Long gone are the days of scarce Sony FE lenses. With the arrival of Canon and Nikon’s new mirrorless R and Z systems, it has become evident that Sony now possesses the native lens advantage by a wide margin. Sony holds the widest margin with their lineup, but 3rd party manufacturers are jumping in the fray as of late as well. Tamron absolutely killed it with their 28-75mm F/2.8 lens.
Sigma released their entire lineup of Art lenses as well. One of the largest gripes with Sigma’s FE lineup, which I don’t necessarily agree with, is their size. One particular lens in the new FE Art lineup that doesn’t follow the large size trend is the 70mm F/2.8 Sigma Macro lens. I had the opportunity to test it out for a few weeks, and here are my thoughts. Keep in mind that this is a less comprehensive review, and will stick to my opinions, not charts and graphs.
70mm F/2.8 Sigma Macro: Pros
- Smaller design than other Art lenses
- Built well
- Decent AF in photo and video modes
- $529 cheaper than Sony 90mm macro
70mm F/2.8 Sigma Macro: Cons
70mm F/2.8 Sigma Macro: Build and Features
The build on the 70mm F/2.8 Sigma Macro is great, being constructed from mostly metal and rubber like other Art lenses. There is also a rubber seal on the lens mount, but I’m not sure just how weather resistant the design is because of its protruding barrel. The 70mm F/2.8 Sigma Macro is under 3” wide, and just over 4” tall, before the barrel is extended, and features Sigma’s “A” for Art. As for weight, the lens comes in at 1.13lbs, which balances very well on my Sony A7RIII.
The depth of field display is on the protruding barrel, which can be kind of strange, but isn’t a deal breaker. The 70mm F/2.8 Sigma Macro is also a focus by wire lens, but I’m assuming that you’re looking into this lens because of its native functionality. Sigma’s optical stabilization also is missing, but Sony’s IBIS is there to save the day, making a non-stabilized lens less of a big deal in this case.
There are two switches on the 70mm F/2.8 Sigma Macro. The first is a typical AF/MF switch, which is really nice to have on a macro lens. The second switch is a focus limiter, with three different settings. The first is for dedicated macro work, the second for midrange macro work such as products, and the third is for the full range.
70mm F/2.8 Sigma Macro: Performance
First, the image quality of the lens. As far as sharpness, the 70mm F/2.8 Sigma Macro is a great performer. Macro lenses are typically very sharp, and this lens is no different. In my shooting, it seemed sharp across the frame. However, if you’re shooting macro at 2.8, be prepared for much of your photo to be very out of focus. In these instances, the bokeh also is quite smooth and pleasing, with nice transitions from in focus areas to the out of focus areas of the image. If you are indeed shooting at f/2.8 in a macro situation, I recommend shooting with a tripod, as the plane of focus is so razor thin it can be hard to nail a shot.
Colors are fine coming out of the 70mm F/2.8 Sigma Macro. I’d describe them as a good starting place for RAW files, only needing minor massaging to get to your desired outcome. Colors are accurate, contrast is good, and distortion is pretty much nonexistent.
Autofocus on the 70mm F/2.8 Sigma Macro comes in many shapes and sizes. Let’s start with autofocus during photos. Because of the barrel’s protruding nature when focusing, autofocus can be a bit slow when shooting macro. I’d imaging that this isn’t an issue when setting up a ring or product shot, as the photographer most likely has more time in that particular scenario. I’m happy to say that in typical portrait scenarios, since the barrel does not need to extend as much the autofocus is much quicker. The autofocus motors are also pretty loud, although I don’t know of a scenario where this would be an issue.
Autofocus when shooting some sample videos performed pretty well. Focus racking seemed very smooth and consistent. At very close distances, this smoothness of focus racking seemed to suffer, but I’d expect that at such a shallow depth of field. In typical product distances, it did very well. I’d definitely recommend this lens for YouTube reviewers who are into reviewing and speaking about products.
70mm F/2.8 Sigma Macro: Experience
I think that the 70mm F/2.8 Sigma Macro is a nice addition to the Sony full frame E-Mount lineup. It performs decently well, and comes in at a bargain of a price. There are some quirks to be aware of though. At 70mm, you’ll need to be significantly closer to your subject when shooting macro, and sometimes this can make a difference.
When shooting bees, I pretty much had to be right up on them in order to get the shot. Take that into consideration depending on what you’re shooting. Another interesting trait of the 70mm F/2.8 Sigma Macro revolves once again around the extending barrel. I never felt the need in the past to use a macro lens’s hood. Because I don’t want to accidentally hit the front element on the Sigma, I feel the need to constantly keep the lens hood on. This isn’t anywhere close to a deal breaker, but is worth noting.
70mm F/2.8 Sigma Macro: Conclusion
The 70mm F/2.8 Sigma Macro feels great in the hand, and I really appreciate Sigma including the AF/MF switch. It pairs very well with the third generation Sony A7 bodies. Who is this lens for? If you shoot the occasional macro, but don’t make your bread and butter off it, can live with a few quirks, but still want great image quality, the 70mm F/2.8 Sigma Macro is a fantastic choice. At only $569, it is almost double for a new Sony 90mm F/2.8 macro, and I’m not sure that it is worth the upgrade unless you really need some specific design and performance features. The 70mm F/2.8 Sigma Macro is a solid offering from Sigma, and I definitely recommend it. If I personally need a macro lens in the future for my Sony E-Mount cameras, this is the one I’ll be picking up.