Reviews |Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Review

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Review

Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Review

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Snap Verdict

Although it’s part of Sigma’s more affordable Contemporary (C) line of lenses rather than the more expensive Sports (S) or luxurious Art (A) line, the Sigma 100-400mm f5-6.3 DG OS HSM C looks and feels very nicely made with a high-quality finish. What’s more, its Optical Stabilisation (OS) system is extremely effective, enabling hand-held shooting at around 5EV slow shutter speeds than normal.
It also produces sharp, attractive images although you may want to apply some vignetting correction when shooting at wider apertures. It adds up to be a very good value telephoto zoom.

For Product

  • Good price for the focal length range
  • Lightweight, but nicely built
  • Superb Stabilisation

Against Product

  • Vignetting at f/8
  • Relatively small maximum aperture
  • Variable aperture

What is the Sigma 100-400mm f5-6.3 DG OS C?

The Sigma 100-400mm f5-6.3 DG OS HSM C is a telephoto zoom lens available in Canon, Nikon and Sigma mounts. While it’s designed to cover a full-frame sensor, it can also be used with APS-C format cameras with the Canon or Nikon Mount on which it produces an effective focal length of 160-640mm and 150-600mm respectively. It’s aimed at enthusiast photographers looking for a relatively long, light lens for shooting wildlife and sport.

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Features

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It may be considerably more affordable than other 100-400mm lenses but this Sigma lens isn’t lacking in features with an optical stabilizer (OS), updated hypersonic motor (HSM) for fast autofocus and focus limiter built-in.

There’s also a manual override (MO) setting that allows you to focus automatically and then tweak the focus manually using the focus ring.

Furthermore, the lens is compatible with Sigma’s USB Dock accessory which allows customisation.

The OS system has a new gyroscopic sensor and algorithm to improve the stabilization effect. An acceleration sensor detects horizontal, vertical, or diagonal camera shake to correct movement whether the lens is used to shoot upright or horizontal images.

Compact build, as well as high image quality, was a key target for this lens and consequently its construction features four SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass elements and an optimised power distribution help minimise optical aberrations. Sigma has paid particular attention to controlling transverse chromatic aberration as these cannot be corrected via aperture control. This helps improve image quality throughout the full focal length range.

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Build quality and handling

In keeping with Sigma’s the new or revamped lenses the 100-400mm f5-6.3 DG OS HSM C has a high-quality feel with a silky finish. In addition, with the exception of the Sigma-mount version, the mount has a weather-proof seal to protect your camera from moisture or dust ingress.

Despite its focal length range and full-frame compatibility, it’s a relatively compact lens with a weight of 1,160g.

That relative low weight means it’s comfortable to carry mounted on an SLR like the Canon 5D Mark IV or Canon 7D Mark II. While a shoulder or sling strap might be advisable, I found I was perfectly happy using it for a couple of hours at a time on a camera without a strap.

Sigma supplies the lens with deep lens hood, and this is shaped to help facilitate the push-pull zoom mechanism. Those who don’t like push-pull or trombone type zoom lenses need not be alarmed, there’s also a wide zoom ring which has a smooth action.

Although there’s a zoom lock, I didn’t find the lens prone to zoom-creep while I was carrying it between shots.

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Performance

My first opportunity to use the Sigma100-400mm f5-6.3 DG OS HSM C was at the coast on a hazy day with mist, drizzle and spray keeping light and contrast levels down. Nevertheless, I found the lens was able to get subjects sharp very quickly when mounted on the Canon 5DS R or Canon 7D Mark II. Both of these cameras have excellent autofocus systems and they combined with the Sigma100-400mm f5-6.3 DG OS HSM C to allow me to shoot surfers and kayakers sharp among the waves.

It also coped well with distant scenery but the misty conditions made assessing sharpness tricky. Thankfully the weather conditions were better for a trip to a local wildlife park and I was able to get sharp shots of the inhabitants. If you follow this link to view and download sample images you’ll see that the details of the fur and feathers have been reproduced well. The tiny details of some my subject eyelashes and eyes are particularly impressive, although in the case below it’s the subtle details of the beak that really drew my attention.

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Sample Image
Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Sample Image

It’s not noticeable at normal viewing sizes, but at 100% on-screen, there’s a slight drop-off in sharpness towards the corners of the image on the 5DS R’s full-frame sensor. It’s not dramatic or especially objectionable.

As you’d expect, the sharpest results are achieved when the lens is stopped down a little, with f/8 proving a good choice for much of the focal length range. At the longer end, apertures of f/8-f/16 produce excellent results.


Although vignetting is technically a flaw, I often add a little corner shading to images when I’m processing my raw files. Depending upon the subject I’d probably still do that with images from the Sigma100-400mm f5-6.3 DG OS HSM C, but if you’re not a fan of vignetting and you’re shooting a subject against a pale uniform background, you’ll need to close down the aperture to around f/9.

Vignetting is less noticeable at the 400mm end than it is at 100mm, and Canon’s in-camera Peripheral Illumination Correction helps reduce its impact, but you still need to close down to around f/9-10 to completely eliminate it. Alternatively, Adobe Camera Raw’s Lens Correction profile does a good job.

Naturally, neither vignetting and drop-off in sharpness are issues with APS-C format cameras and a smaller section of the lens’s imaging circle is used.


Distortion is generally kept in good check, but if you’re shooting a subject such as railings with very strong linear elements you may spot very slight pincushion distortion throughout the focal length range. Again this can be corrected with one click in Adobe Camera Raw, but in most instances it’s completely unnoticeable.

Chromatic aberration is controlled very well.

Optical Stabilisation

One aspect that particularly impressed me with the 100-400mm f5-6.3 DG OS HSM C was its Optical Stabilisation (OS) system. When shooting at the 400mm end of the lens I found that 50% of the images I shot at 1/10sec were sharp at 100% on-screen. To be honest I was being very picky and there were a few images that could’ve scrapped through, upping the score to around 75%, they certainly looked okay at normal viewing sizes.

At 400mm on a full-frame sensor I’d expect to have to use a shutter speed of 1/400mm to freeze camera-shake. A shutter speed of 1/10sec is over 5 stops or 5EV longer and an incredibly impressive result.

Of course, it’s important to bear in mind your subject when you’re selecting a shutter speed. If it’s moving then OS isn’t going to help you, but if it’s not then it’s a huge benefit.

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Sample Images

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Sample Image
Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Sample Image
Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Sample Image
Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Sample Image

Follow this link to view and download sample images

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM C Verdict

While its f/5-6.3 aperture is a little more restricted than some other 100-400mm, the Sigma 100-400mm f5-6.3 DG OS C is significantly more affordable. It’s also comparatively light for a lens of this focal length range and this adds to its attraction, as it’s easier to hold and use over long periods of time.

The best news, however, is that the lens produces sharp results throughout its zoom range with well-controlled aberrations. The only slight downside is the vignetting, but in many instances this doesn’t detract from the image and is easily corrected.

Should I buy the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM C?

A 100-400mm lens is a great addition to a kit bag, helping you frame distant subjects like wildlife or sports tighter than is possible with a 200mm or 300mm lens while giving flexibility. It’s a great option for day trips to zoos, wildlife parks and sporting events, where you can’t get close to the action

Although the 100-400mm range is attractive to full-frame photographers the effective focal length on an APS-C format camera (160-640mm or 150-600mm) is even more enticing and it comes with the benefit of using the best part of the sensor.