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Thread: Sigma 400mm Apo Lens

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Koropi, Greece

    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...

    You may know me from Another Place....

    The new ElSid Photogallery...

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


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