Sigma AF 400mm f/5.6 HSM APO macro - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews -
Canon EOS (APS-C)
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Special thanks to Tina Jensen for providing this lens!
The Sigma AF 400mm f/5.6 HSM APO macro is the latest generation of the
various 400mm variants that Sigma released over time but similar to its
smaller cousin, the AF 300mm f/4 HSM APO macro, it has been discontinued
recently. This is a little sad as we will see later on but the current
400mm or even 500mm prosumer zooms such as the Sigma AF 50-500mm f/4-6.3EX
or Sigma AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 EX OS are surely exceedingly more popular - it
probably just doesn't pay to market fix-focals here anymore. As usual
we'll have a look how this oldie performs on an APS-C DSLR where its
field-of-view is equivalent to a whopping 640mm.
Typical applications for this lens are sports and wildlife photography.
The optical construction is made of 10 elements in 7 groups with 2 SLD elements.
The aperture mechanism has 9 aperture blades. As you may have noticed it's a
designated macro lens. However, it doesn't really have a floating
system for close focus correction typical for true macro lenses but the min. focus
distance of 1.6m is good enough for a max. object magnification of 1:3.
The filter size is 77mm. Looking at the product shots it's obviously a quite long
lens at about 256x91mm and similar to other lenses in this class it's also quite
heavy (~1.4kg). That said bigger tends to be better in tele land so that's a good
sign. The Sigma is a true IF (internal focus) design so the size remains
constant regardless of the focus settings and the front element does not rotate.
The lens features a tripod-mount and a build-in barrel-shaped hood. A hard case is
also part of the package.
The principal construction quality feels very good. Unfortunately this isn't quite
true for the AF-MF switch as well as the focus limiter which felt quite loose in the
tested sample. However, the extremely broad, rubberized focus ring operates smooth (no
wobbling whatsoever) and damped and it's so-called ZEN finish provides a good grip.
The build-in lens hood is quite stiff to extend but then there's no creeping either.
The AF speed of the virtually silent HSM drive is pretty good but if the camera
decides to hunt throughout the focus range it can take a while so it may be useful
to take advantage of the two-step focus limiter.
The AF operation was generally very reliable but during the field tests the AF was
once lost in the middle of nowhere - a little guidance into the right direction
solved the issue. Full-time manual focusing in one-shot AF mode is always possible.