Lens Guides

First Look: Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS | Contemporary Ultra Telephoto Zoom lens

Announced today, the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS | Contemporary is the fifth full-frame mirrorless-exclusive lens in the Sigma lineup and the first ultra telephoto zoom from Sigma specifically for mirrorless systems. Offered in Sony E-Mount and L-Mount variants, this lens is a completely new design specifically created for these two popular short-flange mirrorless formats.

I was able to spend a morning with an early production sample prior to release, and paired the lens with a Sony A7 III for this quick, first-look rundown. Cutting right to the chase, I am very impressed with this lens and I have the feeling a ton of E-mount and L-mount photographers are going to be as well! Tracking autofocus is blazingly fast and accurate, and the lens is sharp, sharp, sharp across the entire focal plane at all apertures — precisely what you want most in a long-reach lens. I’m a big fan of the original DSLR version of this lens as you can read here; but this new mirrorless-exclusive design takes it to another level. The new optical configuration delivers impressive edge-to-edge sharpness, and the stepping motor just nails it in tracking AF even with smaller subjects in motion within the frame.

The Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS | Contemporary is designed exclusively for mirrorless full-frame cameras in Sony E-Mount and L-Mount. Here, a mockingbird sings on an evergreen branch as seen through the Sony A7 III at 400mm. This lens is SHARP! 1/1000 F7.1 ISO 800. Photo by Jack Howard.

As a Contemporary lens, it is designed for performance and portability, and it feels really good in the hands — sized just right for the smaller full-frame bodies that mirrorless design makes possible, while offering long reach and creative versatility thanks to the 4x zoom range. The push-pull and twist-to-zoom action are both well damped, and the manual focus ring feels responsive as well; although in all honesty, I was so impressed with the autofocus speed and accuracy in Continuous AF I rarely felt the need to switch to MF in my short time with the lens. And of course, the 3-zone focus limiter switch helps make the AF response even more zippy when set to shorter focus throws for near or far focus ranges.

Autofocus speed on this lens is very impressive. I was able to track flying gulls against busy backgrounds with an amazing keeper rate. 1/3200 F7.1 ISO 800. Photo by Jack Howard.
100% pixel view of previous frame showing focal plane sharpness. Photo by Jack Howard.

The lens is weather-sealed at the mount, and the barrel incorporates magnesium and thermally stable composite, for both strength and portability. The optional tripod collar TS-111 is sure to please many photographers who felt this was lacking in the DSLR version, as well.

Juvenile Herring Gull in flight. The AF performance on the 100-400mm DG DN is fantastic! 1/2500 F7.1 ISO 800 at 400mm. Photo by Jack Howard.
Fisherman, Sandy Hook Bay, and the New York City Skyline at 100mm. 1/400 F7.1 ISO 64. Photo by Jack Howard.
Scene recomposed at 400mm. 1/320 F7.1 ISO 64. Photo by Jack Howard.

Photographers familiar with the DSLR version of this lens will easily recognize this lens as very similar overall in the hands, but there are several differences between the two that make it obvious the DG DN is a completely new design for mirrorless.

  • The DG DN has stepping motor optimized for mirrorless focusing systems
  • The DG DN has sharper edge-to-edge performance at all focal lengths.
  • The DG DN has an optional Tripod Collar available for $130. The DG DN ships with a removable collar protector that covers the collar mount points.
  • The DG DN has a programmable AFL button allows for focus lock/other operations.
  • The DG DN does not have a focal distance window.
  • The lens name location is different between the two versions.
Both the focal plane sharpness and the bokeh/off-focal plane rendering of this lens are quite nice! 1/2500 F7.1 ISO 800. Photo by Jack Howard.

And for L-Mount photographers, there’s even more excellent news. Sigma has just announced a 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverter for the L-Mount system that allow for full autofocus at all apertures and focal lengths. This offers huge AF reach at 800mm in an incredibly compact package! And the optional L-Mount USB Dock allows for manual focus sensitivity and response adjustment.

Vertical crop of a horizontal image at 400mm. This piping plover chick was scampering around the sand inside the fenced off area to protect their nesting area. The 100-400mm DG DN and A7 III were able to track and keep continuous focus even in this low-contrast situation quite nicely. 1/2000 F7.1 ISO 800. Photo by Jack Howard.

You can read the press release here for the full technical details.

And you can watch a replay of our Product Announcement here!

In addition, we’ve sent samples out to some of our ambassadors, so stay tuned for full team coverage in the coming weeks!

Foxes frolic at 400mm as seen through the Sony A7R IV as captured by Aya Iwasaki. 1/1250 F6.3 ISO 320
Profile of a fox at 400mm as seen through the Sony A7R IV as captured by Aya Iwasaki. 1/1250 F6.3 ISO 320
Eagle taking flight at 400mm as seen through the Sony A7R IV as captured by Aya Iwasaki. 1/1250 F6.3 ISO 500
A squirrel in the woods 400mm as seen through the Sony A7R IV as captured by Aya Iwasaki. 1/200 F6.3 ISO 1600
Moon, mountain and farmland as seen through the Sony A7R IV as captured by Aya Iwasaki at 250mm. .06 sec F9 ISO 100
The Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS | C has 1:4.1 magnification at 1.6m at 400mm for close-up work. When paired with the new 2.0 Teleconverter, it offers 1:2 magnification at 800mm with full autofocus functionality! Sigma fp and 100-400mm DG DN at 1/1250 f6.3 at ISO 100. Photo by Noriko Yamaguchi.
A great blue heron catches a meal at 759mm with the 100-400mm DG DN and new 2.0x 2011 teleconverter paired with the Sigma fp as captured by Noriko Yamaguchi. 1/320 F16 ISO 400.

I’ve included photos I shot with this lens paired with a Sony A7III  in JPG format with minimal processing (sensor dust cleanup, some mild global toning); and sample shots provided by the Sigma Global team in Japan to give a sampling of the performance and sharpness of this lens on both Sony and L-mount cameras. Please read the photo captions for technical specs and photo credits.

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