Lens Guides

Team Tests: SIGMA Staff Tries Out the 100-400mm DG DN OS Contemporary

SIGMA Corporation of America is, in many ways, like most small companies here in the U.S. Our sales and accounting department crunches the numbers; our warehouse team lifts, packs, wraps and ships inventory; our marketing folks do their best to move units out the door. And coffee always tends to run out at the most inopportune time.

But while our day-to-day duties might seem pretty typical for an American office, there is one thing that makes us a bit different… almost everyone is a photographer!

No, we’re not all pros. But from the head honcho himself to the team of tech reps visiting your favorite photo dealers nationwide, our staff has a real appreciation for the art and science of photography. So when some samples of the new 100-400mm DG DN OS | Contemporary arrived from Japan this summer, the SIGMA crew jumped at the chance to take our work home with us and shoot with this lightweight telephoto zoom. Here are some of our favorites!

Brian Linhoff — SIGMA Technical Representative

The SIGMA 100-400mm DG DN OS | Contemporary is the lens I have been dreaming about for a while: small for the focal range, lightweight and compact with fast focusing and amazing sharpness. It’s the telephoto lens that always finds its way into your bag!

The focusing speed is great. I was able to capture my favorite subject of late, our new puppy Texas, sprinting around the back yard. Focus tracking was fast and accurate with the Sony A7R III. I was even able to use Sony’s animal eye detection, which worked perfectly.

Of course, the new 100-400mm is available for L-mount, too, along with 1.4x and 2x teleconverters. I was able to use the 1.4x Teleconverter and the 100-400mm — mounted to a Panasonic Lumix S1R — and use autofocus to shoot the moon. I was able to pick out the various craters on the moon with no problem, and the teleconverter did not effect the image quality of the 100-400mm at all.

Aaron Norberg — SIGMA Technical Representative

When out shooting landscapes, longer focal lengths can be very handy in those instances when you want to fill the frame with the details of a smaller or more distant subject. With the size and weight of most lenses that reach beyond 100mm, I often have a difficult time justifying bringing one along unless I know there’s a specific shot I’m after, or I know I’m going to be primarily shooting from the car and won’t have to wander far. With the compact dimensions and light weight of the SIGMA 100-400mm DG DN OS | Contemporary, however, I finally have a super-telephoto lens that I don’t mind hiking with just in case an opportunity for a longer lens presents itself.

The variety of perspectives offered by this range makes a great complement to a wider zoom lens like the 14-24mm DG DN Art, and the image quality it delivers stands up to what I’ve become accustomed to with Art series lenses. With this pair of lenses, I can cover just about any scene I might discover without needing to overload my pack with photo gear.

Marc Farb — SIGMA Technical Representative

As a sports / fast action photographer, the new SIGMA 100-400mm DG DN OS | Contemporary is a tremendous addition to my bag. I have always leaned toward traditional DSLR cameras because focus systems and frame rates were always better than mirrorless cameras in the past, but the new crop of mirrorless cameras have really made strides, and AF systems are just as robust as mirror boxed cameras.

This is a game changer for me. Now I have a smaller, lighter camera and a lens that is optically designed to make it work beyond expectations. Its splash-proof design, new electronics and new optical design make this lens one I can’t live without. It has a great minimum focus distance, it’s light, and the wicked fast focus helps to produce tack sharp images in some of the worst shooting conditions. This should be on the top of your list of next lenses to purchase.

Brett Wells — SIGMA Education Coordinator

I’ve always loved the 100-400mm DG OS HSM | Contemporary. It has been in my camera bag with a DSLR body since it was released. This new SIGMA 100-400mm DG DN OS | Contemporary mounted on a full-frame mirrorless body makes for an even lighter package. The image quality and versatility is incredible. It has been a joy shooting with this lens on my Sony A7R III, as well as the SIGMA fp! I can’t wait to test it out some more and try it with the new L-mount teleconverters, too.

Mike Hill — SIGMA Technical Representative

The new SIGMA 100-400mm DG DN OS | Contemporary lens has changed my thinking when it comes to packing my camera bag. I have always opted to pack a wide angle and prime first, which left very little room for a big telephoto to bring on trips and hikes. This 100-400mm lens fits in my bag like a 70-200 and is so lightweight that it’s easy to shoot with around the city or out in nature.

Since putting this lens on my Sony A7R III, it has become the first lens I pack for a trip. I’ve started to enjoy the practice of trying to compose far away objects, and the optical stabilization works incredibly well while framing your subject.

Jack Howard — SIGMA Public Relations Director

Even as I was writing about the the lens and the teleconverters in pre-release information packages and for my First Look piece, it wasn’t until I first held the L-mount version of the 100-400mm DG DN OS | Contemporary plus the 2x teleconverter in my hands that I fully grasped the full potential of this long-reach, lightweight combination.

This is fully operational autofocus to 800mm that weighs under four pounds when paired with a camera! Compare this to the legendary “Sigmonster”, the 300-800mm F5.6 supertele zoom lens, which weighs in at a whopping 14 pounds.

This is portable supertele reach. This is a truly hand-holdable combination. This allows for long-reach photography in a much more manageable package which can genuinely democratize supertele photography.

True, the maximum aperture at 800mm is F/13, but this is a tradeoff I am more than willing to make with pretty much every L-mount camera currently available — as the high ISO performance of the SIGMA fp and the Panasonic S1R is more than acceptable for a 2 ISO stop drop compared to even the best DSLRs from the mid ’00s when the Sigmonster ruled the long-reach universe. ISO 3200 is the new 800, thanks to significant advances in sensor design and imaging processing.

Without a doubt, this is primarily a daylight/spotlight lens combination; but that it can do this, and that does it for a fraction of the size and weight of the solutions of yesteryear is flat-out amazing.

Nick Vrona — SIGMA Marketing Specialist

For years, I’ve been without an ultra-telephoto lens for my full-frame Sony camera, due to the expense or size of existing options. But once the SIGMA 100-400mm DG DN OS | Contemporary was released, I just had to have it! For a lens with this kind of range, it’s incredibly lightweight and maneuverable, and it feels great mounted on the A7 III… just the right balance in my hands and perfectly comfortable hanging at my hip. Combined with the 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN | Art, I have all I need for virtually any situation, especially outdoors.

And when it comes to image quality, the 100-400mm DG DN is hard to beat. It’s sharp at any focal length (even at 400mm with the excellent OS), and autofocus performance is fast and dead-on accurate. All in all, this 100-400 is the most “fun” lens I’ve ever owned, and well worth the low price of admission.

Brian Matsumoto — SIGMA Technical Representative

The new SIGMA 100-400mm DG DN OS | Contemporary lens has become a fantastic new tool in my camera bag. In the past, I would have never considered a 100-400mm lens for photographing flowers or other close-up work. However, the new 100-400mm DG DN with its ability to reproduce one quarter life-size has changed my thought process in terms of macro work.

The longer working range of the lens and the close focus ability along with great bokeh has allowed me to make some images that I would have never seen with a shorter focal length macro lens. In addition, the light weight of this lens makes it easy to use and carry around. This lens is super sharp, and the only limitations of this lens are my own photographic skills.

Comments (5)
  1. tommaso capelli says:

    Will ever be released a Sony version of the tele converters? I love this lens and I’d really like to go beyond 400mm. I don’t wanto to switch to Sony GM 100-400 to be able to usa teleconverters.

  2. Avatar photo Nick Vrona says:

    Currently, there are no plans for an E-mount teleconverter.

  3. Karl Svehn says:

    Good morning.
    As a new S1R photographer and overall a beginner in photography I have been watching several lens reviews and overgaard, dpreview, granger etcetera are talking about the new generation of lenses resolving ability for higher megapixel cameras.

    For zoom-lenses I have come to understand these often are not as sharp at either end of the zoom range, which is why I wonder if there is some industry standard for determining and differentiate between theoretical and practical sharpness across the zoom range?

    Most recent is the Lumix S 70-300 where dpreview noted that it was rather soft at 300 mm and became sharp first at 240 mm. This looks like a standard deviation in statistics. A generic lens with stated 70-300 range is effectively instead a 90-240 mm lens with degraded quality at the ends.

    As a user I am more interested in effective zoom range where it is crisp all over. A better grading or rating standard for lens manufacturers would be
    1. Practical range ( full sharpness)
    2. Maximum range (degraded sharpness or softness)

    Which is why I am comparing the 100-400 with the 70-300. If your lens is effective 120-350 mm it is still better than the effective range of the Lumix, regardless of F-stop.

    Best regards from the jungle of words

  4. Errol Douwes says:

    Hi. I’ve heard that autofocus won’t work if I couple a Sigma APO Teleconverter 2X with the SIGMA 100-400mm DG DN OS Contemporary lens. Is that correct?

  5. Avatar photo Nick Vrona says:

    Correct. APO teleconverters are not compatible with the 100-400mm DG DN OS | Contemporary, and will not even mount to the lens.

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