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Affordable Reach: A Review of the Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary Lens

A decade ago, high quality supertelephoto zoom lenses were generally the exclusive domain of first party manufacturers, but in the past few years, companies like Tamron and Sigma have brought affordable and well-performing alternatives to the market. This great review takes a look at one such lens, the Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary.

Coming to you from The SnapChick, this excellent video review takes a look at the Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary lens. At $949, the 100-400mm f/5-6.3 is quite affordable compared to most such lenses, and it brings with it several useful features, including:

  • One F Low Dispersion (FLD) element and four Special Low Dispersion (SLD) elements for reduced chromatic aberration and improved clarity
  • Optical image stabilization with up to four stops of compensation
  • Minimum focusing distance of 5.2 feet at 400mm for a maximum magnification of 0.24x
  • Customizable AFL button
  • Focus limiter switch for increased performance
  • Zoom lock
  • Rounded nine-blade diaphragm for smoother bokeh
  • Dust- and splash-resistant mount

For anyone needing an affordable and relatively compact supertelephoto lens, the 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary looks to be a good choice. Check out the video above for the full rundown. 

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8 Comments

Cris Malone's picture

I have the Sigma 150-600 contemporary and have been well pleased with it. What advantage would this particular lense have over that?

Alex Reiff's picture

I have the older version of the 100-400, and considered the 150-600 when I was shopping for it. The main advantage, in my opinion, is that it's about a pound lighter.

David B's picture

Smaller and lighter mostly. Some people prefer the wider focal length as well. I don't think people would have both.

Nox Vega's picture

I received mine a few days ago.
I shoot motorsport and I've been using 135mm GM and I need more reach.
After looking at image quality, it's ok. So is autofocus. But that f6.3 aperture... ugh. I don't like to go above 100 ISO. Even 320 ISO on my A7R IV is grainy.
Since I shoot pretty much always during sunny days, it's not that much of a problem. But as soon as there's overcast, I have to increase ISO.
It's a tough call. I could crop on 135mm but that makes images smaller and grainier.
And not to mention sharpness. It does not even compare to the GM, which is unsurprising, but the difference at 100mm is massive. My Sigma is sharp enough at 400mm, but it's very soft at 100mm.
I have to choose. Can't have both. Leaning toward Sigma. But I'm going to miss my 135mm GM. Hopefully 200mm f2 or 300mm f4 primes come out.

Anders Madsen's picture

Ehhh - motorsports and not wanting to go above ISO 100 is probably asking a bit much, to be honest. :)

That being said, what happens with the ISO grain if you manually scale the final image down to e.g. 24 MP now that you have a lot more reach? Could that be a way to get around the grain?

Nox Vega's picture

Heh, well since I most of the time access to anywhere on the track, I was able to get away using 135mm F1.8.
I never had to use more than 100 ISO. I even bought a couple of ND/PL filters (8 and 16) because the images were too bright, especially when shooting slower than 1/40th.
I got 100-400mm because with 135mm, I had hard time finding a good spot to shoot cars moving towards me. Cropping heavily did not work in my favor. It would lower the details and increase the grain (because zooming in you naturally see the grain you normally wouldn't).
But with f6.3 at 400mm, 100 ISO and shutter speed of 640/800, the image is quite dark. The weather has to be very bright for this to work.
Sigma is rumored to announce new lenses tomorrow. Maybe 70-200 f2.8? I'm looking forward to see what they have to offer. Maybe I'll return this for that lens and then use APSC mode on my A7R IV.

Zac Henderson's picture

I use the older Sigma 100-400 on a Z6 with the FTZ adapter. AF is slow as is the lens overall, but surprisingly sharp. Worst part is the lack of a tripod collar, which apparently is no longer an issue. Solid lens.

Carlos Dacosta's picture

I shoot with the A7r3 at ISO 640 most of the time when photographing birds with no issue nor have any disturbing grain whatsoever. The A7r3s iso sweetspot is iso 640. Thus my reluctance to switch to the A7r4. But i agree, thst kenses using apertures above 6.3 is not ideal.