Sigma 400mm apo tele macro - stripped gear - advice needed

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Sharik0192
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Sigma 400mm apo tele macro - stripped gear - advice needed
8 months ago

Folks,

I hoped to start my participation in this forum with something positive: posting photos and asking for critique, but it happens so that instead I have to ask for your advice/help with my lens conundrum. About four months ago I bought a Sigma 400mm f5.6 apo tele macro lens (thanks Ron for the tip http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3558461 - I was that lucky Australian who bought it). Since then, it had been my most extensively used lens, perhaps used more than all the other lenses together, and I really enjoyed first experience in bird photography. A few days ago, on one not-so-nice morning, the lens made a nasty grinding sound, and autofocus stopped working. Stripped gears, obviously. This was the last picture I took with it:

First I called CR Kennedy (a distributor for Sigma and Pentax in Australia): they told me that they cannot get spare parts for this lens from the manufacturer. This means that repair by a commercial shop is not an option. The other options I have:

1) Use it with manual focus. It works, but it is awkward and slow. The focusing ring is very wide, and I could not find a way to rest the lens on my left hand and move the focus ring with fingers fast enough. It is OK for still objects, but not for anything that moves fast. Besides, the focusing ring moves too easily, with almost no friction, and this does not help precise manual focusing.

2) Swap it for another lens. I searched this forum and several other sources, and it appears that there is practically no other option to get the same reach and similar quality in the similar price range (I paid $550 for that lens). The other options with similar quality and reach (DA* 300 or FA*300 or Sigma 100-300 f4 with a 1.4x teleconverter) are about three times more expensive. I tried going back to using DA 55-300, but it is not nearly as good.

3) Repairing autofocus as a DIY project. Apparently, it did happen before: http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/40569617 , http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/40574923). Hence my question to fellow forum members awaldram and Greyser (but constructive comments from anyone else are most welcome): could you please share your experience in repairing your lenses? Are they still working fine two years later? I would much appreciate any relevant information. I really want to get back the autofocus on that lens!

Yuri

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Sony RX100 Pentax K-01 Pentax K-30 Pentax smc FA 50mm F1.4 Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG Macro HSM II +6 more
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