Sigma 100-300mm F4 EX DG IF APO A-mount lens review by eccles

reviewer#4574 date: Dec-21-2008
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 4
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: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Beercan
price paid:L560 PX
positive:Very sharp
Accurate AF
Works well with Pro300 TC
IQ not so good at closest focus
comment:My 400mm 5.6 Telemacro bit the dust and Sigma UK had no spares so I accepted this one as a part exchange deal. I already had a Kenko Pro300 1.4x TC.
Through most of the zoom range this lens is very sharp wide open with little CA and must be close in performance to a prime. At 300mm it might just lose a tiny bit when wide open but it's still pretty good. I think my beercan is a very good copy but this lens is sharper, especially at F4.
There is a small amount of red/green lateral CA at 300mm that is correctable within ACR. +18 red/green just about does it.
Using a Kenko Pro300 1.4x TC matches the lens well, although it introduces a small amount of blue/yellow CA at 300mm, which is also correctable (-10 blue/yellow), and some softening of the edges. Centre sharpness is very good, still usable wide open but better stopped down one stop.
You do have to hold this lens steady though with the TC attached, and a monopod is virtually essential, although you can get away with surprisingly slow shutter speeds when the TC is not attached.
AF is accurate and quite fast, however with the TC attached it is much slower because of the additional gearing in the TC. Accuracy is still maintained though, and distant shots have very good pulling power.
I have posted a 100% crop of a European kingfisher in the samples thread.
Edit: Several months on and I'm still very pleased with the IQ of this lens. I have substituted a Sigma EX APO TC for the Kenko, the Sigma TC giving significantly better optical quality. Wide open it is slightly better than when the Kenko is fitted and closed down a stop.
Update June 2011
After getting the 70-400 Sony G 2 years ago this lens has been sitting in the cupboard gathering dust. I recently tried to sell it but couldn't get a decent price so rather than shove it in the cupboard again I took it out to catch birds in flight and it was a reminder just how good it is. I'd forgotten just how quick and accurate the AF in this lens is with my A700. IQ isn't so good at minimum focus, tailing off quite markedly a meter or so before the stop is hit so don't use it for close-ups. It was recently tested with a friend's A55 and works fine.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 29
  • sharpness: 4.71
  • color: 4.72
  • build: 4.86
  • distortion: 4.76
  • flare control: 4.62
  • overall: 4.73 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania