Sigma 400mm F5.6 APO telemacro A-mount lens reviews

reviews found: 15   
reviewer#11323 date: Aug-29-2013
sharpness: 5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.8
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Tamron 200-400 f5.6
Beercan 70-210 f4
Minolta 75-300 new
Sigma 70-300 APO DG
Sigma 400 5.6 non APO
Canon 100-400 5.6
price paid:
missing
positive:Sharp wide open, super sharp by f8
Focus ring
AF speed in good light
Limit switch
Close focus
Cheap
negative:AF hunts at low light
Two step AF/MF change
No longer available
comment:This is my second teleprime. I had a Sigma 400 5.6 non APO that stipped gears after the second time in my A100. That one was only sharp by f11, the Telemacro is sharp wide open and super sharp by f8. The build quality is also a lot better.
I'm in love with the focus ring in this lens. The Limit switch speeds up focus a lot and is well implemented. I've never seen a Sigma lens with such an accurate focus.
Compared to the tamron or the canon the sigma gains in sharpness at 400mm but losses in versatility.
So far I've not seen any PF and flare seems well controlled.
1.6m MDF for a 400mm prime is amazing.


reviewer#9209 date: Jul-5-2011
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Tamron 180/3.5 macro.
price paid:295GBP
positive:Very sharp at f/8
negative:Not very sharp at f/5.6
Bokeh is a little poor for a prime.
comment:A harder lens to use than the Tamron 180/3.5 macro although IQ is similar stopped down. At 180mm the Tamron is hand holdable and lite enough to walk around with. Steady Shot works great. At 400mm this monster needs its own lens box and a monopod for stabilizaton.

Set up with the monopod its a pig to carry. Sadly some wildlife just doesn't have the patience to wait for assembly so this is a case of stop, assemble camera, lens and monopod and then wait for the wildlife to arrive.

AF seemed OK for speed. Sometimes it got confused but no worse than any other macro. Focus was spot on - I didn't know sigma could do that.

Macro sharp at F/8 but only with a stand. Steady Shot is not enough. Don't bother with F/5.6. I am giving it a 5 because for me a totally sharp F/8 is what I need. If you must use F/5.6 then 4 at best. Maybe 3.5.

Very little CA and that correctable in photoshop.

Bokeh is usually good but there is a little outlining. More like a decentish zoom than a prime. Poor for a macro. I would give it a 3 but honestly I don't think it has had significant effect on any of my photos so far.

I have given the build a 5 because it looks good to me.

I have not tested flare.

This is a good birds & butterflies lens. For such small subjects F/8 is as fast as you can go and still hope for a usable depth of field. 100% crops look good. Great value for money.

reviewer#8638 date: Feb-7-2011
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.2
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony 70-400, Sony 70-300.
price paid:330 USD(used)
positive:-macro function
-Limit switch
-Price
-sharpness
-Neutral color

negative:-Detachable tripod collar
-Soft on an open F
-focus is a little slow
comment:I like this lens. Well approaches for photohunting.
Excellent sharpness since f8. Minimum quantity СА.
reviewer#6764 date: Jan-16-2010
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.7
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sigma 400 mm non APO, black coloured version
price paid:195 GBP
positive:All the others
AF in good light very good and fast on A700
negative:AF bit slow in low light
comment:Such a step up from non APO version, build quality perfect, optical not had a chance yet just few samples through window but much much better. AF faster then older one but still bit slow but MF is a joy to use with that ring. ANd that beast is really heavy, bit too heavy for me will have to get monopod. All tested on A700, you can use manual af switch on lens but camera will try to autofocus when you press a shutter, it can be overridden by pressing af/mf switch at the back of camera. And another thing lens is longer then older version by about 3 to 5 cm so it doesn't fit in my backpack any more. Paid 195 GBP and it's in showroom condition including leather case, box, manulas, caps etc.
reviewer#6555 date: Dec-8-2009
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.8
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta 300mm APO f4 G
Sony 70-300G
Sigma 400 f5.6 APO
price paid:400 euro (used)
positive:Great sharpness, colors and bokeh, even with 1,4x teleconverter
negative:Slow autofocus
comment:I owned 2 sigma 400 apo before, and I have to say that this version is very much better!
It's very very sharp, even at f5.6
Colours are great, the build quality is very good.
Only the AF is slow.
reviewer#5827 date: Aug-7-2009
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 3
overall: 3.8
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:sigma 300f4 apomacro
sony 300f2.8G
price paid:
missing
positive:
missing
negative:
missing
comment:
missing
reviewer#4958 date: Mar-3-2009
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.8
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:sigma 400mm
sigma 400mm apo
price paid:350 eur
positive:focus hold switch
macro function
position of switches
very accurate focussing ring
negative:small tripod mount
small tripod mount lock
comment:I owned the sigma 400 and the sigma 400 apo before, and I definately prefer this version!

The build quality is better. The focussing ring is fantastic! Big, easely accessible and accurate.
the position of the switches is good. No way you switch something on or off by accident + they are still easy to find, even when looking trough the lens.

The focussing is fast (enough) and accurate, but the lens tends to hunt in low-light or low-contrast situations.

the macrofunction is plain fun! Minimum focussing distance is (around) 1,5m, wicht is fairly close!

I use the lesn for birding. Sharpness is good, but not so much at 5.6. flare is better than with the other sigma 400mm lenses.
Fucusing is less noisy too!
hmm, what else?

For me this is definately a keeper. I can't wait to try this baby with the sony 2x tc I am getting next month.
reviewer#4255 date: Oct-18-2008
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:sigma 50-500
minolta 75-300 4.5-5.6
beercan
vivitar series 1(sigma) 70-210 f2.8
price paid:300 USD (used)
positive:great bokeh
sharp
great color
not too heavy (for this focal length)
built in hood actually works
macro-ish ability
negative:too long for most of my bags! (not really a problem)
f5.6 a little slow but ok
focus is a little slow
comment:still use this lens a ton even after getting the bigma. seems sharper to me. I like the macro ability for bugs that won't sit still for me to take a shot with my 50mm true macro lens. not too bad to tote around all day. focus is a little slow, even with the limiter on. It has done me well, and the price tag was fantastic! I have not noticed any CA or fringing, but that just could be my inexperienced eye
reviewer#2943 date: Nov-20-2007
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 2
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.1
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:Sigma 400mm non-APO
price paid:Ł250UK (used)
positive:High build quality
Limit switch
Great optics even wide open
Close focus
Scratch resistant barrel
Built in hood
Removable tripod collar
negative:Heavy
DMF focussing doesn't work with A100
comment:I paid over the odds somewhat for this example from London Camera Exchange but it's in superb condition and handles like new.
Compared to the non-APO version that I have it's a little sharper at f8 and f11 but much sharper at f5.6. Purple fringing at high contrast edges that can mar some images from the non-APO lens is much better controlled. I didn't get much CA on the non-APO, and I get even less with this one. Detail at 100% once stopped down on the non-APO is there, but it needs a little post processing to coax it out. The Telemacro needs less work. Check out my bird shots in the samples for this lens - the chaffinch, and probably the second robin, would have had purple fringing with the non-APO but it's well controlled here.
As for handling, well, it's heavy. You can hand hold it but not for long and it's better with a monopod.
The finish is good with a sort of rubberised coating that shrugs off scratches, and the limit switch is useful.
It can hunt a bit in poor light but many long lenses do this.
The AF/MF collar is a bit awkward as it's right by the tripod collar.
Sadly, DMF doesn't work with my A100. This is probably done on purpose by Sigma. This is a heavy lens, and because the focussing ring is so large, there isn't much space elsewhere to support the lens when hand holding. If AF spun the focussing ring around you could run the risk of the lens and camera twisting out of your grip, so in AF mode the ring is completely decoupled, and in MF mode AF is decoupled from the camera.
In conclusion, this is a fine lens, and as commented elsewhere, this is as good as it gets unless you start paying really big sums for 'EX' or 'G'.
Note: I have specified a '4' for flare control as although I haven't encountered any significant flare I haven't really run into shots that might have caused it.
Edit: Two months on, and I still rate this lens very highly. I have found that with a monopod attached and the monopod segments retracted I can hand hold it quite successfully by using the monopod grip as support. For the macho amongst you, you might compare it with holding a Uzi. :)
The lens has been compared favourably against the Canon 400mm f5.6 L when tested, and I can quite believe it. I can crop pictures very heavily and still get usable, printable images. The only drawback is that it is no longer available new, and it is difficult to find s/h, causing prices to soar in the last couple of months. The price I paid two months ago seems positively cheap today.

EDIT: My lens snapped an AF drive gear support pin yesterday, 20th October 2008. I was able to partially dismantle the lens to get the broken pin out to stop it fouling the aperture mechanism. I can still use it as manual focus only but I was very disappointed to find that Sigma UK no longer support this lens nor do they carry any spares. It is apparently six years old. I have modified my build rating accordingly.
reviewer#2491 date: Jun-29-2007
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.9
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:
missing
positive:- Build quality
- Price
- sharpness
negative:- Only f/5.6
- AF/MF
comment:This is my first prime tele.
I like this lens as it allows a good hand held use even it weights over 1400 gr. Of course with a tripod (or a bean bag) it performs better.

For me it is a good quality for the price, maybe not as good as the Minolta 400 f/4,5 but it costs 1/4 of its price.

I tested it on the field (birds, wildlife) and obtained good performance even in low light conditions.

reviewer#2452 date: Jun-17-2007
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.6
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sigma 400 F5,6
price paid:200USD(used)
positive:Nice macro lens, not too big filter
Well balanced
negative:Only F5,6...
The AF/MF system !
comment:A little softness before F8, and its not easy to go to the MF because you have two operations for quit the AF, at the moment very cheap for the quality.
reviewer#1233 date: Sep-26-2006
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I have experience with this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:Ł320.00 (new)
positive:Great value
negative:No longer made, but this is not a reflection on its quality
comment:This lens should not be confused with the none macro version, which is not nearly as good. Owning this lens was one of the reasons I bought the Sony A100, a much cheaper option than a Canon 5.6 400 mm L. Yet apart from focusing speed can perform very well. One MTF test on the web had this lens out perform the Canon L ( www.photozone.de)

Update: Now used on my a900. The auto-focus has always been a weak spot with Minolta mount versions of this lens. I find I get better results using manual focus. Have got some great results handheld with the a100 thanks to in-camera stabalisation
reviewer#1172 date: Sep-5-2006
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.3
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I have experience with this lens
compared to:400 APO (Non-macro)
price paid:350 USD (s/h)
positive:+ Sharp
+ Close focus ability
+ Large focus ring
+ Detachable tripod collar
negative:- Weight, but to be expected
- focus in poor light
comment:I bought this used (77mm) example after the earlier APO (72mm) version, and for a time had both so I could compare directly. The earlier version suffered more from CA (although it was never bad) but probably was a touch sharper. Focusing was better with this version.

It is best used on a tripod or monopod (that I use) for the best results.

What options are there if you don't want a zoom?
reviewer#1092 date: Aug-15-2006
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.3
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I have experience with this lens
compared to:None
price paid:300 USD (used)
positive:Sharp Images, shouldn't it be for a prime?
Wide zoom ring.
negative:Heavy at 1.4kg.
AF hunts at low light.
comment:My first Long zoom prime. Mine is the final version Tele macro one with my 5D. Intend to get a Bigma initially but stumbled upon this lens 2nd hand. Did a search on it but not much info on net.

Lens is heavy but images are sharp. Handheld is possible but a monopod or tripod is really recommended. I coupled with a 2x TC and still produces good quality image. Needs good light for AF to work effectively or it will hunt, anyway I prefer MF on this lens. At 800mm (400mm + 2x TC), it's a keeper.

reviewer#658 date: Apr-3-2006
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.3
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 24MP24 MP36MP36 MP
ownership:I have experience with this lens
compared to:- Tokina AT-X 400mm F5.6 SD
- Sigma 300mm F4 APO Tele Macro
price paid:
missing
positive:- usable wide open
- very sharp at F8
- close focusing ability (1.6m / 1:3 reproduction ratio)
- focus limiter
- large MF ring with nice finish
negative:- AF/MF switch design
comment:My version is Sigma 400mm F5.6 APO Tele
Macro with 77mm front element, the latest
version before they stoped making it

The lens shares same design features with
Sigma 300mm F4 APO Tele Macro and same
tripod collar can be used on both lenses.

This lens is bordering the "big glass"
category with it's size and weight, while
it is smaller then Minolta 400mm F4.5,
it is considerably larger and heavier then
Tokina 400mm F5.6

Because of it's size and weight it will
need a sturdy tripod, or some other support
to produce the best results.

IMHO, all in all, this is a very good lens
that can fulfill the roll of a bit more serious
long tele on cameras with APS-C sized sensor.
Optically it is better then consumer level
zoom lenses and it will be a nice upgrade in
that case.
reviews found: 15   

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 15
  • sharpness: 4.57
  • color: 4.60
  • build: 4.47
  • distortion: 4.87
  • flare control: 4.20
  • overall: 4.54

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