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About 6 months ago I purchased a Sigma 170-500mm F5-6.3 APO DG lens, my first super telephoto lens to get me started.

The lens is quite old and doesn't have a lock switch to disable zooming (the lens extends and contracts as you zoom in and out).

The lens is quite heavy and will extend fully under its own weight if I'm not holding the end. This can be a bit problematic while walking around with the lens because I always have to be holding the end of it to prevent it extending, which after a while does cramp my wrists a little.

But my question; does walking around with the lens fully extended actually do it any damage?

  • Search for "lensband" and you'll see a possible solution. I had one lens which had serious creep (Nikon 18-200) and I just put up with it, so I cannot offer personal experience with this fixes, but it is cheap enough it may be worth a try. The creep never hurt mine, it was just annoying. – Linwood Nov 17 '16 at 22:52
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The lens will be prone to more fine dust, debris and sand getting inside the lens. For example, I have a Canon 100-400 L and it is a push pull type telephoto. When the lens is left extended it collects dust and dirt quite quickly on outdoor sets. When I pickup the lens and refocus, it will suck in any dust or debris on the extended portion.

I shoot a lot on the beach. If I set it down for a few moments, sand quickly lands on the lens body. Not good.

Does your Sigma lens have a twist collar? The Canon 100-400 has two collars you rotate in opposite directions to lock and tighten.

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I am doing this for years (walking with the lens extended), even on multi-hour hikes in the mountains and rough areas, and have not seen any consequences. I don't think it will do anything (unless it is so long that you start hitting objects with it)

Aside from that, I would consider it a sign of poor quality if the lens extends under its own weight - the mechanism should be a tiny bit harder to move than that.

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  • It's quite common in long lenses - or used to be - and not just on the entry level models. Locks are more common now. With the lens pointing downwards the could be 1kg pulling on it, so it would have to be too stiff for fine control to stop that creeping. And I find that an extended telephoto often does bang on things. – Chris H Nov 18 '16 at 7:00
  • @ChrisH Yes that's correct, the lens is very heavy and only creeps when the lens is pointing down, most of the time when it's attached to my camera on a neck strap and I'm walking around. – Jamie Wade Nov 18 '16 at 9:06
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You can protect the front of the lens by keeping a lens hood fitted. There are lens caps that go over the hood (I've got some made of neoprene, which also adds padding) to keep the dust out. I suspect the moving parts of your lens are too heavy for a simple rubber band round the zoom ring to help much, but a length of bungee cord (or one each side) from the strap mounts to plastic hooks on the hood (or a lens cap) might stop the worst of the creep while being easy to detach when you want to use it.

Alternatively you might be able to find a long enough holster case to keep it on a rucksack belt. I hike with the 120-400 sigma (only on a Canon 40D) and find I need to take the weight off my neck. If I want my hands free that means belt mounting (for which I use a tripod QR plate on the belt but that's another story).

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