© Satoru Korenaga

SIGMA 500mm F4 DG OS HSM | Sports Impression

The 500mm F4 as a "star" prime ultra-telephoto Released for the new product line

"I’ll definitely get this lens for myself because I’m confident of the quality."
Said happily the SIGMA representative who shoots airplanes. It feels extremely light as it uses expensive materials such as magnesium (for the barrel) and carbon (for the hood). Image quality must be exceptional because it was announced as the "flagship" lens for the Sports line and the representative, who may have been feeling tired of looking at their own products every day, introduced it with his shining eyes. 500mm is one of the most versatile focal lengths for an ultra-telephoto prime lens because photographers often attach a teleconverter to their 300mm or 400mm lens to reach around 500mm. In other words, the 500mm F4 is the an ideal ultra-telephoto lens.

Key question: Does it meet the requirements for a flagship lens?

What does it mean to be a "flagship" lens? First, and quite naturally, it must have an unmatched performance. At first I was surprised by the price of this lens as I expected it to be about half of the lenses made by camera manufacturers of the same category, but it also made me realize that SIGMA has invested considerable time and effort to produce it. Second, a flagship lens should perform in any situation. Third, it must represent the prestige of the manufacturer. In other words, it must be a dream lens that promises remarkable image quality and stimulates photographers. Now, does this lens have such quality? Let’s test it.

You can view all the sample images at their original size from the gallery at the bottom of this page.
© Satoru Korenaga

Ability to capture the passage of time

It’s about watching rather than shooting. In sports, we remember the player’s dynamic motions, facial expressions, mood, and surrounding air as a sequence. When we encounter "the decisive moment," we also watch the player before and after the moment, making the scope of photographic expression quite limited. For this reason, the lens must capture the subject so that viewers can focus only on what is going on in the frame. The rendition must be as sharp as possible and distortion-free. Also, the lens should express the clear sky and air as linearly as possible. In this sense, this lens does a perfect job because it’s extremely sharp wide open and completely distortion-free. The bokeh taste is smooth and beautiful. In other words, this lens does capture "the passage of time."

© Satoru Korenaga

Amazing resolution. Take a look at the image at its original size, Because it’s completely free from aberrations, the subject pops out from the background. I was excited to see the autumn light and temperature captured linearly on the viewfinder screen.

© Satoru Korenaga

Wonderful rendition of the autumn air which is also wet and dense.
It’s significantly lighter and better balanced than the previous model APO 500mm F4.5 EX DG HSM. I can now shoot handheld effortlessly and I’m not exaggerating.

© Satoru Korenaga
© Satoru Korenaga

This lens is there for you to build images representing your sensations.
And, it is this agreement between images and sensations that determines the quality of photography. This lens is a solution of engineering designed to capture what was impossible to capture.

© Satoru Korenaga

Ability to see subjects up close

The 500mm F4 isn’t solely intended to shoot sports activities. It pulls distant subjects toward the photographer. Or, it simplifies composition by isolating the subject from the background. So, it can be used to shoot anything the photographer wants to pull toward himself/herself. Because of the sharpness, beautiful large bokeh, and rich tone reproduction, the contrast is high even though the tone is smooth. The unique ultra-telephoto world is always exciting. By the way, this image was shot at a shutter speed of 1/30 sec. It looks slightly blurry of course, but it’s considerably sharp for the condition thanks to the powerful image stabilization. This lens is more versatile than I expected.

© Satoru Korenaga
© Satoru Korenaga
© Satoru Korenaga

Ability to meet the expectations

The APO 500mm F4.5 EX DG HSM is a wonderful lens as well. Judging from the F-number, I suppose that it was designed for the best cost-performance. After testing the new 500mm F4, I realized that SIGMA made no compromise and did their very best to make it. The operation is very well thought-out and the image stabilization is incredibly powerful. Yet, like other SIGMA lenses, it’s more affordable than the competitors from other manufacturers. If you use a 500m F4, you know what you want to shoot. I hope you’ll find the sample shots useful and urge you to try it.

© Satoru Korenaga
© Satoru Korenaga
© Satoru Korenaga
© Satoru Korenaga