Everything you always wanted to know about the Sigma 400mm f5.6 APO HSM macro and the Canon DSLRs

If you are currently reading this post, it is certainly because you are considering buying a 400mm lens for your Canon DSLR on a limited budget.

I wont go in details about the performances of this lens. If you believe only in measurements, I would suggest to read the test made by photozone.de. 

I use this lens on a EOS 5D mark II and to summarize my personal opinion about this lens, I can confirm the optical quality is fantastic and the mechanical quality is average.

The sigma 400mm f/5.6 APO HSM macro  was quite popular 10 years ago but unfortunately Sigma stopped the production early 2000. As many other old Sigma lenses, this lens is well known to have issues with the new Canon cameras (digital or late film cameras). Among the known problems, the aperture might be limited to f5.6 (still usable) or worst, your lens can be incompatible with your camera (error 99).

However, some of those lenses have been sent back to Sigma by their owner to be re-chipped, this operation making them compatible with the brand new EOS models. Sigma stopped this support in 2002 or 2003 as they ran out of microchips. Be aware before buying one of those lens!

Different models of this lens exist:

  • Sigma 400mm/f5.6 APO
  • Sigma 400mm/f5.6 APO HSM
  • Sigma 400mm/f5.6 APO HSM Macro (the last version)

I bought my Sigma 400mm/f5.6 APO HSM Macro for ~US$600 on Trademe (kiwi avatar of ebay)  after the seller confirmed me that his lens has been re-chipped in 2001. However the seller never tried this lens on a modern DSLR so I was not certain it would work on my 5D mark II. I could not find any clue on internet neither about its compatibility with the EOS 5D mkII which would have helped me in my buy. At the end, I won the auction and….. good on me, IT WORKS PERFECTLY WELL!!! No error 99 and I works like a charm.

I hope those information might be useful to other people!

Many pictures made with this lens can be seen in my wildlife photo galleries Antarctica but here are view samples.

Sigma 400mm f5.6 lens sample
Sigma 400mm f5.6 lens sample


Sigma 400m f5.6 lens sample


Terra Australis by Sōzu project

Terra Australis is a captivating ambient  music album composed by Sōzu project.  The listener will recognize in this fantastic composition some sound  samples I recorded in Antarctica.

As you may know, most of my work is under Creative Commons and here is a great example of  synergy around the Creative commons licenses.

I highly recommend you to take your best headphone and let be charmed by this audio masterpiece available on the composer website http://sozuproject.bandcamp.com.

Terra Australis - Sozu project
Terra Australis – Sozu project

Antarctica gallery updated with new pictures

Kia ora

I came back from my second trip to the white continent last January.  This was a great trip but a terrible year for the wildlife living  in this part of Antarctica (Terre Adélie). None of the Adelie penguins succeed to breed and the juvenile mortality of the Emperor penguins was at its highest since the monitoring of the colony started in the  60s. A very bad year indeed!

The main reason was the  sea ice along Antarctica coast which  did not melt in spring & summer as it usually does every year. Consequently adult penguins had to walk longer distance before reaching the open sea where they forage.  They came back then less often to the colony and most of the chicks died of starvation.

You might think that this weather anomaly is in contradiction with global temperature increase but another very intriguing event was the first time rain was recorded at the base of Dumont D’Urville. The explanation lies within wind pattern change at higher latitude. Climate change in action…

Regarding photography, I did far less pictures this time compared to my first trip in 2009 as I was very busy with my job but I was lucky to take more photographic gears with me  including a medium format film camera  (Mamiya 7II + 50mm) and an Holga 120.

I have not finished to develop the film rolls yet so only  pictures made with my DSLR have been posted. The best pictures of 2009 and 2013 are presented  in the Terre Adelie gallery. 

A bientôt, Dominique