Sigma 500mm F4.5 APO A-mount lens reviews

reviews found: 7   
reviewer#34767 date: Feb-1-2017
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.8
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 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony 70-400 f/4-5.6 SSM
500 Reflex
price paid:1100 USD
positive:Fairly Compact
Sharp
Relatively inexpensive
negative:Hood can get stuck
comment:Good performance from wide open. Not exactly Minolta colors, but not bad. Inexpensive choice for this focal length. Much more sharp than reflex lens.
reviewer#11849 date: May-27-2014
sharpness: 5
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.6
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 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sigma 300 2.8 with 2x TC
Minolta 500 f8 reflex
Sony 70-400 G
price paid:$900 USD
positive:Sharp wide open and really sharpens up stopped down a couple of steps
Decent bokeh
Locks focus quickly and stays there
Works with SLT (both A57 and A77ii)
It pairs with the A700 like a dream!
Had a lens-mounted carrying strap to ease strain on camera lens mount
Came with a sturdy aluminum case
negative:The ZEN coating was dissolving and needed to be cleaned off with rubbing alcohol

The hood doesn't reverse

Non-rotating filter holder makes it hard to use polarizer

It has a slight yellow cast to the images (similar to what the 300 2.8 has). This is easy to correct in post processing if you don't like the look
comment:This thing is a beast! I wouldn't want to carry it in a back pack for miles over rugged terrain, but for shooting near the car or shorter hikes, it's great. It was cheap, fast length that has excellent image quality. If you can find one at a decent price, it's worth checking out. You can use the deteriorating coating as a reason to knock some $$ off the price. I cleaned mine off in about a half hour with rubbing alcohol and a soft cotton t-shirt. (wear gloves when you do this to avoid getting black all over your hands.)
reviewer#11527 date: Dec-7-2013
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.7
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 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:- Sony 2.8/300G SSM
- Sony 2.8/300G SSM with 1,4x and 2x TC
price paid:850,00€
positive:- a fast 500mm at affordable price
- handy, not tooo big
- easy to use, hand held shots possible
- solid build
- AF works exactly
- results ok even with full aperture
negative:- AF a bit slow at poor light, but not too bad. Tracking moving subjects needs some practice.
comment:Really not bad for a 25yo Lens! Image quality and sharpness better than the 300G with 2x TC. A fast lens not only after it's specifications. As contrasts at f/4,5 are a bit low, the RAW Files look a bit "soft". After some smaller adjustments in RAW converter come out great images. I love it!
reviewer#9791 date: Jan-15-2012
sharpness: 5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.6
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 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:sal 70-400 G SSM
price paid:
missing
positive:sharp lens
fast AF
negative:CA in high contrast
comment:
missing
reviewer#8107 date: Oct-17-2010
sharpness: 5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.8
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 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Tokina 100-300/4
Sigma 400/5.6
Sigma 500/7.2
price paid:Probably too much
positive:Sharp
Build quality (tank!!)
Fast 4.5 aperture
Built in lens hood
Bokeh
negative:Super Heavy
Slow AF
No focus limit switch
comment:I've only had this lens for about 2 weeks and I probably haven't used it enough to do a great in-depth review, but for the short time that I've had and used it - it's a great lens - especially for it's age (it's an older "ZEN" model).

This lens is very sharp - even wide open - but really blows away almost everything else I own once it's closed down to say f/6.3 or f/8 - even f/5.6. The bokeh is incredible; soft and buttery and really makes your subjects pop out of the picture. The colors are also pretty nice, although a little tweaking doesn't hurt. Same with the contrast; it can be the tiniest bit on the flat side.

It's a HUGE lens, built like a tank and it weighs a ton (actually it's a little over 7 pounds) and it can be pretty unwieldy when used only with a monopod; a sturdy tripod would probably be a best bet with this monster.

AF is slow, a focus limit switch would have been nice. And I can confirm that the Sigma 1.4X EX APO TC will work with this lens and it even auto-focuses on my A700 - it's slow, but it does AF. I also noticed that the TC doesn't degrade the image by any noticeable amount.

One other tiny negative about the lens (and, again, this is probably due to it's age) - the drop-in filter holder does not have a dial or wheel so using a CPOL or Split ND filter would be out of the question. The newer versions of this lens have a wheel/dial for using these filters, but they are a different size to this version of the lens so I couldn't even buy a new version's holder and use with this lens.

Compared to the older Sigma "ZEN" lenses that I've owned in the past (and sold); 400/5.6 APO and the 500/7.2 APO - what can I say? They can't come close to this lens so there is no comparison - this lens blows them away.

My version has the gold APO lettering on the side - not the white lettering like in the pictures. Also, I have no red ring around the front. I don't think this makes any difference to the quality of the lens, I just wanted to note that there are different versions of this same lens. Mine came with an aluminum carry case, a leather hood cover and an additional screw-on hood that attaches to the built-in hood (making this monster look even bigger!)

I'm hoping to get to some sporting events in the near future and really put it through it's paces.
reviewer#5325 date: May-1-2009
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.8
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 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minotla 500mm AF reflex
Tokina 400mm AF f5.6
Sigma APO 400mm
Sigma APO 500mm F7.2
Sigma 170-500mm
price paid:
missing
positive:Decent Sharp
Inexpensive
negative:slow AF motor
Zen finish becomes sticky and wet.
comment:It comes with two sets of hoods. One is detachable and one embedded. I never noticed the embedded one until reading a review somewhere because it was tightly attached. It took me a while to pull it out and never touched the external hood again.

This lens is sharp and it becomes even sharper if stepped down to f5.6 and up. Optimum is at f8. IMO, it is just above the leagues of regular 400mm or 500mm prime/zoom glasses. It works perfectly with Sigma's own APO 1.4x TC. It AF nicely. IQ reduction is not too noticeable too.

AF is a little slow if it takes the motor to turn. However, it focus quickly and correctly if it is in the close range.

The only thing annoyed me is its "Zen finish". It is just a rubber like coating on the original metal but it oozes. It makes the lens sticky and wet after sometime. Fortunately, it can be cleaned with 90% alcohol. I had to wipe out the zen finish until reaching the black painted metal underneath it.
reviewer#1638 date: Jan-12-2007
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.7
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 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sigma 50-500 / 4-6.3 EX APO RF
Sigma 400 / 5.6 APO (second version, non-macro)
price paid:849 € (+25 € case)
positive:Build quality
Sharpness
negative:AF Speed
comment:I found this lens accidentally at ebay. Never searched for one of these, but at that price i couldn't resist.
My copy was heavily used before, but optics are still fine (by the way, it's exactly that copy on the pictures here at dyxum).

I hadn't the chance to use / test it a lot yet, so this is rather a "first impression" and will be updated as soon as more precise impressions arise.

Sharpness:
After the first shot "in the wild", i thought it wasn't that sharp as i expected, i noticed that sharpness increased from open aperture (4.5) to 8. But as is compared it directly to the Sigma 50-500, i saw that it is even sharper wide open, than the 50-500 stopped down to it's best apertures (above 8-11). But because it gets a little sharper stopped down, my rating is "just" 4.5. ultra-top lenses like the Minolta 600 / 4 might perform better.

Build quality: Like a tank. This lens is pure metal.
The build-in hood tends to tilt, the pervious owner never was able to unlock it from extended state (and hence never was able to use the case for it, that's why he sold it separately). I accomplished that with the help of a hair drier. :-)
The cover for the AF-ring is slightly loose on my copy, but i think it's negligible considering the age of the lens.

Color: i have not enough experience in judging this, but i didn't notice any drawbacks.

Distortion rating: see above, but this lens will mainly be used for nature (not for architecture), so i think it wouldn't matter a lot.

Vignetting: none detected.

Flare: The hoods for this lens are extremly large. As you can see on the pictures here there's a build-in hood, that should do the job alone. But there's still an additional hood, that can be attached to the build in one. I can't imagine, that any flare could ever be visible unless you point the lens directly to the sun.

The AF is VERY slow, and often doesn't find the focus at first attempt. Furthermore it often doesn't focus properly, but i think, this is mainly because of my main subjects (animals) which often, even with this lens, are smaller than the center AF-indicator.

Smaller drawbacks: This lens is heavy, i never tried to use it without a tripod, because you'll need pretty much light and strong arms to do so (on 5D it's a 750mm!). But it's nothing i would rate as drawback. Try to find a lens with these attributes with noticable less weight.
Another Drawback: it's very rare! In nearly one year of scanning ebay for lenses, my copy was the first one i ever saw in the wild; and i just know of one more copy of exactly this production series.

accessories: My copy came with a metal case, a leather cap for the front lens, the additional hood and four filters (clear, yellow, orange, red; 30,5mm rear).

Some sample images (500/4.5 vs. 50-500/4-6.3 vs. 400/5.6)

Crop 500x500 (3.3 MB)
http://www.informatik.uni-bremen.de/~justus/500_50-500_400/v_klein.jpg

Crop 1000x750 (8.4 MB)
http://www.informatik.uni-bremen.de/~justus/500_50-500_400/v_gross.jpg

Original (out-of-camera), JPG-quality "standard", aperture 8
http://www.informatik.uni-bremen.de/~justus/500_50-500_400/PICT7676.JPG




reviews found: 7   

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 7
  • sharpness: 4.86
  • color: 4.43
  • build: 4.43
  • distortion: 5.00
  • flare control: 4.86
  • overall: 4.71

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