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Thoughts On The "Bigma" 50-500  
User currently offlineYVRLTN From Canada, joined Oct 2006, 2560 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 11 months 6 hours ago) and read 6719 times:

Does anybody have any experience with the Sigma 50-500mm f4-6.3 AF EX DG HSM? Will use it with a Canon Rebel XT.

Seems to be a very versatile lens, but inferior to the Canon 100-400, but given the cost difference it is to be expected, and from reviews I have seen probably a worthwhile bang for the buck. I dont have the cash right now for the Canon, but I could afford this 2nd hand, seen one for $1000 almost new, but dont want to waste my money either if its a dog.

Complaints seem to be weight, but I will only be using it for spotting, no vacation use or hikes out into the wilds, so no issues there.

Some say a tripod is essential, others say you can do fine without - I have a tripod and with the new fence around YVR most locations would be fine to use a tripod...

Is lack of IS an issue, particularly for non tripod use and airshows?

Some say its a 'fair weather lens', so not great on dull days - here at YVR, depsite our famous mountains, it is Raincouver for a lot of the year so is very often dull or worse. Is it OK to compensate by cranking up the ISO?

For the record, I am not aiming to win any prizes with my photos, I dont intend to even attempt to get past the a.net screeners   its just a hobby for me, more to keep a record of day to day movements to look back on in the future more than anything, and best case the pictures will be going on flickr.

Appreciate any feedback, particularly from an owner of one.


Follow me on twitter for YVR movements @vernonYVR
18 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinedazbo5 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2005, 2934 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (2 years 11 months 5 hours ago) and read 6696 times:

Quoting YVRLTN (Thread starter):
Seems to be a very versatile lens, but inferior to the Canon 100-400,

I've been using one for over 5 years now. It's marginally inferior to the 100-400 but it more than makes up for it in it's versatility. For me, the 100-400 is too long at the short end making it of little use. I've got around 4,600 photos on the database with over half of them taken with the 50-500 with many examples at 500mm. It's pretty sharp all the way to 400mm, but starts to soften as you go towards 500mm, as you'd expect from a 10x lens. Like most lenses, it needs to be stopped down to get the best from it, f/10 is it's sweet spot but f/8 if you don't have the light. I've always found Sigma lenses to be interior to Canon with contrast, but they aren't far behind. For the money, you can't go wrong really. It is a big, heavy lens though so takes some getting used to. You'll not get good results straight out of the box, it takes a little practice. You might want to invest in a mono-pod as well to take the weight off between shots. I wouldn't say a tripod is needed though, it's perfectly usable hand-held.

Quoting YVRLTN (Thread starter):
Is lack of IS an issue, particularly for non tripod use and airshows?

Not really. If you're using sower shutter speeds, then IS can be a advantage. As long as you keep your shutter speed acceptable, ie at least the reciprocal of the focal length and preferably a little more, it's perfectly usable at all focal lengths hand-held. I regularly use might at under 1/100th at over 400mm shooting props. It's technique more than anything.

Quoting YVRLTN (Thread starter):
Some say its a 'fair weather lens', so not great on dull days

As I mentioned above, it's not the best in low contrast environments and as it's sweet spot is stopped down, you do need plenty of light. I still use mine on very dull days and in wet weather and get decent results.

Quoting YVRLTN (Thread starter):
Is it OK to compensate by cranking up the ISO?

That's more a function of your camera body than lens. Whether you shoot at ISO 100 or 400, it won't make any difference to the lens performance. I used to use a 350D (XT) and used it at ISO 200 no problem on duller days but it does start to get a little noisy at ISO 400 and above.

The best way to make a decision is to go down to your camera shop and have a look at one. It's not a lens for everyone because of the size and weight. I would ask the question what focal lengths do I need? Bear in mind shooting long focal lengths also needs clean air, ie heat haze is a problem when shooting over long distances. The more air you shoot through, the more critical how clear air is. No lens can achieve good results when there's even a hint of heat haze at long focal lengths and there's no way around it. If the airport you shoot at is prone to heat haze, you may not get use of the longer end of the lens for many months.

Any further questions, fire away.

Darren



Equipment: 2x Canon EOS 50D; Sigma 10-20 EX DC HSM, 50-500 EX APO DG, Canon 24-105 f/4 L, Speedlite 430EX
User currently offlinestealthz From Australia, joined Feb 2005, 5747 posts, RR: 44
Reply 2, posted (2 years 11 months 3 hours ago) and read 6674 times:
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Having owned and used a Bigma for over 8 years I can't argue with much of what Dazbo says.

Quoting YVRLTN (Thread starter):
Some say its a 'fair weather lens', so not great on dull days -

The thing loves light, it seems to suffer more than, say, the Canon 100-400, in less than optimal light.

One big advantage is the short end, I have many photos(a few on here) that companions missed because their 100-400 lenses were too long to get the shot.

Tripod.. rarely used one, if the light is OK the flexibility of handholding works for me.



If your camera sends text messages, that could explain why your photos are rubbish!
User currently offlineYVRLTN From Canada, joined Oct 2006, 2560 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 6568 times:

Quoting dazbo5 (Reply 1):
wouldn't say a tripod is needed though, it's perfectly usable hand-held.
Quoting dazbo5 (Reply 1):
it's perfectly usable at all focal lengths hand-held
Quoting stealthz (Reply 2):
Tripod.. rarely used one, if the light is OK the flexibility of handholding works for me.

Thanks Darren, always enjoyed your photos. This was a key point, not being restricted to a tripod. In some of the reviews owners almost made out they had a breeze block attached to their camera!! I have a muscle or two and weight is not an issue, I will always be in my vehicle or there is a bench to put my stuff down on. Thats one con which probably isnt a con.

Quoting dazbo5 (Reply 1):
I would ask the question what focal lengths do I need?

I mostly use an 18-200 right now for the versatility, as bizjets come right up to the fence so the wide angle is great. At YVR, I can get down to 738/321 size aircraft in a full frame at 200 no problem, so up to 400 would be fine to get the small props & bizjets, so for the most part I wouldnt be going right up to 500 other than for maybe GA or zooming in on something, but the versatility at the lower end is attractive for the stuff taxying in front of me, I may not even need my 18-200 with me at all. Therefore, while heat haze can be an issue in summer, you can see the distances are not huge so wont be too much of an issue.

Quoting dazbo5 (Reply 1):
it's not the best in low contrast environments and as it's sweet spot is stopped down, you do need plenty of light
Quoting stealthz (Reply 2):
The thing loves light, it seems to suffer more than, say, the Canon 100-400, in less than optimal light.

This still concerns me a bit. The weather in MAN is similar to YVR, so I guess I just need to practice on stuff that doesnt matter at f/8 and see how I go. It really does seem great value for money.

Thanks both of you.



Follow me on twitter for YVR movements @vernonYVR
User currently offlinedazbo5 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2005, 2934 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 6546 times:

Quoting YVRLTN (Reply 3):
Thats one con which probably isnt a con.

I don't see the weight being a big problem. If you were holding it all day then it does get a bit heavy after a while. From what you say, you won't be doing that so it won't be a problem.

Quoting YVRLTN (Reply 3):
The weather in MAN is similar to YVR, so I guess I just need to practice on stuff that doesnt matter at f/8 and see how I go.

I wouldn't see it as a major negative. When the weather is bad, chances are, unless there's a one-off aircraft coming in, you'll not be out shooting anyway. I wouldn't say you're limited to good weather, but that's where you'll get the best from the lens. I still use it in poor weather, you just have to compensate for it's need for light that's all.

Darren



Equipment: 2x Canon EOS 50D; Sigma 10-20 EX DC HSM, 50-500 EX APO DG, Canon 24-105 f/4 L, Speedlite 430EX
User currently offlinedendrobatid From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2004, 1691 posts, RR: 61
Reply 5, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 6541 times:
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I used one of these lenses for a long, long time but now have (and prefer) the Canon 100-400.
Bigma is great in good light but less so in poorer, though that can be said of most lenses. It's extra length at the long end is great, though it is soft and needs to be stopped down well and as Darrent points out, at the short end it is very useful. One lens will replace a couple for most aviation purposes.

The problem that I found was the after sales service. My lens dropped a short distance, simply a few inches off the top of my camera bag, and whilst it seemed to be working ok, it was damaged and was returned to Sigma UK who repaired it at a very reasonable cost, though after quite a delay. I had contacted my insurers but cancelled my claim as it was not worth pursuing. It did not work properly on return to me and was sent back (at considerable cost) and again returned not working well. Returned to Sigma yet again I was told that it would have to be returned to Japan with a delay of about 3-4 months at which I re-contacted my insurers in and when they paid me, I went for the 100-400. Though Darren has not mentioned it, I know he had problems with his being repaired too, not getting it right first time.

I do like very blurred props and I find the IS on the Canon a help to get them but I would have no problem having another Bigma.

Mick Bajcar


User currently offlinedazbo5 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2005, 2934 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 6501 times:

Quoting dendrobatid (Reply 5):
Though Darren has not mentioned it, I know he had problems with his being repaired too, not getting it right first time.

As Mick mentions, I did have a problem with the auto-focus motor failing although I was never confidant that was the problem as it focused fine other than between 200-300mm at distance. For me, if the auto focus motor was at fault, it wouldn't have focus at all. It was repaired by Sigma UK and the lens thoroughly cleaned (you get dust inside after a while with the barrel movements) and returned after about 6 weeks as it was sent to Japan, they couldn't do it here. After a month or two, the problem re-occurred. After sending it back to Sigma UK, they wanted to charge me the same amount for the same repair but after questioning, they agreed to do it under post-repair warranty. I still have the odd problem with focus not locking on to subjects as I had initially, but it's limited to cold weather. For some reason, when the lens is warm, it's fine. When used when the weather drops below say 7c, between 200-300mm, it doesn't always lock on to subjects until you zoom in a few mm's. This is limited to aircraft in the distance. Something close to you and it's fine. They never really resolved the problem after 'repairing' it twice but 90% of the time, it's not a problem and you just work around it. It's still a good lens for the money and wouln't put me off buying one.

Darren



Equipment: 2x Canon EOS 50D; Sigma 10-20 EX DC HSM, 50-500 EX APO DG, Canon 24-105 f/4 L, Speedlite 430EX
User currently offlineMolykote From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 1343 posts, RR: 15
Reply 7, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 6489 times:
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Quoting YVRLTN (Thread starter):
I dont have the cash right now for the Canon, but I could afford this 2nd hand, seen one for $1000 almost new, but dont want to waste my money either if its a dog.

You're probably aware, but the best thing about buying used is recovering your purchase price (maybe a little more, maybe a little less) if you don't like it.



Speedtape - The aspirin of aviation!
User currently offlineduckyduck From New Zealand, joined Aug 2005, 2 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 6404 times:

I have one of the older versions of the Sigma 150~500 on a Nikon D200.

I have found it a very useful. Sure a 500/F4 would be nicer.

I have used it in low cloudy over cast light on a monopod for kite surfing and have come away with nice sharp images and school cross country in nice sunlight with equal results.

It is a "heavy" lens if hand holding for any length of time but is manageable.

In my case, I had a choice of the Nikon 200~400/F4 at triple the cost for a used one verse the Sigma 150~500 and after weighing up the cost verse expected amount of use, I took the Sigma.

For me, it has worked out.


User currently offlineuuee From Russia, joined Sep 2006, 1 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 6319 times:

Sigma 50x500 and Nikon D200 foto test:
( http://photo.qip.ru/users/uuee/115680831/ )


User currently offlineGavinConroy From New Zealand, joined Jul 2005, 35 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 6056 times:

Any one have some feedback on the newer version with IS?

How good is it compared to the previous model?



Never stop believing.
User currently offlinewarbirdz From Australia, joined Dec 2007, 25 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 6044 times:

Getting lazy in your old age are you Gavin  

User currently offlineGavinConroy From New Zealand, joined Jul 2005, 35 posts, RR: 4
Reply 12, posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 6031 times:

Na mate, just looking to get some different perspective's and I had the previous model which served me well and 500mm would be handy sometimes.


Never stop believing.
User currently offlinewarbirdz From Australia, joined Dec 2007, 25 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 6015 times:

Take it from me, you don't need 500mm. I would say too that it would most likely be soft anyway around full zoom. From experience. Maybe they got it right but with the access you can get, you don't need 500. in fact, 400mm will be too big in most vases.

User currently offlineEGCC777LR From Australia, joined Oct 2006, 164 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 6007 times:
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PHOTO SCREENER

Quoting GavinConroy (Reply 10):
Any one have some feedback on the newer version with IS?

How good is it compared to the previous model?

Good friend of mine who uploads some lovely shots here, Peter Hulse, changed from the old 50-500 to the new IS version last year after the old one lost the battle of old age.

http://www.airliners.net/search/phot...=Peter%20Hulse&distinct_entry=true

He uses D700 body and says the new version is considerably better than the old one. The old one must have been pretty good though, most of his first 500 shots here were with the old 50-500.



Flown On B704,722,732/3/4/7/8/9,744,752,762/3/4,772,77W,A319,A320,A321,A330,A388,L1011,F-50,BAE146,CRJ100, Dash-8. Left
User currently offlinedazbo5 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2005, 2934 posts, RR: 2
Reply 15, posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 5998 times:

Quoting warbirdz (Reply 13):
I would say too that it would most likely be soft anyway around full zoom.

A little soft yes, but still perfectly usable. You have to remember this is a 10x zoom range so it's never going to be sharp all the way through. What it lacks in sharpness at 500mm, it more than makes up for in versitility. At my local airport, it's the only lens where you can shoot 737's one second, then PA28's the next without having two bodies or be swapping lenses all the time. I use mine pretty regularly at the longer end, including 500mm although it's best up to about 450mm. As long as the air is clear enough and the lighting is right, I've no issues using the Bigma at full reach. For example;


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Darren Wilson
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Darren Wilson

Quoting GavinConroy (Reply 10):
Any one have some feedback on the newer version with IS?

How good is it compared to the previous model?

From what I've been told, optically, it's the same as the non-IS. It lost it's EX rating because Sigma rebranded lenses and only F/4's are designated EX now but it's still EX underneath.

Darren



Equipment: 2x Canon EOS 50D; Sigma 10-20 EX DC HSM, 50-500 EX APO DG, Canon 24-105 f/4 L, Speedlite 430EX
User currently onlineyerbol From Kazakhstan, joined Feb 2010, 235 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 5991 times:

Hi Darren,
Your 500mm Bigma's photos look great. I am thinking to get Sigma 120-400mm. Did you use one before in the past? What you can say about Sigma 120-400mm lens?
Brgds,
Yerbol



With best regards from Almaty
User currently offlinedazbo5 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2005, 2934 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 5988 times:

Quoting yerbol (Reply 16):
I am thinking to get Sigma 120-400mm. Did you use one before in the past?

I've never used one of them so can't comment on it realy.

These are a few non-aviation photos taken with the 50-500 where it's versitility came in to it's own. For those that have been to Kenya, and specifically on the plains where it's very dusty, not having to change lenses comes in very usefull;



Quality is lower due to jpeg compression.

Darren



Equipment: 2x Canon EOS 50D; Sigma 10-20 EX DC HSM, 50-500 EX APO DG, Canon 24-105 f/4 L, Speedlite 430EX
User currently offlinemanzoori From UK - England, joined Sep 2002, 1516 posts, RR: 33
Reply 18, posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 5927 times:

Yep, pretty much what Darren and Mick have already said about the 'Bigma'.  

I think I'd have liked to get the Canon 100-400L IS but at the time the added cost of the Canon coupled with the bigger zoom range swung it for the Sigma... that and having had a 170-500 before that and I was loathe to loose the 500mm end of the range. Interestingly I read somewhere years ago that 500mm might be a bit optimistic?

So now the lens array is a Sigma 18-50EX, Sigma 50-500EX and for a walkabout lens the Sigma 18-250 OS... if the Bigma ever decides to head to the lens bin then I think I'd probably go for the Bigma OS unless Canon has something more interesting to offer!

Cheers!

Rez



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