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

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91% of reviewers $883.88
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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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Registered: Nov 9, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 1
Review Date: Nov 17, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $825.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great range. Quality built, faster to focus than I believe it would be, and sharper than I had believed. Came with a very nice carrying case and support for the tripod.
It is a tripod lens for me anyway.

I had been reading many reviews about this lens and finally decide that I would try it. The lens autofocused quickly and I was pleased. I was suprised with the sharpness of the entire range. It seems it is a little softer at the 500mm end but very acceptable.

Nov 17, 2004
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Registered: Jan 24, 2003
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 20
Review Date: Oct 24, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Price, zoom range, sharpness, lack of chromatic abberation or flare
Weight, build quality, vignetting

I only upgraded to a Canon 100-400 L IS because this lens was too difficult to use in windy conditions when I wanted slower shutter speeds. Otherwise, it was a peach - sharpness does not vary greatly through the zoom range (and above 300mm performs identically to the Canon) and it focuses pretty quickly for a third party lens.

The only other problems I had were that it does vignet at the edges of the frame (even on a 1.6x body such as the D60/10D/etc.), though it's much less noticeable at f/11+, and the portion of the lens barrel where it meets the camera can work loose in time (repaired for free - and it was out of warranty - while I waited at Sigma's UK base).

Oct 24, 2004
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Registered: Feb 24, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 106
Review Date: Sep 27, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $725.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great range, sharp, good "all in one" lens.
Heavy, slow. Focusing a little slower than some other zooms I have used.

I think this lens is probably the one purchase to make for non-pros or anyone on a budget who is interested in wildlife or other subjects that require a long lens. Used with a digital slr with a 1.6 crop factor, this lens has amazing reach and range. It is somewhat slow, but this will become less and less of an issue with better noise control on slrs and proper use of noise-reduction software. If you have not had a lens this big the size and weight will take some getting used to.

Since it is a political season, here is a link to a gallery on Pbase that I did showing Bush protestors and a few supporters too. All photos were taken with the "Bigma".

Sep 27, 2004
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Registered: Apr 14, 2004
Location: Portugal
Posts: 100
Review Date: Sep 25, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Price; Sharpness; Price; Construction; Did i mention price ?; Image quality
Heavy; Focus hunts sometimes; 86mm filter size

I did an extreme search on this lens before buying it. I wanted to go into surf shooting and needed a long piece of glass. I've started to check out prices for 500mm and 600mm primes and the truth is i could not afford none of the good lenses (Sigma 500mm F8 was not an option).

Then i've heard about the "The sharpest extremely long-focal-length zoom we have ever tested, and incredibly good short-focal-length performance...." - Popular Photography review and start to look at some pictures.

This lens is known in Canon SLR Lens Forum as the BIGMA, it's reputation is on high standards and the samples were very good, only one thing was missing, surf shots !

After another search on the Nikon SLR Lens Forum, i've found this website - - in wich you can see some surf shots, all of that shots were taken using the BIGMA. Altough the samples were small, i e-mailed the website's admin to send me a full sized image. It was a proof, BIGMA could offer me good color contrasty, sharp and clean surf images.

It was a no brainer, i saw the lens at 1100 Ä and could not hesitate, i bought it !

After a 6 month trial on a Canon EOS 10D, i think i'm prepared to describe my feelings about this big piece of glass:

Construction - It feels good holding it, the rubber rings for zoom and focus are quite nice. The tripod/monopod collar is very versatile and it's easy to go to "portrait mode" when you need to. It's a little bit heavy, but you won't get lighter at this focal range. The 86mm filter size is a negative aspect, since a single skylight filter can cost up to 65 Ä, a polarizer won't be needed tough.

Tip: Always lock the lens when carrying it, the pump zoom goes down down when moving and can seriously damage cap/front element.

Mechanics - The AF (HSM - HyperSonic Motor) is very quick, silent and accurate... well sometimes. I must say that when in AI Servo i take a sequence of shots (burst mode) and then pull my finger out of the trigger, and immediatly after that i press it again to go for another shot, the focus hunts all the way to 1 feet and then to infinity. I've missed a few shots because of that, and it is very annoying when it happens but, as i said before, it's not all the time.
The pump zoom is ok, remark that the lens almost duplicate it's size when in 500mm.

Tip: I've seen dozens of sucessful handheld shots, but i always shoot on a monopod or a tripod, it really helps to avoid camera shake/blurry images.

Image quality - My working distance is between 200-500mm but i think bellow 200mm it's almost the same. I must say that BIGMA is very sharp troughout the entire focal distance but at 500mm, it looses a bit of it. I really don't care about the apperture of this lens, some guys say that it's slow ... but i can get some very very shutter speeds at lower ISO. For example, on a overcast, non foggy sky my settings are like: ISO 200, F8 and 1/1250s - 1/1500s. On a clear sky i'd get: ISO 200, F8 and 1/2000s - 1/4000s.
I shoot majorly in Manual mode (except when random clouds appear) and i always shoot surf at F8, it's the lens sharpest apperture (F9.5 and F11 are also very sharp). It delivers very fine results, colors and contrast are at high stakes.

TIP: It's funny to play around with portraits since it really isolates the individual with background blur.

Conclusion - The 50-500mm f4-6.3 EX APO RF HSM is an excellent lens for a certain kind of photography. It's very good for wildlife (when good light conditions) and for outdoor sports like surf, football, soccer etc... Well constructed, it offers good colors and contrast, being sharp trough the entire focal range, providing nice, clean pictures.

One thing i must say is that every single picture that came out of my EOS 10D went to the digital darkroom for some adjustments. I also have a Canon 16-35mm 2.8L and the images taken with that lens need to go trough "tunning". So don't expect that a picture with the BIGMA or any other lens would go for a magazine cover without post processing.
It's image quality didn't left me down one single time, and i've been working with several newspapers/magazines. I would even consider it a professional lens for a medium market , but as said before, for a certain kind of photography. It paid it's cost twice (in 6 months) selling pics to surf magazines and newspapers, and will continue to do it for the next couple of years.

I think that's all, i did my best, anything you want to ask, a critique you want to do, please, send a email.

Thanks for reading, and sorry for my poor english.

Sep 25, 2004
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Registered: Feb 3, 2004
Location: N/A
Posts: 4
Review Date: May 17, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $900.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp at all focal lengths
A tad heavy

My copy of this lens is very sharp at all focal lengths including 500mm.

I also never use a tripod or monopod and gets dang good sharpness at 500mm.

An example can be found here

May 17, 2004
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Registered: Jan 11, 2004
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 98
Review Date: Apr 26, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Compact, hugh pulling power, affordable. Very sharp at about 200mm.
A bit soft wide open at 500mm

When this lens was introduced, I was very sceptical of the massive x10 zoom range . But I changed my mind completely after reading many positive reviews. I am mainly appealed by the 500mm focal length
for bird photography and its compact size. The slow aperture means that it is not so good for sport unless it is outdoor and very bright. It is almost about the same size as my Canon 70-200mm L before zoom extension. The lens is made of light metal and reasonably well-built. Optically it is relatively good considering the hugh zoom range. Around 200mm, it is excellent, almost as sharp as my 70-200 f2.8 wide open. At 500mm, I can see noticetable softness however it is still acceptable (softer than my 300mm f2.8L with x2 TC II wide open). Sharpness improves a bit at f8 and further at f11. A monopod or tripod is recomended for 500mm. I rarely use the 50mm focal length and i wish Sigma could optimise the sharpness at 500mm with shorter zoom range. Having said that I can't complain too much considering the price. It is nearly costs half the price of 100-400 f5.6 L. With 1.6x crop factor of the 10D, barrel and pincushion distortions are much less noticetable than full frame film camera. The HMS motor is swift and responsive.

Apr 26, 2004
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Registered: Feb 2, 2004
Location: Costa Rica
Posts: 51
Review Date: Mar 3, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent construction quality, very sharp for a 10X super-zoom, great price, fast enough AF, HSM (which is really a must)...
... heavy (but what lens with these characteristics would be light!?), somewhat stiff zoom ring, needs good light to work correctly, else you find yourself doing most of it manual. Tripod is a must for best results.

This lens has a very impressive and very versatile set of characteristics, it has excellent optical quality combined with a wide array of focal lenghts. It might not be the ideal lens to carry around for more than a few hours, though. If you are shooting with it, you better get a good tripod, you won't regret it!

In short: get one!

Mar 3, 2004
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Registered: Jan 10, 2004
Location: South Africa
Posts: 25
Review Date: Jan 10, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $825.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Used with a Canon 10D and EOS30. Sharp as a razor - magic! This lens gives the flexibility needed for Africa's Game Parks being an 80~800 lens effectively with the EOS10D. Smooth fast AF, well built and rugged. The wide range means fewer lens changes and less dirt and dust floating around. For best results a decent tripod is needed and the Canon Remote RS-80N3 is a must to resolve any camera shake at all. Zoom and Focus rings are smooth, well situated and easy to use. Not too heavy for a lens in this class. With the 10D use manual settings for the best results, don't just point and shoot.
EX Filter price. Tripod is essential so be prepared to carry weight.

Update 1: One thing I have found is that you must use a tripod and the remote cable with the 10D or you will get some camera shake at full zoom.
Update 2: Using it with the 2x EX Extender it only works from about 100mm + and MF only. Use 10D mirror lock and remote also to resolve any shaking.
Update 3: Tested against the Canon 100~400L IS USM on tripods. The Canon and this lens perform equally well as regards sharpness. But you have to use a tripod for best results with this lens. The Canon wins hands down due to IS when not on a tripod.

Make no bones about it - if Sigma can fit IS to this specific lens it will be an all time keeper!!

I am selling it to put towards other gear I need and the only reason is because it is non-IS.

Jan 10, 2004
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[ X ]

Registered: Nov 9, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 3683
Review Date: Dec 3, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $790.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Great for sporting events. Many photo's of my son's soccer match have been taken with this lens.
Heavy, but what lens this size isn't?

Only complaint is it gets a little soft at full range. You need lots of light for this lens to get optimal results. Know your camera settings.

People tend to comment on its size when fully extended.

Dec 3, 2003
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Registered: Oct 7, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 1310
Review Date: Nov 23, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $890.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Amazing quality images out of a 10X "Super Zoom". Sturdy build and solid usable ergonomics. Fast quiet HSM focus.
Image quality less usable from 50-120mm. Tripod collar soild but difficult to turn.

This was my first lens of quality to use on the 10D.
Without a doubt this is one of the ultimate beginning nature photographers choices.

It is a heavy lens, but light for 500mm (compared to a Prime) Although a few hand held shots is doable,. it is not recomended,. I had great luck with this lens taking wildlife hikes with it mounted on a monopod.
This is not an indoor lens,. it is happiest outdoors and out of the shade.
The image quality is very impressive given what we would expect from such a mostrous zoom range. At the long distances,. (200mm - 500mm) I am amazed at the quality and sharpness. I am sure there is no other zoom in this range that can offer this quality.

On my example,. quality falls off below about 120mm and it is rather soft at 50mm. But this was of no concern to me as I had no intention of using it as a "normal" lens. That said,. the enormous zoom range can be exceedingly handy in a pinch.
Zoom creep is a problem,. (the zoom does get easier with use) but there should be a lock to hold the zoom at any range. (as opposed to the existing lock that only lock the lens closed at 50mm.

You can use this lens with both of Sigma's teleconverters but you loose autofocus,. and I did not find the quality appealing even with the 1.4X (2X is really not worth using at all)

For nature lovers I feel that this should be among the top of your list if a long zoom is your requirement.
If you want "Prime" quality,. spend a little extra and lose 100mm by getting a Canon 400mm f/5.6 L

And of course the other zoom option is the Canon 100-400mm f/5.6 IS

Some examples; all images taken at large fine on 10D

Nov 23, 2003
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Registered: Jun 13, 2003
Location: Canada
Posts: 208
Review Date: Jul 7, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $700.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: - Razor sharp - 10x ratio zoom - Fast HSM focus - Smooth focus ring - Price (for this kind of lens) - Build like a tank
- Heavy, heavy,heavy - A smooth zoom??? Not really! - Can't lock zoom at any range. (needed when the lens is vertical) - HUGE filter size 86mm (coarse) - Maybe faster aperture... - Tripod mount is really hard to move

Jul 7, 2003
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Registered: Jun 24, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 212
Review Date: Jun 30, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: This lens is solid, well-built and has fabulous depth for taking wildlife shots. The action is smooth and the HSM is silent and effective. Best bang for the $ anywhere. Toss on a Sigma 2X TC and you got an really effective lens (100-1000mm) For DLSRs even more! :-)
The weight is a consideration for some. I find that the lens is well-balanced overall. The QC of some Sigmas is questionsble, but I have had nothing but good luck with mine.

This lens has produced some really good shots of wildlife for me during my many expeditions. For the price, this lens cannot be matched and I have been pleased with the quality and stability of this lens. Obviously unless you want to introduce a large amount of noise, shake and visual distortion in your pics, you are going to want to steady this unit with a nice tripod. I find the tripod collar and unit to be very sturdy and well engineered. This lens covers the wide range 50-500mm quite successfully and even wide open the quality is very good. I had some obvious reservations when a lens tries to "do too much" and cover too much range, but in this case I have been very encouraged by this quality piece of glass. All in all, get this lens and you will be delightfully surprised! Better yet, go grab a 1.4x or 2.0x TC and you have a MONSTER ZOOM that may not compete with the icy-cold egotistical gabby of your local professional "name brand only" groupies, but it will make you smile and let you keep some of your $$$ for other things --- like food, batteries and an extra set of hiking boots! :-)

I hope that this helps.

Jun 30, 2003
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Registered: Jan 2, 2003
Location: Switzerland
Posts: 177
Review Date: Jun 14, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $710.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Very good lens for the Price what I paid for. Handheld shoot able even at 500mm and gives sharp enough pictures. Solid lens.
Little warm colors (may be with D60). Need more lights! Filter Size 86mm!

I was not sure at all when I ordered it. After I saw many reviews and Forum discussions I decided to get them. I ordered this Solid lens 50-500 along with Sigmaís 15-30. I am so happy that I got what I paid for. Worthy one If one canít afford to get Canons 500 L like me. It is surely better and faster than Canonís 75-300 IS which I sold a week ago.

I thing weight is not a mater here. If you want solid and well constructed Zoom lens with 50-500 APO, canít expect lighter than this(1900 gm).

Of course its need more lights! Its clearly an outdoor and day light lens. If one set to higher ISO like 400 or 800 and aperture value above 8.0 can make great shots. A great 500mm for far shooters.

Jun 14, 2003
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Registered: Jan 15, 2002
Location: Germany
Posts: 175
Review Date: May 7, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp from 50-500mm (even wide open), HSM motor, good build quality, very unexpensive for a 500mm lens, very solid tripod mount and lensbag included.
Weight (but what do you expect from a 500mm zoom?), some not-so-good samples seem to be around (Sigmas QC is not the best).

After I've seen some realy good and sharp photos from this lens at 500mm I investigated more, read all available tests and it was clear that this lens is a bargain for its quality.
It's a little bit difficult to handhold at 500mm, but with some training you can get decent results.
For birders its a 'must'.

May 7, 2003
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Registered: Jan 8, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 827
Review Date: Apr 15, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp, with good color and contrast. Well built, solid lense.
limited to well lighted conditions due to it's appeture.

I was very wary when purchasing this lens. I have not had good luck with Sigma lenses in the past. I was pleasantly suprised after spending a few days in lower Michigan with this monster. Photos were sharp, color and contrast in the shots were very good. I was sold! I rarely use the 50mm end. I have seen reports of some people not getting sharp photos above 300mm, however I feel that this is probably a matter of learning the proper technique for long lens. Handholding a 500mm lens is a sure way to get soft photos. While it can be done with this lens ( I have many sharp, handheld shots in this range) it is not easy or reccomended. Long lenses demand a tripod and proper technique! The shots I have seen from others with this lens encouraged me to buy it and I have not been disappointed. A great bargain for 500mm!

Apr 15, 2003
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Registered: Mar 7, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 1565
Review Date: Mar 31, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $695.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great all-around lens. Sharp images (considering I mostly shoot handheld). For a 10x zoom, this lens covers a lot of ground, and does it well.
A little heavy. Not as fast as it could be.

Although skeptical at first, I started drooling over this lens after reading many reviews, and I'm glad I finally purchased it. It stays on my camera 90% of the time, and can truly say that it's a great lens. There is no distortion (could be because of D30's cropping factor), images are sharp all the way, and I've found that f/8 seems to be its "sweet" spot.
Although the lens is a bit heavy (around 4 lbs.), and not as fast as it could be/as other lenses are, it's very easy to use, even handheld, and for the price and coverage, it cannot be beat.


Mar 31, 2003
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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
81 350233 May 29, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
91% of reviewers $883.88
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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