Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Review

Like many modern macro lenses, the full frame compatible Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro performs just as well as a fast telephoto lens. The f/2.8 aperture enables fast shutter speeds even in dim lighting, while the fast ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system is good for tracking action. To speed up autofocus in difficult conditions, there is also a three-position range limiter, with which you can select only the short or long focus range, on either side of 0.5m.

Features

To go up: Canon EF, Nikon F, Sigma, Sony A
Full frame: Yes
Autofocus: Yes
Stabilization: Yes
Lens Construction: 16 elements in 11 groups
Angle of view: 23.3 degrees
Diaphragm blades: 9
Minimum opening: f/22
Minimum focus distance: 0.31m
Maximum magnification ratio: 1.0x
Filter size: 62mm
Dimensions: 78x126mm
Lester: 725g

Main characteristics

Unlike Sigma’s new Art 70mm macro lens (opens in a new tab), the 105mm has fully internal focusing and adds the bonus of image stabilization. It has 4-speed efficiency in general shooting and comes with switchable static and panning modes. However, it’s a regular rather than a hybrid stabilizer, so it’s unable to correct for xy shift as well as the usual angular shake, and is relatively inefficient for macro shooting. Build quality is very good throughout although the lens is not waterproof.

Optical highlights include two SLD (Special Low Dispersion) elements to improve sharpness and contrast, while reducing color fringing, and Sigma’s proprietary multi-layer coatings to minimize ghosting and flare. Typical of Sigma lenses, it comes complete with a lens hood. More unusually, a hood converter is also provided to optimize performance when using an APS-C format rather than a full-frame camera.

Speaking of which, the lens is available in Canon EF, Nikon F, Sigma, and Sony A mount options. Both Canon and Nikon versions work equally well on EOS R and Nikon Z mirrorless cameras, via mount adapters appropriate for companies.

Performance

Sharpness is excellent across most of the aperture range and most of the frame, although corner sharpness is relatively lackluster at very wide apertures. The Sigma also loses out to the Canon 100mm IS USM L-series lens for sharpness at very narrow apertures. Image quality is on par with the Canon for color fringing control, and the Sigma produces less distortion.

Laboratory results

We carry out a range of laboratory tests under controlled conditions, using the Imatest Master test suite. Pattern shots are taken over the full range of apertures and zooms (where applicable), then analyzed for sharpness, distortion, and chromatic aberrations.

We use Imatest SFR (Spatial Frequency Response) graphs and analysis software to plot lens resolution at the center of the image frame, corners and mid-distances, over the full range of aperture settings. and, with zooms, at four different focal lengths. The tests also measure distortion and color fringing (chromatic aberration).

Acuity:

(Image credit: future)

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Sharpness is overall excellent although it drops off a bit at both ends of the opening range. For optimal sharpness in macro shooting when you want to gain some depth of field, it is better to only push the aperture up to f/16 rather than reduce it to f/22.

Fringe:

(Image credit: future)

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There’s hardly any color fringing to be seen at any aperture setting, even at the extreme edges and corners of the picture frame.

Distortion: -0.12

The amount of barrel distortion is so slight that you usually won’t notice it, even when shooting very geometric subjects.

Verdict

Not only a great macro lens for taking extreme close-ups with up to 1.0x magnification, this Sigma works great as a short, fast telephoto lens for portrait, wildlife and sports photography. It predates the company’s ‘Global Vision’ range of art, contemporary and sports lenses and is the last of the old school lenses still in production. However, it more than deserves its place in Sigma’s current lineup and delivers great performance at a great price.

Read more:

• Best Camera Lenses (opens in a new tab) to get
• Best Canon Lenses (opens in a new tab)
• Best Nikon lenses (opens in a new tab)
• Best Sony lenses (opens in a new tab)

About Julius Southworth

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