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07-26-2012, 03:24 PM   #1
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Pentax mount Sigma 500/4.5 ... need advice before ...

While just about everyone is waiting for the much anticipated Pentax "DA" (?) 560/5.6, including myself up to now, I have again been revisiting the option to acquire a Sigma 500/4.5.
I think this will be my next big purchase ... I haven't indulged much at all into LBA for a while, so I could save some bucks in the process.
Frankly, I am becoming a bit annoyed with Pentax "lens roadmap" and if they don't release the 560 by this Fall, I'll go the Sigma way.

This thread is to find out a few things from those who own/use this lens with their Pentax camera(s).


1. I see that there is a drop-in filter drawer at the rear of the lens. Is this a MUST to drop a filter in there ? and, if so, what are added cost for the filter(s). If the filter is "required", what are the consequences if one doesn't use it ? Will the lens still work?

2. I have watched a video showing a pro photographer using the lens and although it is quite heavy (just under 7 lbs), the fellow seems to be quite at ease to use handheld because of the very large tripod collar mounter at the front of the lens.
Have any users here been doing handheld photography with this lens?

3. How long have you had the lens and have you ever had any sort of problems with it?

I think this is about it for my query.
Hoping the very few who own this lens will be able to provide some information.

Cheers!

JP

07-26-2012, 03:26 PM   #2
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I too am looking at this lens. It will be interesting to see the comments.
07-26-2012, 03:34 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by LaurenOE Quote
I too am looking at this lens. It will be interesting to see the comments.
Will be very informative, coming from "real" users.

I have been searching for more info on other forums as well ... all of the owners claim it is superb lens (which is apparently a fact) but nobody is mentioning how/when they use it (if at all) handheld at times, nor can I find much info regarding the rear drop-in filter thing.

We'll soon find out.

JP
07-26-2012, 04:09 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by jpzk Quote
Will be very informative, coming from "real" users.

I have been searching for more info on other forums as well ... all of the owners claim it is superb lens (which is apparently a fact) but nobody is mentioning how/when they use it (if at all) handheld at times, nor can I find much info regarding the rear drop-in filter thing.

We'll soon find out.

JP
Well even if people use it hand-held, I'm ready with my favorite Gimbal!

Katana Gimbal Head Review



07-26-2012, 04:17 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by LaurenOE Quote
Well even if people use it hand-held, I'm ready with my favorite Gimbal!

Katana Gimbal Head Review

That'll do it !

I got myself quite organized as well, although not with a "real" Gimball.
I couldn't justify spending $750.00 while I acquired an Acratech GV Ball head which will be able to handle the load.

But .... I must agree that this Katana is looking good!


JP

OK ... let's get some Sigma 500mm owners in here!
LaurenOE ... Stay tuned!

JP
07-26-2012, 07:38 PM   #6
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@imtheguy, @Bob from Aus, @Harish Hedge, @imtheguy, who else has or has had it??
07-26-2012, 07:56 PM   #7
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Ok, my 2 cents.

I too tired of waiting for the 560mm and have no regrets on my Sigma 500 so far. The build seems a little flimsy to someone coming to it from the A*400/2.8 howitzer but when I realized i could actually carry and shoot it hand-held I was thrilled. Sometimes with a carbon fiber monopod but in a pinch its not too heavy to hold and unlike DadiPentak, I am no Charles Atlas.

Filters; it comes with a clear and a CPL which you can rotate from outside the barrel. Although the filter is part of the optical formula (take it out and what was sharp is now blurred), I see no difference when using AF with or without filters so I never use them.

Balance seems pretty good with an arca-swiss plate that runs the length of the grip and balances evenly with a k-5+grip+TC+flash+betterbeamer.

I picked up a new Sigma 1.4x TC that mates well with the lense and although its advertised as MF only, the AF works just fine for me.

No complaints on sharpness although might not be as good as the A*400/2.8, I have some bird shots, especially the close ups at 5m, where every single fiber and fine hair is sharp.

My only negative on it does not affect shots and that is the build does not seem like a $5k piece of machinery. But the shots do. Unless the Pentax 560mm is a lot less than $5k, it will trouble competing with the f4.5 that autofocuses with a TC at 700mm.

--end of 2 cents

edit - Dadipentak knows more about the Sig 500mm than the designers. Lots of shots posted in the 300mm+ thread.

Last edited by imtheguy; 07-26-2012 at 08:07 PM.
07-26-2012, 11:57 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by imtheguy Quote
Dadipentak knows more about the Sig 500mm than the designers.
I can't believe I forgot him!

07-27-2012, 01:28 AM   #9
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I have been using the Sigma 500/4,5 for a couple of years now. The very latest version of the lens may have a different paint finish, but basically it is the same as mine with the DG coatings.
All in all I am more than pleased with the lens. Of course it is big and heavy, but this cannot be a surprise to anyone considering its focal length and speed. I have used it handheld, but most of the time I use it either on a monopod or a beanbag. Optically it is good, and can very well be used wide open. Stopping down half a stop improves contrast.
Mechanically it has proven to be a solid construction. My lens has been to the wilderness in northern Finland, tiger-hunts in India, rain forests in the Amazon etc without any major problems.
About the only complaints I have are:
- the hood is all too short and does not provide sufficient protection against flare when shooting against the sun. However, this can easily be corrected by taping some cardboad on the hood.
- lack of focus range limiter

I also have the Sigma 1,4 x and 2 x teleconverters. AF does work with the 1,4 converter, but slows down considerably. The 2 x converter turns it into a MF lens. Use of teleconverters always comes at a cost. For good sharpness you need to stop down somewhat.

I have written more about this in the lens review section on this forum. There are quite a few shots with it in both my gallery on this forum, and my pages on the Pentax Photo Gallery.
07-27-2012, 02:49 AM   #10
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JPZK - Thanks for starting the thread ! I am currently eyeing one of these for US$3,000 and may well jump on it. I've just got to check on which version it is and find out if there is any difference in performance (optically or mechanically - HSM) between the versions.

Pepe - Thanks for the review !

Katana Gimbal - I bought one of the Chinese Wimberley copies and changed out the Arca-Swiss base plate. It cost me over $600 LESS than the Katana and is absolutely solid. Rotates freely and holds the lens and camera (K5+DA*300+x1.7) with ease without having to tighten. Amazing value for money but doesn't look as sexy as the Katana

Last edited by Frogfish; 07-27-2012 at 04:22 AM.
07-27-2012, 03:38 AM   #11
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Check out Ken Goh's bird shots in the 300+ club thread. It is an AWESOME lens.
07-27-2012, 03:59 AM   #12
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Check out the Jobo jr gimbal mount. Costs about 330 at B&H and has no problem supporting my Tamron 200-500/5.6 plus a body at a combined weight of about 4kilos

Ball heads are not the best at this weight
07-27-2012, 04:35 AM   #13
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I've owned the Sigma 4.5 500mm for almost a year. I frequently shoot it hand held, but my preferred arrangement is with a carbon fiber monopod. I find that if I carry the lens on a Black Rapid shoulder strap with the monopod attached but unextended, the monopod provides a brace just behind my shoulder that keeps the lens from bouncing around when I'm walking. I can walk a couple of miles with the lens so situated without much strain. I also shoot off of a tripod with a gimbal head, but that's pretty much limited to around the yard of my house. Walking and taking pictures go together for me so the monpod setup is best.

I leave the filter in at all times, as instructed by the owners manual. A clear uv filter and a polarizer come with the lens at no extra cost.

I sometimes use a Tammy 1.4 pz-af teleconverter. It autofocuses without problems and produces only a slight hit on IQ. I also occasionally use a Sigma 2x TC. That's limited to use with a tripod and a subject that isn't moving. It will still autofocus in decent light.

I've given this lens a lot of work, have traveled with it extensively, and have never had any problems with it or been anything but pleased. The comparable setups with Nikon or Canon are heavier (and more expensive). so for my uses this lens on a K-5 is the best that is available.

The first 300 or so shots in the following gallery were taken with this lens. The shots are there to show off the birds, but many of them also show off the wonderful sharpnesss and contrast that can be produced with the Sigma 500mm 4.5. I highly recommend it.

http://photobucket.com/albums/i436/oeriies/ducks and birds
07-27-2012, 04:42 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Frogfish Quote
Katana Gimbal - I bought one of the Chinese Wimberley copies and changed out the Arca-Swiss base plate. It cost me over $600 LESS than the Katana and is absolutely solid. Rotates freely and holds the lens and camera (K5+DA*300+x1.7) with ease without having to tighten. Amazing value for money but doesn't look as sexy as the Katana
that's an awfully light load for a gimbal. Time for you to get something a little heavier
07-27-2012, 05:10 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
that's an awfully light load for a gimbal. Time for you to get something a little heavier
I only use my little finger As you know I am trying to increase that load !!
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