Sigma AF 100-300mm f/4 EX HSM APO - Review / Lab Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published February 2006

Special thanks to Powerdoc for providing this lens!


The Sigma AF 100-300mm f/4 EX HSM APO is one of only two moderately fast 100-300mm zooms on market. It's seems as if this niche never got really popular. Sitting in between fast 70-200mm f/2.8 and long 100-400/4.5-5.6 lenses this class of lens is not really fast enough for portraits and not long enough for wildlife photography. However, the latter may not be true anymore when using the lens on APS-C DSLRs where the field of view is equivalent to 160-480mm - during the film days many photographers would have lusted after such a lens. The Sigma is fairly affordable at around 800 EUR/US$ so it remains within reach of many amateurs.
The tested sample is the older non-DG variant. The current DG lens only adds better coating so the findings in the scope of this review should be pretty much representative for both lenses.

The optical construction is made of 16 elements in 14 groups including four SLD (Super Low Dispersion) elements. The lens features 9 aperture blades. The min. focus distance is 1.80m resulting in a max. object magnification of 1:5 at 300mm. The lens has a size of 227x92mm with a total weight of 1440g incl. the detachable tripod mount. In absolute terms this may appear a little hefty but it's really not heavier nor bigger than a 300mm f/4 fix-focal - see also the product shot above with the Canon EF 300mm f/4 USM L IS. The filter size is 82mm so be prepared to take another blow when intending to buy a polarizer for it.

The build quality of this lens is exceptional. Both the zoom and focus rings operate very smooth and very well damped and the typical EX finish (smooth crinkle style) helps to maintain a good grip when carrying the camera/lens combo. The lens features a HSM (Hypersonic Motor) AF drive providing fast and near silent AF operations. The AF 100-300mm f/4 EX is compatible to both Sigma AF EX converters as well as the Canon EF 1.4x II (not sure about the 2x).

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