composed during my visit at the reserve.
Without a cityscape night shoot, my reviews will be incomplete.
The image is taken from opposite Doha City. the star bust effect is great in f18, and superb details in 30s exposure.
The Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports Lens is available in Canon, Nikon F and Sigma mounts.
Using the Sigma Mount Converter MC-11, Sigma or Canon lenses can be mounted on a Sony E-mount camera body.
A very big Thank you to all my friends and FQ8 team for helping me in getting this shoot done.
Another time... another gear...