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Canon EF 100-400 vs Sigma 150-500?

Raghuveer Makala , Jun 23, 2011; 10:57 p.m.

I'm considering getting a zoom lens for my canon dslr and am debating between the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM and the Sigma 150-500 mm F 5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM.
My primary interest is to make images of wildlife and birds. Also, would either of this work with a Tamron AF 1.4x Teleconverter? Aside from the cost $1650 vs $970 and reviews, what are the other practical considerations? I'm sure at least a few canon shooters had to consider these choices at one point of time and I'd like to get some feedback. Thanks!
Best Regards,


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Ben Pike , Jun 24, 2011; 05:31 a.m.

I have the Sigma on a 7D. It is big and bulky as you would expect and has to fool the Canon AF into working at f6.3, however I don't have much trouble with the focusing, but I think it would struggle with a converter if the autofocus works at all. The lens can give good results used correctly and is certainly worth the money, however that said if I could have afforded the 100-400 at the time, I would have bought it instead for build and image quality. To be honest with you, for my needs I am likely to sell the Sigma soon and get the 70-300L. With a tripod and stopped down, the Sigma is capable of good results, but I suspect you'll always have doubts over whether you should have got the Canon.

One further note on the practical side, I have found it impossible to use video with long lenses. Not that I need to, but try holding the Sigma at arms length and track a subject using live view and you will see what I mean.

Larry West , Jun 24, 2011; 11:32 a.m.

If you're in the US, Canon sells the 100-400 as a refurbished lens (with all accessories and 90 day warranty) for a little over $1,300. You may have to wait till it comes back in stock, as I did, but it was worth it.

Keith Reeder , Jun 24, 2011; 01:18 p.m.

Also, would either of this work with a Tamron AF 1.4x Teleconverter?

Depends on the camera, Raghuveer.

Philip Wilson , Jun 24, 2011; 11:08 p.m.

F5.6 is the maximum AF capability for all EOS bodies except the 1 series (which goes to F8). Assuming that you do not have a 1 series body you will find that the AF will not work (there are tricks to fool it) and even if you could fool it it will be too slow to be much use. You may want to look at the resale values of these two lenses as I suspect the Canon holds it's value much better.

Peter Meade , Jun 25, 2011; 03:11 a.m.

I've used my 100-400 with the Canon 1.4x on my 7D and you can autofocus in live view and that's at f8. However, I've recently discovered, there may be Error 30 problems associated with using live view.

Wolf Weber , Jun 25, 2011; 10:41 a.m.

Forget about the Sigma. Sharpness inferior from about 350mm. No focal length locking device. Constantly slips if you don't hold it in place. Unless, of course, it's being held fairly level.

Joseph Dickerson , Jun 25, 2011; 11:07 a.m.

Have you considered the Sigma 120-400mm? Just a thought.
Darwin Wiggett has a thorough review on his web site.

David Stephens , Jun 25, 2011; 01:54 p.m.

Other lenses to consider:

EF 300mm f/4L IS with EF 1.4x TC
EF 400 f/5.6L

You'll hardly ever use these zooms at their wider end, so why spend money and give up speed for a zoom feature that'll be seldom used?

Scott Simmons , Jun 25, 2011; 05:14 p.m.

For bird photography, I'd easily choose the Canon EF 400 f/5.6L over all the other choices listed. It's sharper than the Sigma 150-500 and the Canon 100-400. It's significantly lighter than the Sigma as well, so it will be easier to hand hold and catch flying birds. Sure, it doesn't have IS, but I don't think its a huge drawback.
The 300 f/4 with 1.4 TC is another great option, but I'm not sure it's as good for birds. The TC tends to slow things down. But since you're not limiting yourself to birds, that might be a better option for your needs.

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