Sigma 135-400mm f/4.5-5.6 APO 35mm Zoom

Available At:
135-400mm f/4.5-5.6 APO

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.

User Reviews (32)

Showing 1-10 of 32  
Baldrick   Intermediate [Aug 15, 2007]
Strength:

Tripod Collar - a real redeemer!

Weakness:

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.


Considered Alternatives

· 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range and at 400mm the extra 2X optical reach made for a big difference when compared to digitally cropping on my now outdated 6 mega pixel sensor.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.


Physically

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.

In Use

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!!!


Application

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.

Summary

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.


OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
Available At:
Marc2B4   Professional [Jul 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.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Hai Trieu Pham Lam   Casual [Jan 02, 2007]
Strength:

Image quality, sharpness, reliable build, RF is great .

Weakness:

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 .

Similar Products Used: Sigma 70-300 APO
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Available At:
casch   Expert [Aug 07, 2005]
Strength:

Very sharp out to 300 (needs f11 to be sharp out at 400). Very high contrast. Very good price for the quality

Weakness:

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.

Customer Service

I called them once and they answered the phone. Thats great in itself. Help was appropriate if not outstanding.

Similar Products Used: Canon 80 to 200 2.8L Canon 100 to 300 5.6 Canon 28 to 80 2.8L
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
jorgemonkey   Intermediate [Jul 14, 2005]
Strength:

build quality

Weakness:

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.

Customer Service

Haven't had to use it

Similar Products Used: Nikon 70-300G lens, Sigma 70-200 2.8
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Available At:
jorgemonkey   Intermediate [Jan 13, 2005]
Strength:

Sharpness, zooms well, focuses quickley.

Weakness:

lens creep

I bought this lens for sports. I also have a few other Sigma lenses and have been very happy with them. I had been using a borrowed 70-300 ED lens for hockey as well as mtn biking, and wanted a little bit more zoom. The lens creep can get annoying while walking around with the camera over my shoulder. The pictures have been very sharp. I would have liked to get one of the Nikon VR lenses but can't afford one right now.

Customer Service

Never had to use it

Similar Products Used: Nikon 70-300 ED Nikon 70-300 G
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
CameraGuy   Intermediate [Sep 16, 2004]
Strength:

sharp lens especially for the price

Weakness:

It really depends on what type of photography you are doing and if you are willing to pay more for better features but what I think the weaknesses are: - very stiff zoom ring compared to my Nikon lenses - lens creep - f4.5-5.6 too slow for action photography - noise but not as bad as some lens - lens hood can snap off easier than my Nikon lens hoods

If sharpness was the only thing you care about then you'll probably be happy with this lens, but there are several overlooked functions when people are looking for a lens. I've learned the hard way so maybe you can benefit from my mistakes. If you are mostly taking pictures of non moving or slowing moving objects then this lens will have no problems. If you want to take action pictures of birds or other quick subjects then this lens can be somewhat frustrating. The zoom ring is rather stiff so it makes quick composition adjustments tough because by the time you have adjusted your zoom you have missed a few shots. I've never had this problem with my Nikon lenses. A smooth and easy zoom ring isn't just good for composition but it also helps you relocate your subject when you are zoomed all the way in. For example, with birds you'll easily lose them when zoomed out at 400mm but a quick zoom out will relocate the bird so that you can zoom back in. The stiff zoom ring on this lens makes that almost impossible to do. It's also too slow for a lot of action shots. I couldn't afford something faster like an f2 lens so I was hoping that this would do. A lot of times my shutter speed is too slow to prevent camara shake at its widest aperture f4.5-5.6 so I would have to increase the ISO. I really don't like to do that often because it increases noise/grain. The optical stabilizer would have been a great feature because following action on a tripod can be difficult. There is also quite a bit of noise which also helps to scare off animals. A more silent lens would be a plus. Of course, to add some of the features I mentioned above would mean a more expensive lens. If I would have known ahead of time I would have just saved up for a more expensive lens, but you might not be in the same situation. So basically if you want more reach for your landscape or if you are stalking slower moving animals then this will be a good lens for you. At 400mm you'll still be too close to animals which will scare them off.

Customer Service

haven't used yet

Similar Products Used: Nikon 28-200 I own more lens but the one listed is the closest in zoom range.
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
4
Available At:
TTW   Intermediate [Jul 22, 2004]
Strength:

Focal length range Built in tripod support Build quality Optical quality Weight

Weakness:

Weight (it is both good and bad) Filter size

This is an update to my previous review. I bought a new camera body that has the mirror lockup feature and went through the evaluation with my lens collection. The conclusion is that this lens has superb sharpness throughtout the whole zoom range at f/11 (I know it is variable) when the mirror lockup was engaged. There was no loss of sharpness at 400mm. The contrast capable of achieving is outstanding. In comparing to a Tamron 70-300, the Sigma out-performed the Tarmon at all overlapping focal lengths. The differences were subtle at 4X6 but clearly visible at 8X10 or larger. There was no clear difference between the Sigma and an old but excellent Pentax SMC-A 70-210 within the limited, overlapping zoom range. I know the Tamron is consumer grade and use it because of much lighter weight and convenience. There are many situations that the Sigma is just too much. But I bought the Sigma for serious outdoor photography and it is a keeper.

Similar Products Used: Pentax SMC-A 70-210 f/4.0 Tamron 70-300
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Rollins   Expert [Dec 16, 2003]
Strength:

Resolution: 135-300mm - very sharp. 400mm -- good/very good at f/8-f/16. Edges almost match the Center in resolution -- very good! Contrast -- very good. Build quality -- very good. AF speed -- good to very good (Canon EOS)

Weakness:

Overexposes anytime stopped down below f/5.6 by at least 1/3-stop maybe even 1/2-stop. Lenshood is very clumsy to mount. This becomes very easy to mount'crookedly' on lens and not even realize this until later when you remove it.

I bought this lens for an all around travel zooms lens. I work outdoors a lot. I almost always use a tripod & mirror lockup for best quality. The optical quality is very good all the way to about 300mm. At 400mm I would say that the optical quality ranges from acceptable-to-very good. Note: THIS LENS NEEDS 'TEST SHOTS' TO GAUGE OVEREXPOSURE USING SLIDE FILM BEFORE GETTING SUCCESSFULL RESULTS!!! GET FAMILIAR WITH THIS EXPOSURE ISSUE BEFORE YOU WASTE YOUR TIME & FILM. This lens CONSISTANTLY over exposes by 1/3 to 1/2-stop WHENEVER stopped down below f/5.6. I read about this overexposure issue in a lens report in Popular Photo magazine and this is EXACTLY the overexposure that shows up on my slides -- and my camera is hand calibrated. Therefore anytime that I shoot at f/5.6 or wider I shoot at the NORMAL camera suggested evaluted exposure. WHENEVER I stop down to f/8 or lower I ALWAYS set my ISO setting 1/2-stop to a higher/faster film setting. I have over exposed several slides this way until I figured this out. This lens exibits very high contrast, so when this lens begins to overexpose, the highlights blowout immmediately giving a very soft appearance. Once this exposure problem is managed you can shoot at: 400mm f/5.6 -- acceptable resolution 400mm f/8-f/9.5 -- good resolution 400mm f/11-f/22 -- good/very good resolution The contrast for this lens is very good across the entire range. Other than this I rate this lens as average-to-above average for a consumer lens. Really not a bad buy for only $400, but of course not in a league with Pro lenses. If you take your time focusing and expose correctly, this lens really performs well at 400mm shooting closeups of wildlife!

Customer Service

None

Similar Products Used: Canon 70-200 f/4 L; Canon 300mm f/4 L; Sigma 70-300
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Available At:
jazzcaster   Intermediate [Dec 12, 2003]
Strength:

Image quality, low price, solid feel, rear focusing so it works well with a polarizer. Large zoom range makes this an excellent lens for sporting events where subjects can be near or far, i.e., football and soccer, etc.

Weakness:

Fast and furious "zoom creep" Long extension at 400mm can make it a little difficult to handhold, but you really should't be handholding it at 400mm.

I have just sold this lens after replacing it with a Canon EF 70-200 2.8L IS USM. I compared the image quality of this lens to the Canon 70-200 and a Canon EF 2X Extender with photos of a resolution chart and my photos indicated that the Sigma was slightly sharper at f8 than the Canon lens + teleconverter combo, but the Sigma only had a slightly sharper image. The Canon lens showed warmer colors in the image, but in several years of photographing soccer, I have never had any complaints with this lens as far as image detail. It does not focus as fast as Canon's USM lenses, but for the price, this is an excellent, fast lens that will yield very sharp images up to 8x10. If you are considering this lens for wildlife or daytime sports photography, you will not be let down.

Customer Service

Sent in to have it rechipped to work with my Elan 7E and had it back in a week and a half. Excellent service.

Similar Products Used: Tamron 100-400 (Not remotely comparable to this lens in image quality) Canon 70-200 2.8L IS USM Canon 70-200 F4L USM
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 32  
Available At:
Available At:
Available At:
Available At:
Available At:
Available At:
Available At:
Available At:
Available At:
Available At:

(C) Copyright 1996-2018. All Rights Reserved.

photographyreview.com and the ConsumerReview Network are business units of Invenda Corporation

Other Web Sites in the ConsumerReview Network:

mtbr.com | roadbikereview.com | carreview.com | photographyreview.com | audioreview.com