Sigma AF 100-400mm F/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens Review

Sigma AF 100-400mm F/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Handling and Features

Sigma 100 400mm (7)

This is not the first time that compact versions of longer lenses have appeared, as 400mm f/5.6 lenses have been offered in past that have also meant lower cost, smaller and lighter optics. This can be no bad thing as some lenses can be very heavy indeed and wearisome to carry. Having said that, the new Sigma lens still weighs in at a hefty 1160g. Perhaps surprisingly, there is no tripod mount on the lens and although this presented no problems on test, it is about as far as might be sensible to go relying on the camera's own tripod mount. It could be wise to use this lens with care when mounted on the lower cost camera bodies, lest mount and camera should part company over the stress.

Starting at the front of the lens and working backwards, there is a bayonet mount for the (supplied) lens hood. This is a substantial, efficient hood. The usual filter thread has a diameter of 67mm, not overly large thanks to the limited maximum aperture.

The wide zoom ring is solid and reasonably smooth, although not in the same league in this latter respect as more expensive lenses. The instructions suggest the lens can also be zoomed by push/pulling the lens barrel, and this does work but is a fairly heavy action. It is easier with the lens hood mounted to get a grip on. A lock is provided to secure the lens at 100mm, preventing zoom creep whilst being carried.

The manual focus ring comes next and this has a firm but smooth action. There is a distance scale under a clear plastic window. Focusing is down to 1.6m (5.25 feet), giving a maximum magnification of 1:3.8. This allows good close-ups from a very comfortable distance and is ideal for flower portraits and other small objects.

Sigma 100 400mm On Canon 5dsr At 400mm

Finally, nearest to the camera body, there are a series of switches. The Custom switch is normally off unless we have the USB dock, in which case the lens can be programmed in various ways. The AF speed, OS (Optical Stabilisation) and Focus Limiter range can all be customised using the dock, as well as downloading firmware updates for the lens.

The OS switch has choices for off and two settings, one normal and one for panning. As the OS takes 1 second to stabilise, action shots will probably benefit from having it switched off. It should also be switched off when the camera is mounted on a tripod.

The Focus Limiter switch gives choices of full range, 6m to infinity and 1.6-6m as standard, although as mentioned the USB dock can be used to modify these ranges. The focus selector switch offers AF, MO (Full-time manual override of AF) and Manual. Further options are available using the USB dock.

Optical construction is 21 elements in 15 groups, 4 of which are Super LD (Low Dispersion). The diaphragm has 9 rounded blades, with the aim of improving bokeh.

There is no weatherproofing as such, although there is a rubber seal on the lens mount. Sigma advises keeping the lens dry, so in bad weather, some sort of rain shield will be needed.

The different mounts have different features to some extent. Sigma and Canon versions are compatible with the MC-11 mount adapter, which will make them usable on Sony FE and E-mount cameras. The Nikon version has an electromagnetic diaphragm, so is only compatible with the newer camera bodies. A list of suitable Nikon bodies is supplied.

Out in the field, the lens does not have any handling issues. It is very satisfactory in use, whether on a tripod or being carried. A camera sling is a good way to carry the lens without it becoming too much of a burden. Focusing is fast, and picking out details amongst foliage, for example, works extremely well. The lens is compatible with Sigma's TC-1401 (1.4x) and TC-2001 (2x) teleconverters, although only in manual focus mode. Some camera bodies that will focus at f/8 can be used with the TC-1401 in AF mode, but accuracy will suffer at longer focal lengths.

Sigma 100 400mm Rear Oblique View

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