Photography News Issue 52

Photography News | Issue 52 | photographynews.co.uk

37

First tests

Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DGOS HSMC £699

Specs

Sigma’s Art collection has deservedly enjoyed much critical acclaim and models such as the 14mm f/1.8 that we tested previously in PN show how good its top-of-the-range lenses can be. Its Contemporary family offers high performance and Sigma’s latest technologies but with a more modest specification – in terms of maximum aperture, for example. So, this latest 100-400mm telezoom has a maximum aperture range of f/5-6.3, features Sigma’s latest OIS (Optical Image Stabiliser) mechanism and is remarkably compact for a lens of this focal length range. We tested Tamron’s 100- 400mm in the last issue of PN , and by comparison the Sigma is 40g heavier and a little under 1.5cm shorter. I tried the Sigma 100-400mm on a Nikon D810. On that camera, the pair make for a nice handling combination that is well balanced and comfortable to keep held up to the eye for a while when waiting for a shot. There is no supplied tripod collar, nor is one available as an optional extra, which means for use on a tripod or monopod it’s the camera body that is fixed to the support. With such a long zoom, a solid plate and a secure connection to the tripod head is obviously important and there is the risk of vibration in a wind, so care does need to be taken. The design of the lens hood enhances handling further. Its

Price

£699

Format Full-frame, APS-C Mount Canon EF, Nikon F, Sigma Construction

21 elements in 15 groups Special lens elements 4x SLD (special low dispersion) glass Coatings Sigma Super Multi-Layer Coating Filter size 67mm Aperture range F/5-6.3-22 Diaphragm Nine blades Internal focus Yes Manual focus Yes Minimum focus 160cm Focus limiter Yes Maximummagnification 1:3.8 Distance scale Yes Depth-of-field scale No Image stabiliser Sigma OIS Tripod collar No Lens hood Supplied, LH770-04 Weather-sealed Dust and splash proof mount (except Sigma mount) Dimensions 182.3x86.4mm Weight 1160g Contact Sigma-imaging-uk.com

moulded shape allows a secure grip which means you can push or pull the hood to adjust the zoom, so slightly quicker than using the twist grip as normal. This does work well although the twist grip offers more precise control, but the option is very welcome. Optically, I found this lens a very creditableperformerandcertainlyhad

no problem getting sharp, contrasty and detailed shots out of this zoom throughout its range. Starting with the 100mm setting, I got more than acceptable images at each aperture setting including the two extremes. Wide open, the test shots lacked a little crispness that could be recovered with some unsharp mask in editing, but a

worthwhile improvement could be had just by stopping down to f/5.6. That made a noticeable difference to how the lens dealt with fine detail – blades of grass, for example, looked so much crisper. Stopping down to f/8 and f/11 helped give an even better image with superior detail rendition, but I was impressed even at f/5.6. A similar high performance level was exhibited at the 200mm setting. Image quality peaked at f/8 but again it was pretty decent at the two aperture extremes. At f/5.6, sharpness was good and again a little stopping down – even to f/6.3 or f/7.1 – brought out a lift in quality. In such long zooms the shorter focal lengths are often the strongest, so I anticipated a falling away at 400mm and indeed that is what happened. Here, f/22 and f/29 suffered badly from diffraction and images looked soft, but I can’t imagine many people using the 400mm setting at such apertures. At the wider, most used apertures I got decent shots wide open, but stopping down to f/8 and f/11 was needed for a critical sharpness level. Shooting towards a low winter sun showed the lens’s multi-coating to be capable of dealing with flare. Including the sun in the frame produced some ghosting together with a contrast loss, but generally with the hood in use, flare was kept under control. Finally, I tested Sigma’s latest OIS system shooting handheld on a calm day. The systemworked well and I got sharp handheld shots at 400mm at 1/30sec, which is impressive. WC

100mm

200mm

400mm

F/5.6

F/5.6

F/6.3

F/6.3

F/6.3

F/7.1

F/8

F/8

F/8

F/11

F/11

F/11

F/16

F/16

F/16

Verdict

F/22

F/22

F/22

Sigma has another potential winner on its hands.

Images The Sigma 100-400mmwas tested at three focal lengths. The camera usedwas a Nikon D810 and that was fixed to a Novo Explora T20 carbon-fibre tripod and the shutter released using the exposure delaymode. Raws were processed through Lightroomwith default sharpening.

Pros Price, size, optical performance, OIS, hood design Cons No tripod collar option

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