Sigma 50-500mm f4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM Lens Review – A Field Test

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Recently Sigma Canada lent me a copy of their new 50-500mm f4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens to try out on my Spring Photo Tour in the Canadian Rockies. I used the lens for six days in a variety of conditions and took hundreds of photos. Here is what I thought of the big lens with the 10x zoom! Note: all sample images were made with a Canon EOS-1ds Mark III full frame camera.

The Background

Listed below are the ‘features’ of the lens that might entice someone to consider this piece of glass:

  • crazy all-in-one 10x zoom range; 50-500mm on a full frame camera or 75-750mm lens on an APS-sized camera!
  • optical stabilization feature for a 2-4 stop shutter speed advantage for hand-held photography.
  • HSM (hyper-sonic motor) for silent auto-focus.
  • low dispersion glass elements for best lens performance.
  • ‘reasonable’ price for a lens with these capabilities (approx. $1800 CAN, street price).

The Results

OK, so what’s not to like about a lens that goes from the normal point-of-view of the human eye to pinpoint telephoto images? How much zoom is 10x in the real world? The two images of the below highlight the incredible zoom range in action and show the same subject photographed from the same position (in my car) only seconds apart.

©Darwin Wiggett - Bear at 50mm with the Sigma 50-500mm lens

©Darwin Wiggett - Bear at 500mm with Sigma 50-500mm lens

During my spring photo tour I mostly used two lens; my trusty Canon 24mm TS-E (tilt-shift lens) for big wide-angle scenes and the Sigma 50-500mm lens for everything else. I loved the flexibility of the zoom range of the big Sigma lens from normal for generic landscape photography to telephoto for skittish wildlife and distant scenes. The more I used the lens, the more I liked rarely having to change lenses and the better prepared I felt for any photo opportunity! I could frame and zoom on the fly and get things I would have missed if I had to change lenses.

©Darwin Wiggett - Sigma 50-500mm at 500mm, 1/40s at f6.3

©Darwin Wiggett - Sigma 50-500mm lens at 58mm, 1/4s at f14

Besides loving the zoom range and the flexibility of the lens I also really liked the build quality and the operation of the zoom and focus rings. Best of all the lens was snappy and fast to focus and auto-focus was accurate on my 1ds Mark III. The OS (optical stabilization) worked well down for me down to about 1/60th of a second hand-held even at 500mm. I was able to walk around and photograph wildlife without a tripod and the lens seemed to grab focus the majority of the times (except in very low contrast light).

©Darwin Wiggett - Sigma 50-500 at 500mm, 1/250s at f6.3

500mm at f6.3 - detail at 100%, no post production sharpening

I also liked the ability of the lens to focus close at all focal lengths. I could make images of flowers and hummingbirds and other small subjects from a distance and nearly fill the frame. I cropped the image slightly to make a more squarish presentation but even at this distance I was not a minimum focus.

©Darwin Wiggett - Sigma 50-500mm lens at 500mm, 1/250s at f6.3

All in all the lens was a joy to use because of its crazy zoom capabilities and responsive auto-focus. I felt like I could photograph anything I could see and I certianly got images that I would not get with a kit full of prime lenses or regular zooms because the opportunity would be lost when changing lenses.

©Darwin Wiggett - Sigma 50-500mm at 413mm, 1/15s at f10

©Darwin Wiggett - Sigma 50-500mm at 167mm, 1/400s at f5.6

Ok, so the zoom range is fantastic… but what about sharpness?

Sharpness is subjective. In the end, is the sharpness of the lens going to suit your purposes? Are you selling professionally, do you make mega-big prints or will you never make anything over 12×18 inch prints? What is sharp for one person is crap for another….

When I test lenses for myself, I have a simple subjective scale for lens sharpness:

  • Excellent (the rating for sharpest lenses I have tried e.g. macro lenses or prime short telephoto lenses like an 85mm or 135mm lens). Does the tested lens match up to these levels of sharpness?
  • Very Good (good zoom lenses like a 70-200mm lens, or a prime 50mm lens would fall into this category).
  • Good (decent zooms producing professional or nearly professional quality).
  • Acceptable (good enough to make a nice 12×18 prints with a post-production sharpening)
  • Crap (Coke bottles are better than this)

Most lenses I have ever tried are normally in the good (consumer lenses like a 70-300mm f5.6) to Very Good range (pro level lenses like a 24-70mm f2.8 lens). Some lenses have sweet spots. Some lens are sharp in the center but crappy on the edges. Some zooms are better at some focal lengths than others. Some lenses are optimized for sharpness wide open while others need to be stopped down a bit for good performance. You can spend a lot of time testing every possible permutation and other sites offer this information on the web by running the lens through bench tests in the lab. But for me, I just want to know what I can get in the field with a lens and if the results give me what I need (publishable sharpness). I am lens interested in optical bench tests.

Based on my field tests making actual images in the field I would rate the sharpness of the Sigma 50-500mm lens as follows:

  • 50mm – Acceptable
  • 100mm – Good-
  • 135mm – Good
  • 200mm – Very Good
  • 300mm – Very Good
  • 400mm – Good +
  • 500mm – Good –

The lens seems to have a sweet spot for sharpness in the 200-300mm range. I found the 400mm images from the Sigma 50-500mm lens to be sharper than the 40omm images taken with a Sigma 120-400mm lens or the Canon 100-400mm lens so I would say this is a great lens to use in the 200-400mm range. I think 50-150mm  is the weakest performing range of this lens.

©Darwin Wiggett - Sigma 50-500mm lens at 332mm, 1/25s at f10

At 500mm the Sigma is decent but of course it’s nothing like a 500mm prime (I have tried the Canon 500mm f4L and would rate it as Very Good). I got publication quality photos with the Sigma 50-500mm lens at 500mm and even though it does not perform to the levels of a 500mm prime, it still gives decent results. Everything is a compromise, even if you could afford a 500mm prime ($6000-$9000 CAN) would you constantly carry the giant beast in your camera bag (over 8lbs)? With the 50-500mm it was small and light enough that I actually had the lens with me all the time and got shots at 500mm that I would have missed if I owned a 500mm prime (because I would have left the lens in the car). Sharpness is the be-all for some photographers, but having a great shot that is a little softer but useable is better than having no shot at all!

©Darwin Wiggett - Sigma 50-500mm at 500mm, 1/25s at f10

©Darwin Wiggett - Sigma 50-500 at 450mm, 1/640s at f7.1

The Dislikes:

No lens is perfect and the 50-500mm lens has some flaws that may make or break it for you:

  • 95mm front lens element means the lens is hard to filter. I managed to use a polarizer and ND filters by using a Cokin Z-Pro Holder and a Cokin Z-Pro 95mm adapter ring but using filters on this lens will cost you big bucks to buy Z-Pro or Lee sized filters. This is not an easy lens to filter.
  • if you use 1.4, 1.7 or 2x extenders you will not be able to auto-focus your lens (manual focus only). I would not recommend extenders for this lens as sharpness suffers to non-acceptable levels. Plus who needs an extender when you got this much zoom range?
  • the lens is less contrasty than Canon or Nikon lenses and sometimes the colours seem a bit flat (but for me that was an  easy fix in  JPEG camera settings or in RAW conversions).
  • when I use live view and manual focus I love it when the lens stays sharply focused no matter what focal length I zoom to (like my Sigma 120-400mm lens does) – the 50-500mm lens needs to be refocused every time you change the zoom setting (frustrating for the way I shoot). But when auto-focus is used, the lens is zippy and so refocusing is less of a chore.
  • the weight and bulk turns some people off but it is only a tad bigger than the Canon 100-400mm lens and for what you get I think the lens is actually surprisingly small.
  • like all big lenses, to get optical sharpness requires precision in technique – this lens requires a super robust and sturdy tripod for any shots less than 1/60th or 1/125th of a second. People might complain that this lens is not sharp but chances are good it’s an inadequate tripod problem and not a problem with the lens! For longer shutter speeds, 1/30th of a second or longer,  mirror lock-up and a remote release are a must! It is difficult to get a sharp shot with this lens at slow shutter speeds unless you are using proper technique and have a super solid tripod and tripod head.
  • this lens (and many super long lenses) doesn’t do great with distant subjects; atmospheric haze, heat shimmers and other atmospheric effects can reduce apparent sharpness in long lenses and long zoom settings; realize this is not a issue with this lens but is a a long telephoto issue in general.
  • the lens vignettes (slight darkening of corners) at all focal lengths in apertures from f4.5 to about f9.0. I don’t mind this because I often purposefully add vignetting to my photos in post because I like the effect (the vignetting can easily be fixed in Camera RAW). But some people demand and need even exposures across the frame.
  • the lens does suffer from fringing at the edges of the frame with full-frame cameras when the lens is in the 50-150mm range and shot in contrasty light (this can easily be corrected in Camera RAW in Photoshop or Lightroom). If you plan to shoot JPEGS and do not want to spend time correcting fringing, then this lens might be problematic for you.
  • edge sharpness on full frame cameras is about one quality factor from center sharpness (but this is common with most lenses).  On APS-sized sensors both edge vignetting and edge sharpness concerns disappear because of the crop factor of the camera.

©Darwin Wiggett - Sigma 50-500mm at 450mm with a Cokin P173 Blue-Yellow polarizer, 1/4s at f16

Below is an image shot at 50mm with the Sigma 50-500mm lens and the image that follows shows the fringing at the edge of the frame in contrasty light.

©Darwin Wiggett - Sigma 50-500mm lens at 50mm, 1/1600s at f10

Colour fringing at the edges of the frame at 50mm with the Sigma 50-500mm lens


I was super skeptical about this lens. Any lens with a 10X zoom range I am ready to write off as crappy in terms of image quality. I told Sigma I would test it but that they should be prepared for a completely honest review. I was prepared to pan this lens. But I was wrong.

Sure the lens is not as sharp as a 300 or 500mm prime lens, but who would expect it to be? I was surprised by how good this lens actually was especially in the 200-400mm range. It was decent at 500mm and yields publication quality images (with a little help from post-production sharpening). The weak spot in the lens is the 50-150mm range where sharpness and fringing are problems that need to be fixed in post-processing. Also this lens needs to be used with proper techniques to yield optimal results.

©Darwin Wiggett - Sigma 50-500 at 244mm, 1/30s at f13

The one thing that caught me off guard is how much I loved the zoom range and how I felt I was ready to capture any subject from intimate details, to landscapes both grand and extractive, to wildlife all with one lens. I got addicted to having one do it all (and more) lens on my camera. How liberating! And surprisingly I found that long lens settings in the 400-500mm range made up the vast majority of my landscape work with this lens.

If I was going on a trip that was a combination of generic nature photography where I might expect grand landscapes, wildlife and intimate details, then I would be tempted to take just two lenses; a 24-70mm f2.8 and the 50-500mm lens. Two lens and I am covered for every possibility! In fact next year I am going to Iceland and these two lenses might be my perfect travel companions.

©Darwin Wiggett - Sigma 50-500mm lens at 167mm, 1/60s at f5.6

The Dilemma

Sigma lenses are made to fit Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony, and Sigma cameras so if you have one of these camera systems, then you might consider the Sigma 50-500mm lens. The problem is Sigma makes a few long range telephotos to choose from and so your choices become a bit difficult:

Sigma 50-500 f4.5-6.3 – reviewed above ($1800 CAN)

Sigma 150-500mm lens f5-6.3 – (street price $1200 CAN)

Sigma 120-400mm lens f4.5-5.6 – see my review here (street price $1000 CAN)

Which one to buy?? It all depends on what you own already, your needs, your photographic subjects etc. I bought the 120-400mm lens after I reviewed it because I liked it better than Canon’s 100-400mm lens and I liked that I could filter the lens easily (77mm filters which I already own). Plus I already have a 70-200mm lens. That choice made sense for me. Look at the specs of each of these lenses and check out several reviews to decide if any of these lenses shoot your shooting style and budget.

For an all round nature shooting I would be happy with either the 50-500 or the 120-400mm lenses. I have not used the 150-500mm lens. If I planned to be a wildlife specialist, I would save up my coin for a fast prime lens (300mm f2.8, 500mm f4 or a 200-400mm f4 or Sigma’s new 120-300 f2.8) but all of these these lenses are very expensive and very heavy. There is no perfect lens but with a little research you can find one that is a good match for you. Good luck!

Full disclosure: I am sponsored by Sigma Canada. I give fully honest reviews of what I think but for some people the issue of ‘sponsorship’ might colour their view of this review. I only accept sponsorship from companies where I am allowed to say whatever I think, Sigma Canada allows this. If you buy from B+H Photo I will get a small percent of the sale that helps support this website.

If you want to buy the 50-500mm lens in the USA I recommend B+H Photo (good service and prices and they support this website) and for Canadian customers please support The Camera Store – the best place to buy any camera stuff in Canada (a biased but honest opinion!).

I hope this field review has been useful. Feel free to comment but keep things polite and reasoned and offer useful input that will help others make informed decisions. Name-calling, thoughtless comments or personal attacks on anyone will not be tolerated and those comments will be removed. Play nice!

©Darwin Wiggett - Sigma 50-500 at 167mm, 1/4s at f13

©Darwin Wiggett - Sigma 50-500 at 167mm, 1/10s at f10

©Darwin Wiggett - Sigma 50-500mm lens at 500mm, 1/250s at f6.3


57 Responses to “Sigma 50-500mm f4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM Lens Review – A Field Test”

  1. I have the older Sigma 50-500mm…Without the image stabilization =( It’s VERY good that they added it. The lens is extremely difficult to use. I’m curious how the new version stacks up to the old…Not that I can do anything about it now…

    Either way, the Sigma 50-500mm takes a LOT of practice as it’s an extremely heavy lens. Even with a monopod or tripod you’re only going to get so many usable photos. Ensure your have a heavy tripod, the Slik titanium one I have was not enough, the mirror flipping up in the camera actually caused enough vibration for a blurry shot. It just rang out all the way down that long barrel while on top of a tripod. You really need a bright sunny day. Possibly hanging sandbags or something might help but it is way hard to get photos off the older version. So I hope the image stabilizer has fixed that.

    Believe it or not, handheld:
    Dragon Fly

    Some more (monopod):

    • I agree with you, the Sigma 50-500mm lens needs a beast of a tripod to get the most out of the lens unless you are in bright light. I got sharp shots lower than 1/60th of a second and in low light but my tripod and ball head are big and robust. The optical stabilization really helps with hand-held images but it does not work on a tripod. Do not have OS on when using a tripod or you’ll get blurry photos! Do not buy this lens unless you have a really good tripod system or unless you only shoot in bright light. This lens DEMANDS good technique, if you have good technique, you’ll get totally useable images.

      Thanks Tom for your input and sample photos!


  2. Excellent review! I appreciate your in-depth approach and honesty

  3. Great review Darwin illustrated with some beautiful photography.
    I love that shot of the misty trees. AWESOME!

  4. Great review, it is exactly the same from what I heard about this lens on German websites.

    I own the 150-500 OS and bought it because it was the only 500mm lens I could afford for wildlife and for that price it’s a steal. Most hobby photographers like me are not that anal if it comes to sharpness and performance compared to how picky you pros are. Flaws you and others see are often not visible for untrained eyes like mine (maybe because I don’t look for them 🙂 ), so the decision between the 150-500 for $1200 and the Nikkor $8100 was quite easy.

    I agree with Tom about the practice, moving from a 70-300 lens to the 150-500 took some time to get used to handle that big lens. I spent a whole week, 3-4 hours every day at the Bow River in Calgary shooting birds in flight, but after that it was quite easy and it’s a fun lens to have. I took this shot with the 150-500 on during that week, hand held:

    Fun fact about the bear: I know the black bear you photographed, I took shots of it in the same area around the time you were there. Parks Canada told me it traveled from a place 40 kilometers away to where you shot it in just two days which they found out because of the ear tag.

    • Hi Hendrik, Yes bear 2115, he is a bit of a grumpy bear isn’t he?

      Thanks for the comments on your lens and for the fantastic link to your bird in flight!


      • Hendrik Says:

        He wasn’t that grumpy when I saw him, he was sleeping and then kind enough to cross a stream for me of which I got some shots which was an amazing sight! 🙂

  5. Well rounded review and certainly some nice results with that piece of glass. But when I see a lens with an f-stop range that starts at 4.5 (widest), my first thought is of a dark viewfinder and an auto focus system desperate for light (especially at f6.3/500mm). I’m surprised to hear you say “lens was snappy and fast to focus and auto-focus was accurate on my 1ds Mark III”. It sounds better then some of my f2.8 lens on the Mark III. Was that only the case in very bright sunlight?

    • Hi Scott,

      I never had a problem with the lens snapping into focus, it was surprisingly good even in low light. I was surprised how accurate focus was on the Mark III, considering how most of my Canon lenses need calibrating on my Mark III body! I dunno, focus was not a problem in the six days I used the lens. Maybe I was just lucky? d

      • I hear what you are saying about our Canon lens and calibration. I’m in the same situation with the same camera body and have some Canon lens adjusted almost off the scale (+18) to get them to perform. But, of course, we are calibrating at f2.8 and getting frustrated at f2.8 (it can really show the front or back focus problems). If we were to calibrate those same lf2.8 lenses at f4.5 and never shoot with them wider than f4.5, we might not be complaining so much. So there is a gain of salt involved here for sure. Or it could be that, as per usual, you are luck y 🙂

  6. xinapray Says:

    A most useful field review. Thanks, Darwin!

  7. Hey Darwin… GREAT review and much better overall in detail than anything else I’ve found out there.

    I’m shooting on a 7D, so not as concerned with outer edge performance of the lens, but planning to use it for heavy wildlife shooting. I’m off to Iceland in July of this year (2011) and have been looking at my options for a longer lens. (Currently have the 70-200 2.8 Canon L with 1.4 TC) but I really want something a little longer for the whale watching and puffins.

    I have debated a lot between the 100-400L and this lens ,and will be using it again later this year in Africa as well. My major concern with the 100-400 is the push/pull “dust pump”. I know it is supposedly well sealed, but I’ve also seen lots of negative reviews of the 100-400 taking on a lot of dust. Using it in the Mara of Kenya (extremely dusty) I’ve been really concerned about getting that lens.

    I think your review sealed the deal for me… I’m going to get this lens and use it until Canon updates the 1-4 lens (hopefully with a twist focus) and/or extends it to a 500 as well.

    Thanks again for a great review of it!!

    • The Sigma 120-400 is as good as the Canon 100-400 but with out the dust pump! But for the extra reach, the 50-500 would work well. d

      • Thanks again… I know the 50-500 has its compromises and is not tack sharp at the 500 end (wide open at least) but overall, the performance from 300-400 seems great and the extra reach will be worth it in the long run with no being able to buy (and carry ) the long primes right now.

  8. Great review Darwin! I have been wanting to stretch my focal length for awhile but the price tag of a prime was out of bounds. I now want this lens! I even happen to have a 95mm UV filter in my closet waiting for a lens to protect!

  9. Great review and stunning images Darwin! This is the lens that was nicknamed “The Bigma”.

  10. I am looking to buy this lense, great review and details

  11. want to have for my nikon camera but the price is too expensive for me.

  12. Got mine on Friday afternoon in the mail from B&H. Didn’t have a ton of time to shoot this weekend, but did for a while on Saturday at the Zoo and along the lakefront. LOVE the lens so far!!

    While it is heavy, the reach is great, the fast focusing is wonderful and I think I’m really going to enjoy the lens.

  13. Dave Kenny Says:

    Would you recommend a tripod or a would a monopod work well with this lens? What type of head would you recommend? I am seriously considering getting this lens soon. And just to be clear you said you can get good results for 12×18 prints with this lens right? just want to make sure this is the lens for me. Thanks

  14. […] that prime with a 1.4 TC and you have a nice 420mm lens. I considered the Bigma as well, but this made me reverse. I do own a 17-70, and a 70-200, both of them nice lenses; why would I want to get […]

  15. Hi Darwin

    I have a non-OS BIGMA and I use it almost only for birds and other animals.
    I really liked your in-depth review and after reading it I have to reconsider which lenses I will bring during my normal landscape photo walks. I have taken some landscape pictures and some of them are great but for some reason I have left it home and just brought my 17-55. Probably my back is working as the master brain deciding which lens to bring during landscape sessions – cause it’s quite heavy.
    For intimate landscape and to reach far and pick smaller parts of the landscape I will bring my Bigma next time thanks to your review.

    Far away on the other side of the lake 2 years ago used my BIGMA for landscape:
    Surte Lake Autumn

    Thanks again


  16. Mike Coshan Says:

    Thank you for the great and unbiased review. Its good to know that a company like sigma will let you do honest reviews of their products. I used to have the old Sigma 50-500 which had an accident (I dropped it) so I’m considering purchasing the new OS version I’m in a wheelchair so often can’t get closer to subjects as sometimes riverbanks can be a bit perilous lol. I am very impressed with the overall capabilities of the lens when used properly.

    • I don’t know how or why a UV filter would increase light coming into a lens. I have never heard of that before!

      • Mike Coshan Says:

        Sorry I don’t think I phrased that at all correctly. I know a uv or any sort of filter on the lens reduces light to varying degrees depending on quality plus light conditions etc. What I’m asking is would a 95mm UV filter let in more light than a 86mm filter on the sigma 50-500 os? Also Im looking at the B W 95mm mrc haze UV filter & the B W 95mm haze filter Or the hassleblad 95mm UV sky filter I would be really interested in your opinion on this & these filters please

      • Hi Mike, I think the two filters would let in the same amount of light but I have not tested this. As far as quality of the filters, I do not know because I do not use UV filters at all ever.


      • Mike Coshan Says:

        Hi Darwin thanks for the reply, though it has left me a tad confused on the use of UV filters now. As your pics are beautiful in the review of the Sigma & I’ve always been led to believe that a uv filter is a Necessity to cut out haze & a blue cast to the picture.

      • UV filters have little to no effect on digital cameras because there is a UV filter built into the protective covering of the digital sensor. I never use a UV filter but use instead a polarizer which removes reflective highlights, saturates colours and removes distant haze all at the same time plus it adds protection to the lens front element.


      • Mike Coshan Says:

        thanks Darwin that’s very interesting about UV filters but then if the camera sensor cuts out UV why would the filter manufactures continue to push them at us. It would seem they would be a non essential item for a new DLSR lens. It says in the sigma 50-500 os info that use of a circular polariser isn’t recommended. I can see why a polariser would be more effective as would the use of ND filters than UV ones. So If I put a circular polariser on would it invalidate my warranty? Many thanks for your help

  17. Mike Coshan Says:

    May I ask a possibly stupid question? On my proposed 7d body & using the 50-500 os I know there is a step down ring for 86mm filters for non full frame DSLR bodies but if I a 95mm UV filter would it increase the light going to the camera sensor if even by a tiny amount? I have a Hoya pro1 on my sigma 24-70 ex dg but here in the UK there’s only a few 95mm filters I have seen. I can get a b w UV slim filter for £114 but havent seen any Hoya pro1’s in that size. I can get a sigma one for about £80 but am reluctant to do so as I haven’t found any reviews on the websites used with this lens.

    • Mike Coshan Says:

      hello Darwin I have spoken with a tech guy at sigma UK & said I can use a 95mm circular poloriser just not an 86mm with the step down ring. I should have read the fine print. I was thinking of the 95 mm B W kasemann MRC circular poloriser but that is a huge expense for me £254 so have to get it right first time & could I just leave it on the lens all the time or are there occasions ie different light conditions where I’d need to remove it. My apologies for all the questions as I’ve never owned or used one. Many thanks Best regards Mike

  18. gwenhael appere Says:

    thanks for the field review and the great pics !..i have to say it helped me consider the 50-500 OS as a serious lens…and i have one now !
    I have a question though…i’m thinking about buying a polarizing filter for it, but i’m a bit confused…86 or 95mm ? I use a Nikon D300s, so APS-c…if i understand well the unclear Sigma website, it should be 95mm…do you know if i can still attach the hood even if the filter on ? Which 95mm filter would you recomand ?
    Thanks in advance for your answers !

    • Sorry I did test the lens with a screw in polarizer so I am not sure about the answer to tell you – I would opt for the bigger polarizer if it were me in case you decide to move up to a full frame camera. I hand held a Cokin Z164 polarizer in front of the lens when I needed a polarizer. Not the best option but it worked.


    • Russ White Says:

      I shoot sports with Canon 7D + Sigma 70-200 F2.8.
      If I were to use the Sigma 50-500 on an overcast day or late afternoon, would the quality of the photo drop below acceptance?

      • Not if you use proper technique. In my tests I shot alot in overcast light with no problems. But if you mean “will my shutter speeds drop lower because of the low light and therefore will I get blurry sports pics?” Then the answer might be yes. The 7D is Ok with noise at high ISO but it is not great.


      • Russ White Says:

        Thanks for quick reply.
        Yes I am always worried about noise re push ISO
        Will probably purchase lens.
        Read your review of 7D. Will probably only use zone AF.

  19. What a review…..I really enjoyed reading it.

  20. Very nice review. I am seriously considering the Bigma OS but also thinking of the Sigma 150-500 OS and 120-300 f2.8 OS with 1.4TC. I use a Nikon 70-200 VRI and 1.7TC on my Nikon D7000 now and need more reach, and will be moving into a full frame soon. I understand from other sites the new Bigma has slightly better optics than the 120-400 OS & 150-500 OS.
    You thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated.


  21. Forgot to ask about how the Sigma 120-300 f2.8 OS will work with 1.4 & 2TC with AF and IQ. I know the others will be too slow for AF to work.

  22. Bob Derval Says:

    I really liked your comments. I’m a 73 yr old novice to DSLR photography. I own a Canon Rebel T3i (600D for our UK friends) and am saving for a super zoom and I think you answered my question re: the 50 500 MM. Thanks. It is refreshing to find a Canadian based web site for reviews – well done.


    • Bob,

      I pulled the triiger on the Bigam 50-500 OS with the help from from MT Shooter on the Ugly Hedge Hog and Brain Bicoastal on Nikonians user sites. Check those sites for details….long discussions by many folks more knowledgable than myself.

      I rec’d the Bigma last Friday (2/9) and did some inital tests over the weekend. The Bigma mated to my Nikon D7000 perfectly, and the D7000 raeds the correct lens details. AF is very fast and spot on. The OS works very well with just a hint of jerkyness but no drama.

      I was able to shoot handheld with sharp images at 500mm in dim conditions without issues and AF worked without hunting, even at F11 and beyond!! This might be because the D7000 has a more advanced AF system than earlier Nikons. I also checked the front-back focus issues and found none.

      The overall lens quality is very good, equal to the Nikon IMO. Everything works and the only issue I had was with the hood which doesn’t snap into place like the Nikon and can bind some.

      I can’t speak for the Sigma 120-400, 150-500 or the 120-300, but the 50-500 OS is very impressive and when you consider the cost of the long reach Nikons, well then the Bigma becomes a real bargain even at $1700!!

      The Bigma has exceeded my expectations in every way, IQ, build quality, AF performance and OS performance. I am an electrical engineer (chip designer) and very detailed and picky, and this Sigma has impressed me !!!

      • Bob Derval Says:

        Thanks Mike and Darwin. It is always difficult to decide what is best on a limited budget. Much appreciated.


      • Darwin,

        The Sigma 150-500 OS is $1070 from B&H and others. The 50-500 OS is $1670 from B&H (where I got mine). B&H has a return policy, so you could try either lens out and return if you don’t like it. $1070 or $1670 is considerable to me, so with the return policy this became a no risk issue and why I decided to order the lens.

        If you are serious about the lens then just order from B&H and try it out. Worst case you’ll be out postage, best case and most likely is you’ll have a fine new lens to add to your collection!

      • Bob Derval Says:

        Thanks again. Where is B&H?? Most of my shopping for photo stuff is at Future Shop in Red Deer. I live in Stettler so do not know the south part and am petrified of Calgary. Being a late bloomer, started dslr last November, I’m not up on the where and how or all this.


  23. Bob Derval Says:

    Also, can anyone tell me if these lenses: 150-500 and 50-500, match with a Rebel t3i?


  24. Sigma has both Canon and Nikon mounts. I would suspect the Sigma would work with your Canon body. Check the Sigma website for camera compatibility.

  25. I had the old version of the Bigma and it was a good lens. I sold it and now use a prime telephoto for my bird photography but there are times when I walk around birding sites that I think that if I had an optically stabilized, handheld lens system that I wouldn’t miss as many shots trying to get the tripod in place and get that big ole lens pointed. I was thinking that adding the new OS Bigma mounted on a Bushhawk to my arsenal might be the key to getting good shots while doing walk around birding. I believe the Nikkor 80-400 VR has AF that is too slow to work well, the 70- 300 VR doesn’t have enough reach and the 200- 400 f 4 VR Nikkor is too big and expensive. What are your thoughts?

    • My work has been too hectic for any time with the Bigma. I did have a few moments to do a lens calibration with my D7000, but that’s about it. All I can say is lens worked well for me at the Sebring races handheld and with a monopod.

      If you go to the Nikonians site under D800, there is a thread on the Sigma 50-500 OS with the D800. I believe most were handheld and the images with the D800 were expectional!

  26. Gareth jenkins Says:

    Hi , great review . Thing of getting this lens for my sony a900 , but it doesnt actully say anywhere if its a full frame lens or not , can you help please .
    Gareth jenkins
    South wales . Thanks

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