The Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport - sample images

Started Oct 29, 2018 | Discussions
RVJ Forum Member • Posts: 67
Re: The Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport - sample images

Stunning photos!
Do you know if the OS on this lens is a little more advanced than on the Canon mk ii equivalent?
I've been using the Canon 100 400 ii for perched Kingfishers in low light, and managed sharp shots, hand held, with shutter speeds as low as 1/30 at 400mm.
I bought a used Canon 500 f4 ii from a local shop, as I need more light and more reach, but found to get a steady shot, I needed a far faster shutter speed, so had to boost the ISO far higher than I did with the 100 - 400. Luckily I was able to take the lens back.
I put this down to the extra weight and length, but I sit on a fisherman's low chair, and rest my elbows on my knees for a steady shot, so I'm wondering if it was also partly due to the older IS system of the 7 year old Canon design, and even though the Sigma is a little heavier, does a more up to date OS make it more hand-holdable?
All the best,
Ross.

OP FrankG Senior Member • Posts: 2,194
Re: The Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport - sample images

RVJ wrote:

Stunning photos!
Do you know if the OS on this lens is a little more advanced than on the Canon mk ii equivalent?
I've been using the Canon 100 400 ii for perched Kingfishers in low light, and managed sharp shots, hand held, with shutter speeds as low as 1/30 at 400mm.
I bought a used Canon 500 f4 ii from a local shop, as I need more light and more reach, but found to get a steady shot, I needed a far faster shutter speed, so had to boost the ISO far higher than I did with the 100 - 400. Luckily I was able to take the lens back.
I put this down to the extra weight and length, but I sit on a fisherman's low chair, and rest my elbows on my knees for a steady shot, so I'm wondering if it was also partly due to the older IS system of the 7 year old Canon design, and even though the Sigma is a little heavier, does a more up to date OS make it more hand-holdable?
All the best,
Ross.

I can't compare to any Canon system lenses from any personal experience as I use exclusively Nikon gear.  I have no idea how effective of otherwise the Canon 500 F4 II IS is  but I had assumed it would be excellent, surprised to hear that it might not be so good.

The OS on this lens is moderately effective and useful although IMO not as powerful as on Sigma's 150-600 Sport which has extremely effective OS.   I can get away with hand-holding (while using a tree for additional support) the 150-600 Sport down to about 1/15th at 600mm - which is ridiculous!

It's very difficult to say how low anyone could go for reliable sharp photos because hand-holding techniques and capabilities vary considerably.  Your described technique sounds good and perhaps should do as well as I get when using a lightweight monopod.  I don't like to go below about 1/60th sec (with a monopod) and ideally using quiet mode on my D500 to be able to get really sharp results on stationary subjects.  Using pure hand-holding (unsupported) I like to keep to a minimum of 1/250th, preferably faster, although sometimes I can get away with about 1/100th.  Using something like a nearby tree as a support I can also probably get away with about 1/60th hand-held, but again much prefer faster shutter speeds - although that is also because much of what I am photographing is moving!

Not sure whether that sounds good enough for you - I think probably the only way for you to find out whether it will work for you is really try the lens out first hand.   However bear on mind the need to fine-tune AF and perhaps also run through all the customisation options to get the best out of this lens.

Frank

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RVJ Forum Member • Posts: 67
Re: The Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport - sample images

Hi Frank, thanks for the detailed reply.
I've had several Sigma lenses before and been very happy with all of them.
I guess it was just the weight and size of the 500 that required a much faster shutter speed for a steady shot. Although I suspect Canon's IS technology improved a little in the years between the release of the latest 500 and the 100 - 400.

How do you find the IQ of the Sigma 150-600 Sport, wide open at 600mm?
I've read so many contradicting reviews about this lens, some can't praise it enough, and others saying you get better images by using a shorter Canon/Nikon own brand, and then cropping in post.

At the moment, all my shooting is being done under tree cover, and involves wading through waste depth streams to access the spots, so perhaps a big, heavy 500 wouldn't be ideal for getting there, however good it'd be when I was there.

All the best,

Ross.

OP FrankG Senior Member • Posts: 2,194
Re: The Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport - sample images
1

RVJ wrote:

Hi Frank, thanks for the detailed reply.
I've had several Sigma lenses before and been very happy with all of them.
I guess it was just the weight and size of the 500 that required a much faster shutter speed for a steady shot. Although I suspect Canon's IS technology improved a little in the years between the release of the latest 500 and the 100 - 400.

How do you find the IQ of the Sigma 150-600 Sport, wide open at 600mm?
I've read so many contradicting reviews about this lens, some can't praise it enough, and others saying you get better images by using a shorter Canon/Nikon own brand, and then cropping in post.

Wide open at 600mm the 150-600 Sport (at least my copy) is very good but needs stopping down a bit for best IQ.  So I usually prefer to use it at F7.1 which is slightly crisper than F6.3.  It's probably technically sharpest at F8 at 600mm but perhaps optimum perceptual sharpness at 600mm may be at F9 or even F10 (mainly due to better DOF) when it is quite capable of delivering absolutely stunning results that would compete with any lens, prime or otherwise - but it depends on the subject and the distance.  Zoom out a bit and the sharpness can be simply outstanding especially in the 300 to 450 or so range.

So if you have good light the zoom is excellent.

However … the 500mm F4 takes things to an even higher level:  it has that  kind of extreme, almost forensic, ultra sharpness, clarity and subject isolation even wide-open that zooms seldom quite match and of course is over a stop faster.

Plus also the 500 offers superb bokeh (possibly the best of all the 500 options out there)although the zoom also does very well under many circumstances.

At the moment, all my shooting is being done under tree cover, and involves wading through waste depth streams to access the spots, so perhaps a big, heavy 500 wouldn't be ideal for getting there, however good it'd be when I was there.

That sounds quite hazardous.   Personally I would be very wary of exposing my most expensive kit to the risks and I would definitely want have the lens supported on at least a monopod (I now normally use an ultra-lightweight carbon fibre Gitzo:  the GM2542 coupled with a Sirui L-10 tilt head).   However as for weight … you might be surprised at how well balanced the 500 is and it really isn't all that much heavier than the 150-600 Sport (3310g v 2860g), plus the carbon fibre hood on the 500 is actually a bit lighter (so with hood its total weight about 3570g v 3160g - so the 500 is only approx. 400g heavier).  Also the 150-600 is more "front heavy" when zoomed out so it actually doesn't really feel that much lighter.

Sounds like you maybe ought to at least try handling one in a dealers before you buy perhaps!

Frank

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RVJ Forum Member • Posts: 67
Re: The Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport - sample images

Hi Frank, the 150-600 sounds far superior to their 50 -500 os, which I still have and keep meaning to put on eBay. I loved the versatility, but it wasn't great wide open. f8 was very acceptable though.

Many of the reviews of the Sigma 500 f4 say it produces some of the nicest subject isolation they've ever seen.
I've found a mint condition Canon 300 2.8 ii at the local shop, and having looked through it's performance with converters, on The Digital Picture charts, I think it could be the most light weight and versatile option.
Even with a 2x converter and stopped down just 1/3 of a stop, it still looks very sharp, and with a 1.4x  it will give me an extra stop and 40mm on the 100-400 ii, which apparently measures 380mm in reality.

It's a tough choice when spending that much money, but I'll stick with APSC cameras all the while they're available, so the 300 and converters will give me three very handy focal lengths.
All the best.

Old Greenlander Veteran Member • Posts: 4,337
Re: The Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport - sample images

RVJ wrote:

Hi Frank, the 150-600 sounds far superior to their 50 -500 os, which I still have and keep meaning to put on eBay. I loved the versatility, but it wasn't great wide open. f8 was very acceptable though.

Many of the reviews of the Sigma 500 f4 say it produces some of the nicest subject isolation they've ever seen.
I've found a mint condition Canon 300 2.8 ii at the local shop, and having looked through it's performance with converters, on The Digital Picture charts, I think it could be the most light weight and versatile option.
Even with a 2x converter and stopped down just 1/3 of a stop, it still looks very sharp, and with a 1.4x it will give me an extra stop and 40mm on the 100-400 ii, which apparently measures 380mm in reality.

It's a tough choice when spending that much money, but I'll stick with APSC cameras all the while they're available, so the 300 and converters will give me three very handy focal lengths.
All the best.

RVJ

I have all those four lenses you talk about

50-500 OS is the oldest and lowest grade while the lightest. it is obsolete by the new generation standards

100-400 mk2 has very high quality and is very versatile

300F2.8 is very good for low light, heavier

500F4 has the best subject isolation by far, is the heaviest and most expensive

If you are a beginner 100-400 mk2 is the best choice

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RVJ Forum Member • Posts: 67
Re: The Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport - sample images
1

Hi Greenlander, thanks for your input.

It's a tough one.
I've always been a photographer, but started taking it far more seriously since putting in the hours and getting some nice shots of the Kingfishers, but also realising that my gear is preventing me from getting nicer shots. 
There's a Barn Owl locally that feeds on the water meadows, and I managed some shots of that which I was pleased with, but focus tracking at dusk, on an eos 750d isn't the best.
Like a lot of people, I'm waiting and hoping for something new from Canon in 2019.
The Kingfishers I've found locally all seem to feed under dense cover, presumably for safety from predators, so light is low even in the middle of a summer's day, and the vantage points I've found are pretty small and not easily accessible, so I think the 300 2.8 ii with extenders looks to be the most versatile option.

Is the IS on the 300 2.8 ii as effective as it is on the 100 400 ii?
I'll certainly be keeping the 100 - 400 for it's versatility, especially it's semi-macro capabilities with extension tubes.

All the best.

Old Greenlander Veteran Member • Posts: 4,337
Re: The Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport - sample images

RVJ wrote:

Hi Greenlander, thanks for your input.

It's a tough one.
I've always been a photographer, but started taking it far more seriously since putting in the hours and getting some nice shots of the Kingfishers, but also realising that my gear is preventing me from getting nicer shots.
There's a Barn Owl locally that feeds on the water meadows, and I managed some shots of that which I was pleased with, but focus tracking at dusk, on an eos 750d isn't the best.
Like a lot of people, I'm waiting and hoping for something new from Canon in 2019.
The Kingfishers I've found locally all seem to feed under dense cover, presumably for safety from predators, so light is low even in the middle of a summer's day, and the vantage points I've found are pretty small and not easily accessible, so I think the 300 2.8 ii with extenders looks to be the most versatile option.

Is the IS on the 300 2.8 ii as effective as it is on the 100 400 ii?
I'll certainly be keeping the 100 - 400 for it's versatility, especially it's semi-macro capabilities with extension tubes.

All the best.

I don't use OS with birds

In general the shutter speed is shorter than 1/2000

Nevertheless. Never say never

I am in the field now and the weather is miserable with cast skies and rain

Because of the poor light. I found myself using 1/800 handheld with no OS and as low as 1/200 with OS

Combo D850 plus Sigma 500F4

Watch my posts in the next weeks

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Rexgig0
Rexgig0 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,001
Re: The Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport - sample images

Beautiful! Excellent shooting! Thanks for creating, and for posting!

I actually posted my thumbs-up/like when this thread was new, but it has taken me this long to get around to revisiting the thread, and typing an actual reply. My apologies for being slow.

A 500/4, with AF, remains a long-term goal. My Nikkor 500/4P is so very wonderful, a true top-tier exotic super-tele of its day, but, that was the day when “P” meant AI-P; manual focusing, with CPU contacts.

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By accident of availability, I learned to use Canon and Nikon DSLRs at the same time. I love specific lenses made by both Canon and Nikon, too much to quit either system. Dabbling with Leica-M is fun, too. I am, certainly, not an expert.

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OP FrankG Senior Member • Posts: 2,194
Re: The Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport - sample images
1

Rexgig0 wrote:

Beautiful! Excellent shooting! Thanks for creating, and for posting!

Thanks for the compliments!

I actually posted my thumbs-up/like when this thread was new, but it has taken me this long to get around to revisiting the thread, and typing an actual reply. My apologies for being slow.

No worries.

A 500/4, with AF, remains a long-term goal. My Nikkor 500/4P is so very wonderful, a true top-tier exotic super-tele of its day, but, that was the day when “P” meant AI-P; manual focusing, with CPU contacts.

Yes - I still have mine (a venerable old and heavily used copy) tucked away as a backup.  Still a very sharp lens.

Frank

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saaber1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,145
Re: The Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport - sample images
2

Rexgig0 wrote:

...

A 500/4, with AF, remains a long-term goal. My Nikkor 500/4P is so very wonderful, a true top-tier exotic super-tele of its day, but, that was the day when “P” meant AI-P; manual focusing, with CPU contacts.

FYI I did a head-to-head comparison of the 500 f/4 P to Sigma 150-600S on a D750 for tons of different wildlife.  I was mainly interested in comparing absolute IQ (irregardless of AF) in a direct comparison for normal wildife shooting.  This is probably all common sense but all the same here is what I found out:

(1) In terms of IQ (disregarding ability to get accurate focus) at 500mm, it is pretty much identical.

(2) Cost for both (used) right now is pretty close to the same (150-600S is maybe $200 more or so)

(3) Shot eagles, swans, small birds, beavers, BIF etc at 500mm with P and 600mm on 150-600S to see how big of a difference for real world wildife shooting. There is a BIG difference.

(4) of course the AF is the biggest factor and there is no compelling reason to have a 500 P over 150-600S when the S is really fast at AF, has incredible lock -on ability for BIF when set up right, OS. Also the S loses nothing in terms of IQ at 500mm vs the P. The ability to go to 600mm is a huge bonus for wildlife shooting.

saaber1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,145
Re: With TC-1401 teleconverter - sample images

FrankG wrote:

So with the TC-1401 this lens becomes a 700mm F5.6, still with full AF and still with fully functional OS system.

As I am using a D500 the AF performance drops slightly because the camera can now only use 45 of it's cross-type AF sensors (instead of the full set) although it also continues to support this with the rest of the sensors working as line-type AF sensors. Similar would apply if using either the D850 or the D5. The lens still managed to auto-focus quickly with the TC0-1401 converter attached although is no longer as snappy as the bare lens. So it is still perfectly fine for most types of shots including tracking birds in flight but no longer quite quick enough to keep up with the fastest and most erratic moving subjects such as some species of Swallows, House Martins etc (which can shift incredibly quickly).

I tend to use the lens a lot with this converter attached, especially for small birds - it is still extremely sharp even at full aperture and very usable and I find it still hand-holdable.

Here are some examples, all processed in DXO Photolab from the original NEF files with minimal noise reduction (using Prime) and no sharpening except that provided by the DXO "Lens Sharpness" tool. As DXO still doesn't have a profile for this lens I had to select the nearest equivalent which I picked as the Nikon 500 FL E lens. Hopefully DXO will release a correct profile for this lens in future.

Fulmar Petrel

Fulmar Petrel coming in to land.

The above shots were both hand-held.

A Coal Tit (from about 8 metres range)

A Northern Brown Hare (from about 35 metres)

I used a monopod for the above shot. Quite poorly lit conditions, hence the very high ISO even though at full aperture.

A solitary Dunlin - downsized version of this shot

and here is a 100% crop from the full-size version of that shot:

Dunlin (moulting to winter plumage) - a tight crop from the full-size image

OK - next I'll follow-up with samples taken using the TC-2001 converter attached - a 1000mm F8 combo!

Frank

thanks for this excellent 1401 information!  Excellent photos!  I bought a 1401 for my 150-600S but haven't tried it yet due to low light.

saaber1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,145
Re: The Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport - sample images
1

RVJ wrote:

...How do you find the IQ of the Sigma 150-600 Sport, wide open at 600mm?

I've read so many contradicting reviews about this lens, some can't praise it enough, and others saying you get better images by using a shorter Canon/Nikon own brand, and then cropping in post.

...

Check Old Greenlander's D850, Sigma 500 f/4, and 150-600S posts in the third party lens forum. He has some excellent comparison photos of Sigma 500mm vs. 150-600S there.

Various opinions are likely due to copy-to-copy variability. I have seen everything from stellar to totally unacceptable images from the 150-600S depending on the copy -and whether or not the user did the fine tuning or not. My own 150-600s was not sharp at 600mm when I bought it (used). After fine tuning at infinity it is extremely sharp. Please note that tamron 150-600 versions 1 and 2, nikon 200-500, and sigma 150-600 C and S all have large copy-to-copy variability. It is part of the deal with getting less expensive super-reach zooms.

Nikon exotic primes and lenses like the excellent Sigma 500mm in this thread I'm sure have less copy-to-copy variability but there are less copies of them total, so it's hard to tell based on anecdotal evidence.

Alamoswild Forum Member • Posts: 63
Re: The Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport - sample images

The issue I think you were asking about is when the sigma is paired with the D500, in af-c when every other shot is out of focus... have you found this to be true for your lens?

OP FrankG Senior Member • Posts: 2,194
Re: The Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport - sample images
1

Alamoswild wrote:

The issue I think you were asking about is when the sigma is paired with the D500, in af-c when every other shot is out of focus... have you found this to be true for your lens?

If you are asking me whether "every other shot is out of focus" then the answer is no.  I sometimes see this type of behaviour if I have the 2x converter (TC-2001) attached (so the lens is then a 1000mm F8 combo) but I don't have any problem with the lens without converter or the lens with just the 1.4 converter (TC-1401).   I probably get typically about 90 to 95% in-focus success rate with the bare lens and similar with the TC-1401 attached provided the light is reasonably good.  With the 2x converter the AF performance is not as good - but that is to be expected as the D500 AF is pushed to about it's limits with an F8 lens.

Frank

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OP FrankG Senior Member • Posts: 2,194
Re: With TC-1401 teleconverter - sample images

saaber1 wrote:

FrankG wrote:

So with the TC-1401 this lens becomes a 700mm F5.6, still with full AF and still with fully functional OS system.

As I am using a D500 the AF performance drops slightly because the camera can now only use 45 of it's cross-type AF sensors (instead of the full set) although it also continues to support this with the rest of the sensors working as line-type AF sensors. Similar would apply if using either the D850 or the D5. The lens still managed to auto-focus quickly with the TC0-1401 converter attached although is no longer as snappy as the bare lens. So it is still perfectly fine for most types of shots including tracking birds in flight but no longer quite quick enough to keep up with the fastest and most erratic moving subjects such as some species of Swallows, House Martins etc (which can shift incredibly quickly).

I tend to use the lens a lot with this converter attached, especially for small birds - it is still extremely sharp even at full aperture and very usable and I find it still hand-holdable.

Here are some examples, all processed in DXO Photolab from the original NEF files with minimal noise reduction (using Prime) and no sharpening except that provided by the DXO "Lens Sharpness" tool. As DXO still doesn't have a profile for this lens I had to select the nearest equivalent which I picked as the Nikon 500 FL E lens. Hopefully DXO will release a correct profile for this lens in future.

Fulmar Petrel

Fulmar Petrel coming in to land.

The above shots were both hand-held.

A Coal Tit (from about 8 metres range)

A Northern Brown Hare (from about 35 metres)

I used a monopod for the above shot. Quite poorly lit conditions, hence the very high ISO even though at full aperture.

A solitary Dunlin - downsized version of this shot

and here is a 100% crop from the full-size version of that shot:

Dunlin (moulting to winter plumage) - a tight crop from the full-size image

OK - next I'll follow-up with samples taken using the TC-2001 converter attached - a 1000mm F8 combo!

Frank

thanks for this excellent 1401 information! Excellent photos! I bought a 1401 for my 150-600S but haven't tried it yet due to low light.

Thanks.  The TC-1401 is excellent although with the 150-600S the combo becomes a very slow lens, although I found it to be quite usable with good results possible in good light.

You do have to separately AF fine-focus calibrate the lens with the converter attached to get the best out of it.

Frank

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saaber1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,145
Re: With TC-1401 teleconverter - sample images

FrankG wrote:

Thanks. The TC-1401 is excellent although with the 150-600S the combo becomes a very slow lens, although I found it to be quite usable with good results possible in good light.

You do have to separately AF fine-focus calibrate the lens with the converter attached to get the best out of it.

Frank

Hi Frank, I agree the AF takes a big hit with the TC when used on a 150-600S. Really impacts the BIF performance but for sitting/slow moving in good light still usable IMO. That's one of the big benefits of the 500 f/4 vs 150-600S IMO, can use TC with less AF performance loss.

FYI I tested 600mm with TC vs without TC this am just for fun, results shown below. With TC is slightly better to my eyes on this target which was 400 feet away. My particular copy of body+lens the AF fine tuning is the same with or without TC FWIW (only applicable to this specific lens and camera body).

screenshot of huge crop with TC (left) vs without TC (right)

Original images of the above:

840mm f/9 1/60s ISO 100

600mm f/6.3 1/60s iso 100

...and before the "yea buts" chime in (aka the Yea Butts), Yes the amount of sun hitting the target is different, and yes there is some vegetation in the foreground. I took about 10 shots from same location for each and chose the best shot for each. And for the picky lab-rat people who seldom shoot out in the field, guess what?, in the real world as we shoot wildlife, we often have vegetation in the foreground. All shots are SOOC (capture nxd d used for raw conversion to tiff to preserve Nikon colors and settings then lightroom imported those tiffs, saved to JPEG).

I think next time we get a clear night I'm going to test 840mm on the planet Jupiter with it's moons vs. my pocket Canon sx730is at 960mm (equiv.) The little pocket canon always blows away the 150-600S on such shots but maybe with tc (840mm) now it will be more even...?

ARClark
ARClark Veteran Member • Posts: 4,135
Re: The Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport - sample images

Old Greenlander wrote:

RVJ wrote:

Hi Greenlander, thanks for your input.

It's a tough one.
I've always been a photographer, but started taking it far more seriously since putting in the hours and getting some nice shots of the Kingfishers, but also realising that my gear is preventing me from getting nicer shots.
There's a Barn Owl locally that feeds on the water meadows, and I managed some shots of that which I was pleased with, but focus tracking at dusk, on an eos 750d isn't the best.
Like a lot of people, I'm waiting and hoping for something new from Canon in 2019.
The Kingfishers I've found locally all seem to feed under dense cover, presumably for safety from predators, so light is low even in the middle of a summer's day, and the vantage points I've found are pretty small and not easily accessible, so I think the 300 2.8 ii with extenders looks to be the most versatile option.

Is the IS on the 300 2.8 ii as effective as it is on the 100 400 ii?
I'll certainly be keeping the 100 - 400 for it's versatility, especially it's semi-macro capabilities with extension tubes.

All the best.

I don't use OS with birds

In general the shutter speed is shorter than 1/2000

Nevertheless. Never say never

I am in the field now and the weather is miserable with cast skies and rain

Because of the poor light. I found myself using 1/800 handheld with no OS and as low as 1/200 with OS

Combo D850 plus Sigma 500F4

Watch my posts in the next weeks

So I take it you've had no problems with AF in burst mode with your copy of the lens?

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ManosSKG New Member • Posts: 17
Re: The Sigma 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport - sample images
1

Alamoswild wrote:

The issue I think you were asking about is when the sigma is paired with the D500, in af-c when every other shot is out of focus... have you found this to be true for your lens?

I know this is an old thread, but as I see this question coming up in various discussions and I know that many people are looking to buy this lens new or used, so I thought I should also reply to this.

I bought my copy used and it might as well be from the first copies made. Apparently this issue, is more evident in older copies. Mine had this issue when used out of the box, yet it completely disappeared once I have properly calibrated it via the dock. I am very happy with its performance.

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Nikon D500 Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 | C Sigma 500mm F4 Sport
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