Quick Advice on Sony 70-400 or Sigma 50-500

Started Jul 12, 2014 | Discussions
BrokenPine Forum Member • Posts: 78
Quick Advice on Sony 70-400 or Sigma 50-500

Hey guys! I just ordered a Sony a7s and some other lenses to go along with what I have for my a99 and a77 to help with some hunts I am going to be filming this fall. I have to make a purchase order this week for a few more things and one of them needs to be a long range zoom lens for the shows I am filming. Since I sold my dedicated video camera to go with all-DSLR filming, I need to get a good zoom lens for the hunts themselves, and for wildlife. All B-roll will be off of other lenses.

Here is where I am torn: The Sony 70-400mm G lens is supposed to be one of the best lenses Sony offers, or at least that's what I have read, and it provides excellent sharpness. Plus, it should feel similar to my 70-200mm lens. However, the Sigma 50-500mm is $5-600 cheaper and is wider at 50, which would be great for getting the hunter in frame while in the stand, and easier than the 70 would be. Plus, it can reach just a tad farther, which combined with the internal crop modes, should be a long way.

So, my question is, is the 50-500mm close in image quality to the 70-400mm, or is the extra money and loss of range on both ends worth it? By the way, I will not only be using them for video, but also for wildlife pics.

Thanks!

Sony Alpha a7S Sony Alpha a99 Sony SLT-A77
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fzrTom Senior Member • Posts: 2,275
Re: Quick Advice on Sony 70-400 or Sigma 50-500

My 2 cents ...

Stab : the sigma OS is a stab lens , is the Sony 70-400 stabilized too ? If it is not the case using a 400mm lens without stab will be very difficult with an A7s.

So if you dont want to use this lens with your A7s : the Sony 70-400 sems the best choice

If you want to use it with your A7s, the question of the stabilization is important to decide.

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njralston
njralston Regular Member • Posts: 124
Re: Quick Advice on Sony 70-400 or Sigma 50-500

For your A77 and A99, the Sony 70-400G is light years ahead of the Sigma 50-500.  The Sony 70-400G II is even better.  I have used the Sony 70-400G for a couple years and have never been disappointed.  I tried the Sigma 50-500 and it was very soft, especially at the 500 end.  Even IS on the 50-500 will not give  you sharp images.

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Aloha, Bud

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Jekabs Contributing Member • Posts: 694
Re: Quick Advice on Sony 70-400 or Sigma 50-500

I do not own the Sony 70-400, but I have tried it. I am considering it to replace Sony 70-200/2.8+1.4x for when I travel, for less weight and more reach.

While optically it is impressive and is ahead of any other lens in this category from any manufacturer, there are couple things I really did not like about it, in comparison to 70-200/2.8:

1) It does not have internal zoom - it extends ALOT and becomes very front-heavy when zoomed to tele end;

2) It feels way more "plastic" than 70-200/2.8. One can only hope that build quality does not cause loosening of the zoom ring and wobble of the barrel, given how long it extends. I have not tried new version yet, perhaps it feels better;

3) It has the zoom and focus rings switched, compared to Zeiss 24-70 and Sony 70-200. This felt very annoying to me, but maybe one can get used to that. I would prefer that all my lenses had similar layout though.

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eddiewood Contributing Member • Posts: 626
Re: Quick Advice on Sony 70-400 or Sigma 50-500

BrokenPine wrote:

Hey guys! I just ordered a Sony a7s and some other lenses to go along with what I have for my a99 and a77 to help with some hunts I am going to be filming this fall. I have to make a purchase order this week for a few more things and one of them needs to be a long range zoom lens for the shows I am filming. Since I sold my dedicated video camera to go with all-DSLR filming, I need to get a good zoom lens for the hunts themselves, and for wildlife. All B-roll will be off of other lenses.

Here is where I am torn: The Sony 70-400mm G lens is supposed to be one of the best lenses Sony offers, or at least that's what I have read, and it provides excellent sharpness. Plus, it should feel similar to my 70-200mm lens. However, the Sigma 50-500mm is $5-600 cheaper and is wider at 50, which would be great for getting the hunter in frame while in the stand, and easier than the 70 would be. Plus, it can reach just a tad farther, which combined with the internal crop modes, should be a long way.

So, my question is, is the 50-500mm close in image quality to the 70-400mm, or is the extra money and loss of range on both ends worth it? By the way, I will not only be using them for video, but also for wildlife pics.

Thanks!

The 70-400G2 has the SSM2 motor and is very fast to AF.  It is almost silent for AF videoing (you have to be in a quiet environment to hear it).  It is fully compatible with the A99 hybrid AF and future A99II features.  It should be sharp at 400mm f5.6.

No brainer.

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Dsnoir
Dsnoir Contributing Member • Posts: 846
Re: Quick Advice on Sony 70-400 or Sigma 50-500

I've just changed from the Sigma 50-500 to the Sony 70-400 mk2, and am not sure that it was a good choice, although only 20mm wider this does seem to be an important loss, but I do agree that at 500 the Sigma was a bit soft - but it was available, and at 400 the difference is almost indiscernible. A plus for the Sony is that it is lighter and so more manoeuvrable, and the manual focus controls are easier to use, although the Sigma's ability to push/pull zoom made this a faster operation. I use it on the A99 so stabilisation not a problem, on the A6000, I use it hand held and on a monopod and even than I keep the shutter speed up to at least the focal length (*1.5) for the crop factor.

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Promit Senior Member • Posts: 2,010
Re: Quick Advice on Sony 70-400 or Sigma 50-500

I have to echo the sentiment that the OS built into the Sigma makes it a much, much stronger choice than the Sony. It will make life much easier on an E mount camera, doubly so for video.

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vw671 Contributing Member • Posts: 539
Re: Quick Advice on Sony 70-400 or Sigma 50-500

I've owned the Bigma (newest version), SAL70400G, and now the SAL70400G2. I like the G2 the best 😀

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Calico Jack Senior Member • Posts: 2,306
Re: Quick Advice on Sony 70-400 or Sigma 50-500

Neither.  The 70-400 is grossly overpriced for what it is and the BIGMA albeit with a longer reach isn't anything to write home about.  Add the teleconverter aspect (cannot AF above F/4.5) all you have are expensive telephoto's that compared to certain other cheaper models don't hold water in terms of their capabilities.  The SAL 70-300/400 G's are well known to struggle above 200/300mm, especially with fast action subjects and I'm not a one-man mission here as plenty of other owners/users have also verified what I found out many moons ago and have come to the exact same conclusion that they're not worthy of a G rating simply because they cannot perform under all conditions of use whilst delivering top quality IQ.  The 70-400 also looks like an excited horses dangly bits when fully extended.

Also factor in the Minolta legacy G lenses.  Compare the Sony versions to them and it's like night and day (if you've never owned top-shelf minolta optics then you won't appreciate the differences) and the Sony G's are nothing like the Minolta G's.

On the other hand, if you'll consider primes, then you'll be hard to beat the Minolta 200/2.8, 300/2.8 and 400/4.5.  The Minolta 300/4 isn't in the same league as the other models, though the 80-200/2.8 is pretty special as is the Sigma 70-200/2.8 OS EX DG (IF) HSM, sigma 100-300/4 EX DG (IF) APO, Tokina AT-X PRO 80-200/2.8 AF (AF 828), Tokina AT-X 300/4 AF (AF 304) and Sigma 300/2.8 EX DG (IF) APO plus they'll all take a TC so you'll get plenty of flexibility or extending the range and having bought 3x copies of the Minolta 300/2.8 G for less money than a new SAL 70-400 G, so you don't have to pay silly money for top shelf glass, plus the results will blow your socks off in comparison, though I'll agree the 70-400 G does take a nice photo with static subjects up to 300mm.

The bottom line is whether you want optimum IQ, lens type (zoom/prime), budget and type of use which will determine what lens type will serve your needs best.

Anyway, whatever you decide, happy hunting but don't be paying silly money because you don't have to and do extensive research from a short list before making your purchase.  Oh and one last thing, repair bills for top shelf lenses should be factored in, especially for discontinued models as parts may not be available and also check on both Sony and Sigma websites for repair tariff charges based on lens model as it's not cheap if you need a repair, but that's the chance you'll have to accept.

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Mark (aka Pirate!)

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Ed at Ridersite Forum Pro • Posts: 18,567
Re: Quick Advice on Sony 70-400 or Sigma 50-500

I have used the Bigma (old version - not OS) and currently use the 70-400mm G2.  IMO, there is no comparison in IQ.  The 70-400mm cropped is much sharper than the Bigma - especially wide open.  The weight difference is also significant shooting hand held.  Finally, the G2 is faster focusing.

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OP BrokenPine Forum Member • Posts: 78
Re: Quick Advice on Sony 70-400 or Sigma 50-500

Ed at Ridersite wrote:

I have used the Bigma (old version - not OS) and currently use the 70-400mm G2. IMO, there is no comparison in IQ. The 70-400mm cropped is much sharper than the Bigma - especially wide open. The weight difference is also significant shooting hand held. Finally, the G2 is faster focusing.

Does it have an image stabilizer inside of it like the Sigma does? I will mainly be using it on my a99 for filming, but when I do put it on the a7s, I am not going to have an image stabilizer in the body anymore, so having it in the lens would be nice. I am leaning at the moment to the Sony.

OP BrokenPine Forum Member • Posts: 78
Re: Quick Advice on Sony 70-400 or Sigma 50-500

Calico Jack wrote:

Neither. The 70-400 is grossly overpriced for what it is and the BIGMA albeit with a longer reach isn't anything to write home about. Add the teleconverter aspect (cannot AF above F/4.5) all you have are expensive telephoto's that compared to certain other cheaper models don't hold water in terms of their capabilities. The SAL 70-300/400 G's are well known to struggle above 200/300mm, especially with fast action subjects and I'm not a one-man mission here as plenty of other owners/users have also verified what I found out many moons ago and have come to the exact same conclusion that they're not worthy of a G rating simply because they cannot perform under all conditions of use whilst delivering top quality IQ. The 70-400 also looks like an excited horses dangly bits when fully extended.

Also factor in the Minolta legacy G lenses. Compare the Sony versions to them and it's like night and day (if you've never owned top-shelf minolta optics then you won't appreciate the differences) and the Sony G's are nothing like the Minolta G's.

On the other hand, if you'll consider primes, then you'll be hard to beat the Minolta 200/2.8, 300/2.8 and 400/4.5. The Minolta 300/4 isn't in the same league as the other models, though the 80-200/2.8 is pretty special as is the Sigma 70-200/2.8 OS EX DG (IF) HSM, sigma 100-300/4 EX DG (IF) APO, Tokina AT-X PRO 80-200/2.8 AF (AF 828), Tokina AT-X 300/4 AF (AF 304) and Sigma 300/2.8 EX DG (IF) APO plus they'll all take a TC so you'll get plenty of flexibility or extending the range and having bought 3x copies of the Minolta 300/2.8 G for less money than a new SAL 70-400 G, so you don't have to pay silly money for top shelf glass, plus the results will blow your socks off in comparison, though I'll agree the 70-400 G does take a nice photo with static subjects up to 300mm.

The bottom line is whether you want optimum IQ, lens type (zoom/prime), budget and type of use which will determine what lens type will serve your needs best.

Anyway, whatever you decide, happy hunting but don't be paying silly money because you don't have to and do extensive research from a short list before making your purchase. Oh and one last thing, repair bills for top shelf lenses should be factored in, especially for discontinued models as parts may not be available and also check on both Sony and Sigma websites for repair tariff charges based on lens model as it's not cheap if you need a repair, but that's the chance you'll have to accept.

Thanks for the reply. I do already own a Sony 70-200mm 2.8, so I don't necessarily need anything in the 200 range. As far as primes go, the reason why I am not looking into them is because I need a zoom for the type of filming I will be doing. I will need to be able to get wide and go deep, so that's why I was interested in either the 70-400 Sony or the 50-500 Sigma. It would be too hard and almost impractical to switch lenses when filming hunts, so having the flexibility is great!

Ed at Ridersite Forum Pro • Posts: 18,567
Re: Quick Advice on Sony 70-400 or Sigma 50-500

BrokenPine wrote:

Ed at Ridersite wrote:

I have used the Bigma (old version - not OS) and currently use the 70-400mm G2. IMO, there is no comparison in IQ. The 70-400mm cropped is much sharper than the Bigma - especially wide open. The weight difference is also significant shooting hand held. Finally, the G2 is faster focusing.

Does it have an image stabilizer inside of it like the Sigma does? I will mainly be using it on my a99 for filming, but when I do put it on the a7s, I am not going to have an image stabilizer in the body anymore, so having it in the lens would be nice. I am leaning at the moment to the Sony.

No image stabilizer in the Sony 70-400mm.  If that's a requirement, you might want to go with the Sigma.  I'm guessing that absolute sharpness is maybe not necessary for video anyway.

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Answer: Mon to Fri. Nothing, Sat & Sun I rest!

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Promit Senior Member • Posts: 2,010
Re: Quick Advice on Sony 70-400 or Sigma 50-500

Ed at Ridersite wrote:

BrokenPine wrote:

Ed at Ridersite wrote:

I have used the Bigma (old version - not OS) and currently use the 70-400mm G2. IMO, there is no comparison in IQ. The 70-400mm cropped is much sharper than the Bigma - especially wide open. The weight difference is also significant shooting hand held. Finally, the G2 is faster focusing.

Does it have an image stabilizer inside of it like the Sigma does? I will mainly be using it on my a99 for filming, but when I do put it on the a7s, I am not going to have an image stabilizer in the body anymore, so having it in the lens would be nice. I am leaning at the moment to the Sony.

No image stabilizer in the Sony 70-400mm. If that's a requirement, you might want to go with the Sigma. I'm guessing that absolute sharpness is maybe not necessary for video anyway.

Well if he's doing 4K work, it can't be TOO terribly soft. But surely the Sigma can hold its own at 8 MP?

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