Nikon 80-400 F4.5-5.6 vs Sigma 100-400 F5-6.3: The Most Detailed Comparison

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Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm F4.5-5.6G ED VRSigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Nikon F (FX)
Max ApertureF4.5-5.6F5-6.3
Aperture TypeVariableVariable
Focal Range (mm)80-400100-400
Mount TypeNikon F (FX)Nikon F (FX)
Max Format35mm FF35mm FF
Zoom Ratio (X)54

First, let’s talk about the maximum aperture. The Nikon lens has a max aperture range of F4.5-5.6, while the Sigma lens has a range of F5-6.3. As a photographer, you know that a wider aperture (lower f-number) lets in more light, giving you brighter photos and a shallower depth of field. This means that the Nikon lens will generally perform better in low light situations and create more background blur (bokeh) than the Sigma lens.

Both lenses have a variable aperture type, which means that the aperture will change as you zoom in or out. This is a common characteristic of zoom lenses, and it’s essential to be aware of this when you’re shooting in different lighting conditions or aiming for a specific depth of field.

Regarding the focal range, the Nikon lens offers an 80-400mm range, while the Sigma lens has a slightly narrower 100-400mm range. This means that the Nikon lens will provide you with more versatility when capturing wide-angle shots, whereas both lenses cover the same telephoto range.

Design and Ease of Use

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm F4.5-5.6G ED VRSigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Nikon F (FX)
Diameter x Length (mm)⌀95.5×203mm⌀86×182mm
Weight (gr)15701160
Filter Thread (mm)7767
Weather SealingYesYes
Zoom MethodRotary (extending)Push/Pull (extending)
Zoom LockNo ZoomNo Zoom
Distance ScaleYesNo
DoF ScaleYesNo
Hood SuppliedYesYes
Hood CodeHB-65LH770-04
Tripod CollarYesYes

Lens Mount and Barrel

The Sigma has a metal mount with a rubber gasket. This is great for preventing dust and moisture from getting in through the mount, so you don’t have to worry too much about your gear in less-than-ideal shooting conditions. The Nikon lens, on the other hand, has a dull-chromed brass mount and features a white plastic ball mounting index dot. Brass is quite durable, so you can expect the mount to hold up well over time. It also has a rubber gasket at the lens mount to prevent dust and moisture from entering.

Now let’s talk about the lens barrels. The Sigma lens has a barrel made of high-quality plastics, which is generally lighter and more affordable than metal. This can be a huge plus if you’re always on the move and need something portable, or if you’re on a budget. The smooth shape and quality finish give it a nice feel, so it’ll be comfortable to hold while you’re shooting.

The Nikon lens barrel is made of a mix of metal and tough polycarbonate, finished in matte black with gold accents. This combination of materials strikes a balance between weight, durability, and cost. Metal is generally stronger and sturdier than plastic, so you’ll likely find this lens to be more durable over time. Plus, the matte black and gold accents give it a professional and premium look.

As a photographer, it’s important to consider the materials used in a lens, both for the mount and the barrel. Metal mounts, like the ones found in both of these lenses, offer better durability and can withstand more wear and tear than their plastic counterparts. In terms of lens barrels, you’ll need to weigh the advantages of a lighter, more affordable plastic barrel against a more durable and professional-feeling metal one.

Weather Sealing

The Sigma 100-400mm lens offers some degree of weather resistance, with a dust and splash-proof lens mount that includes a gasket on the back to prevent dust and moisture from entering.

Similarly, the Nikon 80-400mm lens is not fully weather sealed either. It does have a rubber gasket at the lens mount to help keep out dust and moisture.

While both of these lenses provide some protection against the elements, their lack of full weather sealing means they might not perform optimally in harsh conditions.

Photographers using these lenses should exercise caution and take extra care when shooting in challenging environments, as they are more susceptible to damage from dust, moisture, and water splashes compared to fully weather-sealed lenses.


The Sigma 100-400mm lens features a non-traditional ring layout, with a front-positioned zoom ring and rear-positioned focus ring, which some photographers might not prefer. However, its ridged rubberized surface on the zoom ring ensures a good grip, and its unique push/pull zooming design, facilitated by the special lens hood, is an interesting addition. The focus ring, made of plastic with a ridged surface, is decent for rotational resistance, but its flush position with the lens barrel can make it tricky to find, especially when wearing gloves. The lens also comes with useful extension lock and zoom lock switches.

On the other hand, the Nikon 80-400mm lens has a more traditional ring layout, with the focus ring positioned closer to the lens mount and the zoom ring further ahead. Both rings feature ridged rubber surfaces, with the zoom ring being thicker and having a textured finish. The focus ring is looser and easier to rotate, providing better control, while the zoom ring is smooth and resistant to unintentional changes. Additionally, this lens has a windowed distance scale and depth-of-field indicator on the focus ring, and the zoom ring extends with a quarter turn, locking at 80mm.

Taking into account factors like ergonomics, precision and control, build quality, etc., the Nikon 80-400mm lens seems to offer a more well-rounded experience. Its more traditional ring layout, better build quality, and additional features like the windowed distance scale and depth-of-field indicator give it an edge over the Sigma 100-400mm lens. However, the Sigma’s unique push/pull zooming feature and locking switches might appeal to some photographers, depending on their shooting preferences.


The Sigma 100-400mm lens has a switch panel with 4 switches and a button. You’ll find an AF/MF switch, a focus limiter switch with three independent settings, an image stabilization switch with 2 modes, and a custom switch for setting one or 2 programmable settings via Sigma’s USB Dock. The switches have a solid click to them and are easy to see, thanks to the white backgrounds on the AF and lock switches. However, the short-throw switches might be a bit tricky when you’re trying to get to the middle position.

On the other hand, the Nikon 80-400mm lens has 5 switches located on the left side of the barrel. These include an AF/MF switch, focus limiter, and an IS switch. The AF/MF switch has three settings (A/M, M/A, and M), allowing for instant manual override and manual focus. The focus limiter has 2 settings: FULL and -6m, which limit the focus range. The IS switch has 2 settings (On/Off and Normal/Active) that control the image stabilization system. Now, these switches aren’t as distinguishable by feel and require memorization, but the Focus switch does have a raised end, and the VR switch has a raised middle. The design of the switches on the Nikon isn’t as user-friendly as those on the Sigma lens.

Taking into consideration the switch design and usability, the Sigma 100-400mm seems to have a slight edge over the Nikon 80-400mm lens, with more visually distinct switches and a custom switch for additional customization. However, the Nikon lens still provides a good range of switch options for various shooting situations.

Filter Thread

The Sigma 100-400mm lens has a 67mm filter thread made of robust plastic, which is easy to use with filters. It fits inside the LH770-04 lens hood that comes with the lens, and the thread size is relatively small and common. This means it’s easy to find and purchase filters for it. However, the thickness of the lens barrel at the threads might make it a bit difficult to access with your fingertips, so having a filter wrench on hand is a good idea, especially when using slim filters like circular polarizers.

On the other hand, the Nikon 80-400mm lens has a 77mm filter thread made of metal. It doesn’t rotate on focus and is easy to use with filters. The metal construction makes it more durable, and it allows for the attachment of a 77mm screw-on filter for weather sealing and protection of the large piece of glass.

When choosing a filter thread size, you’ll want to consider factors like compatibility, availability and cost of filters, vignetting and image quality, lens size and weight, and the use of step-up rings. Both 67mm and 77mm are popular sizes that offer a good balance of compatibility, availability, and cost. However, you may prefer the smaller 67mm size of the Sigma lens if you already have lenses with that filter thread size, or the larger 77mm size of the Nikon lens if you’re looking for more durable construction and better weather sealing.

In terms of materials, plastic filter threads like the one on the Sigma lens are lightweight and less expensive, while metal filter threads like on the Nikon lens are more durable and long-lasting.

So, if you value a smaller, more common filter thread size and don’t mind the plastic construction, the Sigma 100-400mm lens might be the better choice for you. However, if you prioritize durability and weather sealing, the Nikon 80-400mm lens with its metal filter thread and larger size might be the better option.

Focusing and Optical Stabilization

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm F4.5-5.6G ED VRSigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Nikon F (FX)
AF MotorSilent Wave MotorHyper Sonic Motor
Rotating Front ElementDoes not rotate on focusingDoes not rotate on focusing
Min Focus Distance1.75m[AF];1.5m[MF]0.16m
Max Magnification (X)0.20.26
Full-Time Manual FocusYesYes

Focusing Performance

The Sigma 100-400mm lens has a stepping motor-driven AF system, making it fast and quiet with just a faint buzz in a quiet environment. The initial autofocus acquisition speed is good, but the low light AF performance isn’t as impressive, which is expected for a lens with a narrow max aperture. It offers manual focus override in continuous-servo autofocus (AF-C), and the manual focus action is smooth. It can focus accurately in most situations, but the accuracy in AI-Servo (AF-C continuous) focus isn’t as consistent. The distance focus limiter helps to speed up focus acquisition.

On the other hand, the Nikon 80-400mm lens has outstanding autofocus performance, although it’s a bit noisier due to the shifting of the glass elements. The focusing speed is quick and smooth, and autofocus acquisition is impressive. Autofocus is always accurate. It also has manual focus override, which is smooth and easy to use. However, the focus ring has limited travel between its close-focus point and infinity, making it a bit challenging to accurately focus on a subject.

All in all, The Sigma 100-400mm is quieter, but its low light autofocus performance isn’t as strong. The Nikon 80-400mm has excellent autofocus performance but is a bit noisier and has a focus ring with limited travel. Your choice will ultimately depend on your specific needs and priorities. If you prefer a quieter lens with good overall focusing performance, go for the Sigma 100-400mm. However, if you want faster and more accurate autofocus at the expense of some noise, the Nikon 80-400mm might be the better option.

Optical Stabilization

The Sigma lens offers powerful image stabilization, compensating for about 3-stops of camera shake. It has 2 stabilization modes: Mode 1 for default stabilization and Mode 2 for panning. Compatible with the Sigma USB dock, you can customize the lens’s Optical Stabilization, choosing between Dynamic View Mode, Standard, and Moderate View Mode. Dynamic View Mode provides better stabilization in the viewfinder, making handholding easier. The lens is quiet during stabilization, and you can achieve a decent keeper rate at around 1/15s at 100mm and around 1/50s at 400mm.

Meanwhile, the Nikon lens boasts 4stops of optical stabilization, an improvement over its older version. It’s also quiet during stabilization and has 2 modes: Normal and Active. The Vibration Reduction technology allows for hand-held shooting at manageable shutter speeds for all focal lengths.

Both lenses offer good optical stabilization, with the Sigma lens providing customization options and the Nikon lens offering slightly better stabilization performance. If you value customization and versatility, the Sigma 100-400mm might be the right choice for you. However, if you prefer slightly stronger stabilization without the need for customization, the Nikon 80-400mm lens could be a better fit.

Image Quality

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm F4.5-5.6G ED VRSigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Nikon F (FX)
Special Elements4 ED glass elements 1 Super ED glass element4 SLD elements
Diaphragm Blades99
Circular ApertureYesYes


The two lenses have different strengths when it comes to handling chromatic aberration.

The Sigma lens exhibits axial chromatic aberration, spherical aberration, and spherochromatism, which can result in a less sharp and hazy image quality at wider apertures. On the other hand, the Nikon lens handles longitudinal chromatic aberration very well at large apertures, with the best performance at 200mm. Chromatic aberrations are effectively managed by the lens, even when dealing with high-contrast scenarios, and the most significant amount of aberration is detected at the lower end of the range (80mm).

While both lenses have some form of chromatic aberration, they exhibit different types and degrees. The Sigma lens’ chromatic aberration is manageable and not a big issue in real-world situations, but the Nikon lens has better control over it, especially in high-contrast situations. If chromatic aberration is a particular concern, the Nikon lens might be the better option. However, if the budget is a consideration, the Sigma lens is a good choice, as the chromatic aberration can be corrected with the right lens profile and software.


When it comes to sharpness, the Sigma 100-400mm lens has good to very good levels of sharpness in the center of the frame, especially at f/8, but the corners are fairly soft at wider apertures.

On the other hand, the Nikon 80-400mm lens is super sharp, especially at 400mm where it matters the most. At 300mm, it’s just about perfect edge-to-edge, even wide open.

Color fringing is only slightly noticeable on the Sigma lens at 100mm and longer zoom settings, while the Nikon lens does not show any signs of color fringing.

In conclusion, if sharpness is your top priority, the Nikon 80-400mm lens is the clear winner. However, if you’re on a budget and looking for a more affordable option, the Sigma 100-400mm lens offers good sharpness and decent color fringing control.

Bokeh Quality

When it comes to the bokeh quality, both lenses have their pros and cons. The Sigma 100-400mm lens produces smooth and beautiful bokeh, especially when zoomed in to 400 millimeters, which effectively separates the subject from the background. However, in extreme corners, the bokeh may take on a cat’s eye shape due to mechanical vignetting.

On the other hand, the Nikon 80-400mm lens has a pleasing bokeh rendering capability, with an iris diaphragm of 9 aperture blades for a smooth out-of-focus area. However, it is important to note that this lens is not optimized to compete with portrait lenses, so its bokeh might not be as pleasing to look at when examined closely. Additionally, smaller out-of-focus highlights can appear busy depending on the scene, exhibiting onion-shaped bokeh.

Overall, both lenses can produce pleasing bokeh, but the Sigma 100-400mm lens might be the better choice for portrait photography due to its smoother and more pleasing bokeh quality, especially at longer focal lengths.


The Sigma lens doesn’t have any special lens element coatings to combat flaring, but it still performs well in that regard due to the quality coating used. The Nikon lens, on the other hand, has good flare and ghosting control when the lens hood is used, but using a protective filter may result in veiling flare and ghosting, even with the hood in contra lighting.

So, both lenses have good flare and ghosting control in most situations, but the Nikon lens may have a slight advantage with the lens hood. It’s important to note that extreme conditions, such as pointing directly at the sun, may cause some ghosts, but they are minimal and can be controlled with exposure compensation for both lenses.


The Sigma lens exhibits some vignetting at wider apertures, especially at longer focal lengths, with the corners being darkened by about 1.5 to 2 stops. While this can be corrected in post-processing, doing so can increase noise in the brightened areas. Alternatively, you can embrace this effect to draw the viewer’s eye to the center of the frame.

On the other hand, the Nikon lens also exhibits some vignetting at all focal lengths when wide open, but it is relatively modest, with an average of about half a stop at the edges. The vignetting decreases consistently as the aperture is stopped down.

Overall, both lenses perform well in terms of vignetting, with the Nikon lens being slightly better. However, this difference may not be significant enough to be a deciding factor for most photographers.


The Sigma lens has some pincushion distortion at 100mm that increases to rather strong at 400mm, but it is still low for a lens of this magnification. On the other hand, the Nikon lens has minimal distortion, with only a hint of barrel distortion at 80mm and some pincushion distortion at longer focal lengths. However, this can easily be corrected in post-processing software like Photoshop or Lightroom.

In terms of distortion, the Nikon lens seems to have an edge over the Sigma lens. However, both lenses have distortion that can be corrected in post-processing software.

Final Verdict

Both lenses have their own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice ultimately depends on the user’s specific needs and preferences. If cost and weight are the primary concerns, then the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Nikon F (FX) lens is a great option. It is lighter, more compact, and cheaper than the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm F4.5-5.6G ED VR. However, it has a narrower aperture and may not perform as well in low light conditions. On the other hand, the Nikon lens is more versatile and can be used for a wider range of photography types. It also has better image quality and autofocus accuracy. However, it is more expensive, heavier, and lacks a tripod ring.

Meet the Author

Wei Mao

Wei was a cruise photographer who worked at Disney Cruise Line. He is a lucky traveler who has been to more than 20 countries with his camera while working on an around-the-world cruise. Photography has changed his view of the world forever. Now he wants more people to benefit from photography through his blog.

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