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Thread: Lens Review - Sigma 120-400

  1. #1
    In Training MarkChap's Avatar
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    Lens Review - Sigma 120-400

    Well as most of you would be aware, I purchased the Sigma 120-400 f4.5-5.6 APO DG OS whilst I was in Canada (about 6 weeks ago now).

    Well I guess as there have been a few posts recently enquiring about these I would post up a review.

    Technical Stuff
    Lens Construction - 21 Elements in 15 Groups
    Angle of View 20.4 - 6.2 degrees
    Number of Diaphragm Blades 9 Blades
    Minimum Aperture F22
    Minimum Focusing Distance 150cm / 59.1 in.
    Maximum Magnification 1:4.2
    Filter Size Diameter 77mm
    Filter Size Bayonet-type Hood
    Dimensions
    Diameter 92.5mm X Length 203.5mm - 3.6 in. X 8 in.
    Weight 1750g - 61.7 oz.
    Corresponding AF Mounts
    SIGMA, CANON, NIKON, PENTAX (1*, 2*), SONY (1*)

    Having had this lens for 6 weeks now and having fairly limited time for use these are my observations, true to my belief.

    AF Speed - Can be slow, particularly if you are changing large distance between objects, this can however be overcome by giving the focus ring a tweak as you are zooming. The HSM focus motor allows for full time Manual Focus even when set to AF.
    However once focus in the "zone" it is quick to make minor adjustments.

    [b]Stabiliser[/] - Seems to take a moment to kick in initially, but I would think that it does give the rated / touted 3 stops or maybe a bit better.

    Build Quality / Finnish - This lens is finnished with Sigmas new matt black finnish, with an almost velvet feel to it. I haven't managed to scratch it yet and it does seem / feel to be quite rugged.
    The build feels rock solid to me. The OS and focus switches slide freely and yet are quite firm and decisive. The zoom ring although a little stiff when first out of the box has freed up little now and is quite comfortable to use. The zoom and focus rings are are both easy to use yet firm in their operation giving that feeling of quality.

    Image Quality
    100% crop, minor sharpen, minor levels, no other processing


    If I can get it right, I think this lens will certainly get it right.

    Value For Money - This is very subjective, would I, myself get a better picture from an "L" series lens. I doubt it at the moment. At half the price of the 100-400 L am I happy with the quality versus price, Extremely.
    For the budget conscious shooter who wants that bit extra length with stabilization you would have to look seriously at this lens.

    I hope this helps someone who may have been thinking about this lens
    Last edited by MarkChap; 27-08-2008 at 11:49am.
    Smoke Alarms Save Lives, Install One Today
    I shoot Canon
    Cheers, Mark


  2. #2
    Amor fati! ving's Avatar
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    thanks mark, look the part for sure... now to decide between this lens and the 150-500 HSM OS.

    thans for the review

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    thanks mate.....just have to find somewhere that stocks it now apart from ebay lol
    Ben

    Camera: 7d
    Lenses: Canon 17 - 55 f2.8, Canon 85mm f1.8, Sigma 30mm f1.4
    Flash: 430 exii

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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    Looks good, Mark, and might be just the thing for me to reccomend to a friend or two. Thanks for writing it up.

    Brindyman, yry here: http://www.qualitycamera.com.au/prod...oducts_id=4228
    Tony

    People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
    Looks good, Mark, and might be just the thing for me to reccomend to a friend or two. Thanks for writing it up.

    Brindyman, yry here: http://www.qualitycamera.com.au/prod...oducts_id=4228
    muchos gracias senor tannin

  6. #6
    Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch jim's Avatar
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    Tony do you have any thoughts on this as a birding lens? Considering that some of us would love a 400 f2.8, or a 500 f4, but can't seem to quite stretch to it just now... yes, and some of us are taking all our bird shots with an excellent but frankly bloody inadequate 300 f4...

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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    Jim, I've never used one (obviously) but I do own and use a Canon 100-400, which would have to be pretty similar. Doubtless the Canon is a fraction sharper - if I remember correctly the reviews say as much, and it certainly ought to be at double the price - but I have no doubt that a decent photographer could get excellent pictures with a Sigma 120-400. I note with approval that it's an f/4.5-5.6 unit, not the f/6.3 at the long end that quite a few other longish 3rd party lenses are. That's a significant factor, I think. Slow focus for full travel isn't really an issue, just so long as the in-the-ballpark focus speed is OK (which Mark says it is).

    In other places I have seen plenty of very, very good bird pictures taken with things like the Sigma 50-500 and with 6MP cameras like the D70 and the 300D so, in short, I'd suggest that provided the gear is good enough it is then largely a matter of the photographer honing his skills.

    Having no children and a paid-for house, I choose to buy and use higher-end gear most of the time (though I do a fair bit with the 40D and the 100-400 as well), but I'm not sure how much difference that really makes. Sure, there are shots that I get with the 500/4 that you couldn't do with a 120-400, and shots that are a little better than they would be with a lesser lens, but not as many as you'd think. The sheer weight and size of the big white glass is a major factor in this: it makes you a lot slower and clumsier in the bush, and although you don't need to get as close to the birds, you don't get as close as you can with a smaller, lighter lens. You just can't move as lightly and easily, and you spend a lot more time standing and waiting, hoping that some nice creature will come your way.

    Throw in the much longer minimum focus distance of the bigger lenses (the 500/4 is 4.5 metres) and you have a pretty good case for using something like a 100-400 (2m). Or, indeed, the Sigma 120-400, which apparently focuses right down to 1.5 metres. I think our own Darksome provides an excellent example of just how good a picture a talented, hard-working photographer can produce with a 40D and a 400mm f/5.6 lens.

    In a moment, I'll slip over to The Digital Picture and see if it has been reviewed there yet: I think that's as good a lens review site as any on the web, and I very rarely find myself disagreeing with his conclusions.

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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    Nope, not yet. But the Canon 800/5.6 review seems to be up. Excuse me, I have some reading to do.

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    The only review I have seen on the net is this one

    http://www.popphoto.com/cameralenses...dg-os-hsm.html

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    Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch jim's Avatar
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    Thanks Tony. This is sort of what I was thinking... though my lens has a minimum focus of 2.5m and that's way too much...

    I expect that a decent photographer could get good photos with my 300 f4, but (when I'm not photographing kiwi forest birds, and falling over backwards trying to get away from them) I generally find that 300mm is way too short.

    I tend to worry that f5.6 may not be good enough. I've got no kids and a paid for house too, but no way can I afford the 400 f2.8 or the 200-400 zoom that I really want.

    The Sigma sounds good, but I'd pay extra to get a 400 f4!

  11. #11
    Member Kerry's Avatar
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    Thanks Mark....I've recently been thinking about getting a lens with more reach and hadn't come across this yet...Will definitely consider it!
    Here's a link with few more more pics/opinions if anyone's interested...
    http://photography-on-the.net/forum/...d.php?t=539525
    flickr

    C+C welcome and appreciated

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    re sigma 120 = 400 lens

    I bought this lens,and sent it back to the shop after two days.I would not recommend th is lens to anyone!IMO it was very slow,to focus,images produced extremely poor.The OS did'nt work very well.My canon 70-300 kit lens produced vastly better images!

    If your a canon user and want a longer range lens,get the 300 mm F4 prime or 400 mm F5.6 primem or 100 -400 F5,6,yes they are a bit more expensive,but believe me you are defruading yourself if you buy the sigma.I ended up with the canon 400 prime F5.6-worth every cent!

    if your a niokon user I am sure they have some wonderful lenses in their longer range lenses.

    hope this save someone a headache
    Canon 50D and 450D - Canon 10-22 F3.5-5.6, 17-55 F2.8 L, 70-200 F2.8 L, 400 prime F5.6 L, 60mm F2.8 macro, EX 430 Flash,and all sorts of other bits and pieces

  13. #13
    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    Fairy bombs, perhaps you would like to post some images to back up your claims in this post because I see one that contradicts you entirely.
    Andrew
    Nikon, Fuji, Nikkor, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina and too many other bits and pieces to list.



  14. #14
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    Yes please do Madonna,

    2 days, you must have given it a real good test, having had it for that long.

    Just a couple of examples from this lens
    http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...ad.php?t=57309
    http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...ad.php?t=53791
    http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...ad.php?t=48512

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    I have a Nikon 24-70mm and a Nikon D700.

    I am visiting Namibia in September and wanting to buy a telephoto lens that is sharp and quick focussing that is compatible with my Nikon D700 Also because the my equipment is already heavy - looking for a lens that is not very heavy.

    Do you believe that the Sigma 120-400mm would fit the bill.

    Sue

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    I've just spent the last three days , 5 hrs a day using the Sigma 120-400, Shooting Surf photos at the Quiksilver pro on the Gold Coast, One of my photos won a comp yesterday !! I did'nt use IS because i was shooting at 1250-1600/sec , I was quite surprised with the quality of the images it produced , I like it !!
    Canon : 30D, and sometimes the 5D mkIII , Sigma 10-20, 50mm 1.8, Canon 24-105 f4 L , On loan Sigma 120-400 DG and Canon 17 - 40 f4 L , Cokin Filters




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    Am glad to hear and see that I think I made the right choice in buying the Sigma 120-400 a couple of weeks back. Have not had time to get out with it seriously yet but am looking forward to it.

    To Brindyman : I bought mine locally at Photo Continental for an internet matched price of $810.00. Go for it !

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    Quote Originally Posted by William View Post
    I've just spent the last three days , 5 hrs a day using the Sigma 120-400, Shooting Surf photos at the Quiksilver pro on the Gold Coast, One of my photos won a comp yesterday !! I did'nt use IS because i was shooting at 1250-1600/sec , I was quite surprised with the quality of the images it produced , I like it !!
    Are you able to post the winning shot on here William ?

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    Hi PH005

    Is it possible to provide the link to the website where you purchased the lens?

    What filters do you use on the 120-400mm lens?

    What camera are you use?

    Sue

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    Quote Originally Posted by creativepro View Post
    Hi PH005

    Is it possible to provide the link to the website where you purchased the lens?

    What filters do you use on the 120-400mm len

    What camera are you use?

    Sue

    Google " Photo Continental ". Do not have any filters specifically for it, but I do have 77mm Cokin kit for my 10-20 that will fit it if I desire. I use a canon 40D.

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