sigma 120-400

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by mood, Aug 31, 2008.

  1. mood


    Jun 27, 2007
    suburbia, ny
    anybody used this lens yet ?

    any remarks/ examples would be appreciated
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 2, 2008
  2. mood


    Jun 27, 2007
    suburbia, ny
    nobody ???
  3. johnmh


    Nov 21, 2007
    Greater NYC
    Can't comment directly - got the 150-500 instead - tired of waiting for an AF-S 80-400 from Nikon. Was looking for a lighter smaller 'carry' long lens for backcountry treks. The 150-500 is f/5-6.3 and larger than the 120-400 - costs slightly more as well.

    I got this lens for a specific reason - I wanted a lighter long zoom in my 'carry kit' - trying to limit what I was lugging around. In the past I'd carried a half dozen lenses and wanted to cut down on this trip.

    Debated which Sigma for a bit and decided to go for the longer one. Just back from a trip to Rocky Mountain NP and it got a workout. Good time for wildlife there and I used this lens quite a bit. Generally pleased with it - you get what you pay for. IQ may not be quite at the Nikon level but it is cheaper by a third, has OS (VR) and is faster focusing than the Nikon 80-400. I found that it worked fine for wildlife but was still a bit slow focusing for birds in flight - not that I have much experience shooting those, so that may be me.

    Any TC forces this lens into manual focus mode since you're starting at f/5 - Nikon wants at least 5.6 for AF if I recall and even a 1.4 TC adds a full stop. Still, I did try it with a Sigma 1.4 and modified Nikon 2.0. I definitely needed the Katz Eye focusing screen - my eye isn't good enough for manual focusing at those lengths. Initial look at shots confirms that IQ dropped - as expected.

    I've got a 200-400 and that is a great lens BUT after taking that on a trip I found it to be large and heavy - and it took up half my backpack. It was not easy to 'whip out and shoot' and indeed was a bit of a load on hikes. The weight and size of the Sigma let it do what I wanted - it was usable hand-held or on a monopod. I could carry it on hikes - mounted on a D70 along with a 16-85 and (rarely used 70-300) on a D300. My 12-24 got used less often - more from the car for sweeping views.

    I could also use the 150-500 from the car - leaving it on the back seat - for wildlife along roads. Couldn't really maneuver the 200-400 easily in similar situations.

    Ideally, I'd like an AF-S Nikon 80-400 but........... It compliments the 16-85 (which I was happier than expected with) and has reach. If a new version would work with a 1.4 TC I'd be thrilled - but really don't anticipate that.

    So.... as far as your use goes - it depends on what you plan on using it for and what you want to spend.

    The Sigma gives you OS and a focusing motor - the Nikon and Tokina lack one of the two. It's about the same size as the Nikon but larger than the Tokina (have a used one of those and while it's an OK lens in a small package, I prefer having the OS/VR). IMO, you get your money's worth - though I wish they'd spent a bit more and given you a slightly faster lens with better IQ.
  4. mood


    Jun 27, 2007
    suburbia, ny
    thanks John

    yah I would use it for hiking/ wildlife similar to you

    I had the 70-200 and IQ was great, but it was too short
    the 70-300VR I currently use is also short

    I rented the Nikon 80-400, and it was okay, but needs AFS

    I figure for $900, the 120-400 is the same 4.5-5.6 as the Nikon, has HSM, and OS
    the "new" 80-400, whenever it comes will surely be $2k

    I may just give it a try..
  5. nictry


    Sep 5, 2008
    Kent, UK
    Hiya, I received my 120-400 this week and due to the awful weather haven't been able to give it a full testing yet but have been pretty pleased with the results from a few test shots.

    I would say it is a pretty heavy lens though so the OS is useful if nothing else to stop the camera shake that I was experiencing almost straight away :redface:

    Having owned the Nikon 70-300 VR and a fairly swift own and return of a possible faulty (or at least not very sharp) copy of a Tamron 28-300is I think the IQ between 120 and 300 is at least as good and on the test shots at 300mm cropped I feel the Sigma is probably sharper than the both the other lenses.

    At 400mm it still feels pretty sharp although I was in a rush and the shots I have taken (even a quick one mounted on a tripod) were less than perfect but possibly more because of camera shake than any lens issues.

    I have posted a comparison crops at 300mm below for the 3 lenses above and linked to the full size if you want to take a look?

    Sigma @ 300mm Full version here:


    Link to full size:

    Nikon @ 300mm

    View attachment 246511

    Link to original:

    Tamron @ 300mm

    View attachment 246512

    Link to original:

    Sigma @ 300mm 100% crop


    Link to full size:

    Tamron @ 300mm Crop @ 100%

    View attachment 246514

    300mm Nikon 70-300 crop @ 100%

    View attachment 246515

    Here is a quick shot at 400mm

    View attachment 246516

    Link to full size:
  6. All of the images in this gallery were taken with the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8:

    In fact, pretty much all of the images in my baseball and softball galleries from this year are with the Sigma 120-300. Feel free to look around in there.

    It is an excellent lens and I highly recommend it.

    - Wil
  7. mood


    Jun 27, 2007
    suburbia, ny
    the 120-300 2.8 is a whole different can o'beans
    was talking about the new 120-400
  8. mood - What did you decide?

    I'm considering the same lens and can't seem to pull the trigger. I found one online, new, for $780, they accept paypal and I have a 10% paypal coupon. I could get it delivered for about $700. Seems like a great deal.

    I bought the Sigma 18 - 200 lens last week with OS. So far the test shots look good. I took it to a Rugby game and handheld it mounted on a D70s while the D200 was mounted on the tripod. Very impressed. If the 120 - 400 performs that good, as others have mentioned, I might do it. I have until the end of the month to decide.