Join ePHOTOzine, the friendliest photography community.
Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more for free!
This telephoto zoom from Sigma costs around £800 and is fairly unique in its zoom range and aperture, being 100mm longer than most popular 70-200mm lenses, but with a brighter maximum aperture than popular 70-300mm lenses.
Sigma 100-300mm f/4 EX DG IF HSM: Handling and features
Weighing in at 1440g and being 227mm long, this lens is similar in size to a typical 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. In fact the 100-300mm and f/4 aperture means it has roughly the same specification as a 70-200mm with a 1.4x teleconverter welded to the back. As this lens is also compatible with Sigma's own 1.4x converter, which would effectively make this lens a 140-420mm f/5.6, it gives the user the scope of having a very flexible kit suitable for wildlife, without having to resort to a resolution-robbing 2x converter.
Sigma's powder coated finish gives the lens a quality feel, although the matt surface can sometimes show up marks quicker than I would like. The zoom ring is located just in front of the removable tripod collar, which is quite close to the centre of gravity when a camera body is attached. I find the lens balanced perfectly on my Nikon D700 with MB-D10 grip attached. The zoom mechanism is nicely damped, offering up just enough resistance to stop zoom creep and still allow for very fine adjustments.
A very wide focusing ring is located towards the front of the lens barrel. As this lens uses Sigma's Hyper Sonic focusing motor, manual adjustments can be made at any time. Just grab the focusing ring and give it a twist.
The lens accepts massive 82mm filters, which may become costly, especially if you're after a polariser. I managed to get a Cokin P Series adapter on the front without any issues, and as the filed of view is quite narrow, there was no vignetting to speak of. A deep petal-shaped hood and padded lens case are supplied as standard with the lens.
Overall, I really enjoyed using this lens. The combination of great build quality with well-designed controls makes the lens a joy to use in the field.
Sigma 100-300mm f/4 EX DG IF HSM: Performance
For this review, the lens was tested on a 12Mp Nikon D700 using Imatest.
At 100mm and f/4, the lens performance across the frame is good, although on the copy provided for testing, the resolution drops in the very centre of the frame. Whether this is a quirk of the optical design, or an issue with the sample provided, I could not say without testing another copy of the lens. At this setting the resolution towards the edges of the frame is very good indeed. As with most lenses, stopping down improves the overall sharpness. Peak performance for this focal length is at f/11. Where the sharpness is excellent from corner to corner. At smaller apertures, diffraction starts to reduce the resolution, but it is still very good at f/22.
Zooming in to 200mm improves the performance in the centre of the image so that it pretty much matches that found towards the edges of the frame. At f/4 the performance across the frame is good, and peak performance is still at f/11, where it still performs excellently across the frame.
At 300mm the resolution drops off a little at all apertures, but the lens still performs well in the centre at f/4. Peak performance across the frame has now move to f/16.
|Resolution at 100mm|
|Resolution at 200mm|
|Resolution at 300mm|
Sigma proudly mark this lens as apochromatic, so I should expect nothing but the best when it comes to control of colour aberrations. At 100mm, this is definitely the case. Imatest records fringing of just over a quarter of a pixel-width, which will not be visible in normal shooting conditions.
Zooming the lens to 200mm causes the amount of colour aberrations to rise quite sharply, but they are still within acceptable levels of just over 0.6 pixel widths. From here the level of CA remains pretty much constant, only increasing slightly at 300mm, but sill within acceptable levels.
|Chromatic aberration at 100mm|
|Chromatic aberration at 200mm|
|Chromatic aberration at 300mm|
Falloff in illumination towards the corners is well-controlled at 100mm. At maximum aperture the corners are only 0.9 stops darker than the image centre. By 300mm, falloff has increased slightly but is still well within acceptable levels for normal photography being only 1.1 stops darker than the image centre. Throughout the zoom range, stopping down to f/5.6 gives pretty even illumination across the frame.
Distortion is well controlled at 100mm with Imatest only registering 1.89% barrel distortion. At 300mm, fairly noticeable pincushion distortion is present, with Imatest recording 1.89% pincushion.
Strong point sources of light inthe frame cause very little flare at all, although I found the lens does suffer with a fairly severe loss of contrast in contra light situations. Light sources outside of the frame will also cause loss of contrast, but this can be remedied by using the supplied petal-shaped hood, which does an excellent job of keeping unwanted light off the front element.
Sigma 100-300mm f/4 EX DG IF HSM: Verdict
This unusual lens is an excellent performer overall. It is capable of producing images with great clarity and the build quality is good enough to take a fair bit of use and abuse.
Sigma 100-300mm f/4 EX DG IF HSM: Pros
Good resolution throughout zoom range
Good build quality
Sigma 100-300mm f/4 EX DG IF HSM: Cons
Loss of contrast when shooting into the light
82mm filter size
Sigma 100-300mm f/4 EX DG IF HSM: Lens specification
|Construction||16 elements in 14 groups|
|Angle-of-view||24.4 - 8.2°|
|35mm equivalent focal length||150-450mm|
|In the box||Lens hood, padded case|
The Sigma 100-300mm f/4 EX DG IF HSM costs around £800 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Sigma 100-300mm f/4 EX DG IF HSM Nikon fit
Sigma 100-300mm f/4 EX DG IF HSM Canon fit
Sigma 100-300mm f/4 EX DG IF HSM Sigma fit
Sigma 100-300mm f/4 EX DG IF HSM Pentax fit
Sigma 100-300mm f/4 EX DG IF HSM Sony/Minolta fit