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Old 27th of July 2012 (Fri)   #1
mhrok
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Default Sigma 500mm f/4.5 APO

Hah, finally I'm getting into birding at low cost, although not without issues -- getting the older Sigma 500 f/4.5 APO AF (not the HSM, EX or DG), I guess the one coming from the 'ZEN' times. Will only be able to easily shoot wide open, but hey, got it cheaper than a used Canon 400L 5.6 .

Does anyone with practical experiences have comments about this lens and how it compares with the later birding lenses? There are some comparisons online between the current Sigma 500 4.5 EX DG HSM and Canon 500L IS, but only Dyxxum has anything about the old one at all.

Anyways, I will post here my thoughts about it, or maybe on the lenses subforum if that is a more appropriate place. I'm just really excited about my ultra cheap fast supertele .
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Old 27th of July 2012 (Fri)   #2
jodelak
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Default Re: Sigma 500mm f/4.5 APO

Sorry no experience on this lens but hope somebody here can share their experiences. Start shooting and post it here (Birds photo section)
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Old 28th of July 2012 (Sat)   #3
hari ari
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Default Re: Sigma 500mm f/4.5 APO

I used to use regularly from new in the mid 90s until 2001 when I upgraded to a Canon 600f4.
I have only used it with film (slides) with Canon EOS 3 and 5 film cameras. I was an excellent and affordable introduction into long lens. I was light (relatively speaking), AF was middling, contrast and resolving power was better than average. Also was relable (it was not used with kid gloves) and was exposed to all kinds of enviromnent in Africa.
A word of caution, make sure that it will work with the modern cameras. Some older Sigma lens have had to be modified (rechipped) to work with the current crop of Canon bodies. Also Sigma has not been able to modify some older lens.
As I mentioned, it is an affordable entry to the use of long lens. Trust that you enjoy the lens as much as I did.
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Old 28th of July 2012 (Sat)   #4
Billginthekeys
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Default Re: Sigma 500mm f/4.5 APO

I will echo what Hari said, did you check to make sure it will AF at all with your camera? I had a chance to pick up an old Sigma 500mm for a song (at least the 500mm equivalent of a song), but the owner said it didn't AF on any of his digital bodies either, so I skipped it.

Now some as I understand it do AF, but only wide open, some have been rechipped to work fully with certain bodies, some don't work at all, some work fine, and there seems to be no solid list of what is what with what lens on what body.

Anyway, wish you the best of luck with it and hope it works out fine.
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Old 28th of July 2012 (Sat)   #5
mhrok
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Default Re: Sigma 500mm f/4.5 APO

Thanks for responses! I saw virtually nothing at POTN about this lens, everyone seems to say the later EX is a great alternative for the 500L if you can't afford that, but no one mentioning anything about the pre-EX version. There are a few photos taken with it at Dyxum, but photos are as good as the remainder of the gear and the photographer, so can't really get anything out of that.

CDS seems said once or twice to stay away from the pre-EX version and run as fast as you can if you get close to it, but I guess just because some sellers still try to peddle them for as much as $2500 on ripoffbay.

Yes, going into this I knew it will likely AF on my body, but won't be able to change aperture unless I manage to disassemble the lens mount: someone on DPR got an older Sigma 24mm and apparently was able to shoot at the aperture the lens was at.. maybe that will work, maybe it won't. Anyhow, in the worst case I got a decent 500mm that will work with a fixed aperture up to f/4.5, at a price much lower than the Canon FD long primes go for.

I should have the lens at the end of this week. Before I will be able to get good photos from it I will need to learn long lens technique, probably get a full gimbal too. As soon as I can do some tests I will post them to the forums, in the Lens archive and Bird Photo section if they happen to be of birds. I have some blue jays visiting frequently, plus tons of hummingbirds, so those are likely to be frequent subjects .
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Old 29th of July 2012 (Sun)   #6
hari ari
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Default Re: Sigma 500mm f/4.5 APO

Good luck with your new aquisition. I would like to know as to how u get on with it. If I recall correctly, the sweet spot was at f8.
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Old 29th of July 2012 (Sun)   #7
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Default Re: Sigma 500mm f/4.5 APO

I used to shoot with a guy that had one and he got pretty good results but that was back in the film days and I don't know if it would AF with a digital body. I would contact Sigma and see if they still support this lens, if they do maybe you could get it reshipped for a current body.
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Old 1st of August 2012 (Wed)   #8
mhrok
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Default Re: Sigma 500mm f/4.5 APO

By multiple reports, Sigma does not rechip bodies, so it's either been rechipped already or it's not going to be. Some lenses also were never allowed to be rechipped, because they didn't care: they were old when the need arose.
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Old 2nd of August 2012 (Thu)   #9
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Default Re: Sigma 500mm f/4.5 APO

I use this lens. It's not chipped so I have to shoot everything wide open. Auto focus works but is slow. Now my auto focus motor seems like it's going out. I've used it on a 20 and 30D and tested it on a 50D and a 7D and the auto focus worked the same. Toughest part is getting used to shooting with a shallow DOF.
The majority of these were shot with this lens.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/17627582@N08/
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Last edited by chubri777 : 2nd of August 2012 (Thu) at 20:58.
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Old 2nd of August 2012 (Thu)   #10
mhrok
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Default Re: Sigma 500mm f/4.5 APO

Lens is on its way.. a few more days. Now gotta get a gimbal head for it and a decent plate.

Chuck, how do you carry it around? Backpack, or something like the Lens Trekker?
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Old 2nd of August 2012 (Thu)   #11
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Default Re: Sigma 500mm f/4.5 APO

Carry it around by the camera. The tripod foot broke off a long time ago. I have always handheld this beast.
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Old 2nd of August 2012 (Thu)   #12
mhrok
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Default Re: Sigma 500mm f/4.5 APO

Impressive shots in general, great for being handheld!
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Old 9th of August 2012 (Thu)   #13
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Default Re: Sigma 500mm f/4.5 APO

The lens arrived today, and as expected it shows Err 01 if I try to shot with anything else than wide open. However, even wide open it looks really sharp; the only thing that scares me is how much things wobble at 500mm, or 800mm FF equivalent. I was looking and focusing manually through LiveView and my screen was jumping all over the place just because of tiny breeze! Insane. Should I get a gimbal head?

Another thing that is weird is that the lens is.. small? Light? I never had the Canon 500L in my hands, but I expected this lens to be much heavier; well, it isn't. Also, it fits well in Tamrac Expedition 7x, though not with the extra screw-in hood.

More when I get some decent sample photos.

BTW: is there a way to lock the retractable hood? It's really bad when the big hood collapses..

Last edited by mhrok : 9th of August 2012 (Thu) at 02:10.
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Old 10th of August 2012 (Fri)   #14
chubri777
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Default Re: Sigma 500mm f/4.5 APO

Slide it out and twist it until it locks. I keep both hoods on mine at all times. Makes it a little more balanced.
It weighs real close to what the Canon 500 weighs so yeah, get a gimbal head.
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Old 12th of August 2012 (Sun)   #15
mhrok
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Default Re: Sigma 500mm f/4.5 APO

Thanks Chuck, I tried twisting it for a long time but weren't persistent enough. Also, I have to turn it clockwise while the add-on has to be turned anticlockwise, so thought they both go in the same direction. After locking it everything seems rock solid, I mean the hoods are both metal. Really nice build quality.
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