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Great value for your money: Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary
The Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM is a lens from the Contemporary series. Where the Sport series mainly focuses on durability and weather resistance with robust metal housings, the Contemporary series is lighter and also cheaper. That lower price of the Contemporary lenses does not mean that they are also inferior to optical. The Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary is a fraction less bright than many competitors, with an initial brightness of f/5. The lower weight makes the lenses easier to take with you, and you can see that advantage very clearly with this Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary. This lens fits just as easily in your bag as a 70-200 mm f/2.8, but you have twice the range. That is ideal for both nature shots and sports photography. And once you go up the street with a 400mm, you suddenly see whole new shots that you would not have gotten before. The Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary is available in Canon, Nikon and Sigma mounts and can also be used with Sigma’s MC11 on Sony cameras with an E-mount.
BUILD AND autofocus
The Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary is a compact lens, with a length of 182 mm and a diameter of 86 mm. The weight is an absolutely acceptable 1160 grams. This makes it not quite the lightest 100-400mm zoom. That honor goes to the new Tamron 100-400 mm f/4.5-6.3, but the difference is not a big one. The lens moves about five centimeters when you zoom out. The optical design is complex, with 21 lens elements. Four of these are made of special types of glass. The body is made of high-quality plastics. The lens might be slightly less robust than Sports versions, but it nevertheless feels very solid. This Sigma telephoto zoom even has a gasket on the back to prevent the penetration of dust and moisture through the mount. There is no play in the moving parts. The lens has a wide ring for zooming at the front and a narrower ring for focusing closer to the body. In between, there is a lock to secure the zoom, and at the back is a whole range of switches for autofocus and image stabilization. The first switch is for autofocus, manual focus and MO, Manual Overdrive, a mode in which you can use autofocus with manual corrections. Below that is a switch to limit the autofocus range, and below that, a switch for image stabilization. The bottom switch is for setting one or two custom settings. These are programmable via Sigma’s USB Dock. With this, you can make a combination of various programmable settings such as autofocus speed, limiting or image stabilization. The Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary comes with a large plastic lens hood.
The image quality of the Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary shows a nicely even picture. Strikingly, the Sigma actually has only one position where the sharpness in the corners does not reach the level at the center, and that is the shortest zoom position. At 100mm, the sharpness in the center is almost as high as over the rest of the range, but the sharpness drops off a bit toward the corners when you photograph a flat subject at a short distance. You rarely see that with zoom lenses. Usually they are less at the longest setting. We prefer the characteristic of the Sigma. You will buy a 100-400mm more for the 400mm mode than for the 100mm mode.
The Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary has 9 rounded aperture blades, and the blur you can get with it looks good. Despite the low brightness, thanks to the long focal length, you can still create a beautiful background blur, especially if you naturally photograph at almost the shortest distance setting of 160 cm. The maximum magnification is 0.26x, and that is not macro, but you can shoot small subjects with it beautifully.
VIGNETTING, FLARE AND DISTORTION
This lens does not suffer much from vignetting. At most, we measured vignetting of 1.4 EV at full aperture in RAW. In jpeg, this is slightly less thanks to the in-camera corrections, and once you stop down one stop, it is 0.4 to 0.8 EV. That is hardly relevant. You’re already at f/8.
Flare is also something that this Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary does not suffer much. Only with a lot of effort can you get some glare here and there, and often a small adjustment of the composition in that case is sufficient to get rid of it. You can see some distortion on full frame. It is pincushion-shaped over the entire range and increases when you zoom in to 1.5 percent. This may be visible in architectural photographs or other types of photography with lots of straight lines. Of course, this does not work in nature or sports shots.
Autofocus AND IMAGE STABILIZATION
The Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary features Sigma’s HSM motor with – according to Sigma – a new autofocus algorithm. The autofocus works quietly and reasonably quickly, although it does not break any speed records. Via the USB Dock, you can adjust the speed and choose Standard or Fast. We did not have a USB-Dock for the test. We have therefore not been able to try the Fast mode, and we do not know whether this results in reduced accuracy or not.
The image stabilization does its job properly, and that is a must on the unstabilized SLR cameras from Nikon and Canon. The shot above is made at 1/40th second, without a tripod. You do not always get that result, but it is possible.
ConclusiON: REVIEW : Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C op Canon 5DsR
- Good image quality over (almost) entire range
- Compact and lightweight
- Competitively priced
- Programmable with USB Dock
- With MC-11, also usable on Sonys
- Slightly less bright than competition
- Bit distortion on longer zoom positions
The image quality of the Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary shows a nicely even picture.
The Sigma 100-400 mm f / 5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary is a nicely balanced telephoto zoom. It does not have any noticeable weakness but is good at almost all points. Furthermore, it is also compact and reasonably light, and all for a very competitive price. For this amount, you are guaranteed not to find any better.