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Thread: Sigma 400mm Apo Lens

  1. #1
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    Default Sigma 400mm Apo Lens

    I have a very old 400mm Apochromatic (prime) Sigma lens that I used with my EOS 5 (film) camera. It is, by no means, compatible with a DSLR neither can it be retrofitted by the Sigma service facility. I thought that it could be used on a DSLR on manual mode and on the MF mode of the lens. If it could I could use it or give it away to other people to be used on manual all the way. However, it did not work on my EOS 5D MKII and I got a message "Error 1" which means no communication between camera and lens. I was surprised to see that, as I know that by reversing a lens, in which case no electrical communication exists between camera and lens, you can make macro photos. This implies that communication is not necessary in an "all manual" mode. Is there an explanation?
    I would hate to discard the lens or place on my mantelpiece!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Sigma 400mm Apo Lens

    With a lens reversed there is normally no contact between the cameras electronics and those of the lens so there is no possibility of any communication between the two. The situation then is the same as using a manual focus lens with an adapter - the camera reverts to stopdown mode and will allow shooting in manual and Av modes.

    Mounted normally the lens and the camera will try to communicate but if, as in your case, the difference in age and therefore communication protocols, is too great the camera will error out. Sigma do not licence the mount from Canon but reverse engineer it to work with the the communication standards current at the time of the lens' manufacture. What this means is that if Canon subsequently change something in the communication set-up of the EF mount there is a high possibility of communication failure between the lens and cameras with the newer communication standard.

    In your case it appears that the communication failure is total as your camera is quite modern. I have a copy of the same lens, plus a number of other Sigmas of similar vintage. Mounted on my fairly old 20D and 40D bodies these lenses can in fact take pictures provided I don't use any aperture other than fully open or use the DoF preview function in which case they error out immediately. Even then both need to be reset after each shot but clearly these two cameras are not totally incompatible - just mostly.

    There is one digital body that probably would work with your lens and that's the old D30 (not the 30D). I have one of these and it works perfectly with my 400 APO and all the other old Sigmas I own. One odd thing though is that I also own an EOS30 film camera and that does not work with these lenses despite being a film camera - go figure...

    Unless you can track down a D30 or are prepared dig out the old 5 and find some film I'm afraid you now have a large paperweight cum doorstop - sorry...
    Nigel

    You may know me from Another Place....

    The new ElSid Photogallery...

    Equipment: Far too much to list - including lots of Nikon...

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Sigma 400mm Apo Lens

    Thank you for your elaborate comments, Nigel. I am aware of the theory regarding "compatible" third party lenses and for that reason I no longer purchase any such. My 12-24mm (only) Sigma, that I purchased in lieu of a similar range Canon lens, works with my 5D MK II, but I am not sure it will work with the MK IV I am currently saving to buy. I had hoped that the 400 Apo would work as totally manual lens in the same fashion a reversed lens would (same status of body-lens communication); I am still not clear why not...
    Perhaps I should just give it away to some EOS5 film camera owner; there are still a few film fans around...
    Thanks again for your time.
    Vasilis

  4. #4

    Default Re: Sigma 400mm Apo Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Epicuros View Post
    My 12-24mm (only) Sigma, that I purchased in lieu of a similar range Canon lens, works with my 5D MK II, but I am not sure it will work with the MK IV I am currently saving to buy.
    Might be worth an e-mail to Sigma to see if there are any known issues though I haven't heard of any on the internet so I suspect there probably isn't a problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by Epicuros View Post
    I had hoped that the 400 Apo would work as totally manual lens in the same fashion a reversed lens would (same status of body-lens communication); I am still not clear why not...

    Vasilis
    As I said in my previous post a reversed lens, or an old manual focus lens, has no electrical contact with the body and therefore no communication between camera and lens is possible. Your 400mm APO lens however does have contacts and as a result does make electrical contact with the camera meaning the two will attempt to communicate with each other. The problem is that the electronics in the lens and body are not compatible because either Canon have changed something in the way data is transferred between the body and the lens or because the data transfer rate of modern electronics is too fast for the lens's processor - most likely it's both. The net result is that the camera cannot make the lens work and so the camera crashes giving you the Error 1 message.

    You could try taping over the contacts on the lens. In theory if all the contacts are covered there should be no electrical connection and the camera should act as if you are using an old manual lens. The only problem is that the lens would have to be used at maximum aperture since there is no way of manually closing the aperture...
    Nigel

    You may know me from Another Place....

    The new ElSid Photogallery...

    Equipment: Far too much to list - including lots of Nikon...

  5. #5

    Default Re: Sigma 400mm Apo Lens

    I was going to say tape up the contacts as well , you won’t be able to change aperture .another way would be to fit a manual extension tube in between lens and body . But in reality it would probably be easier to buy a manual focus 400 lens and proper adaptor

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