Monday, December 19, 2011

Sigma AF 400mm f/5.6

A very long (especially for DX) telephoto with AF for a bargain price. Is it any good?

+ very cheap, compared to other lenses of its kind
+ decent optically - considering the price, however
+ nice built-in hood, nice tripod collar

- this is definitely not a stellar performer, especially wide-open
- it requires support and handling discipline to perform
- very long, for special occasions only
It's bigger than it looks here!
Not bad, but not anything spectacular either

Intended Users
Great for:
  • bird and wildlife photos in good light
  • activities where you can't get close (say, surfing)
  • some sports where you can't get close (say, football)

Not for:
  • anything other than what described above - this is a very long lens in focal length
  • those who don't like tripods or monopods - without them, you are guaranteed to get substandard photos.
  • low light

Final Verdict
Not a bad lens, good value for money (but not excellent). Stopped down to f/8 of f/11 the optical quality is good, but ONLY if you have the proper handling discipline. This lens is very, very unforgiving regarding stability, etc. If you don't want to use a tripod or at least a monopod, don't bother - you will be frustrated. Even with a monopod, you will need sufficiently fast shutter speed. Paired with the fact that you can't get the best of the lens unless you stop down to f/8 or f/11, and it becomes apparent that in anything other than plenty of sunlight, this lens becomes a drag. Overall, you need to ask yourself whether you really need a lens that can be sensibly used for only very specific occasions.

And hey, please...Don't be like an idiot I once sold this lens to, who put on it a 2x teleconverter and took a HAND-HELD photo in overcast, only then to claim it's very soft. If you plan to take bird photos with a 800mm (1200mm in DX) f/11 lens in overcast without tripod, the only way for the photos to turn out sharp is if both you and the bird had rigor mortis.

In other words, FORGET about using this lens with teleconverters...

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