I was finally able to get my hands on the new Sigma 500mm f/4 lens last month for one day out in Yellowstone and quickly fell in love with its performance but I really wanted to see how well it executed with capturing flying birds. I got my chance at the just concluded Festival of the Cranes out at the Bosque del Apache National wildlife refuge and here are my first impressions of the lens overall.
The first thing I noticed was the beautiful build quality of the lens from the carbon fiber hood all the way through the stunning finish of the Sport seal. The lens weighs in at about 7.29 pounds but as soon as I picked it up, I was pleasantly surprised, and found the weight to be extremely well balanced which made hand holding very comfortable. I know most of you will not hand hold this lens but I did want to show my nature photography friends that it was doable. All of the images in this post were hand held and taken with the lens straight out of the box with no other USB dock adjustments.
The second most noticeable feature was how quickly the lens acquired, tracked the subject (even with busy backgrounds like in the images above and below), and kept the focus throughout, which are all must have ‘s when photographing birds in flight. Imagine this performance at sporting events where the subjects just aren’t quite that fast!
My final thoughts are about the Sport build and the Optical Stabilization (OS). In the image below of the wood duck, I was hand holding wide open in very poor light. The OS performed flawlessly as my shutter speed started to drop. This is a very useful feature to have when hand holding at slower shutter speeds!
As with the entire Sport lineup, the weather seal hold up to even the worst environs I can throw at it. We had a major windstorm one afternoon out in the field with wind gust of 50+ miles per hour. When I came back to the room, I simply wiped the dust off with a damp cloth. I also consistently place my camera and lens on the ground when I teach out in the field so the Sport seal gives me the peace of mind of being able to take anything I can throw at it. All in all this newest Sigma Sports lens will give you pro performance and rival any other 500mm f/4 lens on the market for a much more budget friendly price.
Roman Kurywczak is a full time nature photographer and proud Sigma Pro team member who conducts lectures and workshops across the globe. His boutique tour company, Roamin’ with Roman Photo Tours, caters to very small groups (only 4) to provide the ultimate learning experience for participants. His down to earth and easy to follow teaching style make him a highly sought after lecturer. The author of several instructional eBook’s on nature photography, Roman strives to share his passion for photography as others have shared with him. He is married for over 26 years with two sons and lives in NJ. You can learn more about Roman’s workshops, lectures, eBook’s, galleries, and more at: www.roaminwithroman.com