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Sigma 170-500mm F5-6.3 APO DG

Reviews Views Date of last review
6 51,187 Mon November 18, 2019
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $601.80 9.17
Sigma 170-500mm F5-6.3 APO DG

Sigma 170-500mm F5-6.3 APO DG
Sigma 170-500mm F5-6.3 APO DG

The Sigma 170-500mm F3.5-6.3 DG is a high-performance super-telephoto zoom.

This compact achromatic ultra-telephoto zoom lens covers a range up to 500mm and is ideal for photographing sport, nature and landscapes.


Lens Construction: 13 Elements in 11 Groups
Angle of View: 14.5 - 5 degrees
Number of Diaphragm Blades: 9 Blades
Minimum Aperture: F32
Minimum Focusing Distance: 300-320cm
Maximum Magnification: 1:6.6
Filter Size: 86mm
Dimensions: Diameter 92.5mm X Length 232mm
Weight: 1345g
Mount Type:
Price History:

Add Review of Sigma 170-500mm F5-6.3 APO DG
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New Member

Registered: January, 2015
Posts: 4
Lens Review Date: November 18, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, great AF, light weight
Cons: Expensive
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 8    Camera Used: Penta K-1    Autofocus: 10    New Or Used: Used   

This lens is quite amazing ! Excellent bokeh, light weight, easy to carry, very polyvalent. I love it.
New Member

Registered: September, 2013
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: May 18, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $110.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent price. Easy to use, H/H too. Very sharp at any focal length, even wide open, for a consumer lens.
Cons: None really
Sharpness: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 9    Camera Used: Pentax K5    Autofocus: 9    New Or Used: Used   

I previously struggled to get sharp images at long focal lengths with a non-DG version of this lens (see my review) so I jumped at the opportunity to get this DG version at such a reasonable price.

It is infinitely better in all respects at any focal length as the attached photos clearly indicate. All photos were taken in TAV mode, 1/2000sec, f8 which allows easy H/H photography.

Of course I would like a Pentax D-FA 150-450 but that is way beyond my budget.

Korhaan, Sable Dam, Kruger Park.

Spoonbill, Sable Dam, Kruger Park.

Frolicking Elephants,Sable Dam, Kruger Park.
New Member

Registered: February, 2013
Posts: 3

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 18, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpness considering price, reach
Cons: Hunts a little at times, but generally decent
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 6    Value: 10   

Went to my local store a few days back as I was passing anyway, and I often call in to see if they have any second-hand Pentax gear in stock. They don't often have much, but this time they had just taken a Sigma 170-500mm APO DG in as a P/X. I've considered the various big Sigma zooms several times but never bit the bullet and bought one, mainly due to fears of bad copies and QC issues etc, plus they often get very mixed reviews. I couldn't bare taking that gamble with a decent chunk of cash. The store had the older 170-500mm in excellent condition for £299 so I figured I'd have a look. They kindly let me put it on one of their bodies so I could take a few test shots and see how the lens handled. I only had the rear LCD to gauge it's sharpness on but it looked pretty damn good for the cost of entrance. I was a little worried as I hadn't read about the 170-500 before, but figured I'd take the chance, if I didn't like it I felt sure I could sell it on and not lose too much on it.

I got the lens home and mounted it on my trusty K-5, not expecting too much but hoping I'd get at least some usable sharpness at around 400mm or so.......To say I was pleasantly surprised would be a huge understatement!

Shots taken at 500mm are pretty damn sharp, even wide open, and I'm fairly anal about sharpness. Don't get me wrong; you do need the right technique and a decent shutter speed or tripod to use this lens. It's not particularly fast either in terms of AF or max. aperture, but it's far from mediocre, and for the money you pay this is one seriously impressive lens!

Contrast seems perfectly acceptable and I'm yet to see any sign of CA.

Build quality is perfectly adequate, with no nasty creaks, sagging, or other concerns. The zoom does creep if you're carrying it with the lens pointing down, and it doesn't have a lock switch, but this is really a minor gripe when you consider the price and what you're getting for your money.

500mm is a serious focal length, which usually incorporates a serious price tag unless you opt for a cheap mirror lens or similar. You are going to need shooting conditions to be in your favour when using this lens, although modern bodies (like the K-5 etc) give you the option of really bumping up the ISO without ruining the image at all. I frequently use ISO 3200 with no real concerns about it wrecking an image, it retains excellent detail with minimal (and non intrusive) levels of noise. I would recommend that users of this lens push through their fear of digital noise and concentrate on getting the shot, you might surprise yourself at the amount of 'keepers' you get.

The handling of the lens isn't too bad. Obviously it's a little weighty, so bare that in mind. With that said, it's a fair bit more manageable than the Bigma (50-500) at the expense of the broader zoom range, of course.

At full reach this is one seriously long lens! We're talking not far off the length of a man's arm. Fortunately there's no sag/droop at 500mm, and all seems sturdy enough with no cause for concern.

The coating on the barrel is the slightly textured type, and the markings are white. It looks a little cheap, similar to the bottom of the range 70-300, but again, that's just being overly critical. Mine was bought used and has no damage to the textured surfaces so I can't comment too much on how hard wearing it is, although I suspect it will be perfectly OK, and I do tend to take good care of my gear anyway.

The included hood is obviously very handy, and made of the usual durable plastic that most hoods are made of. Certainly no complaints here.

Lens coating seems good, and I'm struggling to see much at all in the way of CA or other imperfections.

AF is obviously via screw drive from the body so it's a little noisy as you would expect. AF is accurate but does occasionally hunt. I don't consider this to be too much of an issue, especially when you consider the price. If it were a £5000 lens then maybe.

All in all I am very happy with this lens so far, in fact I doubt I could be much happier with a £300 lens purchase. I can't speak too much about copy variation or anything, although Sigma are obviously known as the main culprit for occasional QC issues. It seems from what I have read that this lens is somewhat of a hidden gem.

I can provide samples if anybody wants them, but don't have anything online at the moment so can't link to any.

Given the price I would score this lens 9 out of 10 overall, I very nearly gave it a 10, but the minor foibles stopped me, perhaps I'm being unfair given the value for money you're getting, and I think I'd still score it a solid 9 if I had spent £700 on it.

Kind of refreshing. I had settled on a standard zoom and ordered a brand new Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di, but when it arrived it was faulty - The AF kept disengaging. I sent it straight back for a refund and ordered a Pentax 17-70mm f/4 SDM, and guess what?......It arrived faulty. Back-focus between 50-70mm. At that point I had spent £600 in 48 hours on TWO faulty 'premium' zooms, and was nearly £40 out of pocket on wasted delivery costs, so I decided not to bother with another lens until I had calmed down, but then fell upon this little (not!) gem.

All I can say is.....THIRD TIME LUCKY

***Edit, adding some photos now. I live in the UK, so tend to have to shoot fairly high ISO to get enough light down this relatively slow lens, but the K-5 does a great job, and I'm not too anal about a touch of noise, as long as the detail is there

Been using this lens quite a lot this last week or so and I have to say I am still very impressed with it. The only niggle is the hunting on occasion, but hey, if my shots were that critical that I couldn't afford to miss a couple then I'd be splashing out some serious money on a more professional standard of lens.

Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2011
Location: Los Angeles, California
Posts: 1,150
Lens Review Date: January 28, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $599.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Zoom reach, capable of sharp MF/Live View focusing, Quite easy handling, becomes convenient push-pull zoom due to easy creep, cheap
Cons: Not consistent AF (softer than it ultimately can deliver), low contrast, lens creep (I did not mind though), lower end of the zoom looks softer than 500mm

I'm writing this to restore a real status quo. Sigma 170-500mm F5-6.3 APO DG is not 10-rated lens. Not at all.
I have to admit that for some time I've been obsessed with two discontinued Sigma lenses: 400/5.6 TeleMacro and 170-500mm 1:5-6.3 APO DG RF. Although 400/5.6 TeleMacro is real deal, the latter is a mystery. According to the Sigma's list of recently discontinued lenses there are only two variations of 170-500mm 1:5-6.3 lens: APO Aspherical and DG APO Aspherical. Both lens designs looks identical. The newer DG version has additional digital coating. That's all. The lens what has been rated 10 here used to be additionally marked as RF special version. I strongly believe that the RF marked variant does not exist at all. Since than I contacted PF administrator, and Adam removed controversial RF letters from lens description.

However, why both DG and non-DG versions are rated so differently here?
Trying to solve the mystery and not expecting too much I purchased Sigma 170-500mm 1:5-6.3 DG APO Aspherical mostly out of my curiosity, having an option to return it back to KEH.

The first surprise: at 170mm my K-5 reads aperture as 4.5 instead of 5 by the spec and - 6.7 instead of 6.3 at 500mm.
Second surprise: the output at 500mm is very sharp.
There is a quick target set-up for shoot out and the best 100% crop. Please note that the best results was achieved not with regular PDAF, but via MF Live View focusing.

This is what the lens is ultimately capable of: 100% crop manual focus via Live View

I took the lens for the test drive in my nearby park and spent almost 4 hours with it. I was shooting in my regular style, which I developed while shooting small wildlife with FA*300/4.5+1.4x Tamron Pz-AF TC: active walk, camera with padded neck strap around my neck, hand held, Av priority, mostly in continuous mode. To get more forgiving DOF, higher shutter speed, and squeeze maximum from the lens I used mostly f/10 aperture and ISO 400-800.

The lens is quite long with a hood attached: 15” (almost 40cm), but surprisingly comfortable to hold, if you're holding it right behind the hood. Of course lens creeps, as it was mentioned in every review written. If you have at 170mm and leave it pointing down on your neck, it surely goes all the way down to 500mm in short period of time. And vice versa, if it is pointed up. However, I found this creep very useful myself. Having my K-5 in right hand and holding the lens right behind a hood with a left hand, I was able to use it as very quick push-pull zoom for quick action shots. I really liked it; can you believe it?
AF seems quick enough but a bit inconsistent. It never delivered such ultimate sharpness what is shown above in 100% MF crop.

I may be wrong, but I think I cracked the secret of this lens. It looks like optically it is optimized for the longest 500mm end. At other FL (200mm-400mm) the output was always softer including MF Live View shots.

Below are a few best shots what I gained during my test drive walk. As you can see, contrast also suffers here. And over all number of keepers was much lower than when I use my FA*300/4.5 or Sigma 500/4.5.

Writing this review I had a hard time answering the question about would I recommend it to others or not. Finally I clicked Yes, but it is true with some exemptions. If you are on the budget and desperately want something around 500mm, you may try it. The lens is not bad. It is like DA L 55-300 in comparison with FA* DA* 300. Now I own outstanding Sigma 500/4.5 and this is completely different story. You have what you pay for.

P.S. Yes, I did send the lens back.
Senior Member

Registered: June, 2010
Location: Östergötland, Sweden
Posts: 216
Lens Review Date: December 9, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, No CA, Light and thin.
Cons: External zoom system (for dust etc.), AF sound (maybe), Hood is plastic (not in good quality)
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: PENTAX K10D    Autofocus: 9   

I've used this lens with K10D (on handheld all the time). You must be careful when using in dusty areas. Because of the lens has got an external zoom system and that can be a problem. I recommend to use with a water & dust proof hard case while transport and a compatible neoprene cover (like LensCoat etc.).

1920x1080px sized ->
Forum Member

Registered: July, 2009
Location: Dublin
Posts: 60
Lens Review Date: December 7, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: well build
Cons: heavy
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

lens is amazing, picture is sharp even hanheld, at maximum f stop it has less CA then tamron 70-200 f2,8,
nice bokeh, AF is fine on k20d and verry good on K-R,



both on Pentax K-R
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