A Review of Sigma's 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports Lens

Traditionally, the most extreme supertelephoto lenses have mostly remained the purview of first-party manufacturers aside from a few exceptions, but Sigma recently dipped its toes back into the waters with the 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens. Can it keep up with Canon and Nikon's variants? This great review will answer that question for you. 

Coming to you from Dustin Abbott, this great review looks at the 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports lens. Sigma's lenses are well known for providing comparable or even better optical quality than first-party lenses at lower prices, and the 500mm undercuts Canon's option by $3,000 and Nikon's version by a whopping $4,300, making it a highly intriguing option for wildlife and sports photographers. That being said, with a lens of this caliber, the photographers using it will have demands beyond just good optics, with a particular focus on rugged durability and weather-sealing and top-notch autofocus performance. I have personally owned the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM lens for a couple of years now, and I absolutely love its performance and the images I get out of it, so if the 500mm f/4 follows in its footsteps at all, it's sure to be a winner. Check out the video above for Abbott's full thoughts. 

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Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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$3,000 less than Canon!? It's about time someone undercut them. I still need to find out where I can sell an organ or two to pay for it.

Yeah but he fails to mention that earlier version's of Canon and Nikon are much cheaper in MINT used condition. The Nikon 500mm f4G VR can be bought for around $3800 used and the Canon is actually around the same price or even less at $3500 for the Canon f4 IS. The real problem with the Sigma 500mm f4 Sports lens is the AF performance, which is fast but not super accurate. This lens is well known for it's AF issues and I would highly recommend against buying this lens. It's not like buying a Sigma Art over a Canon or Nikon 35mm lens. No these super-tele lenses are extremely rare and made incredibly well, they are very rugged, fast to focus and extremely sharp. A third party can not make a comparable lens and this Sigma is a complete failure in my eyes. My friend and business partner bought one and he had so many problems with the AF accuracy that it was a joke. They replaced it for him, calibrated the new one, etc. He finally got his money back and bought a used Nikon 500mm f4g VR lens on my advice and saved a lot of money lol. You would have to be a complete idiot to buy this lens over a first party used lens haha.

I have been shooting the Sigma for a few years now, and the AF is phenomenal. I tracked down some issues with certain OS modes and hand holding that I think are the root of the AF complaints that I have seen online (as I can perfectly reproduce them, and also fix them).

To call it a complete failure is literally insane.

The numerous reviews that I’ve read mention a problem with focus during continuous bursts where it is hit and miss. Otherwise, all else is good.

I think that is an issue with the OS and hand-holding. I can perfectly replicate the every other OOF when hand-holding the lens with OS engaged in one mode (I'd need a dock to remember which mode it was). But if you put it on a tripod, or switch OS mode the problem vanishes. I suppose I need to track down the mode again and report it to Sigma.

I have long series of shots with my D500 and a D850 where every shot, in continuous high, is perfectly in focus tracking moving birds.

Thanks for that. I bought the Sig 500 F4 last December for my Canon gear and I love the IQ. It’s as good as the Canon 500 F4 ll that I sold, regrettably, last year. The only issue I have with it is hunting, for a moment, if I’m not dead on target with the BIF... with proper focus distance set. I’m still experimenting and about to try another camera setting. However, I can live with it if I have to. I’m thinking of converting it over to a Nikon mount and buying a D850. However, also pondering over the A7R4, but not so sure how it will work with the MC11 and 1.4 TC.