Sigma 300mm F4 Macro APO A-mount lens review by moedius

reviewer#44465 date: Feb-6-2020
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 3
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
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: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta APO 100-300mm f4.5-5.6
Tokina ATX 100-300mm f4
Sigma APO 400mm f5.6
Canon FD 400mm f4.5
Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 Macro HSM II + Sig DG EX 1.4x TC

price paid:80.00
positive:* Fairly sharp wide-open
* Very sharp stopped down even slightly
* Well built (except for the Zen coating)
* Sturdy tripod foot
* Good MFD for a 300
* Built in hood is effective
* Decent control of CA
* Works very well with the Sigma x1.4 TC, and even the Kenko ProPlus 300 x2 TC produces useable images if there's adequate light to allow stopping it down a little
* AF\MF clutch
negative:* Zen coating, zen coating, zen coating. It's utter crap.
* Sigma's AF on their legacy lenses is prone to stripping and failure. My AF is completely stripped, it's now a MF only lens. If it didn't have the ability to mechanically disengage from AF, the lens would be a paperweight, like many of the older Sigma's I have.
comment:I swore to myself that I wouldn't bother with another Zen era Sigma. These are a little less common than many of the other from that time period - I don't no how many were made but I expect people hang on to them for longer.
The coating isn't too bad on my copy, only slightly tacky in a couple spots. I'm curious to see how long that lasts before it's a serious issue. Combination of the coating and the material around the hood made it excruciatingly hard to pull the hood out and push it back in. I had to take an exacto blade and remove a bunch of the coating and what was either a strip of flocking or degraded felt. Once that was gone the hood works much better now, without being too loose.

AF is broken so I can't comment on it's performance. MF damping in MF is loose but fairly smooth, which means it's pretty easy to rotate with just a finger or two if it's mounted on a pod. It's a sturdy, heavy feeling lens, as is the removeable tripod foot.

Unsurprisingly being a macro it seems to handles closer subject matter better than far, but that said I've been using it for birds and wildlife and it does quite well. Performance wide open at f4 has a little SA, lowered contrast, but still has good resolution. At 5.6 it's super sharp (relative to it's age and specs).

It's hard to fully recommend this without some serious caveats about the potential issues with the coating and tendency for AF failure, but if the price is good and you are aware of or can work around these problems (like I was) then this can be a really great, faster budget option.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 17
  • sharpness: 4.29
  • color: 4.29
  • build: 4.35
  • distortion: 4.47
  • flare control: 4.29
  • overall: 4.34 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania