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Sigma 500mm f/5.6 DG DN OS Sports Review

Sigma regularly launches new mirrorless lenses, however the release of the Sigma 500mm f/5.6 DG DN OS Sports Lens for Sony E and 500mm f/5.6 DG DN OS Sports Lens for L-Mount will be among the most highly anticipated in 2024.

Sigma 500mm f/5.6 DG DN OS Sports Lens Video Review | An Awesome Telephoto Prime Lens

Boasting a fixed 500mm super telephoto focal length and an impressively lightweight design, this lens is tailor-made for birders, wildlife enthusiasts, sports shooters and aviation photographers. Packed with features to elevate your long-lens shots, it's destined to become the crown jewel in many photographers' collections.

Our Sigma 500mm f/5.6 DG DN OS Sports Review has everything you need to know, including a hands-on video review, sample images and much more. So whether you intend to upgrade or simply want to learn more about its features, continue reading to discover how the newest super telephoto from Sigma can transform your long range photography.

Sigma 500mm f/5.6 DG DN OS Sports Review

Sigma 500mm f/5.6 DG DN OS Sports lens price

The first question many will ask is the price of the Sigma 500mm f/5.6 DG DN OS Sports lens, which costs £2,799.00 at launch. This is significantly more cost effective than many f/4 prime lenses, which will no doubt tempt a variety of photographers to investigate further.

Jay bird captured with Sigma 500mm Sports lens

Jay Camera settings: Exposure 1/500 sec. f/5.6. ISO 1600

Sigma 500mm f/5.6 DG DN OS Sports key features

As a ‘Sports’ series Sigma lens, the 500mm f/5.6 DG DN OS is a telephoto prime designed for dynamic image capture with high optical performance. In order to achieve this Sigma has utilised their latest optical technology, together with numerous features, such as:

  • 5-stops optical image stabilisation with two modes
  • Low 1370g weight for easier handholding
  • High image quality from 3 FLD and 2 SLD special lens elements
  • High-response Linear Actuator (HLA) motor provides smooth, near silent AF
  • Resistant to flare and ghosting
  • Aperture ring with lock and de-click switch
  • 11-blade rounded diaphragm
  • Detachable Arca-Swiss compatible tripod socket
  • Extensive lens controls including a Focus Limiter and customisable buttons
  • Extensive weather sealing

Robin shot with the new Sigma 500mm mirrorless Sports lens

Robin Camera settings: Exposure 1/500 sec. f/5.6. ISO 2500

What is a 500m lens used for?

A 500mm prime lens is used for subjects which are difficult to get close to. These might include anything from indoor and outdoor sports to bird and wildlife photography, aviation, action, and other more distant subjects.

Heron sample image from the Sigma 500mm f/5.6 DG DN OS Sports Lens for Sony E

Heron Camera settings: Exposure 1/1000 sec. f/5.6. ISO 320

Image quality

High image quality is desirable at any focal width, but especially so at super telephoto focal lengths, where the lens has to resolve small details from a greater distance. Atmospheric conditions play a part, along with chromatic aberrations, which can be more prominent when capturing more distant contrasting subjects.

In order to deliver the highest possible image quality Sigma has employed an advanced optical design, comprised of 20 elements in 14 groups, including 3 FLD, and 2 SLD elements. Low dispersion and special low dispersion elements reduce all types of aberrations and distortion, maintaining high sharpness and image integrity.

Sample image of bird taken with Sigma 500mm sports lens

Image ©Gerry Van der Walt. Taken with Sony A9 II. Camera settings: Exposure 1/1250 sec. f/5.6. ISO 500

The 500mm prime utilises convex low-dispersion elements towards the front of the lens barrel, which keeps chromatic and axial aberrations to a minimum, while maintaining an extremely lightweight design.

Refractive lenses and an anti glare coating are also used to reduce the effects of flare and ghosting, which contribute to maintaining high contrast, with crisp, clear results, even in difficult lighting.

All in all the Sigma 500mm f/5.6 DG DN OS Sports Lens strikes an excellent balance between portability and image quality, which is sure to impress the most demanding professionals and enthusiasts alike.

Squirrel photo from the Sigma 500mm Sports lens for mirrorless cameras

Squirrel Camera settings: Exposure 1/1000 sec. f/5.6. ISO 400

Advanced autofocus

The 500mm f/5.6 DG DN OS Sports lens autofocus is impressively quick, thanks to Sigma’s proprietary HLA motor, which delivers extremely fast, accurate and near-silent AF. This outperforms the capabilities of traditional stepping motors significantly, ensuring users benefit from excellent AF, even when shooting birds in flight or similar erratic subjects.

The lens uses an inner focus system, and a focus mode switch plus focus limiter enhance real world use when the subject is certain to remain further away from the shooter. Additionally, the L-mount lens supports switching between linear focus / non-linear focus ring settings, while both Sony E and Leica L support DMF and AF+MF. This allows you to manually adjust focus on the fly when autofocus is unable to acquire the subject.

Great Tit sample image from the Sigma super telephoto 500mm lens

Great Tit Camera settings: Exposure 1/250 sec. f/5.6. ISO 200

Optical image stabilisation

Sigma's 500mm f/5.6 Sport delivers crisp results thanks to its advanced optical image stabilisation, which offers up to 5-stops of shake compensation. Powered by Sigma's latest ‘OS2’ algorithm, it excels in various conditions, from floodlit arenas to natural outdoor habitats, ensuring excellent low-light performance in varied situations.

A toggle switch provides access to change between mode 1 and 2. Mode 1 supports standard everyday stabilisation, while mode 2 employs an intelligent OS algorithm for smoother panning shots, perfect for tracking fast-moving and erratic subjects with precision. Stabilisation is effective regardless of lens orientation, providing the freedom to capture sharp images in portrait and landscape orientations.

Seagull in flight sample photo

Seagull Camera settings: Exposure 1/1000 sec. f/5.6. ISO 200

Lens ergonomics and usability

The Sigma 500mm f/5.6 Sports Lens offers outstanding handling and usability as expected at this price point. Remarkably, it weighs just 1370g, which is substantially lighter than comparable zoom lenses, and less than half the weight of its DSLR predecessor, ensuring excellent portability and easy handheld operation.

During use, a tactile aperture ring can be locked and de-clicked, while the focus ring offers smooth, well torqued MF whenever needed. Several controls along the barrel can be reached without taking your eye from the viewfinder, which includes three customisable AFL buttons, an OS switch, Custom Mode switch and the previously mentioned aperture, stabilisation and focus limiter switches.

This is designed as a workhorse lens and has all of the elements required to cater to the needs of fast-paced professional situations where users need to make instant changes.

Sigma 500mm lens in the field

Build quality and durability

Sigma’s Sports lenses are known for providing robust build quality and the 500mm f/5.6 Sports Lens maintains this trend through a combination of lightweight materials such as TSC and magnesium. TSC (Thermally Stable Composite) is a light and strong material that increases durability and reduces weight.

These composite materials are thermally stable, which enables you to shoot anywhere from arctic conditions to dry deserts, with consistent performance throughout.

Furthermore, the super telephoto lens is extensively weather sealed around the mount connection, manual focus ring, zoom ring, switches, switch panel and exterior connection to prevent ingress of dust and moisture. A water and oil-repellent coating is also applied to the front element to reduce contaminants and make out easier to clean the front lens.

Sample image skiing slalom with Sports lens for mirrorless cameras

Image ©Liam Duran. Taken with Sony A1. Camera settings: Exposure 1/2500 sec. f/5.6. ISO 500

Where does the Sigma 500mm f/5.6 Sports Lens fit in the range?

This is the longest prime lens for mirrorless cameras, which Sigma currently produces. A prime of this calibre offers offers several advantages over a comparable super telephoto zoom, such as the Sigma 60-600mm F/4.5-6.3 DG DN OS Sports Lens For Sony E, which include a wider aperture, significantly lower weight and faster focusing.

It is worth weighing up the differences between a prime vs a zoom lens when deciding between fixed and zoom options, however at this focal length many photographers prioritise low weight, a fast maximum aperture, image quality and AF performance over the versatility of a zoom.

Sample image of owl

Image ©Jim Koepnick. Taken with Panasonic Lumix S5 II. Camera settings: Exposure 1/1000 sec. f/5.6. ISO 400

Lens accessories

With a 95mm front filter thread you can add a 95mm lens protector, CPL and other lens filters as required. At longer focal lengths environmental haze can reduce image quality, which can be combatted through the use of a UV filter, such as the Sigma 95mm WR UV filter.

Other useful accessories include a dedicated camera lens case, which can help protect the lens when stowed. The Lowepro Lens Case 11 x 26cm is a great fit, or you could opt for a space saving wrap, such as the newly released waterproof 3 Legged Thing Retro Wrapz Medium.

Whether you shoot indoor sports or outdoor subjects on location, you can expect excellent results regardless of environmental conditions from this super telephoto lens. It offers a practical combination of robust build, excellent image quality and plenty of features to streamline your workflow when shooting fast moving and distant subjects.

Perhaps the most beneficial features are the low weight, proficient image stabilisation, and fast autofocus, which contribute to achieving sharp, detailed and consistent image quality even in low light conditions.

Reserve your Sigma 500mm f/5.6 DG DN OS Sports Lens for Sony E or the Sigma 500mm f/5.6 DG DN OS Sports Lens for L-Mount today and explore distant subjects with new found ease.

If you’re looking to upgrade to this lens, why not grab a free trade-in quote for your unwanted gear and enjoy Park Cameras stress-free upgrade experience.

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By NIck Dautlich on 21/02/2024

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