Lens Review: Sigma’s 70MM F/2.8 DF Macro A
September 4, 2018
Sigma’s Art line has grown to encompass a number of key focal length and lens options, but it was only recently that the company threw a macro lens into the mix. We turned over the 70mm f2/.8 Macro to N.J. commercial photographer David Patiño to see how this Art line newbie fared.
For its first Art-series macro lens, Sigma is bucking the convention of using an inner focusing system for higher speed autofocusing. Instead, it’s opted for a focus-by-wire system (without a mechanical connection between the focus ring and the focus drive system), which the company says improves image quality. Full-time manual focus is available during autofocusing.
The 70mm f/2.8 Macro has nine rounded aperture blades that stop down to f/22. It has a minimum focusing distance of 10.2 inches and a 1:1 true macro magnification ratio.
The lens is compatible with Canon’s chromatic aberration correction and works with a macro flash accessory for shedding extra light on your closeups. It’s also compatible with Sigma’s 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters. With the 1.4x attached, the lens can be used as a 98mm F4 mid-telephoto macro with autofocus functionality, while the 2x teleconverter allows the lens to be used as a 140mm F5.6 mid-telephoto macro with manual focus.
The 70mm Macro is sold in Canon, Nikon, Sony E and Sigma mounts.
At 18.2 ounces, Sigma’s 70mm is heavier than the closely comparable AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G ED from Nikon and Canon’s EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM. It’s a well-built lens, complete with weather sealing and a generously grooved focus ring.
You’ll find a pair of switches on the outside of the lens. One is for switching between autofocus and manual focusing and the other is a focus limiter (.5m-infinity and .258-.5m). As you extend your focus, you’ll see a table on the lens that shows distance in feet and meters, plus the magnification ratio. It’s very helpful, if a bit small. (To be fair, there’s a lot to cram in there.)
Image Quality and Performance
Patiño shot products and portraits with the lens on his Canon 5DS. The details were razor sharp—100 percent crops of facial features revealed eyelashes and pores with granular precision. The lens rendered contrast and color accurately and did a nice job resolving his 5DS, Patiño says. “It doesn’t completely fall apart at f/22,” he says.
Patiño tells us he didn’t see much in the way of purple fringing, chromatic aberration or other optical issues.
He says that shooting stills with the focus-by-wire system took some getting used to, as it was extremely responsive to even the most minute movements. That said, the focusing system does help you manually dial in focus very precisely. Repeatable focusing, though, is tricky because even a tiny movement of the ring can cause a change in focus. Autofocusing speed wasn’t blazing, he says, but adequate for his needs.
While many Sigma lenses enjoy a price differential with their OEM competitors, this particular Art lens is something of a premium product in the class. While Nikon and Canon don’t produce 70mm Macros, both companies offer (older) 60mm lenses for less than the Sigma. For its part, Sony has a 50mm and 100mm Macro but nothing that really competes with this particular lens.
Is it worth it? While Patiño isn’t parting with his EF-S 100mm Macro, he definitely thinks the Art lens is very much worth it.