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Sigma AF APO Tele Macro 400mm F/5.6 Vintage Lens Review - Performance


Sigma AF APO Tele Macro 400mm f/5.6 Performance

Sigma AF APO Tele Macro 400mm F/5.6 Vintage Lens Review - Performance: Sigma 400mm F5,6 On Sony A350 Front View | 1/6 sec | f/16.0 | 36.0 mm | ISO 100

All the way through the aperture range, sharpness, as measured on the chart, is only fair at best. Keeping to the range of f/5.6 to f/11 will avoid the worst of the further loss of sharpness due to diffraction, but we have a fairly soft lens whichever way we look at it. It needs Unsharp Mask in Photoshop or a similar program to crisp things up and when that is done performance in the field is rather better than performance in the technical lab. There is no glossing over those MTF figures though.


Sigma AF APO Tele Macro 400mm f/5.6 MTF Charts


How to read our MTF charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution and sharpness as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.

For this review, the lens was tested on Sony A350 using Imatest. Want to know more about how we review lenses?


CA (Chromatic Aberration) is commendably low, especially for a film-era lens. Clearly, the APO designation does mean something and colour fringing is not generally visible in the real world images.


Sigma AF APO Tele Macro 400mm f/5.6 Chromatic Aberration Charts



How to read our CA charts

Chromatic aberration (CA) is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on Sony A350 using Imatest.


Distortion is measurable at +0.44% pincushion, another commendable result.

Bokeh is expected to be smooth with longer lenses and this is no exception. It is easy to throw backgrounds out of focus and even busy ones look very effective.

Flare is extremely well controlled, which is especially creditable for a lens of this vintage. The lens takes into its stride even the most severe lighting conditions, with virtually no evidence of any loss of contrast.

Vignetting is only just over one-third of a stop over the entire range of apertures, a really outstanding result.


Aperture Vignetting
f/5.6 -0.4
f/8 -0.4
f/11 -0.4
f/16 -0.4
f/22 -0.4
f/32 -0.4



Sigma AF APO Tele Macro 400mm f/5.6 Sample Photos


Sigma AF APO Tele Macro 400mm f/5.6 Aperture range


You can view additional images in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

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30 Mar 2022 12:17PM
Great review.

One wonders how much of this is down to spotty aging of some Sigma lenses around this time, particularly at a time of such technological change (internal focus, different ways to go about AF). This would effect even pristine copies like the one you've tested.

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AlanRF 1
5 Apr 2022 9:05AM
Yours seems a very soft copy. I had one with Canon fit and it was sharper than my Canon EF 400mm f/5.6, and measured it to be sharper too. Two problems with it in general. For Canon, earlier versions would work only at f/5.6, and the black colouring would become sticky. A pity Sigma never brought out a newer version but I suppose they decided more sales with a 100-400 zoom.
3 Jul 2022 11:29PM
Yes, the quality varies since time affects the lens, and there are several versions of this same lens. I bought one from eBay. The lens is currently used by me with Sony a77 (APS-size). That makes 600mm. The sharpest aperture for APS-cameras matches this test and it is clearly f11 (two stops down). The copy of mine is near mint and quite sharp as described by The color balance is warm and vivid - not cold blue like Tokina AT-X f5.6 400mm. The autofocus is slow and very often hunts. NOTE: At first I used the lens with Sony a450 and the autofocus was always correct. Then I tried to use it with my Sony a65, but the images were a bit blur all the time since the lens always backfocused (the focus too back). Then I paired the lens with Sony a77 which allows the fine tuning of the autofocus mechanism. The correct adjustment of autofocus was (-3) to eliminate the backfocusing. After that the lens made a good use with Sony a77. Then I ordered another copy from this same lens. It was a great disappointment: it was much more worn out, the coating of the lens barrel peeled off at least some places and the autofocus was even more unshure. It never produced sharp pictures. The lens was immediately returned by me and the seller indirectly informed that the focusing problems also existed during the previous ownership.

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