The How and Why for Updating the Firmware on Your Sigma Lens

Even after you buy a new and tested lens, still, there are improvements that can be made. Using the Sigma docking system, Videographer Armando Ferreira gives the low-down on how to apply some of those improvements using firmware updates.

If you own a Tamron or Sigma lens, you're probably aware that each company sells their own USB docking station so that you can modify their focus settings or update their firmware. The new releases from these third-party lens makers, such as Sigma's Art range, all contain microprocessors for this very purpose. Sony users can just update their lenses firmware by connecting the camera to a computer with the desired lens attached. Unfortunately, users of older Canon and Nikon bodies need to send their lenses to their respective manufacturers to get theirs updated, while those with newer bodies can do it through the camera.

In this succinct explanation, Ferreira goes through the reasons why you might want to consider updating the firmware on your lens. For his example, he uses Sigma's USB docking station to update his 18-35mm Sigma Art lens. As he points out, it's a very simple process that can really improve the performance of your lens, and I have to agree with him on his opinion of this specific lens. Even though it's especially designed for cropped sensor, or "enthusiast" DSLRs, it's one of the sharpest lenses that I've ever uses, buttery focus ring, the fastest zoom on the market at f/1.8, and has lovely bokeh wide open.

Log in or register to post comments

7 Comments

Sergio Tello's picture

This is why I have returned every Sigma Art lens I bought, except for the 85mm. I don't have the patience to make a lens work with my camera, if it's not focusing accurately straight out of the box, it's going back.

Lee Christiansen's picture

There are tolerences with all our kit and as we look at ever increasing high pixel count images at 100% we see more focus issues. Sooo many older classic images were quite soft but print sizes hid that factor.

It is important to consider whilst we may blame a lens for being out of calibration, it can just as easily be the camera body. So with all those lenses that weren't "right", it could as easily been they were perfect but the camera body was out.

To get a lens / body combo that is perfect together is generally just good luck rather than good calibration.

I have 3 main 5d3 bodies and about 10 lenses - every combo and both ends of the zooms have required calibration. All are Canon lenses and one is Sigma. (My 85L requires different calibrations between f1.2 and f4 which Canon regards as perfectly normal with this lens.)

It is always worth the time and patience.

David Pavlich's picture

I have a Tamron 35 f1.8 and a Sigma 100-400C and have been shooting with a 5DIII. I have a 5DIV on the way, so I updated the Sigma so that the 100-400 will be compatible. But, I didn't have Tamron's dock, so I ordered it as well.

The Sigma focuse well at the low end, but I had to give it a -9 at 400, but this was done in camera, not with the dock. I'll have to fool around with the dock a little after the 5DIV arrives.

A huge problem is rhe settings you configure with 1 camera /lens combo is only good for 1 camera. I use 3 bodies for weddings I shoot and switch lenses between them all. I dont see the benefit to this usb dock. Potentially its great, implementation is half assed

Lee Christiansen's picture

The dock is really best to better calibrate the lens throughout the zoom range. (Lenses often don't "track" reliably across a range of focusing distances - including Canon Lenses which sometimes need to be returned to service). We still fine tune the focus accuracy to each individual camera body. In this repsect we only need one set of calibrations on the Sigma dock. We're effectively calibrating the lens to itself.

I had no idea this was even possible, thank you!

Okay, so a small update AFTER the firmware update...
My body / lens combo is a Sony a6300 with the Sigma 30mm 1.4 Contemporary. And I went from the 'out of the box' firmware, which is version '01', to version '03'. After the update 'eye auto focus' works much... much better with this lens. Manual focusing is easier and more pleasant (more natural) than before. Maybe, or maybe even likely, there are other improvements, but these two already are very valuable to me. So, to me these things are definitely worth the small effort of updating, and with Sony you don't need the dock to update, but I still think it would be worth the 50,- euros if I did have to buy the dock. So again, thanks for informing me about this possibility! Because I had no idea.