Judging by the amount of email I get asking me about the sharpness of the Sigma 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM, this is the most important factor for a lot of people. A lens like this must deliver sharp results, specifications and features dont really amount to much if a lens cannot give you the detail you need when it counts. A couple of years ago I would never believe that a 10X super telephoto zoom lens could deliver professional level sharpness. The Sigma 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM is capable of delivering professional quality images.
The capability of the Sigma 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM really shines in this king parrot image. No other 500mm lens that I know of can focus this close and the most importantly, make sharp image this close. This image was made of a wild bird, camera handheld, with flash, OS on, and was only cropped slightly on the top edge for the ratio I wanted to use. At this distance depth of field at f/8.0 was very narrow and it took dozens of images to get the plane of focus just right. I choose f/8.0 to balance the flash and the ambient light to keep the background from going black. So how did I manage to make dozens of images of a wild parrot at a portrait distance? At this location and in many other areas of Australia parrots are habituated to the presence humans and they show no fear at all thankfully. For close focus ability, hand holding ability, and a huge zoom range the Sigma 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM is king.
Goannas can be huge, up to 5 feet in total length. Its great to have one lens to make a full body images and a tight portraits like this, without having to switch lenses. Goannas are commingly founds basking in the open but they will seek refuge up a tree once disturbed. Australia is a reptile wonderland, you can find dozens if not hundreds of them just sitting on the side of the road.
Any lens that I use has to be able to keep up with birds in flight andSigma’s Hyper-Sonic Motor in the 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM is fast and accurate. With a huge focus range good technique is a must. Since there is no focus limiter you have to pre-focus as much as possible. This will keep the lens in the range you need to aquire and lock focus quickly.
Brown noddies nest colonially in the thousands with sotty terns and other birds. The 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM on a DX camera body gives you the great reach and the flexibility of 75-750mm. For birds of this size I use 1/1600th of a second as a minumumn and f/8.0 is s good balance of depth of field, sharpness and speed.
King parrots are so curious and so energetic they make great subjects but you have to be able to work quickly. Then can be posing one second and gone in a flash. This male was hung above my head for a just a moment looking for some tree seeds or blooms close by. Quickly I was able to zoom to 240mm to fill the frame, lock focus and combination of OS and flash helped bring out the feather detail I was looking for.
Rock-wallabies spend their days in steep, rocky, complex terrain but they can be found out in the open early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Once they get used to your presence they will lose their initial shyness and allow you to move closer. For this situation with subjects at all different ranges the 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM was perfect.
For these medium sized parrots you need to be work quickly to make a decent image. Sometimes there are only seconds to frame, lock and fire the shutter. Autofocus needs to be fast and accurate, here using the 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM you can see the eye in sharp focus.
Photographing nocturnal animals like this rock-wallaby joey can be tricker than it would seem. The young animals like this joey are very sensitive, this one came out in the open for just a few moments and then disappeared again. It was thrilling to see him close enough to make a portrait. For this image I really needed every millimeter the 50-500mm could give me. Some of the slightly older wallabies were so curious they would come in very close after a few hours, some close enough so I could give them a quick head scratch. The largest adults would stay high up on the rocks.
The Crimson Rosella is gorgeous, smart, and always very active. They can be very tame like this individual. I used the 50-500mm F4-6.3 not because I needed the reach but instead I wanted to be able to stand back and photograph at a natural looking angle. It is always best to avoid steep angles when you photograph perched birds.
The saltwater crocodile is the largest of all living reptiles, newly hatched measure about 9 to 12 in long and can reach more than 20 ft (and 2,200 lb) as adults. Photographing an animal like this can be dangerous so you need to use the longest focal length you can since they are very agressive. When I made this image the crocodile was hissing and opening its jaws as a threat. I would never photograph an animal like this with less than 500mm, or 750mm equivilent on a DX body.
The abilty to go from 50 to 500mm is amazing and can be addicting. You can frame the subject as needed quickly and accurately when you dont have the time or the ability to move your position or change lenses.
The 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM is really amazing when it comes to flare control. Even with the sun off center as in the image, there is no problem with it. I shoot in situations like this quite often and with large aperture zoom lenses flare can be a real issue.
When photographing animals in the wild, changing your framing from a full body image to a portrait or tight crop must be done quickly and quietly. The metallic click or a lens mount or the drop of a lens cap can cause your subject to flee. A 10X zoom is all you need to change focal lengths silently and quickly to make the most of a situation. The 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM made photographing these rock-wallabies almost easy, I really like this type of ring zoom lens for precise framing. I find push type zoom lenses less user friendly.
The 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM is a DG series lens so it is designed to be used with both full frame digital SLR cameras and those with smaller sensors. I use both full frame and DX sensor bodies and the 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM works great on both. The 50-500mm turns into an amazing 75-750mm equivelent on a DX sensor body.
SUBJECT ISOLATION AND BOKEH
Even at f/8.0 the 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM can exhibit a buttery smooth bokeh. This is superb for a complex 22 element lens like this. The key to a good clean smooth background is subject to background distance and not a large aperture as most people believe.
The ability to go to beyond 200mm is really useful to blur backgrounds and help isolate your subject. The longer the focal length and the smaller the angle of view the tighter and smoother the background will look. This soft creamy background will really help make the subject stand out. The 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM gave me a nice pleasantly smooth background and helped make the details in the subject stand out.
For this kind of subject the 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM is ideal. Wide at 50mm for a full body image then close at 300mm to isolate the details in the head. The longer local length really helps to isolate the subject from the background.
Over the course of this trip the 50-500mm F4-6.3 OS system worked great and without a single problem. Amazingly almost all the images in the collection were made handheld with OS on. This wall painting image was made in really low light at only 1/320th of a second.
CLOSE FOCUS ABILITY
One of the my biggest discoveries on my trip to Australia was the 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSMs close focus ability. Technically the specs are 1:3.1 ratio at 19.7 in. What does this mean in the real world? This means that you can when you are handholding the 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM lens you can focus on your feet. This also means you can make a good sharp image of an insect or flower from great working distance. You should know that a 500mm f/4.0 prime lens normally has a close focus distance in feet not inches, typically 13 to 14 feet. A magnification ratio for one of these lenses is about 1:7 or 1:8.
One important thing to note is that the way the 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM works is that the closest distance is at 300mm and not 500mm. So if you cannot focus on something that is too close at 500mm just remember to zoom out to 300mm for even closer focus. The close up ratios are clearly marked on the 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM lens barrel.
My trip to Australia really opened my eyes to the opportunites that exist there and at the same time I really have learned a lot more about the 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM lens. It was fast, sharp, reliable and a pleasure to use and most importantly it never let me down. The biggest endorsement I can give is that I will actually be purchasing a 50-500mm F4-6.3 DG APO OS HSM, its that good.
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|Lens Construction||22 Elements in 6 Groups|
|Angle of View||46.8-5.0 degrees|
|Number of Diaphragm Blades||9|
|Minimum Focusing Distance||50-180cm/ 19.7-70.9in|
(Diameter x Length)
|104.4 mmx219 mm/4.1 in. x 8.6 in|
|Weight||1970 g / 69.5 oz.|
|HSM – Hyper-Sonic Motor, OS- Optical Stabilizer, CONV- APO teleconverter, DG- DG for digital, APO- Apochromatic
EX – EX Lens
DG – DG for Digital * The appearance, specifications, and the like of the product are subject to change for improvement without notice.