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A Little More Sigma 200-500 Fun

Published October 17, 2012

SigZilla is gone now. You’ll be able to see it’s work in action if you watch the World Series. I wouldn’t be surprised if you might not catch an image of it.

Before it left, though, we were able to (with a great deal of difficulty) get it mounted in the lab and run one basic Imatest series.

When it returns, we’re hoping we can cooperate with a lab with a more robust set-up to get it more thoroughly tested. We were able to get one good series at 330mm focal length, 8 meters testing distance and f/2.8. From everything we’ve seen, the lens is sharper at longer distances, but hey, the lab is only so big.

Even given the limitations, the performance was excellent corner-to-corner. Sigzilla had an MTF 50 (in line pairs/image height, raw image) of 770 center, 630 average, and 550 in the extreme corners. For comparison, the Canon 300 f/4 IS measures at 730 / 670 / 525 at f/4 and the 300 f/2.8 IS at 830 / 710 / 590 at f/2.8. So we do get superb performance for our $26k.

We found one other thing rather amusing. A normal zoom lens zooms by turning a barrel that has helical grooves in the sides: rotating the barrel moves the zoom element forward and backwards. The elements in the Sigzilla are so huge that such an arrangement just wouldn’t work. Instead the zoom element is mounted to rods inside the lens, one of which is a screw driven by an electric motor. The screw drive moves the element forward and backward.

It’s quite accurate and reasonably quick both for AF and MF. But it’s rather impressive and a bit noisy. Excuse the lighting — it’s dark up in there.



All I could think of looking into that front element during the zoom was – –

HAL 9000: “Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.”

Roger Cicala

October 2012

Author: Roger Cicala

I’m Roger and I am the founder of Hailed as one of the optic nerds here, I enjoy shooting collimated light through 30X microscope objectives in my spare time. When I do take real pictures I like using something different: a Medium format, or Pentax K1, or a Sony RX1R.

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  • And by left I mean right. It’s far too early…

  • Jason

    Sounds like *something* out of Star Trek.

  • Bob Howland

    At the risk of repeating myself, I’d much rather Sigma made a 200-500 f/4 or 200-500 f/2.8-4, something that could actually be carried and was almost affordable.

  • Walter Freeman

    Are you supposed to turn the IBIS off when it’s mounted on the Human Tripod System, I wonder?

  • When you get it back, you should stick an EF->m43 adapter on it and put the E-M5’s IBIS to the test =)

  • Spousal purchase justification #1034: “If I buy the Sigmonster you won’t have a home gym messing up your beautiful interior decor”.

  • Michael Beck

    You guys need to invite me over to play with my BlackMagic Cinema Camera with these crazy lenses. I would love to blow a day testing out a ton of lenses with the camera. 🙂

  • Wired Magazine has a quick article on the high speed cameras being used at the National League Championship Series. Go check out the article here:

    The cool thing is they seem to confirm the destination of the SigZilla. “…Vision Research camera for the World Series that shoots up to 20,000 frames per second with a 500 mm lens.” This has got to be it.

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