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Sigma 135-400 MM f/4.5-5.6 ASP AF APO

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23 164814 Apr 3, 2010
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78% of reviewers $408.18
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Covering the most frequently used focal lengths, from mid to long-range telephoto, this one convenient lens lets you handle an unprecedented range of subjects from landscapes to fast action sports. Sigma's advanced design incorporates a 5-group zoom system to achieve sharp, high contrast results throughout the entire zoom range. Three SLD glass elements eliminate the secondary spectra effect normally associated with telephotos. And the rear focus system keeps the front lens from rotating, giving you easier use of polarizing filters. A convenient built-in rotary tripod mount eliminates vibration during shutter release


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Registered: Feb 4, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 305
Review Date: Apr 3, 2010 Recommend? no | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: got some sharp images of the moon in a tripod at F/14 no UV filter, I can't think of any other, oh! the foam paded lens case, better then canon's and nikon
super slow and noise focus, hunts, lens creaps, fits looose in Nikon D90 body,

may be good as a cheap start up, I got some sharp images of the moon, until I removed the UV filter, F/14 and in a tripod, (UV filters will make images a bit softer)
Images comes out with a brownish color, lens creep like s...t,
super slow and noise focus,
it fitted loose in my nikon D90, ( now I am in the canon side)
my lens looked great and solid, paint was great and like new,
it didn't pealed off like others say,
any way I don't recomend this lens

if you are not in a hurry, save the money for the canon EF 300 F/4 IS USM or the 100-400 IS if you preffer the zoom option,
or if you are a nikon user buy the chinise lens 70-300 non VR for about $125.00 or switch to canon wich has more variety of lenses then nikon, (exactly what I did)

I am not trying to say nikon is not good, but good nikkor lenses are way too expensive,

read a lot a reviews here in another websites beafore you buy,

Apr 3, 2010
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Registered: Apr 14, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 28
Review Date: Apr 23, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $420.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Great price, excellent for beginners, tripod collar, good quality at a close distance.
Horrible autofocus (noisy, hunts, and slow), lens creep; bad, soft quality when photos are taken from a distance. Not sharp.

I highly recommend this lens for beginners. My problem with it is that when trying to take photos (of wildlife in my case) from a distance they turn out very soft and noisy. From a moderate distance a small aperture of 8-14 is needed for decent quality. The only time good quality photos are taken is when the subject is very close to the lens.

Apr 23, 2008
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Darryl Luck
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Registered: Feb 11, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 14
Review Date: Apr 22, 2008 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 4 

Pros: Price, build quality, tripod collar
Shocking lens creep, slow AF, soft images, noise (ISO)

Inconsistant is what this lens is. I have given it a workout in different conditions, settings, hand held, tripod and I would say that for every 100 shots I would get 1 that I am just happy with.

It is a fair weather lens to say the least. If you can't get 1/1000th then forget it. Once you crank the ISO up the shots are stuffed (poor quality). Maybe mine is a bad copy but I won't be trying another. I have even tried to sell it at a huge reduction and nobody wants it!

I only bought it because I love wildlife shots and now I have it, I hate it, and I miss my 70-200 f/4 that I sold to get it.

Apr 22, 2008
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Mel Gross
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Registered: Sep 14, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 661
Review Date: Oct 14, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Not a review
comments on the reviews

I notice that there is a wide dicotomy between the positive reviews and the negative ones.

It's difficult to see what people are expecting.

Sigma's QA has always been in question. I also wonder, therefore, if that it's partly responsible for some people saying that this lens is sharp wide open, and at 400, while others say that it is not sharp open, and at 400.

Too bad we may never know. The small photo's posted can't give us a good idea about that.

Oct 14, 2007
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hris Towerton
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Registered: Oct 24, 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Aug 14, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 5 

Pros: Tripod collar
Poor QC

Pre-purchase reasons for buying this lens:

· It sat well priced with my healthy but balanced hobby budget.

· It cast a full frame image circle (making it more future proof and able to be shared with my film based camera).

· Its 135mm-400mm focal length complimented well my existing Sigma 24-135mm f/2.8-4.5.

· It shares a 77mm filter with other lenses in its relative price and quality range, including my Sigma 24-135mm f/2.8-4.5 and (still to purchase) SIGMA 10mm-20mm DC, suitably complementing a kit covering common focal lengths with no overlap. Filter size was for me one of the main considerations; I was keen to maintain one single size for all the lenses I intended to purchase, thus negating duplication of accessories and requiring only one spare UV filter should anything untoward happen whilst travelling in remote areas (I live in Australia).

· It has a manually selectable aperture ring (backwards compatible with my old SLR).

· It has internal focusing, making it more filter friendly.

Considered Alternatives

· The Sigma AF 70-200mm f2.8 EX DG - also a 77mm filter size, however my existing lens covered a great deal of its focal range and at 400mm the extra 2X optical reach made for a big difference when compared to digitally cropping on my now outdated 6 mega pixel sensor.

· The Sigma AF 50-500mm f4-6.3 EX DG APO – heavier, larger filter, wary of perceived optical issues from a lens that boasts a 10X optical zoom I also found it to be just too big.

· The Sigma AF 170-500mm f5-6.3 ASP DG RF APO – larger filter and would leave a focal gap in my lens line up.


Comes with a padded case, hood and tripod collar. Markings are clear and the lens itself is finished in the same rubberised matt of the “EX” series.

In Use

The zoom action is smooth but with no mechanism to lock it in place, creeps when carried. The focus ring is small and although it can be easily operated with one finger, the zoom rotates through such a large axis, it is difficult to keep your finger poised ready to focus under pressure. With the focus ring located at the back of the lens close to the body, it is awkward to keep a steady hand, particular when the barrel is extended out to 400mm. Auto focus appears adequate, though it seldom gets used as I tend to shoot amongst trees in relatively low light. At 400mm results are soft unless stopped down.

Although most lenses trombone whilst zooming, this copy seems particularly susceptible to the ingress of foreign materials. I have solved this in the greater part by storing it in a watertight bag, which is also good at preventing condensation when making rapid transitions from hot or cold areas. The tripod collar makes switching between landscape and portrait a breeze and is very quick to install/release. The lens cap can be easily dislodged in transit.

When using this lens with my Pentax AF-360FGZ flash, for some strange reason the LCD on it displays a focal length of 58mm, yet when used with my Sigma 24-135mm, remains synchronised right through to 85mm. I do not believe this affects the throw of light, as the reflector itself is physically retracted to its maximum position (85mm), it just persists in displaying 58mm… very frustrating!!!


Most often I use this lens atop a monopod or hand held @ ISO800 with the assistance of a hot shoe flash (Pentax AF-360FGZ) on small birds. This seems to work OK, out to about 12 metres (light dependant).

I also use it tripod mounted, with a remote shutter release, @ ISO800 and no flash. I find this useful when set further back at weddings or other events where I can obtain good candids. Shutter speeds rarely exceed 1/30 second, so this method relies heavy on a lethargic subject.


Hit and miss, I have managed to take some very good photos with this lens. Perhaps my dissatisfaction lies in the fact that after more than 12 months of ownership I have not been sufficiently disciplined to acquaint myself with its idiosyncrasies.

Whilst I like the look of the rubberised finish, if you have anything on your hands (oils from food, clay from climbing etc), it is very hard to clean.

Dust on the inner elements is a constant frustration (the front section can be easily removed for cleaning with 6 screws), however this is more likely a lens specific QC issue.

The tripod collar really lifts the lens’ functionality, probably for me its best feature.

Aug 14, 2007
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Registered: Aug 9, 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 139
Review Date: Aug 8, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Image quality, Build quality, compact size and weight, Included lens hood, tripod ring and carry case.
Lens creep, el cheapo sigma lens caps (both ends), mf/af switch. Focus ring spin when focusing.

This lens does nothing wrong. Image quality is good and consistent thru out the zoom range apart from getting a little bit soft over 350mm. Images wide open at 400mm are still very usable for a enthusiast like myself. I haven't noticed the IQ getting any better stopping down. I did try this lens in store before buying and i'm pretty sure I have a good copy optically anyway.

CA is well controlled needing pixel peeping to detect. Colours and contrast is good, though not as good as my Canon 70-200mm F4L in the same zoom range at least. I have not noticed any distortions at all though I do not use this lens normally under 200mm, not after doing some comparisions to my 70-200mm F4L which showed the expected differences.

Focusing is a bit of a mixed bag. It is way faster than the 80-400mm OS sigma lens, yet slower than the canon 100-400mm IS. Focus speed is what I would call good for a consumer lens. It can hunt around a fair bit at the longer distances and zoom reach though once it decides on what It want to lock onto, it does so well, unlike the older Canon 75-300mm F4-5.6 IS USM lens which was a focusing nightmare.

The build quality I describe as solid. The lens is small and compact for what it is though you should note that I have very strong hands and arms and have yet to find a lens I would call heavy, including a 300mm F2.8 L. Others would consider this lens heavy. The classic sigma wrinkle finish gives the lens a solid and quality feel but is sadly let down by the cheap af switch and lens caps. I have to take my hat off to sigma for the included carry case. It's the best I have ever seen on a non Pro class lens and very similar to the case that is included with sigma's 100-300mm F4 and 60-400mm F4.5-5.6 OS lens, both aimed at the pro's.

The focus ring I found annoying initially. When using AF the focus ring will turn and catch on your fingers when your hand is positioned on the zoom ring. Changing my hand position prevents the problem but would make holding the len's wieght harder for others.
Finally the lens creep is a problem. Considering other opinions on this matter It sounds like mine is a "bad" copy in this regard, but I'll put up with it or perhaps put it in for warranty. For now I have to use the lackey band trick for stuff like moon shots off a tripod with out a hand on the zoom ring to prevent creep though I dont quite know what to do with a downwards shot off a tripod. It'll probably have to be at 400mm only!

Overall I recommend this lens. If you can't afford the IS/OS lens or want the longest lens that you can hand hold this is a good bet.

Aug 8, 2007
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Registered: Apr 26, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 173
Review Date: Oct 22, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: The price and focal range. Hood and tripod ring and lens case included. I like the 77mm filter size. Excellent contrast and good enough IQ.
The AF is a joke really. It's noisy, crass and slow. The focus ring rotates when it focusses too. Not HSM or EX. It's very heavy too. A very stiff zoom ring. The lens REALLY extends in length at 400mm.

OK the weight is an issue but lets be real here...it is a 400mm f5.6 lens. It weighs about the same as the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 and it's physical size is comparable. But the build isn't quite comparable, the base of the lens is made from metal (which is why it's so heavy) and feels cool to the touch. The weight drops a lot if you remove the tripod collar and it's the same collar that the 70-200mm f2.8 uses. So I only take one collar is I take both lenses. The same colar can also be used on the Canon 100mm USM macro too. One collar for 3 lenses...nice (and the Sigma version is better than Canons because it can be loosened and removed with out taking the lens off the camera)

Some copies of this lens are very soft, mine seems to be a lot better than most. It's real strength is it's contrast and colour. It gives very very pleasing real world results. Some say that the Sigma 70-200 f2.8 with a 2x TC is a better option but from my experience of owning sharp versions of both is that it really isn't. The Image quality of this lens at 400mm is a lot better than the 70-200 combo, as is the contrast. But it's a heavy beast and to have both lenses in my kit bag is a real drag.
I find this lens sharp but not "L" quality, but much better then a normal consumer zoom. maybe a bot soft wide open for Pro use but much sharper than the usual 100-300xx cheapies. This lens is very sharp at 135mm-300mm and softens slightly at 400mm. Stopping down 2 stops helps a lot but then light and shutter speeds often limit here.
Optically, this lens' contrast is really very very good and makes up for any wide open softness. Most review sites rate this lens as slightly soft, but my copy seems sharper.

The AF mechanism is really old fashions and tedious. It's fast to focus but the motor is very cheap and noisy. It can take a while to lock on focus to. The focus ring moves when the motor actuates which adds to the "cheap" feeling. But the AF seems accurate enough though - so little to complain about there.

There aren't a lot of options in thi range and I just wish that Sigma would make a HSM EX version of this lens. But for the money it's a steal, but cherry pick and get a good copy. I like this lens a lot but it could be better.

Oct 22, 2006
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Registered: Jul 7, 2006
Location: N/A
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jul 7, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: good construction, very sharp 400mm telezoom, low price, acceptable picturequallity @400mm and wide open(using the new dg version).
lens creep

Jul 7, 2006
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Registered: Jun 25, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 599
Review Date: Jul 2, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: $435.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: Not expensive..Pretty well built. Nice feel
Loose zoom not very sharp relatively slow AF

Not good enough to schlepp around. You are much better off with the very fine Sigma 70-200 2.8 hsm and a converter. Of course at twice the price....

Jul 2, 2006
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Registered: Apr 13, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 3207
Review Date: Mar 13, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 5 

Pros: Price is not bad for a lens of this focal length. It looks plastic but feels solid and heavy. I like the case for storage. Tripod collar secures lens well.
Much softer than I expected. Looks ridiculous when extended to 400mm with hood on.

I purchased it new and used it about three times in different lighting conditions on my D70. Results were not as sharp as I wanted. After getting a Nikon 80-200mm 2.8, the Sigma was placed back in its original box with its hood, caps, and carrying case and is now resting permanently on a shelf. It's not a bad lens for shooting outdoors in bright sunlight at the zoo or beach, but I would not use it for any paid assignments due to the soft results.

Mar 13, 2006
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Registered: Jan 22, 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jan 22, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Very solid build for the price range, rather sharp when used on a monopod, fairly cheap yet not cheap and plastic feeling...
Backfocus at less than 250mm when near wide (like many Sigma lenses..

If you are looking for something better than your run of the mill 70-300/4-5.6 zooms, but cant afford a $1000+ lens then this is a good balance... It does extend a lot when zoomed, but the barrel is solid and has no freeplay... Mine has very little if any zoom creep (very stiff zoom ring).. On my *ist DS it does tend to backfocus a little when wide open and at its wider end (like some other Sigma zooms). I can live with it, as I use it mainly from 250-400mm where strangely enough it seems to be at its best...

I do suggest using a monopod as it is not a light lens, and you will get a much better sharp photo hit rate...

Jan 22, 2006
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Registered: Aug 23, 2005
Location: Poland
Posts: 1
Review Date: Dec 12, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $405.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: good price, sharp,strong body

I have canon d 20. I have taken a lot of pictures with that lens. The proce of this Sigma lens is very good and I wolud recomend that lens for people who don't like spend a lot of money and who want to have a sharp lens for small money

Dec 12, 2005
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Registered: May 28, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 2896
Review Date: Nov 20, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: $450.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: Build materials and price.
Lens creep, horribly soft wide open, slow AF.

I wouldn't do it over again. It's a bargain but "you get what you pay for."

Nov 20, 2005
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Registered: Nov 10, 2005
Location: South Africa
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 10, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Price, build quality, included carry bag and tripod collar. Images can be very sharp provided one adheres to the rules of super telephoto shooting: use a tripod, monopod, bean bag, anything to keep motion blur at bay. Sharper than other "consumer" type lenses even at 400 and wide open.
The lens is definitely not as sharp wide open at 400mm as it is stopped down, but this is a common issue with lenses in this clas. Best used at F8 and up, but F6.3 will do the job is light is a problem.

I recentely got a D70s and since I mostly do nature (more specifically birds) and motor sport photography, I purchased the Sigma 135-400 APO lens. If I had the money, I would have gone for the 80-400 OS or 80-400 VR Nikon, but that is three times the price. A 200-400 F4 Nikon would have been the ultimate ... but that is 12 times the price ...

All in all, I'm very happy with the lens and would gladly recommend it to anyone on a limited budget. You would have to get a decent monopod (better than flimsy tripod by a long way) to get the most out of this lens. I prefer using a monopod in any case as birds tend to present fleeting chances and a tripod take to long to set up and get the camera pointed in the right direction.

Obviously, low light shooting is out of the question if you shoot moving subjects, even if you do manage to keep the camera motionless, the subject is bound to be blurred, unless it is following a predictable path.

For the money, you realy can't go wrong on this one.

Nov 10, 2005
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Registered: Oct 20, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Oct 26, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $450.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp, great color, good build, good AF and a great price.
None for the price...

This has been a great lens for me. It is a little heavy and long… you must use it with a tripod or monopod… the zoom does creep… BUT it is SHARP. I’m pleased with image quality on images shot wide open and at all focal lengths! It is sharper stopped down but it's sharp enough used wide open. This lens is a true APO so say goodbye to purple fringing (CA) on high contrast areas. It isn’t the “best” 400mm zoom money can buy but IMO it is the best for under $450 US.


Oct 26, 2005
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Registered: Mar 24, 2005
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 0
Review Date: Aug 18, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $432.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Solid build, easy to handle, good images when used stop down.
Slow AF, bit soft used wide open.

I own this lens now for a couple of months. In common I am pleased about the results
of this lens. Especially when you use it stopped down to F11 the results are good! No Chromatic Aberration and well sharp. The negative site of that is that you can’t really use it handheld. Because then you will need to use it wide open, and then the results are disappointing! The images are soft as a baby bud! So when used with a tripod or beanbag, you get a lot of fun for the money! Bird photography is hard with this lens, because of the slow AF and the soft images used wide open. I have managed to do so, but it takes some special skills..

Some images:




Aug 18, 2005
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Sigma 135-400 MM f/4.5-5.6 ASP AF APO

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
23 164814 Apr 3, 2010
Recommended By Average Price
78% of reviewers $408.18
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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