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01-16-2009, 01:36 PM   #1
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Sigma 120-400mm f/4.5-5.6 DG HSM APO Autofocus Lens

I've been wanting a little more flexibility in a long reach lens and decided to take the plunge on the 'Spawn of Bigma'. The lens arrived today and it looks like i may keep it as I will be leaving for florida in 2 weeks to do some camping/sunning/wandering. I have 14 days to return it and hope to give it a workout in the next few. The lens is well made, focus locks on very quickly and is whisper quiet. It also has focus lock and af/mf switch (no OS in Pentax/Sony incarnation). Color rendition is quite good as well as image quality (though i'm getting mixed results). Sparrows rarely sit still and with the current minus temps here in chicago, i do get the shivers, both of which could be culprits in my image quality issues. From 120mm to 250mm i can get very good IQ shooting handheld indoors between iso200-400 (forget outside until spring). Beyond 250mm I need a sturdy tripod or monopod. I will post a review once I come back from FL, if it gets a thumbs up. In the meantime, heres a size comparison of f*300mm w/1.5TC attached and the 120-400mm plus a two 400mm pics w/crops straight from the camera, no PP.


Last edited by ivoire; 04-18-2009 at 09:24 AM.
01-16-2009, 02:01 PM   #2
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A crop with a touch of PP, shot at 400mm and the beast on the tripod. I tried my Kenko 1.5 TC on this lens and the K20D goes berserk. the Numbers on all the lcds flash or change randomly and the menus immediately turn off after the button is pushed. No auto focus etc registers. This TC/lens combo does not work at all.

Last edited by ivoire; 04-18-2009 at 09:24 AM.
01-16-2009, 03:08 PM   #3
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Looks pretty good to me!
01-16-2009, 10:00 PM   #4
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MMM drooling again looking forward to some more


cheers

01-16-2009, 11:51 PM   #5
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wow I'm getting excited now. Can't wait to see some more user reviews of this one and the 150-500. IQ looks pretty good, just wondering how the 150-500 performs, side by side with the 120-400 at 400 would be nice.
01-17-2009, 04:31 AM   #6
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I'm glad to see good comments about this lens. I've been thinking about it since the older 135-400 got discontinued. I'd like to see a comparison between these two.
Brian

Last edited by calicojack; 03-14-2009 at 04:04 AM.
01-17-2009, 07:52 AM   #7
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I read several reviews prior to buying this lens, some were good, some were bad. The only way to find out if a lens is for you is to get a copy and shoot with it. If you are interested in this lens, I suggest you buy from a seller that has a 2 week return policy. Eating a restocking/shipping fee (consider it as a 2 week rental fee) is much better than the frustration of being stuck with something you dislike. Most of my pics are of birds, shot in bright conditions at around f8 on a tripod/monopod. Vibration/shake is one problem with this longer/heavier lens and the SR in the K20 is a big plus when using it handheld at 120-250mm. Above those lengths I need tripod/monopod support.

Comparisons:
I found my Pentax f*300mm offers excellent IQ but is noisy and slow to focus for birds in flite and the fixed length is too long for birds coming towards me. Also, wildlife often pops up at close range, resulting in missed shots. Pics with this lens and a kenko 1.5tc are about equal in IQ with the 120-400mm.

I had a Sigma APO 400mm Macro manual lens prior to the f*300mm. The 120-400 at 400mm is on par with the IQ from the manual 400mm lens. Manual focus and fixed length resulted in many missed shots.

I'm hoping the Sigma 120-400mm will 'fill' the gaps previously mentioned. The IQ of the 120-400 from 120-250mm very close to that of the f*300mm without the 1.5tc.
01-17-2009, 08:03 AM   #8
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What about HSM, how fast does it focus? How's the noise level?

01-17-2009, 08:29 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
What about HSM, how fast does it focus? How's the noise level?
Focus is quick and whisper quiet. I can barely hear it.

From a review: "The AF is near-silent thanks to the HSM AF motor -- and by the standards of such a long zoom, it's fast-focusing. In field tests, the AF system had no problem latching onto and following approaching cars, bicyclists, even pigeons. We suspect it would do well from gridiron sidelines or at waterside tracking soaring ospreys.

Last edited by ivoire; 01-17-2009 at 08:58 AM.
01-17-2009, 08:57 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by flash1100 Quote
wow I'm getting excited now. Can't wait to see some more user reviews of this one and the 150-500. IQ looks pretty good, just wondering how the 150-500 performs, side by side with the 120-400 at 400 would be nice.
Reviews of the 150-500 indicate better IQ from the Bigma. This review shows the 120-400mm to be a decent performer:

http://www.popphoto.com/cameralenses/5475/sigma-120-400mm-f45-56-dg-os-hsm-lens-test.html

Last edited by ivoire; 01-18-2009 at 12:47 AM.
01-17-2009, 10:13 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by ivoire Quote
This review shows the 120-400mm to be a decent performer:

http://www.popphoto.com/cameralenses...lens-test.html
This review also does some comparison to the 135-400. The 120-400 is better. At 1.5 - 2 X the price, it better be!
Brian
01-17-2009, 11:34 AM   #12
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On the tail end of the Lenses you don't get thread, this is definitely a lens I get. I have a manual Tokina 400mm f/5.6 SD with great IQ, but like Ivoire says, sometimes you need the flexibility of a zoom and the AF can help a lot.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Ivoire!
01-17-2009, 11:42 AM   #13
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testing the lens at f8, 400mm and 300mm. first is the original, 20ftfrom camera, at 400mm; 2nd is 400mm crop; 3rd is a crop shot at 300mm; 4th is crop from shot with f*300mm for comparison. I'm looking forward to using this lens in florida very soon

Last edited by ivoire; 04-18-2009 at 09:24 AM.
01-17-2009, 01:15 PM   #14
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I found a place that has the 150-500 today for 880.oo so I ordered it. It should be here Wed. so If you travel through the Florida Panhandle in the Panama City Beach area stop by and we can compare the 2 lenses first hand.
01-17-2009, 01:51 PM   #15
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popphoto has no IQ data past 250mm on a 150-500mm zoom that is just bad
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