Sigma’s flagship Sports-line lens is a full-frame, fast aperture, ultra-telephoto prime designed for sports, wildlife, aviation and motorsport photography. The lens combines exceptional optical performance with outstanding functionality, portability, focusing capability and build quality. With a highly advanced optical design that delivers staggering detail at all apertures in all areas of the frame, the 500mm F4 is built to meet the needs of professional photographers capturing fast-moving subjects in the most challenging of conditions.
The lens features an enhanced dust- and splash-proof construction, an intelligent two-mode Optical Stabilizer system, a manual override function, focus recall, an AF function switch, HSM focusing technology and a drop-in filter holder. It’s also compatible with Sigma’s teleconverters and USB Dock.
The 500mm sits in the Sports line-up, which means it is designed to withstand heavy professional use. The exterior barrel is constructed of magnesium alloy, which is strong and light with a premium finish. The focus ring is rubberised for easier operation. The lens hood is made of carbon fibre, which is also extremely robust and light, and it has a rubber grip at the end for easy fitting and removal. The hood has a single screw attachment, which makes it secure but easy to remove, and the lens cap comes in the form of a soft cover that sits around the hood when attached in reverse.
The lens has a dust and splash resistant structure with special sealing at the mount connection, manual focus ring, zoom ring, and cover connection, allowing photographers to work in all types of weather.
At the rear of the lens is a tripod collar and foot for better balance when the lens is on a tripod, which can be rotated and locked so that the camera can easily be switched between portrait and landscape orientation. The foot is designed to keep the camera and lens balanced when sitting on a tripod.
The durable brass mount is surrounded by a rubber seal to help keep out dust and moisture.
Precision brass mount with seal
Protects against dust and moisture.
Rear filter holder
To allow smaller filter sizes than would be needed on the front element.
Sleek magnesium-alloy body
Ensures the lens is highly durable and extremely light.
Toggle off the focus beep quickly for quieter operation.
For presetting a specific focus distance.
Custom Mode switch
For a more customised lens set-up.
Optical Stabilizer switch
For choosing between the two OS modes.
Focus Limiter switch
For limiting the lens' focusing range.
Focus Mode switch
For choosing between AF, MF and AF with Manual Focus Override.
A range of controls on the lens include an AF/MF switch with manual focus override, allowing manual focus adjustment during AF, and a Custom Mode switch so that the lens set-up can be customised using the USB Dock (sold separately).
The lens also has a Focus Limiter so that the focusing range can be reduced for faster and more accurate operation. This is particularly useful when there are objects in the frame between the camera and the subject on which the lens might attempt to focus.
The 500mm is the only SIGMA lens with a Focus Recall function, which allows photographers to choose a pre-set focus distance, such as a perch, which the lens will return to on demand.
The 4-stop Optical Stabilizer has a mode for general shooting and one for panning – ideal for fast-moving birds and vehicles.
The lens has a Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) to ensure focusing is fast, accurate and quiet – essential when photographing wildlife.
The 500mm is able to take special 46mm filters at the rear of the lens, meaning photographers don’t need to carry heavy filters for the front. The lens comes as standard with a 46mm rear UV filter, and a circular polarising filter (RCP-11) is also available, which easily be rotated while the lens is in use. As these filters are the drop-in type and therefore sit inside the lens body, they are not as prone to dirt or damage as front-mounted screw-on filters.
The 500mm F4 DG OS HSM | S delivers outstanding optical quality, with excellent rendering of detail right into the corners at all focal lengths.
The lens has an advanced optical design made up of 16 elements in 11 groups, including 1 SLD element and 2 FLD elements. This ensures razor-sharp results and help to eliminate chromatic aberration, flare, distortion and vignetting.
The lens has advanced optical coatings which reduce flare and ghosting when working in bright direct sunlight, creating high contrast images with rich colours and strong blacks.
The 500mm not only has a bright maximum aperture of F4, which ensures fast shutter speeds and plenty of background blur, but it has very fast AF that is compatible with all the latest autofocus systems. This makes it ideal for all types of wildlife, aviation, motorsport and other sporting events, even in lower light conditions where camera shake can be an issue.
The 500mm is the only long-telephoto lens in the Sigma line-up with an F4 aperture, and the only long-telephoto prime. This makes it the obvious choice for pro fast-action photographers needing a reliable, fast and sharp lens that can withstand heavy use. A less expensive option is the 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports, which is also weather-sealed and has an even longer reach. It doesn’t have as fast an aperture, or such a varied feature-set, but it still delivers images of the very highest quality.
All Sigma cameras and lenses are designed, manufactured and assembled at our sole factory at Aizu in Japan. This domestic production model is unusual in today’s industry, with most imaging companies opting to outsource to other countries to reduce costs. But SIGMA believes that keeping virtually all manufacturing, processing and assembly in Aizu is essential for creating innovative, carefully thought-out and impeccably constructed products that meet the high standards demanded by professional photographers and film-makers around the world.
Sigma chose Aizu as its main production base in the early 1970s. Situated at the base of Mount Bandai in the Fukushima Prefecture, about four hours’ drive north of Tokyo, Aizu has an abundance of very clean water from mountain streams, which is essential for grinding and polishing lenses. Sigma’s founder, Michihiro Yamaki, was also drawn to this area for its workforce, who have a reputation for their craftsmanship, work ethic and attention to detail. Mr Yamaki’s son, Kazuto Yamaki, now the owner and CEO of SIGMA Corporation, has the same unwavering commitment to keeping production in Japan.
Today Sigma’s factory is more than 50,000 square feet in size, and packed full of some of the most advanced optical manufacturing technology in existence. So when you buy a Sigma camera or lens you can be sure that virtually every single component part has been manufactured and assembled by SIGMA, in Japan, with the greatest level of care and attention. We hope you enjoy using our products.
If you want to see how a particular SIGMA lens or camera performs, why not test drive it with our SIGMA Select hire service. Available for selected SIGMA lenses, short-term loans are free of charge (including shipping), with a small fee if you want to test it for longer. Refundable deposit required. Subject to availability.
16 elements in 11 groups
Angle of view
Number of diaphragm blades
9 (rounded diaphragm)
Minimum focusing distance
Maximum magnification ratio
Dimensions (diameter x length)
ø144.8mm × 380.3mm
Corresponding AF mounts
Canon EF | Nikon F | Sigma SA
Canon EF barcode
Nikon F barcode
Sigma SA barcode
Specifications are for Sigma SA mount
A special coating applied to the front element to help repel water and oil.
Mounting a camera with a heavy lens on a tripod puts huge strain on the camera’s tripod thread. To get around this some telephoto lenses have a tripod socket so that the camera and lens attach to the tripod at or close to their centre of gravity. This ensures a more balanced set-up.
This suppresses flare and ghosting by minimising reflections within the lens, ensuring punchy, high-contrast results. All lenses in the current Sigma range feature this technology.
This allows filters to be added at the rear of the lens. The filters are about the size of an SD card, and can be purchased or cut out from a sheet using a special template. Because these filters aren’t open to the elements they stay clean, and are much easier to carry around.
Sigma’s Optical Stabilizer function uses sensors inside the lens to detect motion, then moves specific lens elements in order to effectively minimise blur. This helps ensure shake-free images at slower shutter speeds.
Internal focus or an inner focus system means the lens configuration uses movable internal lens elements that adjust focus without changing the length of the lens barrel. This helps keep the centre of gravity of the lens more constant when changing focus.
Sigma’s Hypersonic Motor (HSM) uses ultrasonic waves to drive the autofocus mechanism. It is extremely quiet, fast and accurate, so is well suited to a wide range of photo and video applications.
The lens has an image circle large enough to be used on a full-frame camera. It can also be used on cameras with a smaller ‘crop’ sensor, provided the mount is compatible.
This switch, found on some Sigma telephoto lenses, allows users to limit the focusing range to either near distance or far distance. This helps speed up AF, and also ensures the camera won’t attempt to focus on an unwanted area of the frame.
This switch is found on selected Sigma lenses. On L-Mount versions it is possible to customise the OS and focus limiter distance and assign these to C1 or C2. On Sony E-mount C1 and C2 are pre-assigned to control the OS effect.
The mount is the part of the lens that attaches to the camera body. A coated brass mount is used for strength, and is surrounded by a rubber seal to keep out dust and moisture.
Found on the barrel of some Sigma lenses, the AFL button can be assigned to various functions to widen the range of operations available on the lens (available functions depend on the camera model).
This switch toggles between autofocus and manual focus.
The diaphragm is constructed of nine rounded blades for a circular aperture opening and round out-of-focus highlights.