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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Autofocus Problems...I noticed at the weekend that it is very difficult to rely on the Autofocus of my Sigma 150-500mm Lens. ...
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Old 11-01-2011, 22:36   #1 (permalink)
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Autofocus Problems

I noticed at the weekend that it is very difficult to rely on the Autofocus of my Sigma 150-500mm Lens.

It tends to hunt a little and then doesn't stop on a nice sharp focus.

Using any of my other lenses, which are listed in my equipment list I seem to achieve sharp focus in auto with no problem.

Am I doing something wrong?

I tend to now use it in manual at around F8 to take reliable shots otherwise I just end up waiting for it to focus.

Any advice guys?
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Old 11-01-2011, 22:51   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

Try cleaning the contacts on the lens carefully with some switch cleaner or pure alcohol - or gin or vodka and see if that improves things. If your other lenses are OK, the camera contacts must br OK.

Might be worth sending it in for a service. I hqad a Sigma 70-200 that occasionally would not AF. Sometimes switching the camera off and on would cure it, or removing and replacing the lens.

Eventually, I got fed up with it and sent it in and they replaced the AF motor. The difference was amasing. It was really fast. I guess it had been deteriorating for a while and i had not really noticed how slow it was getting.
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Old 11-01-2011, 22:52   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

I've not really had it that long and to be honest it has always been the same.

Are you thinking it might be faulty?
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Old 11-01-2011, 23:01   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

If it is under warranty I'd send it in, but still worth cleaning the contacts first.
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Old 11-01-2011, 23:02   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

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Originally Posted by Dabhand16 View Post
If it is under warranty I'd send it in, but still worth cleaning the contacts first.
Thing is Graham I have barely used it.

I'll try to dig out the receipt and find out when I bought it!

........or I could check my thread on here!
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Old 11-01-2011, 23:53   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

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Thing is Graham I have barely used it.
I never used my 70-200 much either. Maybe that it the reason why the motor failed. Perhaps the gearing got a bit sticky.

Never had a problem with a Nikkor lens not working - My original 18-70 kit lens was not used for a long, long time, but worked perfectly when I put it on a camera.
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Old 12-01-2011, 07:10   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

Does sound like a problem - not so much the hunting (which may be poor light - how bright has it been?) as the fact that it doesn't achieve sharp focus. Mine does hunt in very poor light but then all my lenses do (and it's no worse than other long zooms)

There was a batch of 150-500s that had a focus problem ex-factory - worth checking the serial with Sigma
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Old 12-01-2011, 08:11   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

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Originally Posted by Markulous View Post
Does sound like a problem - not so much the hunting (which may be poor light - how bright has it been?) as the fact that it doesn't achieve sharp focus. Mine does hunt in very poor light but then all my lenses do (and it's no worse than other long zooms)

There was a batch of 150-500s that had a focus problem ex-factory - worth checking the serial with Sigma
Thanks for that.

I'll check it later.

I'm away in Bristol this week but I have it with me!
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Old 12-01-2011, 08:11   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

I see from your list this is the only lens you have with an aperture of F6.3 at one end of its range. This may be the cause of your problems, f5.6 is usually the required minimum aperture for autofocus. Try focusing at the 150 end of lens where aperture is f5.6 and see if the autofocus improves. The symptoms you describe are typical of what happens when you add a tele-converter to a long lens and effectively reduce the aperture below f5.6.
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Old 12-01-2011, 18:00   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

Ditto, I was going to suggest the same as Jake.

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Old 12-01-2011, 19:59   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

O.k. but how does that work then?

If it needs a minimum on f5.6 what are my options?
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Old 12-01-2011, 20:10   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

With automatic stop-down, you focus with the lens wide open. As you take the shot, the camera stops the lens down to take the shot, then opens it up again afterwards. You never see this happening as the mirror drops at this time.

If the widest your lens has is f6.3 and there is poor contrast there may not be enough light coming into the camera for the AF to work.

You can test it by trying to focus at f6.3 and then at a wider aperture (however wide you can get) to see if there is a difference. If it is OK at the wider aperture, you will have to take this into account when shooting in poor light and maybe use manual focus. I've heard of a dodge with Canons where you can tape over some of the contacts that might work, but you will have to get a Canon user to explain how to do it.

My 70-200 was a constant f2.8 but the issue was not hunting, but either working or not working. It was only after the new AF motor was fitted that i realized how slow it had got when it was working.
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Old 12-01-2011, 20:28   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

It is F5 at the widest end!

It does seem to behave better at 150mm but the light is low now.

I suppose I need to give it a try in nice bright light.
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Old 12-01-2011, 21:16   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

Ummmm, sorry guys but this "won't focus at f/6.3" is rubbish. The cutoff is f/8 and is implemented by the manufacturers - I've had that exact lens focussing with the Kenko 1.4, so that's f/9, even in poorish light. Somehow I don't think that the Nikon 300s won't be able to focus! But it is worth trying in bright conditions to see if the fault (as I think it is a fault) disappears
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Old 12-01-2011, 22:02   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

Next question is has anybody ever sent a lens back to Sigma for repair?

Am I likely to need to contact Park Cameras who I bought it from or go directly to Sigma?
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Old 12-01-2011, 22:19   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasondh View Post
Next question is has anybody ever sent a lens back to Sigma for repair?

Am I likely to need to contact Park Cameras who I bought it from or go directly to Sigma?
I think you should go to the retailer if you have not had it very long. They will probably return it to Sigma at Stevenage.
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Old 12-01-2011, 22:20   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

Can't find anything specific to the D300 but in the DP Review for the D3 it states that the cross type sensors, which are part of the array work with lenses of f5.6 or faster.
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Old 12-01-2011, 22:28   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

24/25-May-10 I bought it according to my posts.

I noticed this focus problem as early as 30-May-10 if you read my original post but just assumed it was the way it was.

Just to make a comparison would I expect the autofocus on my Sigma to be as quick and sharp as my Nikon 18-200mm?
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Old 12-01-2011, 22:30   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

Now I've found a reference to the D300s Nikon | News | Nikon D300S.
The section on the autofocus again states the cross type sensors work with a f5.6 lens or faster
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Old 12-01-2011, 22:35   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

Just reading through some one-liners from various reviews on the Sigma web site, and there are several that refer to the quick and accurate focusing.

I wonder if the D3 needs f5.6 to AF as it is a full frame camera? With a smaller sensor, f6.3 might cover the same percentage pro-rata.

Try the lens in good conditions. I can't believe that Sigma would make a lens that a high percentage of cameras could not fully use.
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Old 12-01-2011, 23:10   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

Something I hadn't appreciated with the 300s is
Quote:
The less sophisticated (but still capable) Colour Matrix Metering system is supported on non-CPU lenses if you enter their focal length and maximum aperture into the D300s; there’s room to store details of nine different non-CPU lenses with focal lengths from 6 to 4000mm and apertures from f1.2 to f22
I'd guess the Sigma's a non-CPU

Quote:
Originally Posted by jake View Post
The section on the autofocus again states the cross type sensors work with a f5.6 lens or faster
This is the same as the Canon 7D - so faster lenses fully utilise the full AF features (that cross type points give). Having said that, the Sigma's no slouch on the 7D (and faster than the Canon 100-400)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasondh View Post
Next question is has anybody ever sent a lens back to Sigma for repair?

Am I likely to need to contact Park Cameras who I bought it from or go directly to Sigma?
I've sent both a lens and a camera back (and yes, direct to Sigma - see their website Sigma Imaging (UK) Ltd which also has those serial numbers that had the AF problems) - in theory, you just send it with full explanation and copy of receipt but I've always emailed first in case it was an obvious fix. Always had excellent service from them - but make absolutely sure you've VAT on the receipt as they're very wary about grey imports
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Old 13-01-2011, 07:30   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Markulous View Post
I'd guess the Sigma's a non-CPU
I'd beg to differ here. I think any lens with a chip is a CPU lens.
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Old 13-01-2011, 07:33   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

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Originally Posted by Dabhand16 View Post
I'd beg to differ here. I think any lens with a chip is a CPU lens.
Yeah, I guess that makes sense! Truth is, I haven't a clue!
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Old 13-01-2011, 09:00   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

Just a quick note to those who have Sigma lenses.

If you lens is still within the 1year warranty you can register it on the Sigma website for an extra two years free!
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Old 13-01-2011, 09:05   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

Well guys within 30-seconds of being on the Sigma website I came across the notice about the problematic autofocus lenses and the list of applicable serial numbers.

Guess what......mine is in the faulty range.

I will call them later to get it picked up.

Thanks all.

In case you need to check yourself the link is below.
Sigma Imaging (UK) Ltd
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Old 13-01-2011, 09:35   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

At least you have the answer! I seem to recall doing a news item on this a while back.
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Old 13-01-2011, 11:42   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dabhand16 View Post
At least you have the answer! I seem to recall doing a news item on this a while back.
Seem like a great service so far. My lens is being collected by them tomorrow.

Fingers crossed.

Thanks all.
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Old 13-01-2011, 20:11   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

Just got home from Bristol and can't find the box or any bubble wrap!

Gonna have to savage some boxes to wrap it.

Fortunately the Sigma comes in a nice padded carry case!
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Old 13-01-2011, 21:02   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

Don't forget to make a note of the serial number in case they return the wrong lens.
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Old 14-01-2011, 16:43   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Autofocus Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dabhand16 View Post
Don't forget to make a note of the serial number in case they return the wrong lens.
Yep, got that!

I'd emailed the serial number to them as part of the recall notice.

I spoke to Park cameras who were happy for me to speak to Sigma directly. They just asked that I let them know in case I get a different serial number back.

The courier collect it this morning so I will let you knwo how long it takes and if it makes a difference! Fingers crossed!
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