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Home » Cameras, DSLR & MFT (micro four thirds) » SLR & MFT (micro four thirds) Lenses « Previous Product 

Sigma 300-800mm f5.6 EX APO HSM
Reviews Views Date of last review
3 78606 Mon June 2, 2008
Recommended By Average Price Average Rating
100% of reviewers $5,200.00 9.3

Description: Lens Construction 18 Elements in 16 Groups
Angle of View 8.2-3.1 degrees
Number of Diaphragm Blades 9pcs
Minimum Aperture F32
Minimum Focusing Distance 600cm(236.2"
Maximum Magnification 1:6.9
Filter Size 46mm (drop-in type)
Dimensions Diameter 156.5mm (6.1" X Length 544mm (21.4"
Weight 5880gr/207.4oz

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Romy Ocon

Registered User

Registered: June 2004
Location: Manila
Posts: 885
Review Date: Sat December 3, 2005 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Reach, near-prime sharpness at 300-700 mm wide open, zooming flexibility
Cons: Weight (almost 13 lbs), lack of focus limiter switch, no OS

I\\\\\\\'ve been using the Sigmonster (Sigma 300-800 DG, Canon mount) as my main birding lens since since April this year, and I\\\\\\\'m very, very impressed with its optical performance.


It beats my beloved 400 5.6L in sharpness and contrast at any length (with TC on the 400 prime) and aperture.

Here are unprocessed 100% crops straight from the camera (jpeg large fine, parameter -1/0/+1/0) from my copies of the 400 5.6L and the Sigmonster:

This beast is prime-like in sharpness (on my 20D/350D/300D) from 300-700 mm wide open, and I stop down in those focal lengths only for more DOF. At 800 mm, it\\\\\\\'s still sharp wide open, but improves back to super-sharpness at f/8 - f/11.

Here\\\\\\\'s a shot at 800 mm, f/5.6 , 1/60 sec, ISO 200:

100% crop:

Here\\\\\\\'s one at 800 mm, stopped down to f/9, 1/250 sec, ISO 200

100% crop:

A test shot at 1000 meters:

100% crops

Wide open shots at 700 mm or shorter:

648 mm, 1/60 sec, ISO 400

687 mm, 1/80 sec, ISO 400

With a 2x TC, there\\\\\\\'s some IQ degradation but it\\\\\\\'s still better than upressing. Here\\\\\\\'s a shot at 1600 mm with a Sigma 2x TC (2560 mm equivalent AOV with the 350D), f/18, 1/50 sec, ISO 400, manual focus and exposure:

100% crop

The Sigmonster (with 350D) is now my main long gun and it allowed me to get close to a lot of shy Philippine endemics. For flight shots, my 20D + 400 5.6L is of course the better tool.


Sigma has increased the price of the DG version to circa USD 6200 (B&H). From the outpout I\\\\\\\'ve seen, I can\\\\\\\'t see a difference in IQ between the older non-DG and the newer DG one. So if I were to buy this lens all over again, I\\\\\\\'d go for the non-DG version if it\\\\\\\'s cheaper by more than USD 1,000.

This lens would benefit greatly with the addition of Optical Stabilization (tripod-ready OS) and a focus limiter switch. The latter, a standard feature of Canon long Ls, works wonders in speeding up AF at fliers. The Sigmonster\\\\\\\'s HSM is fast, but Canon\\\\\\\'s USM is a bit faster (just a field use impression, not based on objective test).

The Sigmonster is a heavy beast, and I\\\\\\\'ve not been able to hand hold it in any manner. But I knew about the weight and bulk before I bought it, and had accepted these trade-offs for extreme reach, near-prime optics and zoom flexibility.

It needs a good support and long lens technique (LLT) to do its job well. For support, I use a Manfrotto 3421 gimbal head and 475B tripod.

The classic LLT of \\\\\\\"left hand on the lens, face against the VF and gentle shutter press\\\\\\\" work for many people. However, I prefer to use a remote switch, hands off the lens and wait for the vibration to die down (evident in the VF) before tripping the shutter. With this LLT, I have gone as slow as 0.8 sec (with MLU) and 1/40 - 1/50 sec (without MLU) at 800 mm and got decent results. In strong wind though, I revert back to the classic LLT and just use faster shutter speeds of 1/160 or faster.


If you\\\\\\\'re looking for 500 mm to 1000 mm and beyond reach, the 500 f/4 L IS is lighter (hence can be hand held) and more compact, 1 stop brighter and most probably a bit sharper at 500 mm, has IS, faster AF and weather-sealing.

But if you value the framing flexibility of zoom while still retaining near-prime sharpness, and can live without IS, the Sigmonster is a worthy alternative to the similarly weighing 600 f/4 L IS.

Most of the recent bird pics in my galleries are taken with the Sigmonster:

Warmest regards from our islands,

Romy Ocon
Manila, Philippines

UPDATE (April 14, 2007):

I purchased the 500 f4 IS in April 2006, about a year after using the Sigmonster, to reinforce my mid-range as far as hand holdability and AF speed are concerned.

After tests and much field use, I wish to correct my earlier statement, made before I got the 500 f4 IS, that the Canon prime is \\\"most probably a bit sharper\\\" than the Sigmonster.

To my eyes, both lenses are equivalent in sharpness at 500 and 700 mm, at any common aperture. Here\\\'s a link to a shootout between the two:

The 500 is lighter, has IS and autofocuses faster, while the Sigmonster is longer and has framing flexibility. I consider each as complementary to the other, and I always bring both in my birding trips.


Philippine Wild Birds
Over 260 species photographed in habitat, and counting.
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Registered User

Registered: December 2007
Location: Durham, NC, USA
Posts: 62
Review Date: Tue February 26, 2008 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: $5,200.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: price, optical quality, weight
Cons: construction

After reading Romy's many excellent reviews (such as the one above...) I decided to buy the non-zoom version of this lens (since the non-zoom was considerably cheaper and conventional wisdom suggested the zoom version might be a bit less sharp than the prime). Mine is a DG version, which is supposedly optimized for digital cameras. I have had excellent luck with this lens for photographing birds, including warblers (which tend to be both small and always in motion) and larger birds such as ospreys and eagles, either perched or in flight. I do not use mirror lockup nor the remote shutter release; despite the lack of image stabilization, I am often able to get very sharp images as long as I stop down to f/7.1 or smaller. I most often use it at f/8, and I've found that at f/11 it is extremely sharp. I haven't had much luck shooting wide-open (i.e., at f/5.6). Since I always use flash, this hasn't been a problem for me. Note that the non-zoom version is also lighter than the zoom, and has a focus-limiter switch, which can speed up the autofocus. I have used teleconverters with this lens (see the page linked below for examples).

I have a lengthy review of this lens posted on my web site at:

Alternative URL for the external review:

UPDATE: I recently replaced my Sigmonster with a Canon 600mm + 1.4x TC combination. The Canon combo produces superior image quality, though it is slightly heavier and more expensive. You can read my detailed comparison of these two lenses here:

Secrets of Digital Bird Photography -- My free online textbook:
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Wildlife photographer

Registered: June 2008
Location: Lancashire
Posts: 53
Review Date: Mon June 2, 2008 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very sharp

Very nice lens very sharp but heavy but it is a superb lens for birding i sold mine 2 months ago for a canon 600mm and was much more impressed with the 600's results.

Although it doesnt match the focal lenth it is a bit sharper.

I am currently using The canon EOS 1DS MK3 wich i purchesd last week and im very impressed by its 21 mega pixel resolution.
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