Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art Review

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art Review - John Riley reviews the full-frame Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art lens, the first 1:1 Macro Art lens from Sigma, made for Canon, Sigma and Sony E lens mounts.

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Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG MACRO in Interchangeable Lenses

Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Sigma Af 70mm F2,8 Dg Macro Art Lens Front Oblique View

Most manufacturers offer 50mm and 100mm macro lenses, usually at the top end of the range in terms of optical quality. The 100mm tends to be more commonly used, having the benefit of a longer working distance that avoids throwing shadows on the subject, but sometimes being closer can also be a benefit, such as when documents are being copied. The new Sigma 70mm macro lens offers a compromise in working distance that some photographers might find ideal. Let's see how this works out in practice and also how the lens performs in a technical sense. For this review, we couple the lens to the Canon EOS 5DS R 50MP body.

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art Handling and Features

Sigma Af 70mm F2,8 Dg Macro Art Lens No Hood On Canon 5dsr

A deep bayonet fit lens hood is provided and this fits securely and smoothly. This surrounds a 49mm filter thread. The hood is very useful in general photography, but when we get down to macro distances it can quite happily be discarded as the front element is already well recessed into the barrel. There is a second reason for removing the hood for macro shooting, as it would obscure the distance and magnification markings that are engraved on an inner barrel that extends forwards some 4.5cm from the main lens. This extending barrel is very well stabilised and shows no wobble whatsoever. There is no technical reason why the bayonet lens hood could not be used at macro distances if the markings were not required. It would afford additional protection to the extended lens as the extension never goes beyond the length of the hood.

The manual focus ring is motor driven so the camera must be switched on to effect manual focus. This is totally smooth and has just the right sensitivity to ensure that precise focusing is possible. Focusing is down to 25.8cm, or 2.847 feet, a maximum magnification of life-size, or 1:1. Manual focusing tweaks can be applied even when the lens is set to AF, in the case of Sony E fit lenses when the camera body is set to DMF.

On the subject of macro shooting, the instruction leaflet provides an interesting and useful table showing how the lens aperture changes as we focus closer, and hence how the exposure also changes. At a magnification of 1:10 (one-tenth life-size) the aperture is already reduced from f/2.8 to f/3.1 and the exposure needs to be increased by +0.2 EV. When we reach 1:1 magnification, the aperture is f/5 and the exposure increase required is +1.6 EV. This shows why conventional lenses traditionally would focus down to around 1:10, the point at which exposure error started to be significant. Of course, set to auto exposure the camera will compensate accordingly, but should the photographer wish to use a separate meter then these changes need to be manually applied and the table becomes very useful as a guide, listing as it does the figures for a full range of magnifications.

Apart from the manual focus ring, there are just two switches on the lens barrel. The AF/MF switch is self-explanatory and there is also a focus limiter to help prevent unnecessary hunting. Full range, 0.5m to infinity and 0.258m to 0.5m can be selected. This could be useful for macro shooting as otherwise, the lens does tend to move fairly slowly through the full focusing range before locking on to close subjects. AF, in general, is very precise but not particularly fast.


Sigma Af 70mm F2,8 Dg Macro Art Lens Full Macro Extension On Canon 5dsr

Optical construction is 13 elements in 10 groups, multicoated of course. The lens weighs in at a reasonable 515g, not overly heavy but still reassuringly solid in its construction. There is a rubber seal around the mount to protect against water splashes, but no particular claim to weather resistance in general.

The teleconverters TC-1401 (1.4x) and TC-2001 (2x) can be used, with one oddity in handling when using the former. With the TC-1401 AF only operates from 0.5m to infinity, so for shorter macro distances, the combination becomes manual focus only.

Used on the full frame 5DSR the 70mm focal length is actually quite a good balance and it could easily replace the 50mm and 100mm lenses. AF is a bit on the slow side, but it is very precise and locks on positively.

Sigma Af 70mm F2,8 Dg Macro Art Lens Rear Oblique View

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art Performance

Sharpness centrally is very good from f/2.8 to f/4, excellent from f/5.6 through to f/11, very good at f/16 and softening as diffraction takes hold at f/22.

Edge sharpness is likewise very good at f/2.8 and f/4, excellent at f/5.6 and f/8, and approaching excellent at f/11. f/16 is very good and then diffraction really takes its toll and f/22 becomes softer. It is commendable that centre and edge match very closely throughout the range of apertures.

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG MACRO MTF Charts

How to read our MTF charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5DS R using Imatest.


CA (Chromatic Aberration) is impressively controlled, almost banished in the centre. The edges are not far behind and it is unlikely that CA will be seen in even quite challenging subjects.

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG MACRO Chromatic Aberration Charts

How to read our CA charts

Chromatic aberration (CA) is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5DS R using Imatest.

 

Distortion is especially important in a macro lens, where for example documents might be copied and it would soon be seen if any edges were bent out of true. the lens measure -0.09% barrel distortion, which is as close to zero as makes little difference.

With a deeply recessed front element and a generously deep lens hood flare is not a problem. Shooting into the light, the worst that we might see would be a drop in contrast, but even that is quite modest.

Bokeh, the quality of the out of focus areas in an image, is gratifyingly smooth, making the lens a good candidate for shooting portraits as well as macro. An impressive all-round performance.


Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG MACRO Sample Photos

 

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG MACRO Aperture range

 

Value For Money

The Sigma AF 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro lens is priced at £499, and available in Sigma A, Canon EF and Sony E mounts. There are a number of other macro lenses from 50mm to 105mm, available for various marques.

Starting with 50-60mm options:

Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro, £499
Sony 50mm f/2.8 D Macro, £499
SMC Pentax-D FA 50mm f/2.8 Macro, £349
Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8E Makro, £699
Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar, £999
Canon TS-E 50mm f/2.8L Macro, £2199
Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM, £410
Tamron SP 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1, £349

There are a number of 90-105mm options:

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS, £879
Tamron SP 9mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 VC USD, £549
Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8L Macro, £2499
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM, £519
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM, £899
Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8G ED IF VR Micro, £749
Tokina AT-X 100mm f/2.8 Macro, £349
SMC Pentax-D FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro WR, £529
Samyang 100mm f/2.8 Macro ED UMC, £349
Sony 100mm f/2.8 D Macro, £669
Zeiss Milvus 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar, £1399

All this leaves the new Sigma 70mm f/2.8 Macro looking about par for the course, not the cheapest but by no means the most expensive, and absolutely fine value for money. For more options have a look at the Top 21 Best Sigma lenses, or the Top 13 Best Macro Lenses.

 

 

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art Verdict

Sigma has provided a well made, solid macro lens that delivers very impressive image quality. It operates flawlessly, albeit it with slightly slower than average AF, but proves an excellent overall match for the Canon EOS 5DS R.

The 70mm focal length is a good compromise for the full frame bodies. For APS-C cameras the “35mm format equivalent” would be 112mm for Canon. This means that a 50mm macro might be a better choice for APS-C if the user wanted a similar field of view to the one this lens offers in full frame.

However, in summary, the new Sigma lens offers all the right things in terms of handling and quality and is well worth considering as an alternative to the more common focal lengths.

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art Pros

  • Excellent sharpness
  • Very well controlled CA
  • No distortion
  • Useful magnification markings
  • Resistant to flare
  • Lovely smooth bokeh

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art Cons

  • AF could be faster
  • No weather resistance

Features4/5
Handling4.5/5
Performance4.5/5
Value4.5/5
Overall Verdict

With thanks to CliftonCameras who provided the Canon EOS 5DS R used for testing. 

Own this lens? Let us know what you think of it in the EQDB

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG MACRO Specifications

ManufacturerSigma
General
Lens Mounts
  • Canon EF
  • Sigma SA
  • Sony E Mount
  • Sony FE Mount
Lens
Focal Length70mm
Angle of View34.3
Max Aperturef/2.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size49mm
StabilisedNo
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingNo
Maximum magnification1x
Focusing
Min Focus25.8cm
Construction
Blades9
Elements13
Groups10
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight515g
Height105.8mm

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Comments


Chaitanya 8 14 1 United Kingdom
13 Jun 2018 5:43PM
This lens does have a moisture gasket at mount which seems like a step in right direction.

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it doesn't seem to have any vignetting
20 Jun 2018 6:44AM
It is not Sigmas first 70 2,8 mm macro. You have reviewed it a long time ago. I have one in pentax k mount and its is exellent

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