Sigma 105mm F2.8 DG DN MACRO ART Quick Review
Recently we levelled up our lens arsenal with the brand New 105mm macro lens from Sigma to help bring a new perspective to our work.
A macro lens is one which allows for extreme close up shooting along with a much more accurate proportional reproduction of the subject.
We wanted to share our thoughts about this highly anticipated new release from Sigma and whether we think it'll be a hit or miss with photographers and filmmakers a like.
We're not big fans of charts and graphs when talking about lenses, so this is our thoughts from using it in real world situations.
Disclaimer - the images in this article have been slightly adjusted in Lightroom.
Build and Handling
Although the 105mm is quite small, it feels really solid and has some serious heft to it. It has a mix of high quality plastic, rubber and metal on the exterior which give it a really premium feel (which is something we've come to expect for Sigma's ART lenses).
It also has some weather ceiling which really instils a confidence in the capabilities of the lens in harsh and working environments. The lens is quite small, which is great for shooting one the move but it also comes stacked with great features to really enhance the shooting experience. The manual aperture ring is amazing for video shooting as it gives you quick and precise control of your aperture without taking your hand away from the lens. It can also be de-clicked so it has a smooth roll throughout the full range, I especially love this as it keeps the handling similar to our other cinema lenses. You can also lock this to auto or manual aperture.
The focus limiter is a really great feature for being out on the move. By nature, macro lenses have veeeery long focus throws to allow for precise control when shooting up close. This means it takes longer for the focus motor to travel from the closest focus point to the furthest than your standard camera lens. By limiting the focus to either 0.295 - 0.5m and 0.5m - infinity you can speed up the autofocus between these ranges.
The AF-L button also allows you to use custom set ups is a nice feature. As standard it is set to Autofocus Lock but can be changed to a number of things including quick crop and auto ISO.
Superb. Let's just leave it at that.
The lens has an amazingly warm character, really beautiful bokeh with a fantastic fade from pin sharp the buttery out of focus backgrounds.
Overall there's really not much more to say than it performs really well right across the range from f/2.8 all the way through to f/22.
There is minimal distortion or colour fringing, even in high contrast situations, which really instils confidence in this being a truly superb, professional quality lens. It also has a very minimal vignette.
As you'd expect from a macro lens, it is sharp... really sharp. As the main purpose of the lens is to capture the detail of a subject, this lens performs exceptionally in doing so.
Even at f/2.8 it is just absolutely pin prick sharp across the frame. As you can see from the below image and the adjacent heavy crop, it retains detail amazingly well even when blown up.
Right now, if I had to pick anything apart from this lens it would be the autofocus. Macro lenses have extremely long focus throws which means they can't quite focus as quickly as other lenses, like an 85mm prime lens or 70-200 zoom.
And for the most part the autofocus is very good, for a macro lens. For still subjects it does track fairly well and is okay for moving subjects. I find that the lens can move from one point to another very quickly but the main sticking point for me is the focus tracking.
I find I miss a lot more shots of fast moving subjects with this lens than others. That's not to say it is impossible to get a moving target in focus, it's just a case of you'll be hitting a lower percentage than alternative lenses.
For example, my Zeiss 55mm lens is superbly fast and I can normally hit about 8/10 shots in focus as a pose to maybe 4/10 with this lens. However, I will attribute this to not having used the 105mm as much as my other lenses so this number could go up as I use it more.
Overall, this lens is an almost perfect investment for any photographer or video production company as it provides fantastic versatility as a an extreme close ups lens and a short telephoto for both photo and video needs.
The external controls only personify the cross over between its video and photo uses.
Optically it is a stellar piece of equipment that creates truly stunning shots with almost technical perfection. The only downfall at present is the autofocus speed when tracking and in low light situations. Sigma regularly release firmware updates for their lenses which will massively improve things like the autofocus speed and tracking capabilities.
This lens only came out about 4 months before writing this review so we could yet see a major update that really makes this one of the must have pieces of equipment for anyone looking to create stunning images.
We really look forward to taking this lens out in the field and getting some great shots with it. It is going to be the new go to for all of our product video and photography needs along with using it for capturing those small details you often need in a film. We'll leave you with a couple more shots from our inhouse model.
If you have any further thoughts about this lens, we'd love to hear them! Get in touch with us and let us know if you found this quick run down of the Sigma 105mm F2.8 DG DN MACRO ART useful!