Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Review

June 15, 2017 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM is a relatively compact and lightweight 4x telelphoto zoom lens for full-frame DSLR cameras and APS-C sensor cameras with an effective increase in focal length. The Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM features a rounded 9 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out of focus areas of the image, built-in optical image stabilisation, a Hyper Sonic Motor for fast and quiet autofocusing, a zoom lock switch, manual override (MO) which is activated by rotating the focus ring while using autofocus, water and oil-repellent coating on the front and rear lenses, and dust and splash-proof construction on the mount. The Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens is currently available for £799 / $799 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

Weighing in at 1160g and measuring 18.2cm in length, the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM is actually quite lightweight and compact given the focal range that it covers. As seen in the photos below, it's at home on a full-frame camera like the Canon EOS 5DS R. This is a lens that you can comfortably hand-hold for long periods of time. Note that the lens extends by quite a long way when zoomed out from 100mm to 400mm.

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSMThe Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens mounted on the Canon EOS 5DS R

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSMThe Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens mounted on the Canon EOS 5DS R

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSMThe Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens mounted on the Canon EOS 5DS R

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSMThe Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens alongside the Canon EOS 5DS R

Build quality is very good. The Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens has a plastic shell with a mixture of metallic and plastic parts used inside. The optical elements are made of high-grade glass with 4 SLD glass elements to reduce color fringing and chromatic aberrations, while the lens commendably has a dust and splash-proof construction and a brass mount.

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSMSide of the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSMSide of the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens,extended to 400mm

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSMSide of the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens

In terms of features, the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM offers everything that you need from a professional telephoto zoom lens. This very usefully includes built-in Vibration Reduction, activated by the OS switch on the lens barrel, which offers around 4 stops of compensation. The OS system has two modes - mode 1 is suitable for general photography, and mode 2 is best for panning shots of moving subjects in a horizontal direction (not vertical).

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSMFront of the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSMRear of the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens

Focusing is usefully internal and manual focusing is possible when set via the Focus switch on the lens barrel. Full-time manual focus override is also available by setting the Focus switch to the MO mode and then rotating the focus ring.

The focus limiter switch has three settings, FULL, 6m-infinity and 1.6m-6m, which helps speed up the auto-focusing if you know how far your subject is from the lens. You can also use the USB dock to customise these ranges to your own needs. A clear distance scale in both feet and meters runs from the closest focusing distance of 160cm / 5.25ft to infinity.

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSMSide of the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSMSide of the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens

The Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens features a zoom lock switch that can be locked at the 100mm focal length, which is useful when storing the lens.

The Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM ships with a large circular plastic lens hood and it accepts 67mm filters. A couple of concessions to the price-point are the lack of a removable tripod mount ring, either supplied in the box or as an optional accessory, and the lack of any case or soft bag.

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSMThe Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens in-hand

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSMThe Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens with the supplied lens hood fitted

Focal Range

At the 100mm focal length the angle of view is 24.4 degrees.

 Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSMField of view at 100mm

At the 400mm focal length the angle of view is 6.2 degrees.

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSMField of view at 400mm

Focusing

The Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens has a large focus ring, and it is ridged for easier grip too. There are hard stops at both ends of the range, making it easier to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the 67mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM zoom is a fairly slow performer, taking about 0.25 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Canon EOS 5DS R that we tested it with.

We didn't experience too much "hunting", though, either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time. It's also a very quiet performer, thanks to the built-in HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor), which makes this lens well-suited to video recording.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are only conspicuous by their almost complete absence from our test shots.

Light Fall-off and Distortion

With the lens set to its maximum aperture, there is significant light fall-off in the corners at both ends of the zoom range. Stopping-down to f/11 virtually eliminates this. There's very little distortion to worry about.

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSMLight fall-off at 100mm

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSMLight fall-off at 400mm

Macro

The Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM isn't claimed to be a macro lens. It has a minimum focusing distance of 160cm/ 63inches and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:3.8. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to your subject.

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSMClose-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. In the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens, Sigma employed an iris diaphragm with nine rounded blades, which has resulted in very nice bokeh in our view. We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several 100% crops for your perusal.

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM
   
Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.