Review Sigma 105 mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro (SIG)

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Sigma has a wide range of 5 macro lenses, which differ in terms of focal length, and ranges from the Sigma 50mm macro to the Sigma 180mm macro. Initially there was a Sigma 105 mm macro lens without image stabilization. Nevertheless, nowadays a Sigma 105 macro OS is available. We previously tested this lens on a Canon 60D and in combination with a Canon 5D MK2.

We test performance of a lens using different cameras, because they are strongly determined by the test camera. This is especially true since we test the performance of jpg files stored in the camera; a workflow used by many, perhaps most, photographers. Earlier we published a Sigma 105mm macro OS review using a Canon 5DMK2 test camera with a full frame sensor and a Sigma 105mm macro OS review on a Canon camera with an APS-C sensor (Canon 60D). In this review, we examine the performance of this lens with a Sigma SD1 Merrill camera. The Sigma SD1 Merrill / Sigma 105 mm macro combination delivers a higher resolution than in the two earlier reviews.

Sigma 105 macro,Sigma 105 mm macro review, Sigma 105 OS macro review,Sigma 105 mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro

The Sigma 105mm macro OS will provide a viewing angle equal to a full frame equivalent of 160 mm on a camera with an image sensor of the APS-C format. The combination of a relatively fast lens and a longer focal length limits the depth of field, making it possible to draw the attention to your subject.

The blurred foreground and background look nicely 'woolly'. This tiny screech owl (click the link for a 4704 x 3136 version or on the image to the right for a 100% crop) can therefore be captured, while still preserving some distance so that the owl could remain at ease.

Sigma 105 macro,Sigma 105 mm macro review, Sigma 105 OS macro review,Sigma 105 mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro
Sigma 105 mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro @ f/5.6

Construction and autofocus

 

The lens is made of a high-grade type of plastic, and the mount is made of metal. The lens construction feels solid and the focus ring turns smoothly without play. The lens is supplied with a lens hood and a - compared to the Sigma 105 mm lens - very large pouch.

The lens features switches for image stabilization, AF and a focus range limiter. The latter is very useful, since macro lenses have a large distance scale. Limiting the focus range makes the camera focus significantly faster

Specifications
Sigma 105 mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro
Image Stabilization:+
lenses/ groups:16/11
length x diameter:126 / 78
filter size:62
Weight:725
Lens hood:+

Nowadays we seldom encounter a distance scale on a lens. This macro lens has one, including the distance in feet and meters and the magnification ratio.

The autofocus is of the HSM type ("Hyper Sonic Motor"). Focusing is smooth and virtually noise free. In low light, the camera (Sigma SD1 Merrill) rarely hunts.

A 105 mm telephoto lens shows a very limited depth of field at f/2.8 at a short distance. Therefore, it clearly shows when you did not aim your camera correctly. The above shown image of a screech owl is an example. I aimed for the eye, but I had very limited time to capture this moment and clearly did not succeed in aiming at what I wanted.

Sigma-105mm-macro-review-product3

Vignetting

 

In real life, you do not have to bother about vignetting while using the Sigma 105mm Macro OS on a camera with an APS-C sensor. Vignetting, expressed in stops, is very low at all apertures. Here you can see one of the benefits if you use a lens design for full frame on a camera with a smaller sensor. At full aperture, some vignetting might be visible in images of a clear blue sky. However, a macro lens is generally used for other subjects, and rarely with the aperture wide open.

Sigma-105mm-macro-review-jpg-vignet

Image stabilization

 
In the current Sigma 105 OS review, we have not tested image stabilization. In an earlier Sigma 105mm macro OS review with a Canon 5DMK2 test camera, we observed that the image stabilization of the Sigma 105 mm OS realized 3 ½ stops gain. At a focal distance of 30 cm, the gain is approximately one stop. The image stabilization of the Sigma makes a grunting sound, even long after the picture has been taken.

Distortion

The distortion is extremely low and never visible or disturbing. That makes the Sigma 105 Macro OS suitable for reproduction work.
Sigma-105mm-macro-review-jpg-distortion

Flare

 

In an earlier Sigma 105 mm macro OS review, using a Canon 5DMK2, we already reported that the flare in backlit situations was not too bad and that it was less than the Canon 100mm 2.8 IS Macro flare.

In the images taken outside for the current review, we did not encounter flare, but we must admit it was cloudy most of the time. In the studio, we saw significant flare at f/5.0, including some ghosting, when the Sigma 105mm macro was very close to a bright light. However, we doubt whether you will ever encounter such a situation in practice.

 

Sigma-105mm-OS-macro-review-flare

Resolution

 

The resolution of the Sigma 105mm macro on a Sigma SD1 Merrill camera is higher than the resolution of the same lens on a Canon 60D or a Canon 5D MK2. The resolution is already good at f/2.8 and sharpness at the edges is almost equal to the sharpness in the center. At f/8, the highest resolution is achieved. Nevertheless, we believe that the Sigma 105mm macro will be able to show an even higher resolution in forthcoming reviews.

Click on the image of an Uhu for a 100% crop. The 100% crop of the bird's eye is a standard jpg image taken with the Sigma SD1 Merrill. In our forthcoming Sigma SD1 Merrill review, you will see that RAW files from the Sigma SD1 Merrill show more detail and sharpness.

Sigma-105mm-review

This lens has a flat front lens, making the sharpness over the entire image field equal, regardless of the aperture. That makes the Sigma 105 Macro OS also suitable for reproduction work.

Additionally, the results of our Imatest measurements for Sigma SD1 Merrill jpg file with the sharpness in the center are displayed with a blue column. The sharpness of the edges is represented by the gray columns and red columns show the resolution in the extreme corners.

test Sigma 105 mm Macro OS, Sigma 105 mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro, Sigma 105 mm Macro test
 

Bokeh

The Sigma 105mm macro OS has, partially thanks to the longer focal length, a nice "woolly" background blur. Sigma-105mm-bokeh

Chromatic aberration

 

The chromatic aberration remains very low at all apertures as we saw in earlier Sigma 105mm Macro OS reviews.

Sigma-105mm-OS-macro-review-Chromatic aberration

Conclusion Sigma 105 mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro review

Sigma-105mm-macro-review-product

Look in our list of all reviewed lenses  in order to compare the performance of this lens with other lenses.
ECWYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you store the files in the camera as jpg, where you have all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
105
158
7.7
6.9
8.9
8.8
9.0

Pros

  • Excellent optical performance: high resolution, very low distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting
  • Constant resolution over the entire image
  • Beautiful OOF (out of focus) areas
  • Built-in image stabilization

Cons

  • The lens bag is relatively large compared to the lens
  • High price
It says enough that the main disadvantage of a lens in a review is directed towards the size of the lens bag. The Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro is a very good lens with a solid optical performance. The resolution of the Sigma 105mm macro with the Sigma SD1 Merrill is higher than the resolution of the same lens with a Canon 60D or a Canon 5D MK2. Nevertheless, we believe that the Sigma 105mm macro will be able to show an even higher resolution in forthcoming reviews.
Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.

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