Review: Sigma 150-500mm F/5-6.3 APO DG OS

Posted by Gary Ramey on September 13th, 2011

Sigma 150-500mm LensSummary: The Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 AF APO DG OS HSM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras is a huge, heavy lens. Be prepared to use a monopod or tripod with this lens.

Review: The lens weighs 4.2 pounds and is 3.7 inches in diameter by 10 inches long when at its shortest length. This is the longest lens I have owned so please bear with me if I write about some things that anyone would already know if they owned an ultra-telephoto lens.

The build quality is solid. The only thing that feels cheap is the lens hood which is made out of a relatively thin plastic that feels like I could crack it if I squeezed it too hard. It comes in a well padded case and two straps — one for the lens itself and another for the case. It is good that they included a strap for the lens because I’m not so sure that I would want my camera to support the burden of this lens hanging around my neck.

The Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) autofocus is very quiet and the lens even has a distance scale. When switched to Manual focus, the manual focus ring rotates smoothly but it is disconcerting that the ring rotates beyond infinity at the farthest end and 7.5 feet, the closest setting.

The included tripod mount and collar is stable and you can rotate the camera from horizontal to vertical without changing anything on the tripod. This keeps the lens centered over the tripod rather than dangling precariously to the side. Due to the weight of this lens, there can be some droop when mounted on a tripod depending upon the head being used. My Manfrotto 322RC2 Joystick Head was solid but, surprisingly, the Manfrotto 460MG Magnesium Camera Head drooped dramatically. The droop was so bad, at 500mm, the 460MG was useless. Also expect a lot of jiggle when you press the shutter button so I recommend using a remote shutter release.

There are two optical stabilizer (OS) settings. Sigma recommends turning off OS when the lens is mounted on a tripod. I used Mode 1 handheld and the resulting photos were sharp in bright light and fast shutter speeds.  It takes about a second to stabilize after pressing the shutter button halfway. Mode 2 detects vertical camera shake and is effective for subjects moving horizontal to the camara.

The lens takes 86mm filters. I purchased a Sigma EX DG 86mm Multi-Coated UV Filter and a Sigma AFI960 EX DG 86mm Single-Coated Circular Polarizer Filter. Sigma recommends putting only one filter at a time on the lens due to the possibility of flare or vignetting. I had hoped to be able to leave a filter on the lens when I store it in the included case but the fit is very tight.

So far, I am happy with my purchase and hope to have some example photos to post soon.


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