A First Look at Sigma’s Monster Prime, the 500mm f/4 Sport

Sigma’s new 500mm f/4 Sport is getting a lot of attention. It might be because it’s the first telephoto prime in its new ART/SPORT series of lenses, or it might be because of the price tag of $5,999. That’s $3,000 less than the Canon and almost $4,300 less than the Nikon, while only being $1,000 more than the older Sigma 500mm f/4.5.


This lens is big, bulky, and at just under 7.5lbs best suited for use on a tripod or monopod. For much of my shooting, I had it mounted on Induro’s GHB2 gimbal head, and an Induro carbon fiber monopod.

The feel of the lens is typical of Sigma’s new lenses. The build quality is great, the buttons/switches feel solid, and the focus ring has a smooth feel to it with a nice throw. For those that have used a Sigma 150-600mm Sport, the hood tightening knob is a new design that doesn’t feel like it will strip or break. There are many adjustments that can be made using the switches, and it still has the “Custom” functions that can be made using Sigma’s dock and software.



Sigma was nice enough to send a demo unit for me to shoot with for a day, and while it wasn’t a thorough test/review, I did manage to get some use out of it.

After unpacking the lens, the first thing I noticed was the build quality and design of the lens. It’s a great looking piece of glass, with Sigma’s black finish and the carbon fiber hood. Handholding this lens isn’t ideal due to its weight, but the image stabilization works well, and the weight is surprisingly balanced on a larger DSLR body.

Most sample images were taken with a 5D Mark III, and a few with the 7D Mark II – no AF micro adjustments were done, and no lens profile corrections were available in Lightroom at the time of shooting.

Photos below were taken at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Rocky River Reservation using gimbal head and monopod unless noted.










The camera and lens were handheld for the following images:









After using the lens all day, I was quite impressed at the performance. Even with the 5D Mark III, the lens locked onto subjects quickly, and wasn’t thrown off easily by background/foreground distractions. With the weather sealing of the Sport line, there was no worrying when it started snowing and changing into rain/sleet. The OS worked quite well at slower shutter speeds – I managed to get sharp images at speeds well below 1/500th.

The only downfall of this lens is carrying it around all day. Due to the size, it wouldn’t fit in my MindShift Backlight 26L backpack, so I was usually resting it on my shoulder while walking, or occasionally carrying it by the tripod collar. A larger bag, like the Think Tank Glass Limo or Glass Taxi makes carrying it from one spot to another much easier.

But in the end, having 500mm of prime lens quality is worth a sore arm and shoulder. Especially at a price that’s “budget friendly” compared to the Canon and Nikon branded 500’s.

Sourse: petapixel.com

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  1. Reply Stanislaw Zolczynski December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

    How big would be mirror AF 500/4 ?

  2. Reply Evert December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

    If you don’t mind carrying one pound more, a Canon 500mm f/4 version I is probably much cheaper :)

  3. Reply SWijsman December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Seriously? These pictures are all out of focus… I know the Sigma 150-600mm Sport takes razor sharp pictures, so the 500mm F4 should even be beter. Just move along, this review is crap. I do not believe this represents the quality the lens is capable of.

    • Reply x_x December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

      its Peta Pixel, not the images. Everything looks like crap here

  4. Reply Dukat December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

    This bunch of samples images has done a smashing job of putting people off from buying this lens. These images are worse quality than a kit lens

  5. Reply x_x December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Does Peta Pixel restrict the resolution of the images posted here? These dont look like they are in focus and I seriously doubt the photog caught anything but razor sharp images

    • Reply Miki Perata December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

      I think what you are seeing is an f/4 lens being shot wide open and the focus is on the subject and not the weeds in the background. Some people refer to this as a very shallow depth of field.

      • Reply x_x December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

        no. what I am seeing appears to be garbage resolution restrictions set forth by the host, Petapixel. The images are trash quality but I have no doubts the original images are razor sharp. What gives PP?

  6. Reply saywhatuwill December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

    I really hate to say this, but I will, this looks like the output I get with the Nikkor 400mm f/5.6 EDIF manual lens, It’s not bad, but I know there are much sharper and better lenses out there. The sample pictures just don’t look all that impressive.

  7. Reply Hunter December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Most of these images out of focus….

  8. Reply dslrforever December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

    I wouldn’t throw that kind of money on a Sigma, Art or no Art. If you do this professionally, get yourself a real Nikon or a real Canon and all the support that comes with NPS or CPS. Not to mention that they make the cameras so they know what they’re doing with the lenses instead of having to reverse engineer the secret sauce and then having to come back with firmware updates when things stop working when you change cameras.

    • Reply Dukat December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

      Eh? Nikon need firmware updates to thier cameras when ever lenses get released, but never seen one needed on the camera when a sigma gets released.
      You are very much out of date if you think it’s making a difference to combine brand lenses to matching brand camera bodies.especially when nikon have sold thier design tech to tamron, who make better glass.

  9. Reply Ricky Wilson December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

    I have the 500 4.5 Sigma great lens.

  10. Reply karmazen December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Should try this on the A6500 with a speedbooster: 500mm F2.8.
    Not sure what the point would be but sounds cool.

    • Reply Rick December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

      The aperture ratio of this 500mm lens is f/4. That means the physical aperture measures 500/4, or 125mm. That handily fits nicely inside the 144mm max diameter of this lens.

      If you use any method to alter the focal length, be it a teleconverter, telecompressor, or using a different size sensor to make it equivalent to another focal length, at no point can that physical aperture get bigger.

      Your idea of making it have a physical aperture of 180mm is nice, but clearly not based on reality.

    • Reply Ihor Balaban December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

      I briefly used it with the 6500 and the mc-11. It was so-so. Maybe they’ll release a firmware update for it that’ll make it work better, but it was pretty comical to see such a small camera on the lens.

      • Reply karmazen December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

        Tried the mc11 with a canon 100-400 and it was not as good as the metabones. With the metabones I got performance pretty close to my 5DIII on an A7RII.

    • Reply Zos Xavius December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

      a speed booster would be a neat idea. don’t you lose a little focal length though? I don’t think its 1:1. Still….2.8…….

  11. Reply Robin Lee December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Couldn’t fit on your 26L backpack is a downfall? Did you not know it’s size and bring the correct bag to store it? …

    • Reply Ihor Balaban December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

      It was a sample lens sent to us for a few days for an event. I don’t shoot with long primes so my bag doesn’t need to hold one. Just pointing out a minor inconvenience during my day with it.

    • Reply alvareo December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

      inb4 “he needed to mention a downside so they couldn’t tell this post was sponsored and that’s the only thing that wasn’t damning!!!!!!!!”

      • Reply Ihor Balaban December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

        I wish Sigma would sponsor me.. Haha. Or any lens/camera manufacturer

      • Reply Zos Xavius December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

        Sponsored? Please

        • alvareo December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

          sigh, do you know what inb4 and quotation marks mean?

        • Dukat December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

          Probably best you go to your local school to learn how to write English then the confusion wouldn’t happen in the first place.

        • alvareo December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

          It’s an internet expression. I will use internet expressions on a comments section on the internet. Whenever I write a “serious” piece of writing, I use proper English.

        • Zos Xavius December 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

          No. I actually did not lol. I looked it up and understand now.

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