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12-10-2007, 10:53 PM   #1
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Sigma 400mm APO f5.6 (72)?

Is this an 'oldie but goldie' or an 'avoid like the plague' lens? I'm about to get a Sigma 1.4 APO TC anyways so perhaps this lens would be a good match with it. It would give a good reach relatively cheap, although it would be a rather slow combination (a tripod would have to be on the shopping list next I suppose). Without the TC it should be possible to get decent shots handheld too, especially with Pentax SR?

The other thing that I worry about is the KEH-ranking that it has, i.e. 'bargain'. I have no experience buying from KEH so I don't really know what to expect. In case I don't like the condition of the lens I would have to ship the thing back across the pond...not good. So should I wait for one in EX condition? How often do these turn up at KEH and other places?

Thanks for any input,
Boucicaut

12-10-2007, 11:41 PM   #2
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I am not sure how much you are ready to pay for the Sigma, but a Pentax 400/5.6 runs in the $300 - 350 range, when they come up for sale. I am partial to Pentax lenses. I have not had terrific luck with Sigmas, and I like all my lenses to have the same colour cast, so I buy only SMC Pentax glass. Even my loupe is Pentax - but I don't think it is SMC.
12-11-2007, 02:03 AM   #3
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Sigma 400mm APO with the 72mm filter front (if my memory is holding) is an excellent lens. Even the non-APO version is still decent. I have the MF version of this lens and have no complaints for what I paid for it in basically new condition.
12-11-2007, 02:53 AM   #4
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I have the MF non-APO version of the Sigma 400mm f/5.6 and I'm pretty pleased with it.

Here's my lens


and a sample image shot with the K100D hand held


12-11-2007, 03:28 AM   #5
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KEH is a very reliable source for used equipment. They tend to underrate their gear. A bargain lens should be fine. You will probably scratch your head and wonder why it was rared as bargain.

As to the lens itself. Per the SPLOSdb, http://www.jcolwell.ca/_SPLOSdb/SPLOSdb-2004-09-31.pdf
there apparently are 3 versions of the lens. A KAF mount, an KA mount and a K mount. The KAF and KA lenses are reated very highly, the K mount is rated very poorly.

I checked the lens out on KEH, but could not tell from the picture or info which it is. It probably is worth an email to find out.
12-11-2007, 04:09 AM   #6
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I've heard that macro version with 77mm thread is the one to look for. Non-macro 400s are not so highly rated.
12-11-2007, 05:14 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by skaktuss Quote
I've heard that macro version with 77mm thread is the one to look for. Non-macro 400s are not so highly rated.
You know, you are right. I should have looked at the data a bit more closely. The 72mm thread version is the non macro K mount. This is the version that is rated poorly. At US$275, I don't think this lens is worth it.
12-11-2007, 05:52 AM   #8
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You mentioned that you are going to get the 1.4x APO TC, and want to match it to a long lens.

You need to be careful, as an F5.6 prime may not be fast enough to use with a TC and retain autofocus.

I might be able to "simulate" this by stacking my 1.4x TC and my 2x SIgma TCs on my 70-200mm f/2.8, BUT I already know that none of my pentax AF bodies (PZ-1, *istD, and K10D) autofocus with my 400mm f/5.6 and my 1.7x AF TC.

Given you are only 1/2 stop faster, even if it works, you would probably be severely limited to very bright lighting.

Additionally, although mathematically 400/72 is f/5.5 that assumes that the lens actually uses 100% of the front filter diameter for the element. You will find, if you can get an old test result, the lens is actually a little slower than f/5.6 although within the limits of any standard. You would be better, especially considering you want to use a TC on the lens to get a lens with 77mm filter, as it will be a little faster, and maybe just work in AF with your TC

12-11-2007, 06:48 AM   #9
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Good info again, thanks

Thanks guys. The lens got a mixed review here with some people recommending it and others not so much. Looks like I'll skip this one, but a copy in better condition (i.e. less of a risk) might still interest me if the price is right. I'll keep my eyes open for the 77mm diameter apo macro version and the Pentax 400mm.

Lowell Goudge: Yes, I am aware that autofocus would probably not work, especially with the TC. However, at least the KEF copy was manual focus so nothing would have been lost there BTW: I see you hail from Toronto. We lived in Toronto for two years pretty recently, came back to Finland in fall 2005. We certainly enjoyed Toronto, it is a very nice city indeed although we prefer to live in the countryside (in early 2008 we'll move to a small town near the arctic circle and the Russian border...pretty remote )

Best regards,
Boucicaut

Last edited by Rorschach; 12-11-2007 at 06:54 AM.
12-11-2007, 07:22 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Boucicaut Quote
We certainly enjoyed Toronto, it is a very nice city indeed although we prefer to live in the countryside (in early 2008 we'll move to a small town near the arctic circle and the Russian border...pretty remote )

Best regards,
Boucicaut
At least in summer you will have 24 hour lighting, but what do you do in winter? Night shots mid day?
12-11-2007, 07:52 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
At least in summer you will have 24 hour lighting, but what do you do in winter? Night shots mid day?
That's the way it is, pretty much. About a third of the year it's still dark when you go to work and again dark when you go home. At mid day it's more like dusk than pitch black darkness though. But the snow helps and I'll probably try to get some moonlight shots of snowy sceneries. In the summer light is abundant so shooting is possible at all times. I'm pretty excited about the possibilities there as I'm a freshwater ecologist and will see plenty of scenic places and bugs of all kinds...the mailman brought me a Voigtlander 125mm f2.5 APO macro this morning so I'm ready for them critters!

Best regards,
Boucicaut
12-11-2007, 04:32 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Boucicaut Quote
That's the way it is, pretty much. About a third of the year it's still dark when you go to work and again dark when you go home. At mid day it's more like dusk than pitch black darkness though. But the snow helps and I'll probably try to get some moonlight shots of snowy sceneries. In the summer light is abundant so shooting is possible at all times. I'm pretty excited about the possibilities there as I'm a freshwater ecologist and will see plenty of scenic places and bugs of all kinds...the mailman brought me a Voigtlander 125mm f2.5 APO macro this morning so I'm ready for them critters!

Best regards,
Boucicaut
I have an on-line friend in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Northern Canada. He has some spectacular images of the Northern lights.
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