Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport - teleconverter AF issues?

Started Jan 3, 2019 | Questions thread
ARClark Veteran Member • Posts: 4,379
Re: Update Re: Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport - teleconverter AF issues?

Chris Mak wrote:

ARClark wrote:

Chris Mak wrote:

ARClark wrote:

ManosSKG wrote:

I know this is an old post, but as many people started selling their Sigma's, there is a good stock in the second hand market these days. I presume many people, like myself, have thoughts of buying this glass second hand. Buying this lens second hand in a good deal should be a no brainer IMO! I have personally bought the lens in a z DX zzz s cm good deal, after reading in Brad Hill's review, that any focus shifting issues described above, became resolved once the lens was properly fine tuned via the dock.

Actually, that's not quite what it said. In Appendix 3 of his Sigma 500 Sport review, Brad Hill states that he contacted Sigma, they acknowledged the focus shift problem, they were working on a solution, and Brad hoped they'd have a solution in the future that could be administered through the dock. Notably, he kept the lens despite the focus shift issue.

Here's an excerpt from Appendix 3, A., 2.of Brad Hill's review:

"After discovering this idiosyncrasy I contacted Sigma to report it. As I have found before, the Canadian distributor was very responsive and forwarded the information on to Sigma in Japan. They quickly got back to me with more questions about the conditions under which I noticed the focus shift. Shortly thereafter (days later) they got back to me again to report that they were able to replicate the issue (and that they had found it on some Nikon lenses as well, but did not indicate which lenses). While Sigma did not have an immediate "fix" for the issue, they assured me they were working on it.

How serious is this issue? For ME, not too serious at all. In most of my "normal" daily shooting situations it simply doesn't occur (or isn't noticeable). In situations where it has occurred (so far shooting small stationary mammals that are near the close-focus point of the lens) I have come away with the shots that I wanted (i.e., no critical shots were lost to the problem). I habitually use short bursts whenever I'm photographing wildlife, and I will try to remember to perhaps extend those bursts a LITTLE more if I'm in really tight (and/or just have thin DoF's) with my subjects. And, based on past experience, I am realistically (I think) and reasonably confident that Sigma will come up with a fix for the issue. And if they do, any owner of the Sigma 500 will be able to use their USB dock to upload the fix! "

If there was a later update to his review, that I may have missed, that said the problem could be solved through dock adjustments, that would be great news. I bought my 500 sport new about two years ago, and it still had the problem even after Sigma servicing, but maybe they’ve found a way to fix the problem since then.

I did see a post some time ago that Brad had sold the Sigma and it still had the problem. One of contributors was someone that had done a workshop with Brad and had observed that he didn’t use the lens much based more on his shooting habits than any shortcomings of the lens. He reportedly replaced it with a Nikon 180-400 f/4 and now the 500 PF.

Indeed with a proper calibration, any focus shifting disappeared. I have only MFT the lens bare so far and once I receive my ordered 1401 TC, I will also MFT the lens with the TC. Sigma is known for copy variation (otherwise it wouldn't have a USB Dock and wouldn't come as cheap), so proper fine tuning was always a must, with all my Sigmas.

So if you are out there on the look for a good deal, don't be put off by all these reviews about how bad this lens focus shifts with some bodies, simply get yourselves a Sigma USB, use it as it was designed to be used and calibrate your lens... If for any reason after calibration, you experience no focus shifting at F4 but you experience it again when closing down, then simply calibrate again in F5.6 if you mainly use the lens between F5-F6.3. I prefer using it wide open, so I prefer setting the sweet spot at F4, but you can chose to do your fine tunning at the aperture you use the most, for better results in that aperture. OEM lenses are usually factory fine tuned at F5.6, so we can also select to do so via our USB docks if we prefer so.

I too would encourage others to consider the Sigma 500 f/4 Sport. It’s an excellent lens at a great price when new, and an even better bargain used. I would just recommend that buyers keep their options open when purchasing if shooting in burst mode is important. I bought a dock, adjusted several copies of the lens and had a new one serviced by Sigma. The problem persisted. Could be user error on my part and others, I don't know. But if the lens doesn't have issues or can be adjusted to work properly, or if the problem is perceived to be so small it doesn't bother the user (like in Brad’s case), it's a great 500 f/4 for a very low price. I'm glad it has worked out well for you.


Reviving this old thread, because I have a problem with my relatively new Sigma 500S (Nikon mount), and wonder if things are related.

Did you notice a type of "rattling sound" in C-AF when subjects are moving towards you? That is what my Sigma 500 does. I did not notice it before, but did not stress it as much before either. But now, when something moves towards me, and I keep AF-C engaged (group AF) and on the target, it starts to rattle (or stutter or jump), faster with fast moving subjects and slower with slow moving subjects. AF works fine otherwise and is accurate, but the rattling behavior is such that I don't want to persist and dis engage auto focus.

It is really strange, I would expect overall AF problems if the HSM motor were defect, but it is only on nearing subjects and also only when they enter within a certain distance, it does not display this behavior beyond +/- 35 yrds. I have rest the dock to default, but no change. I have tried the 500PF, to see if it is my D500, but the camera is fine. So in a certain distance range, and with AF-C engaged, the motor starts to stutter or rattle.

Frank G or others with more extensive experience with the lens might have insights. The AF problem I encountered was consistent and only occurred with burst shooting. It was independent of whether the subject was near or far, moving or stationary. I didn't notice any unusual sounds.

Hope you can get to the bottom of it. I will say that Sigma was very responsive and accommodating to my concerns when I contacted them and sent my lens in for repair. So I wouldn't hesitate to follow up with them.


Thanks for the response. It is a tricky one this, we're a few years onwards (from when you had the issue) and I don't think they are selling lots of them anymore. I phoned the Sigma service department and they did not know anything about the Sigma 500 auto focus issues or about possible firmware updates. They said they would simply take the lens apart to see what's wrong. My apprehension is that they may not have the know how or insight and knowledge on what is the matter with this lens, and them taking the lens apart may not do any good. The lens is optically perfect, so where will it get me I dont know. I had hoped they would know more (they are the official Sigma service centre for three countries in Western Europe). The lens may not be all that relevant for Sigma now that Nikon and Canon both have gone mirrorless.

I will have to decide whether to leave it as is, and live with the auto focus stutter, or risk going to Sigma with the lens and face the possibility of getting the lens back, disassembled and reassembled without improvement.

A better option might be to do a mount change to Canon. It appears that the Canon version did not suffer from these AF woes.

I can understand your reluctance. It's very costly to ship a large lens like that and there's your trepidation that they won't be able to fix it. However, the symptoms you describe don't sound anything like what I and some others experienced in burst shooting. If anything, it seems potentially more serious.

I'll add that I did read a review where a Canon mount version had the same burst AF problem when shot with a TC. Not exactly the same as mine but very similar.  Perhaps someone else with Sigma repair service experience can chime in.

 ARClark's gear list:ARClark's gear list
Nikon 500mm F5.6E PF Nikon D850 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm F2.8G IF-ED VR Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E II +13 more
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