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Sigma 50-500mm f4-6.3 EX APO RF HSM

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84 335791 May 29, 2014
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92% of reviewers $884.38
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.18
9.53
8.8
50_500EX_mdl_1_

Specifications:
Sigma is proud to introduce a new addition to our EX series of lenses, the 50-500mm f/4-6.3 APO EX Hyperzoom. This magnificent new superzoom encompasses all popular focal lengths from the 50mm "normal" to 500mm ultra-telephoto; a 10:1 zoom ratio, providing tremendous versatility. The use of an apochromatic design and four elements composed of SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass, plus a seven group zoom system and multi-coated optics, enable this wide-ranging zoom lens to provide a high level of performance, as well as versatility. It also employs a rear focus system to insure quick, convenient manual focus and a non-rotating front barrel. This, coupled with Sigma's HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor), provide quiet, responsive autofocus function, plus "full time" manual focus. This lens also features a Zoom Lock mechanism to help eliminate "zoom creep" when the lens is tilted up or down. The use of magnesium in the tripod mount helps reduce the weight of this lens, while maintaining the strength and rigidity necessary to support it. A custom bayonet "Perfect Hood" is provided to protect the front of the lens from extraneous light. Nature and sports photographers will appreciate the performance and versatility of this amazing new superzoom lens from Sigma.


 


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marxzed
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Registered: Dec 8, 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 74
Review Date: Aug 31, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Zoom range, price, sharpness (up to about 450mm), "impressive" appearance.
Cons:
weight, softness after about 450mm, slooooooow aperture, "intimidating" appearance, finish started flaking off from day one, no IS

Make no mistake - the zoom range on this lens is impressive. Having access to a 100-400 L I can say the "Bigma's" extra 50mm on the short end and 100mm on the long end makes a big difference in some shooting conditions. Shooting street parades/festivals where one shot might be framing the face of a performer 50 meters away and the next shot may be trying do the same at 5 meters means one camera with one lens can cover 95% of your shooting (and, in my case, relegate the spare body to having a 12mm or 22mm prime for those occasional wide shots)

Unfortunately though it's all a case of "swings and roundabouts" as what you gain on zoom range you loose on aperture and sharpness.
f:4 at 50mm is not even close to fast and past 450mm softness creeps in at the, already ready slow, wide open aperture of f:6.3 forcing you to stop down at least 2 or 3 more stops else you'll end up with a soft & hazy shot.

No other lens I've owned screams "I Need IS" more than this one. (Sigma you reading this?). So unless you are shooting full sunlight and/or with 400 ISO or faster this is a tripod only (or at least mono-pod) lens, really at 500mm you need 1/1000s or more to get a good chance of a shake free shot in real world shooting. Street shooting hand held at 500mm and 1/500s I found 60% or more of the shots blurred by lens shake.

Focus speed is OK but experience showed me setting the focus spot to the central spot made it fast enough for 95%+ of shots - though this means you'll need to get the knack of using exposure lock or setting another button for exposure metering as you'll be focusing and recomposing a lot.

Colour is a nice neutral tone but sometimes a little flat. Shooting in RAW will give you more than enough latitude to fix this post pro.

Even without considering the number of elements in the construction flaring is well controlled.

Some distortion at either end of zoom but not overly noticeable in most shots.

At the wide end and wide open it vignettes on my full frame film cameras but not critically so, easily fix post pro. Haven't noticed it on 1.6 crop digital.

It's heavy, it's fine hand held for, say, 10 or 20 minutes at the side line of sports field but it is certainly no "walk around" lens. Honestly my last travel shoot I found my self checking my daily schedule and if it didn't scream "big telephoto needed" I left it at the hotel and, just in case, packed the 70-200L or sometimes even a 70-300 IS (which, by the way is not bad unit)

Minor point- the nice rubberised finish started pealing off from day one, not major flaking, just a small 1 or 2 mm patch here and there. While it was not mollycoddled it certainly wasn't abused Sad

On my old D60 with a usable ISO of only 100 - 400 this lens was a constantly frustrating experience, shoot low ISO risked lens shake or subject movement blur but shoot at a high enough ISO and things got too noisy for use beyond snapshots.
Now days with my 20D, with it's usable maximum of 800 (or even 1600 under the right shooting conditions), it's like buying a new, improved, lens.




Aug 31, 2006
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Lani Kai
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Registered: Oct 3, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 782
Review Date: Jul 14, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $750.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Range, image quality
Cons:
Weight (although for what it offers it's quite light), f/6.3

ISO 400 and f/8 allowed me to handhold the lens in almost all daylight situations (even overcast). I decided to be brave and use it as a walkaround lens a few times. The pictures turned out great without a tripod or monopod; it just calls for good handholding techniques. While it was in my possession it was never mounted to a tripod. Fully usable handheld if you've got a steady arm and moderately good shoulders.

Jul 14, 2006
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RikWriter
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Registered: Jun 22, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 2502
Review Date: May 28, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $750.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Price. Reach. Build quality.
Cons:
Too heavy for hand-holding in all but the brightest conditions. Hunts quite a bit in anything but bright light and hunts a lot when shooting against a "busy" backdrop. Very slow. Front heavy when extended.

I owned this lens for a year and while I came to appreciate it, it was something of a relief when I finally sold it for something lighter (a Canon 400mm f5.6L). I loved the fact that this lens gave you the reach of a 500mm at a bargain price, but for me it was simply unusable without at least a monopod and better still a tripod. It wasn't just that it was heavy, it was also very very front-heavy when extended, which made it even more difficult to hand-hold. I don't think I ever got one decent shot from this lens that wasn't at least resting against a support or else on a monpod or tripod.
That wouldn't have been so bad if the lens were faster at the long end, but f6.3 was just too slow for most wildlife shooting conditions since, like most lenses, you had to stop it down a couple stops to get a really sharp image.
That said, it's not a bad lens, especially for the money. But my advice to someone in the market for a wildlife lens for around $900 would be to pick up a used 400 f5.6L instead.


May 28, 2006
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deapee
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Registered: Dec 14, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 2143
Review Date: May 19, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $999.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: insane zoom range (50-500) - price
Cons:
f/6.3

I have 50-500 EX DG HSM Nikon mount

First impressions: not as heavy as you get in your head listening to people talking about the lens and how necessary a tripod is. It definately lives up to its nickname -- the Bigma.

The HSM focus is quick, quiet, and accurate...it just gets right out there where it needs to be and BOOM it locks on. Tracking works very quickly too. Much better than my 80-200 2.8 D ED non AFS.

Anyway, I'd recommend this lens without thinking...it's definately a lot of bang for the buck...although it's definately not cheap (at a grand) but for what you get, it's a decision that should come easy.

And don't believe all the hype about needing a tripod -- I'm not very big and it's no problem to hand-hold it. It's actually easier to carry around while walking than say an 80-200 mounted as the tripod collar flips up and acts as a handle.


May 19, 2006
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Gherpo
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Registered: May 13, 2006
Location: Italy
Posts: 0
Review Date: May 18, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp - Fast and silent AF - Built Quality - Huge Range
Cons:
Weight (not really a cons) - 86mm filter

I Bought this lens last December after reading the reviews on this site.
My copy is a DG version, lens and build quality are VERY good.
Sharpness is very good for such a great range zoom.
Found it very useful in outdoor shooting and sport in sunny days.
F6,3 at 500 is a bit slow, but it's good for the price (500mm F4 cost a lot more!).
Worth every money spent and MORE...

Thanks to everyone who posted a review for the Bigma on this site!


May 18, 2006
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masculine
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Registered: May 4, 2006
Location: Malaysia
Posts: 0
Review Date: May 4, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Very useful in an outdoor function. Can't beat the huge range. Sharp if you consider the zoom.
Cons:
Same like mentioned by others. Lens can be locked only at 50mm. Lens cap impossible with petal hood

I'm using it with KM7D. Very useful since the 7D got AS. I bought it used at 50% of the new price. It is happier in a bright light condition. Sharpness and color are good but cannot compare to my 70-200 f2.8.

I've tested it twice in my son's sportsday and my daughter sports day a week after. Really useful. No need to change lens at all. The pictures at 500mm of full face kids are tact sharp. I even took a picture of a moon and it is very sharp when 100% cropped.


May 4, 2006
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Wet Dog
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Registered: Nov 1, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 23, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: $775.00

 
Pros: Sharp - Excellent contrast - Fast AF - Good ergonomics, make it easy to handle
Cons:
Zoom lock only @50mm. Lens cap does not work with shade.

Please read if you are considering purchasing the Nikon VR 80-400.

I purchased the Sigma after reading several reviews. I was immediately impressed with the quality of the lens right out of the box, the initial shots were marvelous. The handle / collar is well balanced and I found it easy to overwrite in manual focus if I needed to. I am old –fashioned and still like to use manual focus from time to time…

A contract with a rather large customer required me to have back-ups for all the equipment. Instead of buying another Sigma, I went with the Nikkor 80-400 VR at 2.5 times the cost of the Sigma.

I was looking to gain some flexibility with the VR feature and was especially looking to be able to shoot at lower speeds (at least that is what Nikon claimed). The Nikkor is smaller and lighter but that is about where the advantages end. The VR function did not work out of the box. I sent it to Nikon and it took them almost 10 weeks to return it. It still did not work and they claimed it was due to the Fuji S-3s that I use. I mounted it on Nikon bodies and still did not work so their explanations were not true.

The AF on the Nikkor is so slow, it is almost useless. The whole design is awkward and there are no good ergonomics to the Nikkor. I have placed the Nikkor side by side with the Sigma and find no image quality improvement with the Nikkor, in fact – I tend to find the image of the Nikkor flatter. Color is good in both lenses, sharpness is good on both but contrast is better with the Sigma.

The Sigma remains my lens of choice for this focal range. It is amazingly flexible and the image quality reminds me of lenses four times its price. I can understand that some modern photographers think it is heavy, especially if you are used to plastic / synthetic lenses but the lens is well balanced and that makes up for some of its weight.

On the Sigma; I only wish the lock would engage at all ranges not just 50mm. Also I do not care that the lens cap is not useable when the hood / shade is mounted.

So if you are considering the 80-400 Nikkor, look at the Sigma for a quality alternative that will save you some money!


Mar 23, 2006
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Wet Dog
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Registered: Nov 1, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 23, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $775.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp - Great contrast- Fast focusing - Quality built - Great ergonomics make it easy to handle
Cons:
Zoom lock only @50mm, lens cap issue with hood

Please read if you are considering purchasing the Nikon VR 80-400.

I purchased the Sigma after reading several reviews. I was immediately impressed with the quality of the lens right out of the box, the initial shots were marvelous. The handle / collar is well balanced and I found it easy to overwrite in manual focus if I needed to. I am old –fashioned and still like to use manual focus from time to time…

A contract with a rather large customer required me to have back-ups for all the equipment. Instead of buying another Sigma, I went with the Nikkor 80-400 VR at 2.5 times the cost of the Sigma.

I was looking to gain some flexibility with the VR feature and was especially looking to be able to shoot at lower speeds (at least that is what Nikon claimed). The Nikkor is smaller and lighter but that is about where the advantages end. The VR function did not work out of the box. I sent it to Nikon and it took them almost 10 weeks to return it. It still did not work and they claimed it was due to the Fuji S-3s that I use. I mounted it on Nikon bodies and still did not work so their explanations were not true.

The AF on the Nikkor is so slow, it is almost useless. The whole design is awkward and there are no good ergonomics to the Nikkor. I have placed the Nikkor side by side with the Sigma and find no image quality improvement with the Nikkor, in fact – I tend to find the image of the Nikkor flatter. Color is good in both lenses, sharpness is good on both but contrast is better with the Sigma.

The Sigma remains my lens of choice for this focal range. It is amazingly flexible and the image quality reminds me of lenses four times its price. I can understand that some modern photographers think it is heavy, especially if you are used to plastic / synthetic lenses but the lens is well balanced and that makes up for some of its weight.

On the Sigma; I only wish the lock would engage at all ranges not just 50mm. Also I do not care that the lens cap is not useable when the hood / shade is mounted.

So if you are considering the 80-400 VR Nikkor, look at the Sigma for a quality alternative that will save you some money and avoid the frustration of a slow focusing lens!


Mar 23, 2006
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BudinAk
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Registered: Mar 13, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 13, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $879.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: NOT WHITE!, build, fast HSM focus, very sharp, very stury tripod ring
Cons:
Zoom ring a little stiff when new, but seems to be loosening up with use. No real complaints.

This is an excellent lens, among the best for the money...build is excellent. Yes, you can buy better, but I am among those who just do not have $5000 in loose change in my pocket...I could barely afford this one. I find it to be very sharp and contrasty throughout it's ranges, which at 50-500 is amazing. The HSM motor focuses very quickly, usually less than a second with my 20D, and I rarely can hear it. Focus seems to be "spot on" at all zoom ranges. The only exception to this is when I used a 1.4X teleconverter, which tended to slow down the focusing...in some cases low light conditions with the teleconverter caused the focus to "hunt", which made me resort to manual focusing. This is not a remark against this lens, it's a characteristic of most telephoto lens with a teleconverter in poor light. I do not find a tripod to be "mandatory" as some have mentioned. Yes, a tripod definitely helps, and I recommend one, but if you don't have one then lean on a rail, carhood, tree branch, etc, and you'll do just fine. My lens does not "creep" when pointing down, as some have mentioned...maybe the DG version I have has some sort of refinement to fix this (?) Overall, it's an excellent lens which I refuse to part with. Last, but not least, it's NOT WHITE!!! Why on earth the Canon engineers decided to make most of their "L lens" series white I'll never know....but it sure makes for a miserable, gaudy looking combination on a black camera body....I for one will NEVER buy one! That's one of the reasons I went with Sigma.

Mar 13, 2006
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canonlight
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Registered: Feb 26, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 42
Review Date: Mar 11, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Canon makes nothing equivalent, 10x range, Fantastic colors, Excellent sharpness, Pleasing bokeh, HSM/FTM, Robust build quality, Nice tripod collar included, Distortions well-controlled as is flare, Price, Just a superb lens.
Cons:
No OS.

I have owned 2 "Bigmas" (non-DG and DG) and they are tremendous quality lenses. While I currently use the 100400IS, the Bigma is in no way inferior vis-a-vis IQ. The build and optics of this lens are very, very good. I highly recommend it. http://www.pbase.com/fstopjojo/lenstests

Mar 11, 2006
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coppertop
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Registered: Jan 21, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 1462
Review Date: Feb 21, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $900.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: 500mm
Cons:
weight.... but you get used to it.

Need a good work out? Give this lens a try.

The lens construction is outstanding. Built like a tank and only half as heavy.

Image quality is very good. Can't say "L" quality but really good, especially at 500mm. In low-light situations, this lens has some difficulty focusing (as most lenses do). I've also found that if your shooting into thick brush or heavy thicket of trees, it will get confused on where it should focus.

It's almost funny that most forget theres a 50mm end to this lens because most of the time the lens stays at the 400-500mm range.

Definitely a tripod or monopod lens. I would imagine some can use this lens free hand but it will be challenging.

I got this lens to cover birds and other wildlife and maybe on occassion for my son's little league (got a Canon 70-200 f4 that I use mostly for baseball).

If your looking for a solidly built lens with a good amount of reach, you'll like this lens.


Feb 21, 2006
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Kari Post
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Registered: Jan 9, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 660
Review Date: Feb 12, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $600.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Excellent range, very good sharpness, compact and relatively lightweight for what it does, good colors and contrast, no CA fringing even in high contrast scenes
Cons:
Slow apeture, light falloff, zoom/focus creep, not as smooth as some lenses I own, lens hood is difficult to use and front cap has side snaps so hood must be removed to use, limited availability of 82mm coarse filters

I've had this lens for a little over a month now and have used it in a variety of applications. My first impression was that I loved it. This lens is very sharp and the range you get is incredible. 500mm (750mm 35mm equivalent) looks awesome and when coupled with my 2x TC the telephoto reach of this lens was like nothing I ever before experienced. Some quick tests around the house (actually outside the house, this lens is way too slow for indoor use) revealed the excellent image quality I was looking for and I was pretty psyched.

Upon more practical field use I quickly came to realize the limitations of this lens. The widest f-stop being f/4 (up to f/6.3 at longer range) is definately a limitation in handholding this lens. I'm not saying it can't be done, but to get good results with this lens you must either pump up your ISO or use extra support, whether leaning on a railing or mounting on a tripod. I have gotten good results at 500mm handholding at ISO 200, but I feel that they would have been better had I made either of the two previously mentioned adjustments. At the shorter lengths you can get away with holdholding pretty well if you have a little muscular strength and endurance. I wouldn't consider this lens incredibly heavy or bulky for all it does, but it is certainly going to be a lot heavier and larger than lenses that most people are used to and you will get tired holding this thing up for more than a short period of time. The zoom and focus will creep if you are not shooting horizontal, so you have to be aware of this when shooting at an angle. There is noticeable light falloff when using the longer range on this lens, although the light becomes more even at shorter focal lengths. I only really was bothered by the falloff when shooting sky or snow shots, so it isn't horrible and pretty acceptable for a 50-500mm zoom. The zoom and focus are acceptable, but not as smooth as my Nikons and can be slow in cold weather or low light.

To be nitpicky, I find the lens hood very difficult to remove and reverse or vice versa. Rotating the hood onto or off of the lens feels very tight. The supplied lens cap also has side releases, so you cannot take off the cap with the hood on, which is a major annoyance in my book. You could of course buy a 82mm cap with a center release, but it would be nice if this was included. This lens requires 82mm coarse filters, which are not very readily available. I have 82C UV and CP filters from Tiffen, but if you want ND, special effects, or colored filters I doubt you will be able to find them.

All this being said, I would still recommend this lens. The 50-500mm range will meet most applications and is very versitile providing you have lots of light. This is great for times when you want to photograph a large object and then zoom in on details (such as a sculpture). This lens is probably the second sharpest in my collection (being beat out by the 70-200VR which has impecable sharpness), and when stabilized correctly the sharpness is excellent and looks great to even the critical eye. Contrast and color are good, and this lens exhibits no visible CA fringing when used with my D70 (even backlight shots of tree branches against the sun). I should mention that I have the EX version, not the DG version which has an extra coating to eliminate glare and CA even further when used with a digital camera. For the price (a brand new DG version retails for under $1000) this lens cannot be beat. I bought mine used (barely) with a 2x Kenko MC7 TC and 2 Tiffen filters for $600 plus shipping. For someone just getting into wildlife photography (or another field where super-telephoto lengths are needed) this lens will give you tons of reach at a fraction of the cost of a telephoto prime. This lens has many unique strengths and I would highly recommend this lens to anyone as long as they realize its limitations.


Feb 12, 2006
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Ben Taylor
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Registered: Dec 11, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 65
Review Date: Jan 21, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Tremendous range and sharp throughout. Certainly a reasonable walk around lens when long shots are a possibility yet it provides good quality flowers and bugs if you can support.
Cons:

I see pre DG models are available for as little $600 now. It's a steal just to have the lens in your kit. This is my third one---keep idiotically selling it for faster glass which don't take good light pictures any better than this lens. If you think this is heavy, spend a few weeks with a 500 F4. Shoulder strap really helps if you leave it long enough to ride your hip with glass down. Lens focuses just swell with my 1.5 Kenko or 1.4 Tamron. It's a lot of reach for the $$$.

Jan 21, 2006
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Tintype
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Registered: Feb 2, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 23
Review Date: Jan 2, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Solid as a tank. My copy is very sharp throughout its range. Very versatile.
Cons:
None

This lens will help you build muscles! I use it on my Canon 20D hand held. I removed the tripod collar shortly after receiving the lens and have never used it since. I usually set the ISO at 800 with an f/stop of 8.0. This combination enables me to take just able any shot that I want. I highly recommend this lens!

Jan 2, 2006
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aewin
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Registered: Nov 30, 2005
Location: Hungary
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 30, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: great build and very solid, value for money. I love it.
Cons:
big, heavy.



Nov 30, 2005
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pioneer_man
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Registered: Sep 10, 2005
Location: Canada
Posts: 112
Review Date: Nov 26, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Fantastic clarity in full range. Quiet, and quicker than other lenses I have owned excellent zoom
Cons:
A little large, but that is expected. Some might need to support with a tripod because of weight

I bought this lens after reading many reviews and I am glad I did. It is my new everyday walk around lens. Yes it is big and heavy, but to get that kind of range it is expected. Here is a sample photo I took of the moon (only cropped otherwise original )
http://www.atvtrackkit.com/moon


Nov 26, 2005
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Sigma 50-500mm f4-6.3 EX APO RF HSM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
84 335791 May 29, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
92% of reviewers $884.38
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.18
9.53
8.8
50_500EX_mdl_1_


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