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Sigma 500mm F4.5 EX DG APO

Reviews Views Date of last review
9 42,047 Tue January 10, 2017
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $5,036.39 9.78
Sigma 500mm F4.5 EX DG APO

Sigma 500mm F4.5 EX DG APO
Sigma 500mm F4.5 EX DG APO
Sigma 500mm F4.5 EX DG APO


This new Sigma 500mm F4.5 EX DG APO is the successor to the Sigma 500mm F4.5 APO EX.  It features a new optical formula as well as screw drive autofocus compatibility on all Pentax DSLRs and film SLRs.  This is a full-frame lens.

The lens has an apochromatic design abd two Extraordinary Low Dispersion (ELD) glass elements to help reduce chromatic aberrations and color fringing.

A Super Multi-Layer Coating has been applied to minimize ghosting and flare when working in strong lighting conditions.

Internal focusing design limits the overall length of the lens and provides for faster autofocus performance.

A manual focus clutch lets you slide the focusing ring back or forth to quickly switch between manual and autofocus modes.

A fixed, rotating tripod collar offers increased stability when working from a tripod and makes it easy to switch between horizontal and vertical shooting.

A rear drop-in slot enables the use of 46mm drop-in filters via the included filter holder, and both UV and circular polarizer filters are included.

The lens is compatible with optional APO Tele Converters to extend the reach.

Sigma 500mm F4.5 EX DG APO
©, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Automatic, 9 blades
11 elements, 8 groups
Mount Variant
Max. Aperture
Min. Aperture
AF (screwdrive)
Min. Focus
400 cm
Max. Magnification
Filter Size
46 mm (Rear drop-in)
Internal Focus
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 3.3 ° / 2.7 °
Full frame: 5 ° / 4.1 °
Lens Cap
Weather Sealing
Other Features
Drop-in Filter Holder,Push-pull AF/MF Focusing Ring,Rear Filter Mount,Tripod Mount
Diam x Length
123x350 mm (4.84x13.8 in.)
3150 g (111 oz.)
Production Years
2011 to present (in production)
$4999 USD current price
Product Code
User reviews
In-depth review

Buy Lens: Buy the Sigma 500mm F4.5 EX DG APO
In-Depth Review: Read our Sigma 500mm F4.5 EX DG APO in-depth review!
Price: $4999
Mount Type: Pentax KAF2/KAF (screwdrive AF)
Price History:

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Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-9 of 9
Site Supporter

Registered: May, 2012
Location: White Rock
Posts: 437

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 10, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, compact size
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K3   

I purchased this lens as a more compact super tele, so I'm able to shoot from the car. At first I was hesitant to stray from Pentax lenses, but I'm glad I did. I thought my DA 560mm was sharp, but this thing beats it hands down. Wide open it's sharp enough to capture the tiniest barbules of bird feathers. The bokeh is creamy and smooth, it's so small and evenly weighted, shooting handheld isn't much of an issue (aside from weight). If I had any regrets, it would be that I didn't buy this lens a year and a half ago.

Red Fox Portrait by Kameko Walker, on Flickr
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2011
Location: Nelson B.C.
Posts: 3,351
Lens Review Date: April 9, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $3,700.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, nice handling
Cons: Manual focus is a two step operation, slightly washed out wide open

This is a very nice lens. I regularly shoot wide open with great results. Focus is quick.

Minor nits: to adjust focus manual requires switching the body to MF, and pulling a sleeve to engage. The bokeh can be a bit choppy at times.

The tripod mount makes a very good handle for carrying it around and handheld shooting, plus a solid base for tripod. The lens hood is solid and protects the front element.

Registered: September, 2008
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 1,436
Lens Review Date: April 8, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $4,995.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: IQ, Relative portability, Build
Cons: None
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K3   

When you buy a 500mm f4.5, you know why you are buying it and what you are getting into. This is 7 lbs of glass and metal. This is not for those who want a lightweight kit.

This lens IS for those of us in K-Mount land who want THE best long telephoto lens available to us that is still fairly usable hand held or on a monopod. The Pentax 600 f4 is probably every bit this lens' equal for IQ, but it weighs nearly 2x as much. I've managed 4-5 hours with the Sigma so far, but I seriously doubt I could pull that off with a lens any bigger. For me, the ability to pack ANY lens on a moderate hike is important, so for my purposes the Sigma scores higher and is more desirable

IQ is just.... wow. Right there with my 100-300 and it handles much the same on a monopod. I use a K3 with a battery grip attached to balance things out a little better, but the lens can be a little front heavy.

I have wanted this lens for several years, and was finally able to add it to my kit this month. It has exceeded my expectations. It's very rare that a lens motivates me to shoot more, but this lens has done just that. I can't wait to get out and use it, and my golf game is suffering.

Shooting at 500mm is a different world than shooting at 300mm, and although I love my 100-300, it can't compete with this lens for smaller subjects or distance targets. I tried adding a TC to get to 420mm, but there's a noticeable difference when looking through the viewfinder with a 500mm prime attached. On top of that it's completely 100% FF compatible with no funky optical compensation tricks and it plays very well with both the Pentax TC and the Tamron TC. So now if I want to attach a TC I get 700mm!

AF gets an 8 because it's screwdrive and somewhat noisy. It occasionally misses, but given it's being used on a Pentax body, I'm not entirely sure it's the lens' fault. I'm very curious to see how it behaves with my K1.

I've docked the lens for handling, just because a 14" 7lb lens is a 14" 7lb lens. It's not small, it's not compact, it's not light. If you just want to compare lenses of similar class like the DA560, FA600, Sigma 150-500 or 50-500, then it would rate a 9 or even a 10. I also own the Sigma 150-500 and previously owned the Sigma 50-500, this lens is slightly heavier than both but seems better balanced, probably because it's a prime and the barrel doesn't extend when zooming.

I rated it an 8 for value because the "Pentax Premium" seems to apply to the used market. Where you can find a Canikon version used for 2500ish, it's impossible to find a Pentax version under 4k.

The 5k price tag is huge, but if every there was a lens that was worth the peril to the family budget, this is that lens.
Junior Member

Registered: November, 2010
Location: Greater area of Frankfurt/Main
Posts: 43

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 21, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $6,095.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: IQ, AF speed
Cons: none found so far
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 10    New or Used: New   

This lens is the only true and capable lens for 500mm for Pentax K mount that one can purchase as new in Europe. It took me quite some time to get it - could have saved a few bugs still but did not want to wait any longer. Yet I did not experience TCs intensively but own the Kenko 1.5x SHQ, the Sigma 1.4x and the Pentax 1.7x... we'll see what is achievable...
Until now I shot more/less long distance and mostly birds with it - light is almost no issue - also in the dark winter period over here - as the K5 keeps noise at low level anyway.
If you want to view some of my recent shots:
Guess, for CaNikon you get slightly better resolution and sharpness at wider open apertures BUT, at this price tag and with this weight I know already now the combination K5/K-r/K-x plus the Sigma 500/4.5 is unbeatable.
Will edit this review when experiences sum up...

Update 20FEB13:
I'm still happy with my 500/4,5...!
A few shots loaded on flickr - 1st one was shot utilizing the Kenko SHQ 1.5x Converter

Update 23MAY13:
Since I own a K5 IIs it's even more fun with this lens... the shot of the European wryneck was taken by utilizing the Sigma 1.4 TC...

Registered: February, 2010
Location: Blunsdon,Wiltshire, UK
Posts: 1,009

7 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 17, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $5,365.72 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp,fairly lightweight
Cons: None
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New   

I purchased this lens new .
I am totally happy with the results it produces.
Migrant Hawker by Gary Chalker, on Flickr

Dartford Warbler by Gary Chalker, on Flickr

Kingfisher juvenile by Gary Chalker, on Flickr

Kingfisher [Juvenile] by Gary Chalker, on Flickr

Kingfisher [Juvenile] by Gary Chalker, on Flickr

Bee coming into land on blossom by Gary Chalker, on Flickr

Small Copper Butterfly by Gary Chalker, on Flickr
Veteran Member

Registered: June, 2010
Location: Florida
Posts: 582

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 11, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $4,600.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fairly small for a 500mm
Cons: not weather sealed but sometimes I carry a plastic bag if it starts to rain.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New   

I can't find anything I don't like about this lens. Autofocus is fast even though it doesn't have a hypersonic motor for Pentax cameras.

Reddish Egret by Andrew's Wildlife, on Flickr

Monarch Butterfly by Andrew's Wildlife, on Flickr

Black-Crowned Night-Heron by Andrew's Wildlife, on Flickr
Inactive Account

Registered: March, 2011
Posts: 121

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 6, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharpness, weight for type, build, TC compatibilty
Cons: No HSM
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New   

I've had this lens two weeks. I'm VERY impressed. It is the sharpest glass I've ever had on my K-5, including the 300mm DA* that used to be my longest high quality lens. What has amazed me beyond the inherent sharpness is how well it works with a Tamron 1.4x pz-af teleconverter. On my 300mm DA* the Tamron TC was hit or miss in terms of autofocus and IQ to the point that I stopped using it. But on the Sigma 500 4.5 it is spot on for both. I've gotten what are for me great shots with the TC attached that surpass anything I've gotten without a TC on my DA* 300mm. Further I'm shooting hand held and the K-5 is misinformed about the lens length because of the TC. Here are some pictures -- all are with TC and all have been cropped at least 25%:

I thought I would need a tripod for the lens and would be limited to using it within a few hundred feet of my house or my car, but I've found that I can carry it comfortably for a mile or so with a BlackRapids shoulder strap, and that hand held shots are very sharp with shake reduction on and good technique.

One thing I can't understand is why Sigma didn't include HSM. That and a focus limiter switch are standard on the Canon and Nikon versions, but on Pentax we get screw drive and no focus limiter. Clearly Sigma knows how to make their HSM work with Pentax, and the HSM version was already designed and produced for Canikon. So why did they design it out for Pentax? I'm okay with screw drive, although I worry about future Pentax bodies not supporting it, but I really wish I had the focus limiter. As it is the lens locks on, but with a distant bird it often runs through its entire focus range before doing so. On the otherhand we Pentaxians get in-body shake reduction whereas there is no optical stabilization for Canikon. That means hand held shooting on Pentax and tripod/monopod shooting on Canon or Nikon. I'll take the ability to shoot hand held any day over HSM and a focus limiter switch. But again, why did Sigma cripple features on the Pentax mount?

I've had trouble finding a suitable bag for the lens. With body and hood attached its about 21 inches long. I bought a LoewPro 300AW Vertex. It fits, but the bag itself is heavy and can only be used strapped on as a backpack. I want something that provides some protection when I put the lens in the car but that is light enough that I don't have to think about the trade-off between protecting the lens and carrying a heavy load.

Since I originally posted my review I've purchased two carrying cases that work, each serving a different function.

The Pelican 1510-004-110 Case with Padded Dividers, Black is a perfect fit for the lens with a K-5 body attached. The case as I've configured it accommodates three more shorter lenses, an 18-inch monopod, and an assortment of ancillary gear. I use the case when I'm traveling by air and want to take a lot of gear or when I want rock solid protection for the lens. I've even put it in checked baggage.

My second case is a modified trumpet gig bag:
You can buy this from Amazon, Muscians Friend, and other online stores for $50. It comes with a piece of heavy foam fabric covered padding sewn into the interior of the case to conform to the contour of a trumpet. Unfortunately you have to cut this out with a pair of scissors and also remove a couple of other pieces of padding that are attached with velcro in order to allow room for the lens to fit comfortably with hood extended and K-5 attached. But that is a 5 minute operation and doesn't affect the integrity or external appearance of the bag. The bag is of very high quality construction, there's padding remaining after the large sections are removed, it has a stiff bottom and feet to protect the contents when you put the bag down, and there's a side pocket and serious shoulder strap. The side pocket is large enough to carry extra batteries, a TC, a wide lens, and a cleaning kit. I've jury rigged a way to attach my monopod to the exterior of the bag using a couple of webbed buckle belts I took off of another piece of luggage. All together I'm very pleased with this package. The bag itself only weighs 4 pounds, is just slightly bigger than the lens/camera combo itself, is easy to carry with the shoulder strap, provides reasonable protection, and allows quick access to a ready-to-go lens and camera. I've used it for airline travel, either putting it beneath the seat in front of me, or placing it overhead. In the latter circumstance I put it where I can keep an eye on it, and I place my travel bag next to it to prevent another passenger from slamming a heavy bag into it or on top of it. And it is my go to case when I'm transporting the lens in my car. It would be great if there were a trumpet bag just slightly larger that would not require foam surgery, but the bigger ones I cound find online are designed to hold two trumpets and therefore are too big.

To sum up, the Sigma 500mm f4.5 APO EX DG is a fantastic lens. It is the only piece of photographic equipment I've ever purchased that elevated my game immediately and obviously. I thought I would be using it occasionally and under special circumstances. But for birding and wildlife, I'm now completely spoiled -- nothing else will do.
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2010
Location: Cypress,OC,CA
Posts: 495
Lens Review Date: October 12, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $4,999.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Long reach, AF and light weight when compared to some long lens offerings from Pentax.
Cons: Lack of quick focus similar to SWM in Nikon.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New   

Considering the lack of long lens in Pentax line up, unless you are thinking of buying some that would cost cost an arm and a leg, and wish not to lose your arm from the weight of the lens if you bought the ones like 250-600(especially when mounted ona tripod that weighs, you do the math), then, this is the lens for you., I give this lens a 9.5 as I am used to Nikon AFS 500 F4 lens and I know how fast it locks on, but Pentax compensates for that with their camera body(K-5) in my opinion and, this lens certainly matches my FA*300F2.8 as for the focus speed but lags in IQ that can be made up PP I think.
I will post some images soon.
Don't know if I should mention this but, I bought it from B&H and I think they have some in stock as I post this.

Site Supporter

Registered: August, 2008
Location: Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
Posts: 572

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 10, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $5,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Optically delightful; and build quality
Cons: Heavy (unsurprisingly)
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 10    New or Used: New   

- Optics: Very sharp wide open. My copy required a +5 focus adjsutment, but once this was sorted, the results were delightful. Improves in sharpness when stopped down. f5.6 is a sweet spot. Depth of field very narrow at short range. Great bokeh. No obvious CA even in highly challenging conditions. No vignetting on cropped sensor cameras like K5. This lens is made for a full frame or 35mm sensor.
- Build - a very solidly built lens. Heavy (unsurprisingly) - by comparison, a K5 plus this lens weighs more than a standard military rifle. Comes with a fairly robust soft case and lens cover.
- Features: Reversible lens hood; Drop in 46mm filter (polariser and UV provided with lens); Manual vs Autofocus clutch mechanism; Focus driven by the camera (not HSM) in Pentax mount; No in-built Image Stabilisation (not required for Pentax); No focus limiter (available on other mounts); Solid carry handle with carrying strap and multiple tripod attachment points.
- Focus speed: as fast as the camera can drive it. Slows down with a 1.5x TC, but still achieves focus even in relatively dull conditions (am yet to really test this out and will raise a supplementary review).
- Overall: Beautiful optically once I got the focus adjustment sorted. Can be hand held, but heavy and requires some effort to do so for extended periods. Additionally, a steady support assists focusing as small movements can cause focus target to be lost. Well worth the expenditure in my view and a great addition to the stable. This is clearly a high quality lens.
- Purchase: I purchased mine from CameraPro in Brisbane, Australia, for AUD5700 with a CRKennedy 2 year warranty.

Update on use with Teleconverters. I have now tried a couple of TCs with this lens, and both with great results. It was particularly astonshing to get the result in the second shot at f5.6. My lens has a +5 focus correction, and I did not change that to take these shots.

The first photo was taken with the Sigma and a Promaster Pz-AF 1.7x TC, at ISO800, f11, 1/400th, bias -2, and this was quite a crop which has then been resized down to 1000 pixels:

The second shot was taken using a Kenko P-AF MC4 1.5x TC at ISO 500, f5.6, bias -2.3, 1/1250th. Not such a large crop on this one:
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