Impressions of a New Lens

September 18, 2016

I recently made a rather impulsive purchase and bought my first third party lens.  People have been raving about the new Sigma lenses, so when I decided to add a macro lens to my all-Nikon arsenal, I did some quick research and settled on the Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG Macro OS.  The lens has gotten strong reviews, and the $350 instant savings rebate from B&H helped to seal the deal.

Here are my initial (and very non-technical!) impressions of the 105mm...for a complete in-depth review check out this article at The Digital Picture.com.

The lens comes with a large and bulky soft storage case - much more substantial and protective than the flimsy sacks that came with my Nikon lenses.  But it's so large that I can't store it in the same shelving area that I have my other lenses...ticky tack, I know, but space is an issue in my photo room.

It also comes with a lens hood and an APS-C Hood Adapter, to provide further shade should you need it.

This lens is Sigma's first macro to have built in optical stabilization, which is really nice for lower shutter speeds.  That being said, the 'OS' is pretty audible and took a little bit to get used to...in fact, I originally thought something was defective because I've never heard a lens sound like that before.  It's not horrible, just different.  The 'DG' is an improved design for the lens and corrects for various aberrations.  There's also a special coating on the glass which helps to get the best color balance, while cutting down on ghosting caused by reflections from the digital image sensor.

The Sigma 105mm is a beast - solidly built and very professional feeling.

The first time I ever ran across a 105mm was when I was going through my 'Food Photography' stage.  

I just couldn't seem to get the amazing shots that I saw on so many food blogs and groups even though I had some expensive prime lenses.  After doing research, I figured out it was because those lenses, while nice, simply could not give me the right ratio for such up close work.  I saw that all of my favorite food photographers were using the 105mm focal length, but I wasn't ready to make the investment in another lens.  And that was fine, because I quickly moved on to my 'Portrait Photography' stage.  The primes I had were just right for that kind of work and I happily continued on in that direction.  

So what got me thinking about a macro again?  

It was the wedding I was second shooter at this past summer, and specifically the macro focal length required for the ring shots.  So, I decided to take the plunge and get myself a fun new lens that would allow me to get up close and personal with my subjects.

OK, well guess what?  This lens can be used for portraiture as well...whaaaattt?!  Double duty lens - now that's what I call a good investment! 

Now the hidden little truth about this '2.8' lens...you may or may not be able to actually get that aperture depending on your shot.  

The closer you focus, the smaller the aperture with this lens.  There's a chart in the manual explaining this, but it's not really advertised.  So if you decide to get this lens, don't be thinking you'll be getting a f2.8 for macro work...which really isn't a huge deal because at 2.8 you would have so little in focus that it wouldn't even be worth taking the shot.  

Also, even at 2.8, the bokeh on this lens doesn't compare to the creaminess that I get on my 85mm for portraiture work.  That being said, it's an interesting bokeh shape, and something different...almost 'spiral' looking.

Is this lens sharp?  Tack!  Almost too sharp (if such a thing is possible!)  And the 1:1 magnification is literally basically distortion free.  

Ready to see some of my examples of what this lens can do?

Macro work:

ISO 200 F/4 1/250

ISO 200   F/4   1/250

ISO 800   F/8   1/250
ISO 400   F/5.6   1/250

ISO 1600   F/5   1/250

ISO 800   F/5.6   1/250

 

Portrait work:

 

ISO 400   F/3.5   1/640

ISO 400   F/3.5   1/250

ISO 800   F/2.8   1/640

ISO 200   F/3   1/250

 

Impulsive photography purchases are usually not a good thing - this is one reason why photographers tend to accumulate a bunch of equipment, gadgets, and devices that sit around and never get used.  But, am I happy with this little impulsive purchase?  

Thankfully, very!  

I would definitely recommend this lens if you're in the market for a well made, affordable macro.