Canon 500mm f/4.5 vs Sigma 500mm f/4.5
Just seen a second hand Canon 500mm f/4.5 adverised for sale, however, the asking price is the same as the best price I've found for a brand new Sigma 500mm F/4.5. I've tried to find some basis for comparison between these lenses, but reviews of the Canon seem a bit thin on the ground. I have found out that the Canon is about 150g lighter, but has a longer minimum focussing distance.
My gut feel that the price is a little steep even for a good quality S/H lens - but I wondered if anyone else had a steer on this from experience - or any experience of this lens.
(Currently using an EF400mm f/5.6 L with cheap Tamron 1.4x)
'I'm a great fan of science'
I happen to own both lenses and have used them both extensively. Here is my take on the two.
The Canon is extremely sharp from corner to corner even wide open (at least as sharp as the f/4L IS version). The weight and size of the lens are very nice for me and I find the lens very good to hand-hold though obviously you will want a tripod for the absolute best results. On a 1-series body the AF and sharpness are very good with a 1.4x TC. On a sub 1-series body I have never been able to successfully trick the system into autofocusing with a 1.4x TC. That means even with taped pins I can’t get it to work properly. I am not 100% sure if this is just a quirk of my lens or if it is the norm for the model.
The Sigma is physically very nice to handle and is significantly shorter in length (mainly due to differences in hood length). This makes it very easy to use from the car. The AF is nice and fast and is probably about the same speed as the Canon lens. The Sigma is not quite as sharp as the Canon at f/4.5 but the two are basically indistinguishable by f/5.6. The Sigma does work well with a 1.4x TC on all Canon bodies that I have tried (XT, XTi, 20D, 30D, 5D, 1Dmk2) but will need taped pins on the sub 1-series bodies.
The Canon is no longer serviceable through Canon but there are plenty of repair centers around the US that can service the lens so I don’t find the service issue to be much of a problem.
It took me quite a while to locate an EF 500mm f/4.5L USM for a reasonable price. I would certainly seriously consider the Canon lens even if it isn’t at a bargain price.
I had a Canon EF 500/4.5. Wonderful lens. Has one nice feature not on other lenses - adjustable manual focus speed (3 speeds.) There is the issue of repair. I noticed the going price did go down when Canon announced the "no longer repair" news, from $3500 to $3000 roughly. The Sigma will keep you happy too. I have seen them for as little as $2200 on eBay on great condition.
I tried for many months to get a price like that for the Sigma but never did. If you are trying to get a mint one for $2200 don't be in any sort of a hurry.
Your pictures certainly make a great advertisment for the lens. The whole not focusing with a 1.4x TC does rather put me off it though. Think I might save my pennies and keep looking around for the Sigma...
'I'm a great fan of science'
It seemed odd that it mine wouldn't work with the taped pins. It is good to know that at least some of them work with taped pins on a non 1-series body. The only problem is that you need to figure out if the used lens you are buying will work or not which could get sticky.