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

reviews found: 18   
reviewer#11954 date: Aug-20-2014
sharpness: 3.5
color: 2
build: 3
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 3.3
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony 70~300 G SSM and Sony 300mm f/2.8
price paid:Free.
positive:light weight for a glass lens with this much reach.
negative:Soft photos with slow focus when used on my A900.
comment:A friend who was selling all his Minolta lenses and switching to Cannon gave it to me after I bought all his primes. I did not like this lens when I used it on my A900. I just bought an A77M2 and gave it another try. It suddenly became a decent lens! It focuses quickly on my A77M2 and maybe because it's only using the center part of the lens on an APS-C sensor. It's okay. It's a long relatively fast lens (when compared to my 500mm Reflex)
reviewer#10828 date: Jan-10-2013
sharpness: 2.5
color: 2
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 3.3
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta Dynax 100 - 300 4.5-5.6AF
Min 70-210 3.5-4.5AF
price paid:Far too much
positive:Not much
negative:Almost everything else.
comment:When I worked in retail many years ago we sold these lenses by the shed load. People were falling over themselves to buy them and the magazines gave them rave reviews.

I was very disappointed by it's performance when I picked one up used years later and was able to try it out for myself.

I found it really difficult to get any worthwhile result, with a very high failure rate.

The body is coated with some sort of layer that was designed ( I assume) to give the lens a nice finnish and feel. That's starting to come off of my example and has gone tacky, meaning it would not be worth selling on. It is very old though.

Unless you find one going dirt cheep, or someone's giving it away, I would not recommend one of these used unless you have the opportunity to try it out thoroughly first to make sure you have a good example. A shame as the forum sample images show it is possible to get useful results.
reviewer#8630 date: Feb-7-2011
sharpness: 3
color: 3
build: 3
distortion: 3
flare control: 4
overall: 3.2
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:Sigma 300 F4 Macro APO
price paid:405 Euro(used)
positive:Light for it's range
negative:Not sharp
Color fringing
Long MFD
Bad barrel material
comment:This was the first tele prime I ever bought.
It was in the beginning that I bought thru Ebay so I didn't really know the second hand prices nor did I know that you had to pay taxes when you imported stuff into the EU which costed more than 150 Euro.

The actual price was 300 Euro's shipping included(which was also to much for this lens) but I had to pay an additional 105 Euro taxes, very painfull.

And above all the lens was no good at all.

I've sold it with a loss of 155 Euro to finance the Sigma 300 F4 Macro APO.
reviewer#8124 date: Oct-20-2010
sharpness: 3
color: 3
build: 3
distortion: 2
flare control: 1
overall: 2.4
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta 400mm, Tamron 400mm,
price paid:au$110
positive:Small and light for a 400mm.
negative:Soft at all apertures, poor colour, slow and erratic focusing, very poor coating for digital use, images are hazy. The Sony 75-300 kit lens will beat it up to 300mm. Even a cheap 500 reflex outperforms it in every aspect.
comment:A cheap lens, even when new, it did not have a good reputation in film days, and it is worse with digital. If you look at many of the sample images you can see the haze and soft focus problems. I bought it on a whim and thought that I had a bad copy until I borrowed another from a club member. They are simply a budget tele lens and perform like one. I have since bought a Minolta 400mm of similar vintage and it is sharp with good colour.
reviewer#7599 date: Jun-23-2010
sharpness: 4.5
color: 3
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 3.9
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:70-400 SSM
100-300 3.5 - 5.6 APO
price paid:250 EUR (USED)
positive:Reach
negative:Colors
comment:Perhaps my copy wasn't good but i did not like the colors. In the end i didn't use it anymore and preferred the 100-300 and crop a bit more. When i got the 70-400 i sold it really quick.
reviewer#6693 date: Jan-5-2010
sharpness: 3.5
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 3.9
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:Minolta AF100-400
Cosina AF100-400
Tamron AF200-400
price paid:
missing
positive:Relatively compact
negative:Soft below f8-f11
Minimum focus distance
comment:I used to have a near mint copy of this lens, but was never perfectly happy with the performance as it is too soft at f5.6 to my taste. It needs to be stopped down to f8-f11 to have a sharpness on par with Minolta AF100-400 or Tamron AF200-400 wide open.

Compared to Vivitar/Voightländer/Cosina AF100-400 this prime is however a huge upgrade.

Colour and contract is okay and can be used without PP. However PP is recommended as CA performance is dissapointing considering it is an APO lens.

Build quality is good, and I never had any problems with this lens. It is relatively compact and relatively fair in weight so it is easy to operate. Minimum focus distance is a little long in my taste (4 meter). The Tamron AF200-400 does a better job in general, but is much more "clumpsy" a lens to operate. Regardless of that I ended up keeping the Tamron and let this Sigma prime go.
reviewer#6131 date: Sep-28-2009
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: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta AF 300 f4 APO HS
Minolta AF 500 f8 reflex
Minolta AF 100-400 f4.5-6.3 APO
Sony AF 75-300 f4.5-5.6
Sony AF 70-400 f5.6 G
Sigma DL 70-300 f4-5.6 DL Macro Super
Canon FD 300 f2.8 fluo
Canon FD 400 f4.5
price paid:190 USD (used)
positive:Remarkably compact and handholdable for a 400mm
Good build quality
Built-in hood
Sharp at f7.1 and higher
negative:Slow AF
my copy is prone to glare and fuzziness wide open
comment:First a few qualifications: I bought this lens as is with a stuck diaphragm for $65 and had it fixed for $125, so it was not in best condition to begin with, and after repairing the diaphragm I can see that some of the inside glass surfaces are a bit dusty and have a few small smudges.

My specimen is fairly soft and suffers from glare wide open, but improves by stopping down and becomes acceptably sharp at f7.1 and above - better than the non-G zooms I've tried in the 70-300 and 100-400 range, but not as good as the 300 f4 APO, 70-400 G or the manual focus Canon teles that I have experience with. Color rendition is good but not excellent.

AF is slow and inaccurate, on my A100 it backfocuses fairly consistently but not so much on my A700. Correcting manually is helped on the one hand by the well-positioned and smooth focus ring, on the other hand the ring is a little too short and doesn't have quite enough travel for very precise adjustment, and tends to shift the moment I release my fingertips.

In terms of build, size, weight and handholdability it is very well designed and I find it a good option as a low-cost travel lens with decent but not stellar performance, requiring some adjustments to work around its limitations. I would certainly not recommend it as "the one prime tele you'll ever need" and compared to the 500 f8 reflex it is not as compact and portable for travel either, but if you don't like the donut bokeh from a reflex design and nevertheless want an affordable and compact tele then it's worth keeping an eye out for a good copy of the 400 f5.6 APO
reviewer#5000 date: Mar-11-2009
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 4
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: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:beercan, sigma 18-125mm, minolta 50mm f1.7, Sony 18-70
price paid:60 Ł used with haze
positive:light, built in hood, APO, fast focus speed, build quality
negative:haze on the focus element lens with many copies.
comment:this lens is very good one only in one case, if you can get one without haze on the focus element.
I searched the web and discovered that many people have the same issue with exactly the same element.
I disassembled the lens ( even it is not that easy work to do, dont think about doing that!!) and got that element out, but there is no way to clean it with all the known methods.
Sigma told me there is no way to fix this lens because it is discontinued, but they helped me with some key information.
check the lens carefully with a powerful light source before you buy it.
I hope that will help you.
everything else is good.
reviewer#4957 date: Mar-3-2009
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 3
overall: 4
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
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:sigma 400mm
sigma 400mm telemacro
price paid:220 euro
positive:long tele
light
negative:colour and contrast
loud
small tripod mount
paint comes off
comment:the version I owned suffers from haze on the glass, so I can't judge it right.
I do know that is is a relatively light and fast lens. I have taken birds in flight more than once, though with the f5.6 the pic's weren't really sharp...
The paint comes off too on my version.
honestly, I wuold prefer to buy the regular sigma 400mm f5.6 than this one, since there is not much difference in optical quality or speed and prices are higher for this apo version. Still, I liked the lens a lot!


reviewer#4909 date: Feb-25-2009
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
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: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:SAL-55200
price paid:300 EUR (Almost new)
positive:Built to outlive the user
Excellent overall IQ
negative:Not the fastest AF
comment:An excellent cheap and reliable prime for when you need that extra bit of reach. The construction is very solid and the IQ does not dissapoint.

The only downside is that the colors sometimes need a bit of TLC and that the AF on the A300 takes its time. It also sounds like a coffee grinder, so don't expect to sneak up on any animals with it.

* Update: On my A700 the AF is a lot better and the color cast doesn't present itself anymore! Perhaps a problem with my A300?

Overall, good value for money, excellent reach and built to last. An ideal lens to go out and about!
reviewer#3966 date: Aug-13-2008
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.4
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sigma 80-200
price paid:239 USD (used)
positive:Sharpness
Solid construction
negative:Slow AF tends to hunt
comment:This is my first AF prime lens that I have used and I was impressed. It tends to hunt a lot and the AF is a bit slow (I still need to figure out the focus limiter). Could be a downer when shooting fast moving subjects like cars or birds.

Is built really well but not too heavy. A monopod/tripod is helpful but can be handheld if there is enough light for fast shutter. Like I said first impression is good and should improve with practice.
reviewer#3908 date: Jul-31-2008
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: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta Beercan, Minolta Super Beercan
price paid:250 EURO (used)
positive:Very sharp, great colors, not heavy
negative:None: for this price it's perfect!
comment:Great lens: closed to f8 it's sharp as a knife! The colors are true Minolta colors. Autofocus was a little slow with my Alpha 100, but it's quite fast with my new Alpha 350. I like very mutch the built-in hood.
I can shot without a tripod in good light conditions.

I think that, for this price this lens is perfect!
reviewer#3893 date: Jul-28-2008
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
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: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:I don't own anything else in this range.
price paid:200$ Used
positive:Size and range. Cheap!
negative:AF could be faster.
comment:Bought this one second hand for wildlife photography and it has not let me down. Soft at f/5.6 but at f/8->f/11 it's pretty sharp. I don't use AF a lot on it because it's just too slow for most of the shots. (Swallows in flight demands speed...oh and a bit of luck!). For the price you get a lot of lens!

Edit: I put it on my A700 and the AF really benefits from that. A lot faster and it seems to hunt less often. On the 5D I almost always shot MF. On the A700 I almost always shoot AF. 'Cause it can!
reviewer#2766 date: Sep-22-2007
sharpness: 3.5
color: 2
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 3.9
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:Tokina 400mm ATX SD
Sony 18-70 DT
Minolta 50mm F1.7
price paid:300 USD w/ TC
positive:Relatively small size, and inexpensive. Decent AF performance. Decently sharp, with virtually no CAs or distortion.
negative:Washed out colors, extremely low contrast especially wide open, and improves marginally stopped down to f8.
Minimum focus distance too long.
comment:Purchased this lens used online. It seems to AF quickly enough. It had very good control of CAs, and distortion, but the overall contrast and color left much to be desired. The Tokina 400mm F5.6 beats it hands down in this respect, although the sigma seems to have a slight advantage in AF. Also, it should be noted that the minimum 4m focus distance might not be short enough for small birds. Overall, the image quality of the lens did not meet my expectations.

However, my copy of the lens may have been a dud. It was bought used, and the focus ring did not turn smoothly, and felt gritty and undamped.
reviewer#2639 date: Aug-16-2007
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
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: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Beercan, Sigma 100-300.
price paid:Traded
positive:- Not expensive for its range.
- f:5.6 is much more tolerable than I've thought.
- Well built, includes tripod collar.
- Built-in shade.
negative:- Less sharper than beercan, never mind G tele primes.
- Big and heavy, doesn't fit my camera bag.
- Can't take TC's (lose of autofocus)
- Not really sharp until f:8.
comment:This lens is just half stop darker than the 400G. You could think that, at US$ 150-200 you get what you pay for - but this lens delivers when I need the 400mm range without having to pay big big bucks on the G-lens.

Also, I've noticed that's better to use it with the wide frame area selection. After all, at 400mm, you have a degree coverage less than 4ş on digital, and under these conditions it does not make much sense to use the central AF sensor only.

Of course this lens is not as sharp as the beercan (never mind the Gs); however, contrary to the big G's this one can be used handheld thanks to AS/SSS (although you'll probably need a good tripod with more challenging light conditions).
reviewer#1454 date: Nov-20-2006
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 5
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: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I have experience with this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:???
positive:Sharp and light
negative:Focus lock button does not activate DOF preview on Maxxum 7 or 7d. It does function properly as focus lock.
comment:Ok, I have the older 72mm APO version. My main wildlife lens for many years. Plenty of sharp images produced by it. Did a recent comparision between it and my Minolta 300mm. Surprisingly it was not that far off the 300mm in terms of sharpness. Good combination to use with one of the image stabilized bodies due to light weight and relative sharpness. Mine was bought back in the very early 90's yet works fine on my Maxxum 7 and 7D except for the function mentioned in the negative area.
reviewer#1253 date: Sep-29-2006
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 4
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: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I have experience with this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:Ł 110 eBay
positive:Sharp. Not that big, built like a tank
negative:On my older model closest focus is 4 mtr. Can't quite fill the frame with a bird like a blue Tit
comment:I have the older non macro model which is a little smaller than the newer model and I think better build quality. Shapness is good even wide open but closed 1 stop gives its best results. I don't think there are many 400mm lenses you can manage to hand hold or comfortably walk around with all afternoon. I regular have it attached to the camera on long rambles and a light weight monopod (and AS) is all that is required to get steady sharp pics down to 1/100 sec. Can't think of anything to touch it for the price.
reviewer#811 date: May-19-2006
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: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:Tokina AT-X 400 5.6 SD; KM 85 1.4 (pre-g); Sigma 105 2.8 EX
price paid:Can't remember
positive:Handholdable to f8 in good lighting; built in lens hood; 72mm filter threads
negative:Paint wears off in aging models; not as sharp as a KM or Tokina
comment:This review is for the APO version, not the tele-macro. Although this model is a huge leap forward from it's predecessor, the APO glass knocks down the chromatic aberration considerably. This Sigma isn't quite as sharp as the Tokina ATX, but the Tokina showed alot of CA. The contrast is very nice, however, nothing to complain about there. Colors could be a little warmer, but I wasn't shooting flowers or a marketplace when considering this review.

AF was noticably slow, but worked well under my testing conditions with a 7D. What I like most is its ability to be handheld due to its lightweight. I may sacrifice some sharpness, but if you can't get to your subject and take a shot (i.e. setup a tripod and mount your monster tele) a long, heavy lens is not as useful.

Overall a nice lens, I paid $150 for it, and another $90 for an element cleaning (due to a rear foggy element). It has made for a nice bird lens if I can get close enough. I hear the tele-macro is much sharper, and if it is, than pick that version up over this if possible.
reviews found: 18   

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 18
  • sharpness: 3.86
  • color: 3.61
  • build: 4.22
  • distortion: 4.28
  • flare control: 4.06
  • overall: 4.01

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