Handling and features
A telephoto Macro lens with a bright f/2.8 maximum aperture that will allow frame-filling shots without having to get too close.
Tamron currently offer a 180mm f/3.5 macro lens
, which costs around £700 and also offers 1:1 magnification at its closest focus distance, but doesn't have a silent focus motor.
Nikon's venerable 200mm f/4 Micro lens costs around £1110 and also offers 1:1 magnification, but is quite an old design and doesn't have a silent focusing motor.
Canon's 180mm f/3.5L USM can be had for around £1280 and for that you get a silent focusing motor with full-time manual override and 1:1 magnification.
This lens is also available to fit Four Thirds compatible SLRs, where it will give the same angle of view as a 300mm lens on a 35mm camera.
Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX IF HSM Macro: Handling and features
The build of this lens is excellent. Everything has been put together to extremely fine tolerances and the lens is finished in a matt powder coating that looks very smart indeed. A gold stripe around the front of the lens barrel signifies that this is one of Sigma's top-line EX lenses.
At 137mm long by 79.6mm, this lens is quite compact and isn't overly heavy either at 895g. I find it balances perfectly on my Nikon D700, with or without the MB-D10 battery grip attached.
The lens has an internal focus design, which means it doesn't increase in length and the filter thread doesn't rotate as it is focused, which is great for using a polarising filter with the lens. 72mm filters can be attached to the front of the optic, which is a fairly common size these days.
Sigma's Hyper Sonic focusing motor allows for full-time manual override, which can be especially handy when focusing at close distances. To help speed up the AF action, a focus limiter switch is provided to reduce the range the lens can hunt through if it struggles to lock onto your subject. I found the AF action very swift and accurate at normal distances, and very usable at closer distances and in lowish light conditions, thanks in part to the bright maximum aperture.
Overall, I really enjoyed using this lens, due t the excellent build quality, fast focus speed and internal focus design.
Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX IF HSM Macro: Performance
For this review, the lens was tested on a 12Mp Nikon D700 using Imatest.
At f/2.8 the performance of this lens is already good in the centre of the image, and certainly more than acceptable towards the edges. Stopping down increases the sharpness further, reaching a peak at f/8 where the resolution in the centre is excellent, and very good towards the edges of the frame. At smaller apertures, diffraction begins to reduce the resolution, but the lens still performs well down to f/22.
|Resolution at 150mm
Sigma proudly mark this lens as apochromatic on the lens barrel, which is quite probably true as Imatest could only record colour aberrations of a quarter of a pixel width towards the edge of the frame at f/2.8.
|Chromatic Aberrations at 150mm
Light falloff towards the corners is reasonably well controlled for a wide aperture lens such as this. At f/2.8 the corners are 1.61 stops darker tha the image centre. By f/4 corners are only one stop darker than the centre and stopping down to f/8 results in pretty much even illumination across the image field.
As you might expect for a fixed-focal lens, distortion is very well controlled. Imatest could only register 0.05% barrel distortion.
Strong point sources of light within the frame will cause a quite severe loss of contrast in extreme circumstances, although not much flare is present in these circumstances. A deep circular lens hood is supplied which does a good job of protecting the lens from loss of contrast when the light source is outside of the image area.
Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX IF HSM Macro: Verdict
As you can see from the picture above, this lens is capable of superb results and even performs well enough at maximum aperture to double as a long portrait lens if shallow depth of field and compression of perspective is required.
Overall, it's a very tempting package. To be able to get a lens capable of taking high resolution images, with no evidence of colour aberrations, high speed AF and 1:1 magnification for such a competitive price screams great value to me.
Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX IF HSM Macro: Pros
Low levels of chromatic aberrations
Great build quality
Internal focus design
Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX IF HSM Macro: Cons
Loss of contrast when shooting into the light
Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX IF HSM Macro: Lens specification
|VALUE FOR MONEY
||16 elements in 12 groups
|35mm equivalent focal length (on APS-C body):
||137mm x 79.6mm
|In the box:
||Lens Hood, Padded Case
The Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX IF HSM Macro costs £558.99 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX IF HSM Macro - Sigma Fit
Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX IF HSM Macro - Four Thirds Fit
Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX IF HSM Macro - Nikon Fit
Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX IF HSM Macro - Canon Fit