Review Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary

The Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary is one of the lightest and least expensive 100-400 mm telephoto zooms for Canon and Nikon. Whoever thinks that this also means that the quality will be less, is wrong. The lens performs well, even on demanding full-frame cameras.

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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.

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BUILD AND autofocus

sigma 100 400mm zonnekap

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.

Specifications
Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary
Image Stabilization:+
lenses/ groups:21/15
length x diameter:182x86mm
filter size:67
Weight:1160
Lens hood:+

IMAGE QUALITY

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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.

JPGREZZ

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.

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VIGNETTING, FLARE AND DISTORTION

jpgvignet

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.

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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.

JPGdistort

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. 

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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

Use the Lens Comparison or look in our list of reviewed lenses to compare this lens with other lenses.

WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you save the files in the camera as jpg, with all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".



Focal Length
mm @ FF
Total score
Resolution
lat. C.A.
Vignetting
Distortion
AF accur.
AF speed

100
100
8.0
7.8
9.7
7.9
7.9
-
8
200
200
8.2
8.4
9.7
7.5
6.2
-
8
300
300
7.9
8.1
9.6
7.5
6.0
-
8
400
400
7.9
8.2
9.6
7.2
6.0
-
8
Overall
Overall
8.0
8.2
9.7
7.5
6.3
-
8

Pure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens if the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera. If you use lens correction profiles in Photoshop or Lightroom to convert RAW files, then the RAW scores for distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration are even better.



Focal Length
mm @ FF
Total score
Resolution
lat. C.A.
Vignetting
Distortion
AF accur.
AF speed

100
100
8.5
8.2
9.4
8.7
8.3
-
8
200
200
8.6
8.6
9.8
8.6
6.6
-
8
300
300
8.2
8.3
9.8
8.6
6.3
-
8
400
400
7.8
7.9
9.7
8.5
6.3
-
8
Overall
Overall
8.2
8.2
9.7
8.6
6.7
-
8

PROS

  • Good image quality over (almost) entire range
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Competitively priced
  • Programmable with USB Dock
  • With MC-11, also usable on Sonys

CONS

  • 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.

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Jan Paul Mioulet
Author: Jan Paul MiouletWebsite: https://www.mioulet.nl/
Jan Paul Mioulet is zelfstandig fotograaf sinds 1994. Hij heeft zich beziggehouden met veel vormen van fotografie, van portret tot sport, van bruidsfotografie tot reclamewerk. Inmiddels is hij al bijna vijftien jaar gespecialiseerd in architectuurfotografie. Hij is een van de oprichters van DAPh, de Dutch Architectural Photographers, een collectief van een aantal van de beste Nederlandse architectuurfotografen. Van 2010 tot 2014 was hij hoofdredacteur van PF, Professionele Fotografie, het magazine voor de Nederlandse en Vlaamse vakfotograaf. Naast zijn fotografie schrijft hij voor PF en CameraStuffReview over techniek en allerlei bijzondere wetenswaardigheden rondom fotografie en camera’s.

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