Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art Lens

After I returned from my holiday trip, I got the much awaited call from our local authorized SIGMA distributor 'AAB world'. I was elated to know that the new lens has arrived. I completely forgot other daily schedules & straightaway rushed to the store and took the much awaited lens –‘Macro lens from Art series’. When I opened the box and held the lens I was much taken back by the make and look .It was entirely different than what I was expecting it to be. It was compact & light weight than the previously released Art lenses. Its Weight was less than 600 grams , and it was almost half the weight of the 35mm Art lens. Of course its light weight reduces fatigue and increases stability when shooting without a tripod as I did for the gym shoot and the dinner.(scroll down to see the images)

The lens comes with a filter thread of 49 mm. A deep bayonet fit lens hood is provided and this fits securely and smoothly.

The hood is very useful in general photography, but when we get down to macro distances its better to avoid using it because of the 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 stabilized. There is no technical reason why the bayonet lens hood should 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. For those who shoot extreme macro with some additions like snap in, it is better to avoid the hood.

This lens is coming with a new E mount also, which eliminates the need for the MC-11 adapter while adding functionality with Sony’s Continuous AF system. I used a Canon mount version with MC-11 which is almost same performance as the native mount on a7Riii which I have tested after. This EF-mount lens is compatible with Canon’s Lens Aberration Correction. The only disadvantage of this lens is its not coming compatible with a Nikon mount. Which is really a sad part because many of my Nikon followers are interested in Sigma Art series lenses.

Same like everyone , I took some first shots with the available things ,which was on the desk. a 2 cm diameter coin and some 0.5 mm clutch pencil tips. after seeing the first handheld non tilted frames, I was impressed with the result and planned some upcoming shoots with this lens.

It has a basic rubber gasket weather sealing on the mount. But its not a fully weather sealed lens. Being a macro lens, The lens doesn’t have any markings on the front to show it’s a macro lens. Instead, the design is pretty standard for a macro lens. when the camera is turned off or the lens is attached on to the camera, the lens will slowly retract back into the body and use its internal motors to do this. This is the only time the motors act like a point and shoot zoom lensed camera.

The Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art is good enough to produce beautiful sharp images in the right situations and with the right lighting.

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 One of my friend who is a Portrait photographer, he always like to carry a macro 60mm in his hand, from his experience he said, it has better usage for portrait because 85mm is bit long and 50mm is too close.

Once I had this lens, we tested some Indoor & Outdoor portraits which reveals me the advantage of that range which he mentioned. For an all-rounder photographer, Its best to consider using the Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art where they’ll want to shoot closer portraits but also if they need the lens to double for macro work such as at a wedding & special shoots also For food & products photography.

Here is the result from a morning portrait shoot with my friend. Observe the details and sharpness even in low light. 

The images down i have shot from my dinner in a seafood restaurant, completely handheld in very low light. I tried to push the ISO around 10,000 and shoot this frames at f/2.8.

For Food & product shoots we will get to a good distance to reduce shadows and good enough distance between the camera and subject, which is around 1m to 1.5 m distance depends on subject size. Which is bit closer than 100mm or 105mm macros.

Sigma has updated its autofocus algorithm and uses a focus-by-wire system in the Macro Art lens. It means a system where your turning of the focus ring actuates an electric motor that moves the glass elements of the lens to the proper position to achieve sharp focus. While using this lens you can feel the difference of normal focusing and this specific system. While the lens AF button in AF mode, if you turn the focus ring, it won’t work, also if the camera is off, the extending element will not move back forth. Even in manual focus, you have the camera to be power on to move the element.

I tried shooting some portraits in a gym indoor. avoid using strobes to get the natural feel. pumped the ISO to 1000 and with f/2.8 made some good sharp images from the evening. the depth of field worked great and the 'bokeh' is also great. Autofocus is quick and quiet, while full-time manual focus is possible by rotating the focus ring at any point.

Build quality is in same level of all art series lenses which is Constructed of metal and Thermally Stable Composite material, it feels reassuring in the hands of the user. The lens Offering 1:1 rendering of subjects and a minimum focusing distance of 25.8cm, the Macro Art can pull a ridiculous amount of detail from even the tiniest subjects as i showed is one of the most attractively priced Art lenses, serves as an appealing option for casual and serious macro shooters alike. It operates flawlessly, slightly slower than other Art AF lenses, but proves an excellent overall match for the hi resolution new generation cameras.

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. The table is very useful as a guide, listing as it does the figures for a full range of magnifications.

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. I normally do macro shoots or extreme close ups at f8 and stacks multiple images using PS. With this lens its working great and getting amazing details with f8 which is good enough to stack an extreme close up. Shoot around 5 cm distance from the subject to the front element. But if you want to shoot at f2.8 or wider aperture, you will get amazing depth of field.

The lens has a large angle of rotation, it is a gift for some reason what, those who is in extreme magnification shooters, they have more room to fine tune the focus. but if you are jumping between subjects that are not close to each other, its taking bit time to refocus. Other than the focus ring, there are two more switches on the lens barrel. The AF/MF switch and there is also a focus limiter with three focus distance settings, that can be adjusted easily : 0.258-0.5m, 0.5m-Infinity, and Full depends up on the distance we shoot. When shooting wide open at close range, the lens offers an extremely narrow in-focus area with which to work. The rewards make the effort worthwhile, because the resulting images present a striking contrast between razor-sharp focus and non-distracting blur. When shooting near 1:1, I found this to continue to be the case up to about f/8-ish, when the background started to become more prominent in images.

Tech Specs Specs  (Taken from Sigma global vision)

Lens Construction 13 elements in 10 groups

Angle of View (35mm) 34.3°

Number of Diaphragm Blades 9 (Rounded diaphragm)

Minimum Aperture F22

Minimum Focusing Distance 25.8cm/10.2in

Filter Size (mm) φ49㎜

Maximum Magnifications 1:1

Dimensions (Diameter x Length) ø70.8mm x 105.8mm/ 2.8in. x 4.2in.

Weight 515g/18.2oz.

Corresponding Mounts Canon DG, Sony E** DG, Sigma DG

Along with sharpness, the Sigma Art line has a reputation for being economic, and this lens has no exception at all.

For maximum sharpness and minimal distortion, the lens consists of two FLD, two SLD, two aspherical, and one element with a high rate of anomalous partial dispersion and high index of refraction. Flare and ghosting are reduced via a Super Multi-Layer Coating. A nine-blade, rounded aperture produces smooth bokeh. In all apertures (Technical info’s from Sigma global vision). The Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art is far away from chromatic aberration. Infact, during my tests I couldn’t find any major signs of it. Even I go for extreme macro and wide shoots. If you shooting with a flash, the Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art can be incredibly sharp. For my entire test ride, I try to shoot with available lights and some constant lights.

For product photography, i choose my daughters toy chair and her favorite Rainbowdash. A Led light panel made enough light for the scene and shoot with that constant light.

As a Travel & Landscape photographer, i always have a pressure to shoot in my stream field, to have some long exposure seascapes. In the image below I am showing one of my test shoot in a a hot early morning ride with friends. It works great in the 70mm field as a landscaper too.

Overall, this beautifully built lens has the advantage of good 'bokeh', good focal length for both indoor & outdoor shoots, excellent sharpness, no distortion and useful magnification marks on barrel. Also an accurate auto focus system.

The only few draw backs with this lens are it is without image stabilization, (which i don't care because my Sony body has 5 axis), no full weather sealing and bit slow focus than the other art series lenses.The 70mm focal length is a good compromise for the full frame bodies. For APS-C cameras the “35mm format equivalent” would be 112mm. However, 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.

Thanks to AAB world for getting me this great lens and being with me in SIGMA lenses world and Thanks to my FotografiaQ8 team for Sponsoring & Encouraging me for all my lens test rides & my good friend Prasanna Raju for helping me to proof read this review.

See you all…. Another time....Another gear...

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