Apr 6, 2016

Pentax 560mm F5.6 vs Sigma 500mm F4.5


Editorial note: this hands-on comparison was contributed by forum member RockvilleBob and may differ from our traditional comparative review format.

I'd like to thank the PF team for providing me with a loaner Pentax HD Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW lens to use for a few weeks.

Pentax DA 560mm lens

Wildlife photography, while not originally my primary area of interest when I first purchased my Pentax K-5 camera, is where I currently spend most of my photography time. Since the introduction of the Pentax 560mm F5.6 lens the question in the back of my mind has been "should I have waited to buy that lens instead of the Sigma 500mm F4.5 lens". The Sigma 500mm lens has served me well; I migrated to it after buying the Pentax DA* 300 F4 lens and later the Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 zoom. Like many wildlife shooters, bigger and faster is the goal.

With the use of the loaned Pentax 560mm I tried to answer two questions that I had:

  1. Should I have waited to buy the Pentax 560mm?

  2. Should I consider selling the Sigma 500mm and buying the Pentax 560mm? While it sounds crazy when it comes to shooting wildlife, a lens is never long or fast enough.

I often check the Pentax Forum and realize there are many Pentax shooters with far greater in-depth technical knowledge of photography, camera body design, and lens construction than I possess. Just by reading some of the recent Pentax K-1 speculation, it's evident that the knowledge of CMOS chip design and optical performance of modern lenses is worthy of college science discussion groups.

Sigma 500mm EX DG APO lens

This write up will disappoint those looking for a technical review and comparison of the two lenses. The approach was to evaluate the lenses in terms of my usage. I will investigate how the 500mm and 560mm perform in the manner I use equipment to photograph wildlife, and I will aim to find out if there is an advantage to one lens over the other.

My apologies in advance for those looking for a more technical comparison or an evaluation from a different perspective.  You may be interested in the Pentax Forums standalone in-depth review of the 560mm F5.6.

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