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Sigma 80-400mm F4.5-5.6 EX OS APO

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41 252663 Feb 12, 2011
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93% of reviewers $919.85
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  • Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 80-400mm; 1:4.5-5.6
  • Lens Construction: 20 elements in 14 groups
  • Diagonal Angle of View: 30.3-6.2
  • Closest Focusing Distance: 180 / 70.9*
  • Filter Size: 77mm
  • Dimensions (Dia x Length), Weight: 95.0 x 189.5, 1750g


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Registered: Feb 12, 2011
Location: Ireland
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 12, 2011 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: OS
heavy, slow AF, image quality is not really good

This lens is really heavy if you want to handhold. if you use it on a tripod then the OS is useless so there is no reason to buy a lens with OS if you are unable to handhold it. The quality is not really good , acceptable at f8-f9, adn much worse from 300mm. The AF is really slow and hunts , i lost hundreds of photos because of this problem. The 50-500 EX lens is much better performer and faster.

Feb 12, 2011
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Registered: May 26, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 6
Review Date: Dec 26, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: good but was replaced by the Sigma 120-400mm f/4.5-5.6 DG OS HSM APO Autofocus Lens which is a much much better lens.
slow focus

Is there any way to add new lenses to the review section. This section doesn't keep up with the times.

This lens was replaced by the Sigma 120-400mm f/4.5-5.6 DG OS HSM APO Autofocus Lens which is a much much better lens.

Dec 26, 2009
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Registered: Mar 24, 2008
Location: Australia
Posts: 65
Review Date: Aug 18, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Can produce sharp, quality images. Nice weight, fun to use, versatile.
Not recommended for bird photography or action. Finish peels/scratches easily causing poor resale/invetsment value.

This is a fun lens to use and great value on the second hand market right now. I feel that anyone owning this lens would love it for what it is...a versatile zoom that is fun to use and capable of producing sharp, quality pictures at a good variety of focal lengths.

I purchased mine in cosmetically `fair' condition for the same price as a used Canon 70-300mm IS, which is a real bargain IMO. I agree that its optical quality is indeed in the league of the canon 100-400mm IS, as other users have mentioned. Personally, I really like the weight and `feel' of it- I feel that the extra `inertia' makes its easier to hold steady than lighter lenses.

In terms of the cons, the Auto-focus is not too bad for most situations, but for me it is a problem when photographing birds. The AF is so loud & slow , that it often scares my subjects away while it chugs along, looking for focus. By comparison, the Canon 100-400mm IS I used to own seemed lightning fast to me, and it was very quiet. For serious bird photography, I cannot recommend the Sigma 80-400mm OS, and I think investing in the Canon 100-400mm is a far better idea. The Canon produces better feather detail, handles contrast a lot better, and it seems to resolve better on higher megapixel cameras like the 50D and 1DS series of bodies.

Also, the Sigma 80-400 seems to have intermittent issues on my 50D, such as shutter lags and the AF failing to work to at times. This could be an incompatibility issue between the 50D and the 80-400mm, or a problem with this specific lens...not sure as yet.

Finally, the lens may be cheap, but its coating scratches very easily with normal use and this significantly diminishes the resale value. So if you wind up with one, you are kind of stuck with it, or you'll wind up selling it for a major loss. Whereas if you invest in a used canon `L' lens, you can usually get your money back for it if you want to trade up later.

So overall, I think its a decent walk-around lens, and it can produce very impressive images with great colour tone and contrast. However I would not recommend it for somene with a serious interest in bird photography. In those cases, i would recommend a canon 300mm F/4 IS L or the Canon 100-400mm L above thislens, or a Canon 400 f/5.6 L if you are prepared to shoot with a monopod.

Aug 18, 2009
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Registered: Jun 27, 2003
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 8
Review Date: Apr 8, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Optical Quality, Build Quality, Optical Stabilser, Strurdy Tripod Ring, , Price (IF you can still find one!!)
As some of the other reviews; AF speed is a little slow - but put up with this and reep the rewards.

I was looking for a long range telephoto zoom, and initially after the Canon 100~400 USM. But with the prices escalating daily from January onwards has seen this lens price jump from around the high 900's to near enough 1,300. Also against the Canon is it's push-pull zoom design, which I do not like using, and much prefer the Sigma's zoom function. So a month ago started looking at the Sigma, Tokina and Tamron equivelents. After exhaustive research looking through all the reviews and tests I could find I decided to take a chance on the Sigma. In the UK there were a half dozen outlets that had this lens as discontinued stock, and I secured one 2 weeks ago. My test shots on a tripod were excellent right thru the zoom range. On a monopod they were almost as good, but some were not quite sharp due to camera shake. Handheld with the OS system on, I was able to get reasonably sharp images right down to 125th second at 300+ zoom. The lens is very well made - like a tank, and I probably will use it most on a tripod / monopod for wildlfe & birds. Sigma currently have an extended warranty to 3 years on all 'EX' lenses, which adds to the overall value of this lens. SO - if you can find one it is worth the investment at this price. Top quality lens!!

Apr 8, 2009
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Registered: Nov 28, 2008
Location: Germany
Posts: 306
Review Date: Dec 18, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Build Quality, OS, Tripod Ring, Range, Optical Quality, Price (especially used), Black Color, Neck Strap attaches to Tripod Ring
For the price none! (nit picking: could focus a bit faster, needs expensive 82mm Filters)

I was looking for a long range telephoto lens for landscape and some zoo photography. I previously owned the Canon 70-200mm/2.8 L which I sold because it was too heavy for me. The Sigma 100-300mm/4.0 EX HSM I tried was very impressive, but I didn't need an f4 lens that is only 100mm longer and weights about the same as my old 70-200 did and it had only 100mm more reach. So the next lens on the List was the Canon 100-400mm, but I quickly learned that even used it doesn't sell under 900. Then I came across an offer at my camera shop of the Sigma 80-400mm. It had OS, covers more range than the previous lenses and costs less then half on the used marked.

I bought it and am very happy with the results I am getting. Sharpness is very good on my Canon 5D Mark II from 80mm at f5 to 400mm at f8. Wide open performance is not that impressive, but still more than just usable in my opinion. The OS works very well too, I like it alot although I prefer using a monopod (zoo) or tripod (landscape) to get the weight off my shoulders and be able to use MLU. Talking about Tripod - the tripod ring is very nice, it has more clearance between the foot and the lensbarel than the Canon ones. I like it. The lenshood is also well constructed and feels solid, much unlike the hood on my Canon 70-200mm/2.8 L. I highly recommend this lens if you are on a budget and are willing to stop down for maximum sharpness. If you have more money you might go with the Canon 100-400, it is said to focus faster, but also to suck in dust due to the push pull design (the sigma has a twist zoom).

Sigma stopped producing the lens some time ago, chances are that you can find a used on in good condition for little money. This is the best bank for the buck since the Canon 50mm/1.8 II. At least for my uses Smile

Dec 18, 2008
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Registered: Jan 31, 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 17
Review Date: Mar 16, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $700.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, well built, solid, very good value for the price (a steal if bought use).
Kind of slow AF (i have no problem with it!), zoom (my copy) is stiff between 80-150mm. A bit heavy but expected for such a glass.

Almost (i'm afraid to say only "AS") as sharp at 400mm as my friend Canon 400 f/5.6 prime ( i use this one often), and that says a lot. Now, if my copy is a good one, that i don't know. OS work perfectly, as good (or better???) as any IS.

Here is a shot at 400mm, handheld! Grey sky, late.

If the AF was HSM and i didn't have that stiffness is the zoom ring, i would give it a 10. I have borrowed Canon 100-400 for a week, i found that it was way to soft at 400.

Mar 16, 2008
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Winston Rockwe
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Registered: Jun 2, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 9
Review Date: Jun 7, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $979.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Price, build quality, optical quality
weight, AF speed

i bought this lens a bit over a year ago for my then-new 30D. i considered the Canon 100-400 "L", as well as the Tokina 80-400, and also the Sigma EX 50-500, but settled on this one because it was much cheaper than the Canon, and had OS which the other two did not. i now find that it is the most-used lens i have, and is mounted on my 30D 90% of the time.

i've heard the comments that it's too slow, but no one i've talked to can tell me how much slower it is than the Canon 100-400 L. what i have observed in using it for wildlife, birds in flight, etc., is that it focuses as fast as i need it to. if i'm worried that it may not lock on quickly enough, i simply give the focus ring a twist in the right direction, and the focus lock is almost instant. the AF mechanism makes a bit of noise, but it's negligible, and certainly not a problem in any setting i have used it in.

the OS is superb! i routinely use this lens handheld at 400mm for shutter speeds down to 1/125, and have even gotten good shots at 1/80 or 1/60, though that's pushing it a bit. the OS works so well, you can actually see it kick in when you half press the shutter... the image actually stabilizes and becomes rock solid before your eyes.

build quality is excellent. the lens is solid, with no rattles and none of the cheap, "plastic" feel of many lesser lenses. i also like the soft, satin-matte finish. the zoom is smooth, if a bit slower than the "trombone" style of the Canon, and manual focus has a nice feel, though it seems just a bit touchy for my eyes.

optical quality is where this lens really shines. it is sharp, contrasty, and with good clarity and color rendition. it can be a bit soft in the corners wide open, but one or two stops down and it's plenty sharp. i would put the image quality this lens produces up against the Canon "L" lens any day. and for $350 less than the Canon, at that! after all, image quality is what it's all about... and this lens, handheld at 350mm, 1/250 @ f5.6, got me a shot that was published in National Geographic. that says it all, as far as image quality is concerned.

for anyone looking for a top-quality, well built, stabilized lens in this focal range, i would highly recommend this lens, if you can find one. they are hard to come by, but worth the search!

Jun 7, 2007
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Registered: Jan 22, 2006
Location: Ireland
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jun 4, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $980.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: PRICE PRICE PRICE! Colour, Hood, Balance, Ring zoom (not a sucker), EX glass is good, Solid feel :)
The paint/covering tends to peal. Heavy but you get used to it. Focus suppose.

Many things have been mentioned so far about this lens so I'll stick to the bullet format.

The good
> Price: It was WAY cheaper than the Canon
> Colour: Its not a "Hello, I'm over here" colour.
> Hood: It includes one like every good lens should.
> Balance: Its heavy but its all tipping at the right ends.
> Ring zoom: It does not suck any dust in. Like its geared, fast.
> EX Glass: Have to say, used a range of lenses. This EX glass does make a difference.
> Solid: Like a Russian tank. Its simply tough!

The bad
> Paint: It peals. Be gentle and bag it each time. I've had to treat the surface of part of my lens to retain it's "looks".
> Weight: Its heavy. If you have a bad left arm/hand then get a small, lighter lens. 200mm of less. This is a meaty lens but I loved it after a few shoots and I miss the weight now when I have a smaller lens on.
> Focus: It does hunt. But you always need to be ready if you ask me. The focus can take a second to get there but its all worth it IMO. The ring focus allows you to force the focus to the other end with speed.

Summary: I love this lens. Go get it, save the bobs for more lenses and yes, the Canon is good to but you have to ask yourself, is it worth the extra bobs? Many people have even said that the Sigma is better. I'm not sure, they are about the same IMO. For me, it was down to the bobs. Enjoy.

Jun 4, 2007
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Brian Stickle
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Registered: May 16, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: May 16, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Superb image quality. Build quality . OS is excellent, as good as Canon version (on the 100-400 F3.5-5.6L IS USM). Price
Slow noisy AF. Hunts. Interestingly the canon gave me about 1/2 stop faster shutter speeds for same settings, apertures etc, and light. Zoom ring is stiff when new but eases off.

Got this lens instead of the Canon 100-400 F3.5-5.6L IS USM in an attempt to save about 300. Image quality does not disappoint, sharp even at 400mm and beautifully contrasty accross the range. Slightly soft at max apertures but come anout 1 1/2 - 2 stops and as sharp s you need. The OS is fantastic. I disagree that it's inferior to Canons. Handhold 400mm (over 600 on a 1.6 crop factor body) at 1/100 or occasionally even less. Very good indeed.

However - the AF lets it down - not only slow but occasionally hunts badly in poor light. You can assist it with the manual focus ring which really works but I never got consistently good at it and the focusing remained a pain

I got the above mentioned Canon eventually. Similar - maybe slightly better IQ but the AF is miles better. Much more useable lens all round because of it.

But if you don't mind the AF or are adept at the manual focus assist method it's as good as the Canon and significantly cheaper.

May 16, 2007
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Registered: Oct 10, 2004
Location: Brazil
Posts: 782
Review Date: Apr 10, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp
Heavy, slow AF

I've had this lens (new) for a few months now, using it with a Canon 5D. The AF is on the slow side - it's not a sports lens, as someone already remarked. You can hear the AF, but the noise doesn't bother me. In low light or when using a TC, it's better to use MF, or at least touch up the AF manually, which you can do without switching modes. The OS works fine for me. I have OS on two (shorter) Canon lenses, and feel they may be better, but it could just be that the longer lens is harder to stabilize, which would be no surprise. It's heavy, but solid, and I've had no functional issues with it so far. With proper technique you can get very sharp images with this lens. As with all long lenses, DOF is limited - also no surprise.

Apr 10, 2007
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Registered: Jan 20, 2006
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 9
Review Date: Dec 11, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharp, MF possible in AF position, optical stabilizer
heavy, slow AF (but you can help)

Slow AF is a major complaint. However you can use MF when in AF mode (and there are not many zoom lenses with that feature!), so: first give the focus ring a twist in the right direction (f.e. close or far away) and then let AF take over. No more 'hunting'!
I have the lense one year now, and it still surprises me. But you have to know its limitations. Sharpness at 400 mm is acceptable at 5.6, and sharpness increases significantly stopping down - and it's already very good at 6.7! So I don't understand the complaints about softness - they do something wrong or they have a bad copy.
It's heavy so don't carry it hanging from your neck - it's gonna hurt after a while. I carry it with the strap diagonally, i.e. stick your head and left arm through the strap and carry it on your left side with the strap resting on your right shoulder. Hikes of 10 miles were no problem anymore.

Dec 11, 2006
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Registered: Sep 4, 2006
Location: Greece
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 19, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Image Stabilizer, Picture Quality, Build quality
Slow autofocus, shutter stutter

I have had this lens for a few months now. Did several sessions with it, including sports and wildlife.

This is not a sports lens. It suffers terribly in low light conditions. The OS is useless in sports (action photography). You need much faster speeds for the subject than what needed for stable picture. 2 extra stops would be nice (400/2.8). But this is not such a lens...

In wildlife photography, during a sunny morning-noon, this lens excells.

Despite other people comments, I found the lens to have excellent clarity at all focal lengths. Even wide open at 5.6.

Using a 2x Sigma Teleconverter reduces clarity and contrast, however stopped down 3 stops goes back to workable.

The Image Stabiliser (OS) works wonders. Hand held down to 1/60 or 1/125 produces crisp pictures (with some training). The AF speed is terrible. Don't believe what people say about it being slow. It is much worse than that. At least on the Canon 350D.
However, with such a focal length and such a small DOF, I found that my camera would focus arbitrarily on "interesting" artifacts but not my subject. I am already using this lens in MF, which I find rewarding. AF speed is now much faster and focusing is much more accurate.

(Note though that I am a AF novice. I was still taking pictures with an ageing Canon A1 and manual focus lenses until 5 months ago).

The weight of the lens is bearable if you are strong. Combined with a monopod, provides a pleasantly stable lens.

In summary, this is a good lens provided it is used for what it is meant for.
Wildlife, nature and in abundance of light.

Nov 19, 2006
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Registered: Jun 23, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 2
Review Date: Oct 30, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: $925.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: Sigma build quality (good but heavy); zoom range; price compared with Canon lenses
Autofocus noisy and slow; image stabilization not nearly as good as Canon's; poor performance not worth the price

I bought this for use with my Rebel XT despite some history of compatibility problems between the two. The lens seemed to work just fine with my camera, but I didn't care for the combination at all. The sound of the autofocus was really annoying, I didn't like the softness of the images it produced and I lost some critical shots to "Err 99" messages.

The image stabilization is not nearly as good as Canon's and the lens requires extremely good lighting to turn out good hand-held shots. A faster lens would be much more useful than Sigma's inferior optical stabilization.

After turning out a variety of uniformly soft and quite a lot f blurry images, I've returned the lens in exchange for the Canon EF100-400L. Much better image stabilization makes it worth the extra price--I wish Canon would nix the white body of the "L" lenses though.

Oct 30, 2006
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Registered: Oct 14, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 805
Review Date: Sep 21, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: GREAT lens at this price! Build quality is super! Looking for a Wildlife lens and don't have a wad to spend...look no further!!
Heavy and a bit slow to focus as it doesn't have HSM.

Ok 1st we cut to the's not a Canon 100-400mm L lens! Probably a lil sharper lens. Both are f4.5-5.6.
But then again not all of us have wad to spend on glass (Used $1100+) (new $1400)
Watch FM's Forsale/Trade forum they can be had for $600-$700 Like's where I got mine!
They are $1000 New and still worth the $$!!
Yes I have the EX DG APO OS Version.
Now that I got that out of the way. Smile

If your looking for a Wildlife lens (Esp for Birds) this is a excellent choice! Now mind you it doesn't have the HSM for focus so it's slow esp in low light. BUT I have great success with it in MF mode.
BTW: This the only lens I know of on the market that allows you to use the MF while in AF mode.

The OS (Optical Stabilizer) is SUPER!! I take all my Bird shots at full 400mm HAND HELD! Yes it's that good!!!!
You MUST consider this if your looking at a Tokina 80-400mm or any other lens in this $$ range and similar focal length as I did.
This is the ONLY Sigma lens with this feature so far.

Also even tho it's not a macro lens I have take some super nice frame filling flower shots with it!
Ok it's heavy/long to lug at 3.5lbs and 14in extended with hood. BUT what lens at 400mm isn't a bazooka?

I don't think I'd goof with a non DG version. I think the DG version being designed esp for Digital Cameras has better optical coatings for a sharper image?
No this lens is not a plastic's built like a tank and defiantly quality!

Bottom line
If you want a ultra sharp fast focus lens and have the $$$$ get a Canon 100-400 L.
If you can't stand to lug a few pounds around and want something of manageable size get a Tokina 80-400mm.
(Not made as well but might be better for you?)
If you can stand to lug a lil weight and wanna hand hold those long shots....and get a quality lens for the $$$ this lens is a must have for you.

Here is a flower shot I took hand held in low light!

If you go here and look at my Bird/Animal shots( page 3 and on)...all of em were taken with this lens!

Sep 21, 2006
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Registered: Dec 2, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 114
Review Date: Sep 11, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Relatively inexpensive
Not sharp enough, very slow autofocus

At 400mm, even stopped down, this lens is not as sharp as it should be. Images are just barely passable. The wide end of this lens is outstanding, but this is not what you buy a long telephoto for.

The autofocus sounds and performs like a first generation system, it is buzzy and slow.

I've looked at this lens and the Canon 100-400 and 400 5.6; do yourself a favor and opt for the Canon 400 5.6.

This lens is disappointing.

Sep 11, 2006
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Registered: Apr 19, 2005
Location: N/A
Posts: 1
Review Date: Jul 18, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 5 

Pros: Well built, VR or OS works very well. Has the wide range I need. I like being able to manually overide the auto focus without any problem.
lack of sharpness, too slow for sports in general.

he lens had to go back to Sigma as soon as I tested it out due to lack of sharpness over a wide range of situations and f/stops, zoom ranges, etc. The supposedly fixed the problem by changing the OS system. I don't know what the heck THAT has to do with image softness! But is the Nikkor 80-400 any better?? It is a lens you have to learn HOW to use properly. I AM getting better images after practice. But is really is NOT a real "sharp" lens. But is was all I could AFFORD! I think I shoujld have bought the 80-400 Nikkor. I donno.... I use a Nikon D-200. No mods were needed to have the Sigma operate perfectly with the D-200. Sigma has fixed that problem as soon as the D-200 came out. I CAN and will have to manually focus fast sports shots. I will have to adapt.

Jul 18, 2006
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Sigma 80-400mm F4.5-5.6 EX OS APO

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
41 252663 Feb 12, 2011
Recommended By Average Price
93% of reviewers $919.85
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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