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Sigma 500mm f4.5 EX Apo HSM

500f4_5EX_lg_1_
Review Date: Jan 11, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: A fabulous buy! Love the full-time manual focus--let the AF do its work then keep the shutter down and fine tune with the focus ring; as soon as you are happy, press the rest of the way for the picture. Extremely handy feature. Very fast auto focus HSM. Very sharp lens and half the Nikon price. Seems well built.
Cons:
Naturally, is heavy, and I had to get a Wimberly Side-Kick and sturdy tripod to really use the lens well. Surely wish they has IS/OS/VR on these huge things, but I still get fine pictures--but it absolutely requires a tripod and preferably a Wimberly or Kirk setup. Have to order rear filter holders from Sigma; no body else has them (about $75).

Most of the time I use the provided polarizer in the rear mount. This shuts out more ambient light and I then use a Flash-Extender to light up my subject, almost always birds. This helps with the relatively long flash sync on these cameras (only to 1/125 on the S2 and 1/180 on the D-100). For anything not needing flash, I take out the polarizer and put in the clear gel filter. If I can manage to edit this post later, I'll put in some sample photos. This and the 70-200/2.8 must be among Sigma's very best.