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Sigma 135-400mm f/4.5-5.6 APO 35mm Zoom
Covering the most frequently used focal lengths, from mid to long-range telephoto, this one convenient lens lets you handle an unprecedented range of subjects from landscapes to fast action sports. And the rear focus system keeps the front lens from rotating, giving you easier use of polarizing filters. A convenient built-in rotary tripod mount eliminates vibration during shutter release.
Submitted by Baldrick a Intermediate
Date Reviewed: August 15, 2007
Strengths: Tripod Collar - a real redeemer!
Weaknesses: Poor QC - it may be cheap by professional standards but it still costs 2-3 times that of a "kit" lens, should I be expected to have to "cherry pick" a good copy as so many reviewers have stated? How do I know if mine is as sharp as it could be?
Pre-purchase reasons for buying this lens:
· It sat well priced with my healthy but balanced hobby budget.
· It cast a full frame image circle (making it more future proof and able to be shared with my film based camera).
· Its 135-400mm focal length complimented well my existing Sigma 24-135mm f/2.8-4.5.
· It shares a 77mm filter with other lenses in its relative price and quality range, including my Sigma 24-135mm f/2.8-4.5 and (still to purchase) SIGMA 10mm-20mm DC, suitably complementing a kit covering common focal lengths with no overlap. Filter size was for me one of the main considerations; I was keen to maintain one single size for all the lenses I intended to purchase, thus negating duplication of accessories and requiring only one spare UV filter should anything untoward happen whilst travelling in remote areas (I live in Australia).
· It has a manually selectable aperture ring (backwards compatible with my old SLR).
· It has internal focusing, making it more filter friendly.
· The Sigma AF 70-200mm f2.8 EX DG - also a 77mm filter size, however my existing lens covered a great deal of its focal range and at 400mm the extra 2X optical reach made for a big difference when compared to digitally cropping on my now outdated 6 mega pixel sensor.
· The Sigma AF 50-500mm f4-6.3 EX DG APO – heavier, larger filter, wary of perceived optical issues from a lens that boasts a 10X optical zoom I also found it to be just too big.
· The Sigma AF 170-500mm f5-6.3 ASP DG RF APO – larger filter and would leave a focal gap in my lens line up.
Comes with a padded case, hood and tripod collar. Markings are clear and the lens itself is finished in the same rubberised matt of the “EX” series.
The zoom action is smooth but with no mechanism to lock it in place, creeps when carried. The focus ring is small and although it can be easily operated with one finger, the zoom rotates through such a large axis, it is difficult to keep your finger poised ready to focus under pressure. With the focus ring located at the back of the lens close to the body, it is awkward to keep a steady hand, particular when the barrel is extended out to 400mm. Auto focus appears adequate, though it seldom gets used as I tend to shoot amongst trees in relatively low light. At 400mm results are soft unless stopped down.
Although most lenses trombone whilst zooming, this copy seems particularly susceptible to the ingress of foreign materials. I have solved this in the greater part by storing it in a watertight bag, which is also good at preventing condensation when making rapid transitions from hot or cold areas. The tripod collar makes switching between landscape and portrait a breeze and is very quick to install/release. The lens cap can be easily dislodged in transit.
When using this lens with my Pentax AF-360FGZ flash, for some strange reason the LCD on it displays a focal length of 58mm, yet when used with my Sigma 24-135mm, remains synchronised right through to 85mm. I do not believe this affects the throw of light, as the reflector itself is physically retracted to its maximum position (85mm), it just persists in displaying 58mm… very frustrating!!!
Most often I use this lens atop a monopod or hand held @ ISO800 with the assistance of a hot shoe flash (Pentax AF-360FGZ) on small birds. This seems to work OK, out to about 12 metres (light dependant).
I also use it tripod mounted, with a remote shutter release, @ ISO800 and no flash. I find this useful when set further back at weddings or other events where I can obtain good candids. Shutter speeds rarely exceed 1/30 second, so this method relies heavy on a lethargic subject.
Hit and miss, I have managed to take some very good photos with this lens. Perhaps my dissatisfaction lies in the fact that after more than 12 months of ownership I have not been sufficiently disciplined to acquaint myself with its idiosyncrasies.
Whilst I like the look of the rubberised finish, if you have anything on your hands (oils from food, clay from climbing etc), it is very hard to clean.
Dust on the inner elements is a constant frustration (the front section can be easily removed for cleaning with 6 screws), however this is more likely a lens specific QC issue.
The tripod collar really lifts the lens’ functionality, probably for me its best feature.
Duration Product Used: 6-10 years
Price Paid: $1000.00
Purchased At: Australian Dollars
Type of photography: People
Submitted by Marc2B4 a Professional
Date Reviewed: July 30, 2007
OK, I've had this lens for a couple of weeks now and here are my initial impressions. 1. The build quality is great. Pretty durable, "beatable" lens that has earned a place in my bag. 2. The Image quality is OK but you've got to be really, really careful with this beast. First of all, it's heavier than it seems. Without the HLD-2, this lens would be almost impossible to handhold. It's extremely front heavy and having a battery grip counterbalances the lens. Having said that, you've got to be aware of your SS at all times. I've shot hundreds of thousands of exposures through the years and I've hand-held the Oly 14-54 @ 1/8 and gotten sharp images. This lens really accentuates any camera shake or movement to the max. I've found that shooting at anything less than 1/250 is a waste of harddisk space. Additionally, it's not the sharpest wide open or at 400mm. Stopping it down a couple of stops to f 8 or 11 is wise. Went out and bought a monopod and that helps big time. But I don't expect to be blowing anything up larger than an 8x10 with this lens. On a scale of 1-10, I'd give this lens a 7. Dat be my thoughts on da Sigma 135-400.
Duration Product Used: 21+ years
Price Paid: $570.00
Purchased At: B&H
Type of photography: Other
Submitted by Hai Trieu Pham Lam a Casual
Date Reviewed: January 2, 2007
Strengths: Image quality, sharpness, reliable build, RF is great .
Weaknesses: Pretty weight .
I have just bought this one from Japan and I love it very much . I thought about Nikon 75-300mm AF but after, I decided to buy a brandnew Sigma 135-400mm and very satisfied with it . My hobby is aviation spotting, so I need a big zoom lens and 135-400mm focal lenght is enough for me . The quality is amazing ait 135 to 300mm with f7.1 to f10 . At 400mm, the result is not bad and good at f10 to f16 . Rear focus is good and fast although the lens isn't been equipped HSM .
Duration Product Used: 2-5 years
Price Paid: $510.00
Purchased At: Japan
Similar Products Used: Sigma 70-300 APO
Type of photography: Other
Submitted by casch a Expert
Date Reviewed: August 7, 2005
Strengths: Very sharp out to 300 (needs f11 to be sharp out at 400).
Very high contrast.
Very good price for the quality
Weaknesses: 400mm is soft.
Zoom ring is stiff.
AF hunts too often.
I needed a longer lens that was APO (corrected for Chromatic Aberation). I am used to L lenses but didn't want to spend that kind of money for an "occasional" lens. In reading the reviews I thought this might be the one. For the most part I have not been disappointed. Lens creep has not been a problem in my copy but if you are using it out past 300mm then just consider it an f11 lens. It is just too soft under that. However, that being said from 135 to 300 even wide open is acceptable with f8 being very good (even compared to the l lenses) but I miss the speed of my other lenses on anything but the brightest days and let me tell you BRING A TRIPOD. Because of the slow aperature even at 135 a tripod is a real help but longer than that it is not optional. AF speed is fine and I don't find it too noisy, often hunts in even moderate light if subject isn't at least 10% of the frame. Very high contrast pictures so I prefer to underexpose about 1/4 to 1/2 stop to keep from burning out the whites and I don't mind crushing some of the blacks to get it (less definition in the shadows). Manual focus is a chore but about on par with most AF lenses. The Zoom ring is just too stiff for me but maybe that is why I don't have the zoom creep problem.
Was the lens worth the price? You bet.
About my rating... I don't believe in saying "it's not a 'L' lens but it didn't cost like a 'L' lens" and then giving it a 5. If it is not up to the best quality then don't give it a best rating whatever the price.
Duration Product Used: 21+ years
Price Paid: $450.00
Purchased At: New on EBay
Similar Products Used: Canon 80 to 200 2.8L
Canon 100 to 300 5.6
Canon 28 to 80 2.8L
Type of photography: Outdoor
Submitted by jorgemonkey a Intermediate
Date Reviewed: July 14, 2005
Strengths: build quality
Weaknesses: Hard to get to the apeture ring with the tripod collar on
I've used this lens shooting soccer games, mountain bike races, and nature photography. Pretty sharp lens for the price.
Duration Product Used: 2-5 years
Price Paid: $540.00
Purchased At: digitalfotoclub.com
Similar Products Used: Nikon 70-300G lens, Sigma 70-200 2.8
Type of photography: Sports
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