Having a good macro lens that can bring small details and tiny objects to life is worth its weight in gold. However, not all macro lenses are created equal. Let’s see how the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro Art gets on in our review.
The Sigma 105mm f/2.8 Macro is one of just a few macro lenses available with an L mount. There are several very good options for Sony shooters already. However, this Sigma option comes in hot at under $800. I have been putting this lens to the test over the last couple of weeks and I have been pleasantly surprised with its performance.
- Stunning optics
- 1:1 reproduction
- Decent autofocus speeds
- Build quality
- Price point
- Noisy when elements are being moved
- A little weighty for its size
- Focus pulsing on Panasonic L mount cameras
- No image stabilization
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro — Technical specifications
All technical specifications for this lens are from the product listing at B&H Photo:
- Max aperture: f/2.8, Min aperture: f/22
- Lens mounts: Sony E and Leica L mount
- Angle of view: 23.3°
- Minimum focus dist: 11.6″ / 29.5 cm
- Close-up magnification: 1x
- Macro reproduction: 1:1
- Design: 12 elements in seven groups, nine rounded aperture blades
- Filter size: 62 mm
- Dimensions (ø x L) 2.9 x 5.3″ / 74 x 135.6 mm
- Weight 1.6 lb / 710 g
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro — Ergonomics and build quality
The Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN is pretty typical for full-frame macro lenses when it comes to its design, and size. The lens isn’t overly large and it feels nice in the hand. However, the lens weighs in at 1.6lbs. So, it’s not a lens I’d call light. When paired with the Lumix S5, the combo isn’t balanced perfectly. You’re going to feel the weight pulling your camera forward. Still, you quickly get used to this when you’re shooting.
In terms of the design and the controls, well, it looks like a Sigma Art lens. The metal and composite plastics give the lens a nice look. There’s a dedicated aperture dial that can be de-clicked. There’s a focus limiter switch, which is standard for macro lenses, a programmable AFL button and a switch to select manual and autofocus. The manual focus ring is large and takes up half the length of the barrel. If you want to use filters you’ll need them in the flavor of 62mm.
The Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro feels premium. The controls feel great and the manual focus ring is silky smooth. The lens is dust and splash resistant thanks to six seals throughout the body and gaskets that sit behind the control panels. Pair this lens up with a weather-sealed camera and you can go and shoot in inclement weather. I have no doubts that this lens will last a long time. It’s as robust as they come.
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro — In the field
The Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro, like other macro lenses, can be fairly difficult to use. If you’ve never used a 1:1 macro lens before you’ll need to spend time with it to get the most out of it. Having said that, the focus limiter, the aperture dial and the silky smooth manual focus ring go a long way in aiding you. While the manual focus ring isn’t mechanical (it’s electronic), you still have ample control. Turn on focus peaking and you’ll have no problems manually focusing when you’re creating 1:1 images.
The focus limiter is key. The Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN can take a while to go focus from near to far. So, be sure to set the switch to the correct setting for what you’re shooting or you’ll quickly become frustrated. The aperture dial is a nice touch. This dial can also be de-clicked which will please videographers. However, if you’re not a fan, you can set the dial to A and you can control the aperture via the camera body.
There’s no optical stabilization in the Sigma 105 f/2.8 DG DN Macro. So, if you’re using this lens on a camera with no IBIS you’re going to want to carry a tripod if you want to get up close and personal with tiny objects. On a camera with IBIS, I handheld down to 1/15th of a second and still got acceptable results. This will of course vary by camera and your technique. Overall, this lens is pleasant to use. Spend some time with it and its features and you’ll soon be creating macro masterpieces.
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro — Autofocus performance
Speed is not what macro lenses are designed for. However, I found that on the Panasonic Lumix S5, this lens was pretty good when it comes to autofocus. When you use the focus limiter switch you’ll obtain focus quickly. Even when you’re shooting at the minimum focus distance of 11.6 inches, the lens will lock on to your subject quickly, especially in single focus modes. Using the limiter and then being able to rely on accurate autofocus for macro is game-changing.
Going from near to far with the focus limiter set to full range does take some time, though and there will be a fair amount of hunting. Again, this is a common trait of macro lenses. Now, on the Lumix S5, when you set the camera to continuous focus this lens pulses more than most other L mount lenses I’ve used. This won’t be a problem on Sony cameras as this is a trait of Panasonics DFD autofocus system. Still, this is worth nothing and is something Panasonic users will have to take into account.
Overall, I think the autofocus performance is more than acceptable. Still, at the end of the day, if you’re going to do heavy macro photography where you’ll be changing your focus point so you can focus stack, you’re going to be manually focusing. Still, it’s nice to know that the autofocus system, while a little on the noisy side, will deliver when you need it to.
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro — Image quality
You’ve got nothing to worry about when it comes to image quality. The Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro is one of the sharpest macro lenses I’ve used. Period. On top of the sharpness, there’s not a whole lot to complain about. Let’s break image quality down further.
Distortion control and vignetting
There’s very little to report when it comes to distortion and vignetting. There’s a slight amount of pincushion distortion but it’s easily correctable. When it comes to vignette, there’s none to worry about. Not even when you’re shooting wide-open at f/2.8. Sigma has done a great job controlling both of these things.
Ghosting, flaring and chromatic aberrations
The Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro does a decent job when it comes to ghosting. As you can see in the images above, when shooting into direct sunlight ghosting and flaring are controlled well. One of the shots is at f/2.8 and there’s hardly any ghosting at all, the other shot at f/16 shows a little more but it’s still more than acceptable. Not so acceptable is the amount of contrast you’ll lose when shooting into light sources. In regards to sun stars, the Sigma 105mm Macro produces well-defined tines.
The lens excels when it comes to chromatic aberration and fringing. I have looked closely at my images and I haven’t seen a hint of purple or green fringing. It’s a really impressive performance.
Ridiculous is one word I’d use to describe how sharp the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro is. Seriously, it’s one of the sharpest lenses I have used. From wide-open at f/2.8 down to f/10-11 you’re going to get corner-to-corner and edge-to-edge sharpness. After that, diffraction starts to kick in.
This lens captures so much detail! It’s exactly what you want from a macro lens. I only used it on my 24-megapixel Panasonic Lumix S5 but I am sure it could out-resolve high-megapixel cameras like the Panasonic Lumix S1R and the Sony a7R IV You’ll have no complaints when it comes to sharpness.
Bokeh is as you would expect from a lens like this. It’s incredibly smooth and creamy. Bokeh balls are well defined in the center of the frame, though they do turn into cat’s eyes as you head out toward the edges and corners. There’s a small amount of onion ring bokeh at times, but it’s not bad at all. You can create a lot of subject separation with this lens which means it will excel at both product photography and portrait photography.
The colors coming from the lens tend to lean on the warm side of the color spectrum. I have noticed a lot of Sigma lenses doing this so, it’s par for the course. The colors overall, are nice. If the colors aren’t to your liking you can change them during post if you shoot RAW. If you capture JPEGs you’ll need to adjust your white balance manually or choose a color profile that is maybe a bit cooler. Of course, if you like warm tones, leave them be and enjoy.
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro DN — Big performance, small price
Overall the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro is a cracking lens that will please those who like to make the tiny things in this world come to life. When it comes to sharpness, this lens from Sigma is hard to beat. The colors and bokeh it produces are very nice, it’s built like a tank and autofocus performance is good too. Though the lens is in its element when you’re manually focusing thanks to the silky smooth focus ring.
The lens does have some pincushion distortion and a little ghosting but overall, the optics in this lens are stellar. The whole package, for under $800 is a winner. If you’re a Sony E mount or L mount camera user and you want to break into macro photography, this is one lens that you need to take a closer look at.
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro Art
Razor-sharp optics and solid construction are what define this macro lens from Sigma. You can create breathtaking 1:1 reproductions in a jiffy thanks to features that make this lens fairly easy to use. At under $800, this macro lens is priced perfectly and will open the doors to the world of tiny objects for many Sony E mount and L mount camera owners.