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Lens review

Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM

20 October 2009
Szymon Starczewski

11. Summary

Pros:
  • good or very good image quality for the range 120-300 mm,
  • solid body and good build quality,
  • well-controlled chromatic aberration,
  • small vignetting,
  • slight distortion,
  • correctly-controlled astigmatism,
  • small coma,
  • silent and quite fast autofocus,
  • abounding equipment,
  • two-year warranty with the option of extending on another year.

Cons:

  • too weak image quality at 400 mm,
  • large weight and dimensions compared to the competition,
  • bad work against bright light,
  • mediocre accuracy of the focusing mechanism.

The first question that crossed my mind after testing Sigma 120-400 mm OS was connected with not having the EX symbol on the body. Why didn’t Sigma rate this lens to its highest class, even though the body is very solid, we have HSM motor, stabilization, abounding equipment, APO letters and three low-dispersion elements inside? I guess that we can now answer this question. Sigma didn’t want to compete with lenses like Canon 100-400 IS or Nikkor 80-400 mm VR, aiming at a lower segment of the market. That’s why Sigma falls optically behind much more expensive brand competitors, but potentially settles in a much cheaper segment, counting that it will interest a whole lot of users, who can’t afford to spend over 1700 $ on a telephoto lens.

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This way it created a strong competition for Tokina 80-400 mm, which is about 300 $ cheaper than Sigma, but doesn’t give us stabilization or an ultrasonic focusing motor. The advantage of Tokina is a larger range, smaller dimensions and better brightness at 300 mm (Tokina has f/5.0, Sigma already f/5.6), the disadvantage being worse behavior at longer focal lengths and much bigger chromatic aberration.

We, as clients, should be happy that the choice in this class has gotten bigger. We have Tokina, we have Sigma and for those who can afford it, we have the most expensive products of brand producers. A wide selection here.


Sample shots

Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 120 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/250 sec., ISO 100
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.2 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 200 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/250 sec., ISO 100
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.0 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 297 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/250 sec., ISO 100
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.3 MB
Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 297 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/1000 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 4.3 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 198 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/1000 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 4.8 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 214 mm, f/9.0, exp. 1/400 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.6 MB


Camera: Canon EOS 20D
Lens: Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM
Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary
Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary
Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary
Parameters: 400 mm, f/8.0,
exp. 1/1250 sec., ISO 400
3504 x 2336 pix, 2.9 MB
Parameters: 120 mm, f/8.0,
exp. 1/800 sec., ISO 400
3504 x 2336 pix, 3.1 MB
Parameters: 120 mm, f/4.5,
exp. 1/6400 sec., ISO 400
3504 x 2336 pix, 3.3 MB
Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary
Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary
Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary
Parameters: 273 mm, f/5.6,
exp. 1/2500 sec., ISO 400
3504 x 2336 pix, 2.6 MB
Parameters: 273 mm, f/11,
exp. 1/400 sec., ISO 200
3504 x 2336 pix, 2.3 MB
Parameters: 400 mm, f/8.0,
exp. 1/1000 sec., ISO 400
3504 x 2336 pix, 3.1 MB
Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary
Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary
Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary
Parameters: 120 mm, f/4.5,
exp. 1/5000 sec., ISO 200
3504 x 2336 pix, 2.5 MB
Parameters: 198 mm, f/5.0,
exp. 1/1600 sec., ISO 200
3504 x 2336 pix, 3.1 MB
Parameters: 120 mm, f/5.0,
exp. 1/2500 sec., ISO 200
3504 x 2336 pix, 4.0 MB
Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary
Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary
Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary
Parameters: 400 mm, f/7.1,
exp. 1/500 sec., ISO 800
3504 x 2336 pix, 1.4 MB
Parameters: 183 mm, f/5.0,
exp. 1/1600 sec., ISO 200
3504 x 2336 pix, 3.2 MB
Parameters: 400 mm, f/8.0,
exp. 1/1000 sec., ISO 200
3504 x 2336 pix, 1.9 MB
Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary
Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary
Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 APO DG OS HSM - Summary
Parameters: 297 mm, f/8.0,
exp. 1/500 sec., ISO 200
3504 x 2336 pix, 2.7 MB
Parameters: 297 mm, f/5.6,
exp. 1/800 sec., ISO 200
3504 x 2336 pix, 2.5 MB
Parameters: 400 mm, f/5.6,
exp. 1/1000 sec., ISO 200
3504 x 2336 pix, 2.4 MB



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