I have one of the older ones. (Mine is 2004 production.) It is not the version with OS (optical stabilization).
It's a bit soft wide open, but sharpens up VERY considerably stopped down to f/8 and even to only f/7.1 (a third of a stop). Stopped down at least that third of a stop, it's a good sharp lens whose results do not look out of place mixed in with some much more expensive lenses, including a 400/f2.8 AFS Nikkor that I use a lot. It isn't as good, on an absolute basis, but if f/7.1 or better does the job, it turns in good results.
Because it's a relatively slow lens, it is a ***LOT*** smaller than the expensive big guns, although it is not a small lens, it's just a lot smaller than huge. On FX I discovered that the corners fall off considerably, again an issue mostly resolved by f/8. Not an issue on DX of course.
I use this lens for sports, birding and occasionally macro (with extension tubes) and as a result I barely have any idea of the IQ in the corners. For my purposes, there's almost never anything in the corners that's supposed to be in focus, so it's hard to tell.
I am told that the modern OS version is optically better, but I've never tried it.
Even with Sigma TCs, there's no AF. Manually focused, it's decent with the 1.4x TC. It's mediocre with the 2x TC - in this we're talking about the Sigma TCs. I've never tried the Kenko with this lens, and my Nikon TCs don't fit.
I'm traveling and don't have access to my main archives, but if you look in the Motorsport section of my gallery (see .sig below), most of the shots at long focal lengths that are NOT at exactly 400mm are from the Bigma.
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!
I have the OS version of this lens and find it to be much better than I was expecting. I find it works best with decent light and the AF snaps right in. The OS works very well. I have never used it with a tc.
I use the lens on both FX and DX but it really shines as a handholdable 750mm lens on DX. I most often use my Nikon long lenses (200-400 f/4, 500 f/4 and 600 f/4) but none of these is as handholdable as the Sigma.
The biggest negative with the Sigma is the bokeh which is not nearly in the same class as the big Nikons.
Here is a handheld shot from my recent Florida trip at 750mm on a D300:
Sorry for the late reply, I also have the OS version and it works extremely well on my D7100 (and D7000) and D800 for that matter. Forget all ideas of using it with a teleconverter, it just won't work to any satisfaction.
Some images as examples, the first (60ft away approx) handheld OS on, the second (450ft away approx)hide clamp mounted OS off.
Nikon D7100 + Sigma 50-500mm OS 1/250 @ f6.3 ISO800 EV = -0.33 Target distance about 60ft - Handheld - OS ON.
Nikon D7100 - Sigma 50-500mm f4.5-6.3 - 1/200 @f9 - ISO800 - EV = -0.33 - Handheld - OS ON
Fri 16-Aug-13 05:28 PM | edited Sat 17-Aug-13 09:04 AM by Chris Platt
I hate to leave home without it.
Edit: I also discourage the use of teleconverters with this lens. Actually, with the latest generation of very high pixel density sensors, I'm dubious about the value of teleconverters with any lens. Certainly with the 50-500, you can get the same or better quality by just cropping. Just know that if you plan to crop, you need to use the same shooting technique you would use for a much longer lens.
Sat 17-Aug-13 09:38 AM | edited Sat 17-Aug-13 09:39 AM by richardd300
<<I haven't been tempted by the new 80-400 either.>>
Too expensive even to consider and I can't see it reducing much in the future as lenses don't price drop much.
I must pay a bit of attention to my 50-500mm as recently I have started to see a bit of softness. Nothing serious and it's probably my technique getting rusty. As it's a zoom I am very reluctant to journey down the FineTune/LensAlign route, but I have taken a few test shots against a flat target and everything looks ok. I haven't that much faith in AF-fine tuning anyway, prime or not.
Your pictures have reminded me I must take a closer look
One thing to keep in mind is AF may have some limitations, especially at the longer end of this lens. With the D7100, only the center sensor reliably provides AF at f/6.3. The other sensors are limited to f/5.6 and lower. The lens is at f/6.3 from around 244-500mm, so this could be a problem. A teleconverter will lose an additional stop or more, so you would be at f/9 or more wide open for the long end. You'd probably want a Sigma (or maybe Kenko) teleconverter to even bother giving it a try.
This does not mean AF won't work. Just that it is not as reliable and requires very good lighting and contrast to nail focus. And you must use the center sensor or you lose AF reliability even faster.
The 50-500 is a very good lens - you just need to be aware of the limitations and where the problem areas are.
I got involved as I knew what a poor job the x1.4 Kenko DG Pro 300 did as I had tried it in every combinations and options from handheld to tripod and at various aperture settings. I can't speak for the Sigma TC, but I have to say the results with the Kenko were very poor indeed. I never saw it as a serious option anyway as it's an awful lot to ask of an already narrow maximum aperture lens. The focus hunting was unacceptable and the images in anything other than truly excellent light were in my view wholly unacceptable.
Eric, your comments on the focusing limitation make sense in theory, but in practice, I have never found autofocus to be a problem with the lens on my D7000, or the D200 for that matter, with any of the center area focus points. I have no experience with the D7100 though. The lens focuses quickly and easily - I am almost always in f/6.3 territory with it. In very dim light - late twilight, low contrast, it may hunt briefly, but the lens doesn't shine in those conditions anyway.
You WILL be in manual focus mode though with a teleconverter. Sigma disables autofocus on their converters with that lens, so they have to be modified if you want to attempt autofocus. It's a waste of time though - they will just hunt. It's faster to manually focus. BUT that isn't worth the effort either. All my tests with the D7000 have shown I can get as good or better results just by cropping. I'm sure it's the same with the D7100. That wasn't the case with my D200.
I saw a big difference in AF performance using an f/4 lens and 2x teleconverter on a D7000. This was in neutral to slightly foggy conditions - the most challenging you would face. I was unable to AF completely using a sensor other than the central AF point.
The focus limitation is now documented in the specs for the D7100, D600, D800, and D4. The respective product information shows specific AF sensor layouts of AF sensors and cross sensors at f/5.6 and below, >f/5.6 but < f/8, and at f/8.
As we know, this is a matter of degree. The better the light and contrast, the more reliable AF becomes. It's just important to know that if you are struggling for AF performance, the central sensor is significantly better on the D7100 and D7000.
I have both the VRI and VRII versions of the 70-200 f/2.8. It's a pretty good combination with the VR II model, but there is some drop in image quality. The VRI model is a bit more of a stretch, and I don't find the results with the 2x teleconverter to be very good, so I stick with a 1.4 teleconverter and only occasionally use anything longer.
The advantage of the 2x teleconverter with the f/2.8 lens is you have AF at all sensors. Using the f/4 lens, AF only works with the center sensor if you have more than a 1.4 teleconverter as illustrated just below the example on the Nikon D7100 page.
Thanks, interesting reading. I've been doing some tests with my TC-17 and must admit with my 70-200mm V1 it's pretty good if around the f8 sweet spot is selected. I've had it my bag for a while and not used it, so it may get a few airings now.
I am reassessing my options without having to give up too much aperture. I have been thinking about the f4 version for lightness, but I am undecided. I think the 70-200mm VR2, like my VR1, would soon become a chore handheld for birding as my Sigma 50-500mm OS is already and becoming tiring on my shoulders and neck (car smash whiplash = arthritis ). Anyway, that's moving off topic. Thanks again Eric, useful information as always.
I just today received my Sigma 50-500 from a Nikonian in the for sale forum. Of course, I opened the box read the instructions supplied and the advice from the seller who had used the lens and took it outside to hand hold a couple of snap shots of the dumpster across the parking lot from my store. No way I'm going to be able to hand hold this girl. I went back inside to attach the camera lens to my monopod and got good results of the dumpster. Very sharp and clear with good color rendition but I'm thinking tripod for me at 68yo. I didn't realize how heavy the combination would be. I won't get a real chance to work with it until I return from a bit of vacation but I'm looking forward to adding birding to my new endeavors with this lens.
Thanks for pointing that out. Reviews of that lens are long overdue. I have always been mystified by the lack of reviews on both the old Bigma and the new one on any of my "go-to" lens review sites: photozone.de, dpreview.com, dxomark.
it just confirms that BigMa is capable to produce image resolution at least as much as pixel density of D7100.
I really don't think we will see a higher pixel density in the next 5-7 years.
Just a few points that comes to my mind: 1. Moire problem become more and more apparent with higher density sensors.
2. Nikon will need to develop(or just release) better Pro (read expensive) optics just to make best of their marketing strategy
3. Most likely we will see D800s/D900 with ~55 MP (will be used the same pixel density as in D7100 in FX format, but the marketing strategy will be again something along the current D800 marketing line - "only current 16 lenses are recommended for D800" - with exception it will be some new 10 lenses with priced bumped up to the roof. And people will buy those new lenses and new bodies - that how NAS works
Sun 25-Aug-13 01:06 PM | edited Sun 25-Aug-13 01:07 PM by richardd300
<<"only current 16 lenses are recommended for D800">>
I don't think that's right, many lenses not on the so called "recommended" list work very, very well with the D800 and the D7100. Some fine examples of those are the 28-300, 70-300 and the 50mm f1.8G etc. I think one would have to print to a very large size to see a distinct deterioration using those lenses
JD, I'm down and counting right now. LOL I will get a better chance to work with this lens after Labor Day. I can hand hold my 70-200 f/2.8 with TC20EIII pretty well so maybe I can work this out. Do you use the IS at 1 or 2 setting? And what's with this lens hood? I can hide one of my cats in there.
>And what's with this lens hood? I can hide one of my cats in there.
I'm sure you realise that a lens hood can only improve your images. The deeper the hood is, the better - as long as it doesn't encroach into the image-forming area. If you want to see a DEEP hood, check out the HK38 for the 800mm Nikkor...
Fri 23-Aug-13 11:19 AM | edited Fri 23-Aug-13 11:21 AM by richardd300
At last a credible technical test of the Sigma 50-500mm OS. Ok, so it does fall down slightly on certain comparisons to the 80-400mm VR AF-S, but some of these are marginal, however the lighter weight of the 80-400mm must make it very attractive. A bonus is that the Sigma is less than half the cost and this can be considered great value.
Brian is absolutely right about using the hood and I always have it fitted either on FX or DX.
I asked a Sigma rep. a few months ago if Sigma had any plans to resurrect the 80-400mm OS, sadly his reply was "not at present". I think that's a shame, because I am sure if they did produce a version it would interest me and many others
>>And what's with this lens hood? I can hide one of my cats >in there. > >I'm sure you realise that a lens hood can only improve your >images. The deeper the hood is, the better - as long as it >doesn't encroach into the image-forming area. > If you want to see a DEEP hood, check out the >HK38 >for the 800mm Nikkor... Brian for sure I could hide one of my cats in there. LOL I never shoot without a hood unless I'm grabbing my camera in an emergency situation. I did so the other day when approaching an accident on I-95 in Richmond Virginia. I grabbed my camera and was attaching my lens hood on my Tamron 24-70 f2.8 when one of the trucks involved caught fire. I just turned and started shooting until things settled down and could take the time to place the lens hood. It was later in the day so there wasn't much glare to deal with.
I think I use 1 most of the time. Regarding the lens hood it helps balance it in your hand. Oh! Well, couldn't resist a little humor on that point..it is big. You just have to watch yourself in a crowd at an air show when swinging about!
Fri 23-Aug-13 03:27 PM | edited Fri 23-Aug-13 03:28 PM by Chris Platt
Another defense of the lens hood - it provides great protection for the front lens element. My old Bigma once took a face plant onto concrete when my carelessly positioned tripod tipped over. I watched the crash in horror. However, the hood took the brunt of the fall and protected the lens. There was a slight crack in the hood, but the lens was fine.
I find that each of the two lens hood pieces are a great place to store some short pieces of gaffers tape. They do have a tendency to come loose, so I keep the first section secured to the lens body with G-tape, permanently, and reverse the tulip hood onto the first section it when it is stored in my bag (mounted to my 300s.)
Ok, let me think for a moment. Sigma's mode 1 is for everyday use and Mode 2 is for panning only. Sigma does not have mode equivalent to Nikon's "Active VR" or at least it's incorporated within OS Mode 1.
Sun 25-Aug-13 12:59 PM | edited Sun 25-Aug-13 12:59 PM by richardd300
Ok, lets take what Thom Hogan says about VR: "If something is moving you, use Active. If it's just you moving the camera, use Normal".
So I guess that VR "normal" is the same as Sigma "Mode 1", a method of creating camera shake caused by my arms and hands. VR "Active is the same as Sigma Mode 2, something is moving the shooter, like a bumpy safari truck or a bobbing boat or the shooter is panning.
As we know VR. OS, IS, VC, call it what you will, cannot prevent subject movement.
>As we know VR. OS, IS, VC, call it what you will, cannot >prevent subject movement. > >Richard
That part I know and understand. also from your description Mode 2 only corrects vertical movement, meaning to be used for Panning only.
Nikon normal VR mode allows and recognizes the panning process.
Nikon Active VR mode is more severe reduction, meant to reduce higher frequency vibrations introduce by moving platform (car, plane, helicopter, boat, but it also applies to the situation when the photographer cannot have a stable support, like taking picture standing on tiptoes and holding camera with one extended arm.
> >>As we know VR. OS, IS, VC, call it what you will, cannot >>prevent subject movement. >> >>Richard > >That part I know and understand. also from your description >Mode 2 only corrects vertical movement, meaning to be used for >Panning only. > >Nikon normal VR mode allows and recognizes the panning >process. > >Nikon Active VR mode is more severe reduction, meant to reduce >higher frequency vibrations introduce by moving platform (car, >plane, helicopter, boat, but it also applies to the situation >when the photographer cannot have a stable support, like >taking picture standing on tiptoes and holding camera with one >extended arm. > >Best regards, >Vlad Vlad, the same for the Sigma OS2. If you are riding in a car you would use the OS2 or perhaps for panning. For regular IS when walking around the OS1 is where you want to be. At least that is what the instruction book says.
Some really nice photos in this thread! Just thought I'd add a couple I took recently at our hummingbird feeder. These are handheld shots taken with the D7100 and Sigma 50-500 at 500mm, f/8, 1/2500 sec and ISO 1250.
Went bird shooting for the first time in my life. Even the Bigma was not long enough for the position I had to make some good captures which I have not yet processed. Some of the comments about the Sigma TC2 are disparaging but the information regarding cropping with the D7100 instead are encouraging. I'll try that and keep the final image smaller and just make the frame and mat bigger.
I did find, at least on the LCD the images to be sharp at every focal length but as I said I have not loaded them into any post software yet. I also found that at long focal length I had to switch to spot in order to get the lens to focus one time without hunting. At closer distance at 500mm it did focus right away at any setting. In any event my first outing for birds was disappointing for me but I will keep trying. I also believe that I will not try to hand hold the Sigma 50-500 as I can use the tripod and gimbal with good efficiency. Its just too big for me.
I find that in a Nikon D7100, lenses behave differently from other cameras, I suppose that it is because of the filter removed. No problem with autofocus also. I have an Vivitar 100-400 and it looks sharper in this camera comparing with a Nikon D3200. No experience on other digital cameras thought.