Is the Sigma 135-400 mm lens any good

Discussion in 'Nature' started by chris_hansen, Aug 11, 1997.

  1. I am thinking about purchasing the new Sigma 135 to 400 mm lens. Is this lens capable of proffesional results? Does anyone have any experience with this lens?
  2. Any lens is capable of "professional" results, since:
    • (a) It's a totally meaningless term.
    • (b) It's the photographer that counts.
    • (c) For small prints, almost any lens can produce marketable images.
    • Informed opinion suggests the 135-400 is good at the short end and usable at the long end. At 400mm it isn't as sharp as the Sigma 400/5.6 APO Macro. If what you really want is a 400mm lens, buy a 400mm lens!
      This is not a lens for a pro who is attempting to make a living via nature photography. It's OK for an amateur who wants decent images and isn't going to be shooting at 400mm all the time.
      These comments also apply to most of the other similar lenses (80-400, 200-400 and so on).
  3. Assuming that optical quality is of great importance to you I think that you would be better off with a lower ration zoom like an 80-200 or 100-300 and then buying a separte 400mm non-zoom lens. The scuttlebutt (sp?) is that the new Sigma 400 APO is the best in the under $631 price range. I think that you might get better responses if you told us what you are going to shoot with the stupid thing. If you told me that you want to do fast action sports, I would probably change my answer.
    If you don't want to waist your time do a search on Sigma, Tamron and Tokina and see what that turns up in this site. Then save you money, sell your Acura for a used Hundai and get a real man's lens like the Nikkor 400mm f/2.8. After toting it around for a summer no beach bully will kick sand in your face!
  4. Simply put, no it's not. They don't use the quality glass that Canon, Nikon or Minolta are going to use in their "pro" lenses. Of course, you pay for this glass. Okay, so what's the difference? Color and contrast and sharpness, etc. Like Bob said, most any lens can produce excellent prints, but compare some blow ups and you'll start noticing a difference. I'd suggest the 400mm f/5.6 APO as well, or even the 300mm f/4 APO with a 1.4x tc, but nothing will compare to Canon's 300mm f/4 "L" lens. Look at the used classifieds here and on photoshopper. Invest in the best and you won't be dissapointed. I don't think you'd be dissapointed in Sigma's new fixed lenses either. I don't agree with the arrogance that Stan issued about having a Nikon 400mm f/2.8. Because you have a great lens doesn't mean you're a great photographer. The great photogrpaher's are the one's who are humble and love what they do and it shows in their work.
  5. Hey Bill! I wasn't being arrogant. Several people (well maybe just one) have mentioned buying a very long and fast lens instead of a new car. The idea is to get what you want and need in the first place and avoid the extra cost of trading up later. The original message did not mention what camera the lens would be attached to so I quite naturally assumed it was a Nikon. But a Canon or other 400mm f/2.8 will build your muscles equally well and when that beach bully kicks sand in your face and attempts to steal your girl, you can flatten the guy with one punch! Unless your girl is also a photographer with a big lens and then she can flatten him for you.
  6. You have to answer the question asked. If someone asks about a 135-400 Sigma zoom, it's not likely they want to fork out $4000-$8000 for a prime 400/2.8. You could answer any question about telephotos by saying "get a 400/2.8"! It's like recommending everyone who asks you about which car to buy get a Ferrari!
    The Sigma lens is perfectly fine for many photographers. I've seen much worse lenses highly praised! I wouldn't want to depend on one myself, but a lot of photographers are happy with them. It's a middle of the road lens with price and peformance to match.
    Many amateurs wouldn't want the weight and worry of carrying a 400/2.8 around, even if they could afford one. The biggest, fastest lens isn't the best lens for everyone.
  7. Sam - sorry, didn't mean to offend you, but I agree with Bob. I figure anyone asking about a Sigma lens isn't thinking about purchasing a $7000 lens. And like Bob said, because it has big glass doesn't mean it's the best for everyone. Unless you really need the 2.8 aperture, you're just as good getting an f/4 like the 300. But I won't badger this subject anymore.
  8. a few points to consider. go through Outdoor Photographer, Nature Photographer and other magazines that bother to put the aperture/ film iso etc. with the shots seen. how often do you ever see an image shot at F2.8 or even F4? the 400 2.8's are wonderful, sharp, bulky, shaky and cumbersome chunks of glass that will burn your bank account and your shoulders. if someone thinks his slides are that much sharper with it then spend the money. i use a Sigma 400 5.6 and have been published 3 times with it. so i am quite satisfied with my small investment. the only times my images show anything other than tack sharp is when i made the error or when i use a 1.4x TC. an 8x loupe does not lie either. i certainly agree with Bob, big glass isn,t for everyone.
  9. Yep, In a perfect world, we could all go out and pickup a 400 2.8 & shot to our hearts content. I personally can't afford one, but a year ago found the Tamron 200-400 5.6 and have been very happy since. Sharp? Yes, just not as sharp as the 400 2.8. The color and contrast is also very good, and it only relieved my wallet of $495.00.
  10. In a recent issue of the Natural Image (Vol 12 #4), George Lepp compared the Sigma 135-400, the Tokina 80-400, and the Tamron 200-400. All three lenses performed similarly. Sharpness was best in the 300 & under zoom range, but marketable images could be made at 400 mm, especially if closed down one stop. He rated the Sigma lens a slight favorite because of slightly better sharpness and better autofocus operation. These lenses aren't going to be as sharp as the prime telephotos, but you can make some good images with them. A boring subject with poor composition in bad lighting is not going to be enjoyable to look at no matter how sharp it is. I say get out and enjoy photography with what you can afford.
  11. Ed stated:
    "I say get out and enjoy photography with what you can afford."
    Obviously Ed is a dangerous radical! He knows nothing about the ego benefits of carrying around $23,000 worth of gear even if one never produces a decent image. What forum will be polluted by next by this bizzare thinking???
    Now, please excuse me while mount and frame some very nice shots I took with my Sigma lens. :)
  12. I must wonder seeing some of the above answers if these guys have ever seen the lens. I am a "pro" (what ever that means) who owns the lens and have sold many pictures taken with it. Chris, you did not say what you are shooting with it or what you have it attached to. I use it *mostly* to shoot pro-sports (NFL mostly) I now am up to 3 bodies when I shoot and I usually have the 135-400 attached to an N-70. The autofocus is not as fast as I would like, but part of that is the body. (It is faster on the N-90.) I find it is a VERY good lens at 300mm even wide open. If you do want to shoot 400mm stop it down 2 stops and you will be OK. I bought it because I:
    A) Wanted a Zoom B) Only *needed* a 300mm but C) *Wanted* the 400 when I needed it.
    If these are the things you are going to ask this lens to do then it is a great tool at a cheap price.
  13. Wow, I didn't expect my simple question would merit such a response. I see it brought out the big Canons and Nikons. I see that everyone has their favorites. I appreciated all the suggestions I was given.Several people wondered what I wanted it for. I presently am shooting with a Tokina 150-500 manual zoom f 5.6. I usually stop down 1 to 2 stops. It is usually mounted on a Pentax PZ-1 or a Pentax MX. Lately it has been showing its age and it is not quite as sharp as it has been in years past so I need a replacement. As to what I normally shoot? I shoot mostly deer using Sensia slide film.I wanted a zoom for its versatility in framing and composition. Well enough babbling. Thanks for all the advice. Chris
  14. I use this lense in amateur photography of wildlife, mainly birds. I've found that 400 mm isn't enough, has anyone tried this lense with a Tamron 1.4x? I was able to shoot some nice deer in Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains.
    I'm also considering a Tamron 300 F2.8 coupled with their 2x. My camera body is a Nikon N70. Any idea on how this combination would perform?
  15. If you want a tank buy the Tokina 100-300mm f/4 AF lens. It has been discontinued by Tokina but they show up on eBay and all the time. I use the Tokina with my Nikons and love it. I have the 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-S and the Nikon 1.4 converter but I think the Tokina 100-300mm f/4 AF gives much better results. I love my AF-S and my Nikon 300mm f/2.8 AF lens but the 100-300mm f/4 from Tokina is a real life-saver at times when I do not have to have f/2.8. Sigma has a new 100-300mm f/4 AF but it did not meet my toughness standards. It is a good lens but the older Tokina 100-300mm f/4 AF is just put together much better in my opinion.

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