REVIEW: SIGMA 100-400MM F/5-6.3 DG DN OS CONTEMPORARY

Sigma has introduced the 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary. It is a fairly light and especially very affordable telephoto zoom for Sony E-mount and the L-system. For the L system (so for Panasonic, Leica and Sigma cameras) there are also two teleconverters and a USB Dock.

Click on the lens for specifications, prices and test results.


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TEST RESULTS Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary:

PROS

CONS

  • Outstanding image quality

  • Great range

  • Fairly light

  • 67mm filter size

  • Zoom lock

  • Good image stabilization

  • Weather resistant

  • Separate tripod collar

  • Competitively priced

  • Slightly less bright than Sony version

  • No teleconverters for E-mount

  • Tripod collar optional

The Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary is the most affordable long telephoto zoom for Sony and Panasonic.

The new Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary is a new, long telephoto zoom in E mount and L mount. It is therefore suitable for full-frame cameras from Sony, Panasonic, Leica and Sigma. For all these brands, this is the cheapest zoom with this range that you can use without adapters. It is also the lightest and smallest lens in its class. Sigma calls this lens the “Handy Tele Master”. The Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS is a lens in Sigma’s Contemporary series. It is thus not an Art lens. This is mainly due to the fact that Sigma does not place any long zoom lens in the Art series. It says little about the image or build quality. 

 

The Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS is not a modified version of the existing Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM for SLRs.  The lens is completely redesigned and has a different optical design. It is a fraction larger than the SLR version, but as soon as you add an adapter to use it on a mirrorless camera, that version of course becomes bigger and heavier than this Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary.

 

Two teleconverters will also be available for the L version. They are, as usual, a 1.4x and a 2x converter, the TC-1411 and the TC-2011. There will also be a USB dock for the L system, the UD-11. The optional tripod collar, the TS-111, is of course usable on both versions of this lens.

BUILD

The Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary is a compact lens. At 197mm (L) or 199mm (E) long, it’s slightly less than 20 centimeters long. That makes it a fraction shorter than the 205mm of the Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS. The Sigma is especially a lot slimmer than the Sony, with 86mm vs 94mm. The filter size is also a modest 67mm. The weight of the Sigma is 1135 grams. This is noticeably lighter than the 1395 grams of the Sony (both without tripod collar). The optical design of the Sigma contains 22 lens elements in 16 groups with 1 FLD element and 4 SLD elements. The lens is partly made of high-quality plastics. The rear part that has to absorb the most force is made of a magnesium alloy, and the mount is also made of metal. There is a large seal on the mount to ensure an almost waterproof seal with the camera. Sigma does not state whether the lens contains any more seals.

The lens can be used with a tripod collar. That is a separate accessory. As standard, the lens comes with a rubber ring that can be pushed over the screws of the tripod collar attachment. As a result, the lens fits better in the hand when you are working without a tripod collar. It also looks a little nicer. The Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary has lots of controls. There is a zoom lock to prevent unintentional extension. On the side is a cluster with an AF/MF switch, a programmable AFL (autofocus lock) button and a limiter for focusing, from infinity to close, infinity to 6 meters, and 6 meters to close. Below this is the switch for the different image stabilization modes. Zooming is possible with the wide rotating ring, which, as on the Tamron zooms, is at the front. However, there is also the option of simply grabbing the front of the lens and then operating the lens as a sliding zoom.

Autofocus

We also tested the Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS HSM, the SLR version, on a Sony A7R III. Optically, it performed well. But we did have problems with the autofocus. The new Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary is specially designed for mirrorless cameras, and we have had no problems with this Sigma on the new Sony A7R IV, for example. We didn’t expect that. With previous DG DN lenses like the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN Art, Sigma has shown that they know quite well how to make a well-functioning autofocus for mirrorless cameras. The focus is fast, precise and quiet. The presence of an AF-lock, a focus limiter and a switch for AF/MF is also very pleasant. The shortest setting distance is 1.10m at 100mm and 1.60 at 400mm. The maximum magnification scale is therefore 1:4.1.

IMAGE QUALITY

The MTF curves look good, and the Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS also lives up to them in practice. The sharpness in the center is already very good at full aperture, with a slight gradient to the corners. Of course, ‘full’ aperture with this lens is a relative concept. The lens reaches F5 at 100mm, but is already F5.6 halfway between the 100mm and 135mm indications on the zoom ring. Fortunately, the lens then holds this brightness to almost 250mm. At 100mm, you get a small improvement in image quality with stopping down, but not very much. What does help to improve the image quality is zooming in. We don’t see that much with zoom lenses. Usually, the image quality decreases then. However, this Sigma performs better at 300mm and 400mm than at 100mm, and that is exactly what you want with a long telephoto zoom. You may already have the short range, but of course you buy this lens mainly because it can reach up to 400mm. And then it’s nice that it performs at its best there. At 400 mm, there is still a small gradient to the corners, but the zone between the center and the corners is clearly better at 400 mm than at 100 mm. The differences from the much more expensive Sony FE 100-400 mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS are quite small and negligible in practice.

The Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS has a slight distortion that is pincushion-shaped over the entire range. It will not be visible in nature and landscape photographs, but you may have to make a small correction for critical architectural work.

Vignetting. Left: 100mm. Right: 400mm. Both at full aperture.

Little vignetting, less than one stop at full aperture at 100mm. However, it increases slightly when you zoom in and there’s still a small vignette at 400mm. Of course, this is also easy to correct if it is disruptive.

The Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS has virtually no problems with chromatic aberrations. With this lens, you can easily shoot dark subjects (trees, birds) against a light sky without disturbing color edges. The Sigma performs very well in this area.

Backlighting is generally no problem for the Sigma. If you put a lot of effort into it, you can get some flare, but often a slightly different composition is enough to get rid of it. The bokeh of the Sigma is of course not as nice as that of brighter lenses, but it’s not bad. The more you zoom in, the more background blur you get, and you can take advantage of that for portraits or close-ups of flowers.

 A shot at 1/125th sec at 300mm.

The image stabilization on the Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS should be good for about four stops, and that’s what we got in practice as well. With the Tamron 70-300mm F4.5-6.3 Di III RXD, we had to make do with the image stabilization of the camera, because the lens itself has no stabilization. That works, but still slightly less well than with a lens with stabilization, such as this Sigma. The Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS provides more usable shots at slightly longer shutter speeds.

 Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS
 specifications
  
field of view(diag)24.4°-6.2°
sensor formatFull frame
min. setting distance160 cm
filter diameter67 mm
diaphragm blades9, rounded
image stabilizeryes
dimensions (dxl)86×197 mm
weight1135 gr
mountE and L
particularsusable with teleconverters
importerwww.sigmabenelux.com
list price€ 1099.00
  
resolution/109
contrast/109
chromatic aberration/55
distortion/54
vignetting/55
autofocus/54
flare/55
finish/108
  
final score8.9

ConclusiON: REVIEW Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary oN Sony A7R III

The Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS is a very good long telephoto zoom with a competitive price.

The Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS is an excellent telephoto zoom that will really meet the needs of many nature photographers. It offers almost the same image quality as the Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS, for a fraction of the price, and it’s also somewhat lighter and more portable. That makes it the first choice for a Sony system for photographers who do not earn their living with photography. For Leica and Panasonic photographers looking for something with this range, it is even the only choice. 


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