Sigma 170-500mm F5-6.3 APO Aspherical A-mount lens review by Phil Wood

reviewer#44326 date: Jun-25-2019
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.2
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP24MP24 MP36MP36 MP42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta - AF 75-300 F4.5-5.6
Minolta - AF 75-300 F4.5-5.6 New
Minolta - AF 75-300 F4.5-5.6 II
Minolta - AF 75-300 F4.5-5.6 D
Tamron - 16-300 F3.5-6.3 Di II PZD MACRO
price paid:150 GBP
positive:Low cost 500mm zoom, decent performance for the price.
negative:Zoom creep, speed, the never ending worry about Sigma gears.
comment:Reading other reviews it seems that I am one of a crowd - like most reviewers I bought this lens as an affordable alternative to something better. I am not a birder or aviation fanatic, I just wanted to go beyond 300mm occasionally. A Dyxum user rating of 4.35 gave me confidence that it wasn't going to be a turkey - or be the best lens I have ever owned. I have to say that it fully met my expectations - a decent lens, okay for occasional use, but not really up to scratch for dedicated birders etc.
The one aspect that took me a little by surprise was just how long 170mm is, it takes some getting used to pointing the thing in the right direction, my first problems with birds in flight is finding them!
A common aspect of zooms is that they tend to perform best in the mid range, less well at the extremes - which is always a disappointment even though I expect it. However, it does outperform my 300mm zooms from 250mm or so and does pretty well up to 450mm(ish). It is slow though, it needs plenty of light to show at its best. AF is unexceptional, it gets there most of the time, but could never be described as snappy. I have used it handheld but more with a monopod.
Zoom creep is manageable with a lens band (I use charity wristbands) otherwise it is more race than creep.
All in all a decent lens for occasional use - exactly what I bought it for. I'd like better, but not enough to pay for it.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 16
  • sharpness: 4.16
  • color: 4.19
  • build: 4.25
  • distortion: 4.63
  • flare control: 4.50
  • overall: 4.34 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania