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penolta Jun 28, 2009 5:01 PM

Sigma 135-400 APO f4.5-5.6
I was bored last week and decided to browse the lens offerings on ebay (a dangerous pastime), when I came across a used Sigma 135-400 APO f4.5-5.6 on a Buy-It-Now / Best Offer listing. There were 3 declined offers and one pending. I thought about it for a while, researched the lens, and went back and submitted an offer, only to find that during the interval the seller had made a counteroffer to the pending bid, so I had to wait for that to resolve. I didn't expect to get it anyway - anybody could take it as a buy-it-now regardless of any offers pending - but a couple of days later, after the counteroffer had expired without being accepted, the seller accepted my offer. So now I have to wait a week for it to arrive (after the 4th) and see whether or not I wasted my money. The lens is the predecessor of the now discontinued but still available DG version and I paid around half the going new price of that lens, which, except for the digital coating, is otherwise identical. It has the same reach as the Promaster which is really too light to hold steady at 400mm (for my walk-around style of shooting - hand-held or from a cradle atop a monopod) - you need a certain amount of mass for steadiness, but not as much as the bigma which would be too tiring to carry around for long with the K20 and BG-2 attached. Currently, the longest I use is 300 - after the APS-C correction the 300 equates to 450, while the 400 equates to 600. So while I am waiting, I might as well ask if anyone here has had any experience with that lens?

robar Jun 29, 2009 6:24 PM

i don't know but await a review..

philneast Jul 7, 2009 7:35 AM

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I have the DG version and it is a quite reasonable lens.

The focusing element is internal and near the back so iI had to change my lens holding technique slightly to avoid the rotating ring during autofocus opration.

For a non SDM lens the autofcus operation is pretty quick on my K10D.


penolta Jul 10, 2009 2:26 PM

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Well, I got the lens, complete with the obligatory UPS trashing of the box, but the lens seems OK. On flat targets it focuses sharply, but leaning in causes blurring, shile stepping back does not, so I expected to have to adjust for backfocus. I set up Yvon Bourque's telephoto lens chart, and surprisingly it was right on the money or nearly so at several focal lengths - can't quite explain it, but I set it up on a tripod (very heavy combo with the K20 and BG-2 grip) in my dining room with the door open and waited for the butterflies to alight. I used the widest aperture for the shallowest DOF at longest focal length and here is a sample of what I got. Focus is right on. I will post more later.

mtngal Jul 10, 2009 6:58 PM

That really is bang-on focus. Very nice picture by the way - that lens will be a good addition for you.

snostorm Jul 10, 2009 7:49 PM

Hi penolta,

Congrats on the new acquisition!!! :cool2:

Before I got into the long tele primes, I put myself in the position to choose between the Sigma 135-400 and the Tokina 80-400. I ended up with the Tokina, mostly because of size, but from what I had read, IQ was pretty much the same at the long end (which is what I was mainly concerned with). Looking back, the actual deciding factor was probably that the Tokina had recently been discontinued, and was very rapidly becoming rare to the extreme in K mount -- and we all know what happens when one can no longer get something that one perceives that he needs????:eek:

Anyway, a relatively compact zoom that reaches out to 400mm is a great companion to lenses like the Sigma 17-70, Tamron 28-75, or Pentax 28-105 for a two lens "do just about anything" kit. I think that you'll get a lot of use out of it.


penolta Jul 11, 2009 6:55 PM

Phil, given that that is a hand-held pan of a fast moving subject, that is a pretty decent image.

Thanks Harriet and Scott. I think I need a steadier tripod, though - I tried some more distant shots today under even worse lighting conditions (I was out doing some errands and got off to a late start) and didn't get a single useable shot (also I forgot to turn off the SR, didn't think to use a remote release, and also tried a Sigma 1.4 TC). :rolleyes: I will try again tomorrow - earlier when the light is better, and better prepared. Yesterday and today I used my D-160 Star D, which is a well braced sturdy tripod, but requires raising the center column to get it to eye level, so I really need a taller one to better damp any vibration, as this combo weighs nearly 5 pounds!. I would have used the tall Velbon video tripod I have with a fluid pan head (I always thought those were called fluid because of the smooth movement, and not actual fluid) but when I got it out, I found that the head had had leaked - very messy!. :shakehead: I also should have a Safe Lock PT-3 which would have been ideal, and my first choice, but I can't find where I stored it - it was too big to fit in the cabinet with the other tripods (tripods and camera bags are like women's purses - you never seem to have enough of them). I haven't used it in a while, but I can't understand how I could misplace something that big. :bash: This lens will require some getting used to, I think. What I don't particularly care for is the bokeh - OOF background objects show multiple overlapping images rather than a smooth blur.

penolta Jul 16, 2009 12:21 AM


here is a sample of what I got. . . I will post more later.
I neglected to add the link to the promised photos which are posted in the Pentax forum. If anyone hasn't seen them - and is interested - here it is:

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