Sigma 70mm f2.8 Macro Lens and my journey to get there

Posted by on Sep 6, 2012 in Blog | 2 Comments

This blog post is about this great lens that I have found, the Sigma 70mm f2.8 Macro Lens.  I did a video summary of this blog here;

I covered part of my thoughts on this in my blog about How Zoom Lenses will make you Lazy.    This post is sort of an extension of those ideas with more detail on the Sigma.  Before I tell you about the Sigma I think it would be helpful to go through about how I ended up with this lens.

Even though I have been doing photography for 50 years ( Only the last 4 years seriously),  I am still learning and some things that should be obvious are not.   A good golfer will walk up to his ball and look at the lay of the course, the distance, the wind and he/she will make a decision of what golf club will best suite this situation.   Its the same with photography but I don’t always guess right on the lens.  For me its more trail and error.

On top of that I also needed to determine what are the kinds of shots that I, most often, like to take.   And there are many many photo specialties.  Protraits, macros, landscapes, motion, abstract.   The list goes on.  Then there are the subjects, insects, mammals, birds, flowers, architechture, planes, trains, cars, people, kids, babies and on and on and on.  I think to know what you really need for a lens is based on what kind of images you like to take and what kind of subjects.   In addition what context you want.   Context meaning,  is it all about ONLY the subject or is it about the surroundings.

So it took ME  a while to figure all of this out.  This is how I got there.

With point and shoots and later with the APS-C and first full frame cameras it was about having zoom capability.   I did not know what I was going to see but I wanted to be prepared to take any image in any what I wanted.   The zoom capability of the point and shoots and the zoom lenses on the DSLRs let me do that.   I took lots of pictures.   First of the places that I went, then family and friends, and finally ended up doing microstock.   The quality of the images had to go up with microstock so that pushed me to own the DSLR’s .   With the APS-s frame camera (Canon Rebel XS, then 50D, then 7D) my favorite lens was the  Canon 17-55mm f2.8 IS.  I wanted better low light performance and higher image quality so I went to full frame.  The Canon 5DMkII and now the 5DMKIII.   The 17-55mm is for APS-c frame cameras so I had to upgrade to Canon’s 24-70mm f2.8.   I missed the IS capability but it took great shots and I have sold a lot of them on microstock sites.   Recently I upgraded that lens to the Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 VC (vibration control)

Ok…..so now 3yrs after I started seriously using DSLR’s, mostly with the 24-70mm zoom lenses,   I started to figure out what kind of photography I liked to do.    I also discovered that the tools (lenses) that I had were not quite getting me where I wanted to go.   I discovered that I really enjoy taking pictures of fruit and vegetables at the market,  flowers in flower beds or nurseries,  elements of inanimate objects (trains, planes, cars, buildings, water fountains, etc).   I liked if I could pick the most interesting feature of my subject and get a really sharp focus view of that.   And then have the backround give the subject some context but in a soft focus manner.  An example is a strawberry at the farmers market.   I like taking a shot where a single strawberry or a portion of the strawberry is in perfect focus but then the background drifts off into soft focus that looks like a sea of strawberries.

But I was not getting that with my zoom lens.  I was getting close but I knew that there had to be a way to do better.

I had a Canon 100mm f2.8 IS Macro.   It got me close.  But the field of view ended up being too small to provide a more full context than what I was looking for.  I also had a 50mm f1.4 lens.   But, because of minimum focus distance issues,  I could not get close enough.

I keep all of my images on Aperture 3  (a great Mac program).   And looked at all of my highest rated images for the most common focal distance used with the 24-70mm lens.   Well it was mostly near 70mm.  Hmmmmm that ought to be a clue.   And I wanted to get close.  Hmmmmmm close means Macro.  Sharp images…… Prime?

So could there be a good quality Prime lens that takes sharp images around 70mm with macro capability and good bokeh (f2.8 or better).

Well….. I did not have to shop around.   There is only one that will work with a Canon (or Nikon)  the Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro.  And lucky for me…. its a good quality lens and not expensive ($500) at Amazon.

Sigma 70mm f2.8 Macro Lens

This lens is great.  Here are the specs.

Lens Construction 10 Elements in 9 Groups
Angle of View 34.3º
Number of Diaphragm Blades 9
Mininum Aperture f22
Minimum Focusing Distance 25.7 cm / 10.1 in
Filter Size (mm) 62
Maximum Magnifications 1:1
Dimensions
(Diameter x Length)
76 x 95 mm/3.0 x 3.7 in
Extended Dimensions / 5.7 in
Weight 525g / 18.5oz.
Corresponding Mounts
Sigma
Nikon
Canon
Sony/Minolta
Pentax

 

There are not a lot of reviews on it, but here are some good ones.

1.  The Sigma Site

2. The Phoblographer ( I liked this one)

3. Photozone (with nice analysis)

What I can add to these reviews are my impressions.

Pros

  1. It looks cool.  Very professionally built.  Solid. Professional.
  2. Its very affordable at $500 versus the Canon 24-70mm at $2300
  3. Its takes very sharp high image quality images
  4. The Auto Focus gets sharp images
  5. Solid metal hood
  6. Tight manual focus ring so no problems with lens creep
  7. Focus stays pretty sharp in corners and no appreciable vignetting.  But since my images tend to be soft focus in the corners by intent I am not sure if I am evaluating this well.

Cons

  1. Tight focus ring for Manual focus.   Hard to move without overshooting/ undershooting focus point
  2. AF is slow.  Fine for inanimate objects
  3. Odd filter attach point (put filter on hood)

 

Summary

Its the only lens that I have found that fits exactly what I am looking for.  Its affordable at $500.  And the images are tack sharp with a nice bokeh in the background.   The focus ring and slow AF are not much of a problem for me.    I am finding that I have much less rejects using this lens.  What can I say…. Its my new walk around lens.

Here are some of the recent images that I have taken with this lens.

 

 

2 Comments

  1. How I got to the Sigma 70mm f2.8 Macro for Canon
    September 6, 2012

    […] and video on my process of getting there and a little bit about the lens. You can see it here: My journey to get to the Sigma 70mm f2.8 Macro Lens BTW its is a Great lens…. at least for my application and its my new walk around lens. — Bob […]

    Reply
  2. bobbyk
    September 7, 2012

    test

    Reply

Leave a Reply