Sigma 105mm ƒ/2.8 DG Macro & EF-500 DG Super Flash
This macro lens and electronic flash make a great combo for close-ups
By Rob Sheppard
I have a love-hate relationship with spiders. I find their webs and variation in body styles and colors to be fascinating subjects, but I don't like walking into their webs at night, which happens too often at certain times of the year. I'd rather not have a spider crawling down my neck either! Recently, as I went outside one night to walk the dog, I pulled up short of entanglement with a head-high web barely visible in the moonlight. I noted a big spider and a striking web that promised some interesting images.
I finished with the dog and got my camera. I had just received a Sigma 105mm ƒ/2.8 DG Macro and Sigma Electronic Flash EF-500 DG Super for review, so I pulled them out, grabbed a camera and tripod, then headed off to the spider and web. I also took a flashlight because I knew focusing would be impossible otherwise.
The web and spider were beauties. I set up the camera on a tripod nearby, using the flashlight for composition and focus. This is where I loved the Sigma macro's focal length—105mm on a Canon EOS 20D gave it the equivalent of nearly 170mm used on a 35mm camera. That meant I could keep my distance, which helped both my psyche (keeping the spider from my neck) and my light (allowing some room between the camera and the subject).
I put the flash on a dedicated cord so I could move it around to get the best light. This is one of digital's greatest features—even if you have no clue as to what a flash will do, you take the picture, check the LCD and make exposure and direction changes as needed immediately.
The flash and lens were a great combination. I quickly got several shots from diverse angles, with varied light and at different distances. Without any chance of camera movement (the tripod and flash pre-vented that), the lens' qualities came through. A decent lens wide open, like most lenses, it's at its best stopped down from the maximum aperture. It's available in Canon, Konica Minolta, Nikon, Pentax and Sigma mounts.
The EF-500 flash performed perfectly. Designed to work with the latest in digital camera technology, its controls are easily accessed on the back. It has an excellent guide number (GN) of 165 (feet, ISO 100) and will zoom to fit the lens used (you also can zoom it manually for special needs or effects). The flash includes a modeling light mode and works wirelessly with camera manufacturers' wireless flash units. It's available for Canon, Konica, Minolta, Nikon, Pentax and Sigma cameras.
[ Specifications ] Lens:Sigma 105mm ƒ/2.8 DG Macro Lens Elements: 11 elements in 10 groups Focal Length:105mm Aperture:ƒ/2.8-32 Focus Range:1:1 to infinity Filter Size: 58mm Size:3.1x3.7 inches Weight:15.9 ounces Street Price:$399
Flash:Sigma Electronic Flash EF-500 DG Super Guide Number: 165 (feet/ISO 100) Angle Of Light:Variable to match 28-105mm; 17mm with built-in diffuser Head Movement:Swivels right and left, up to bounce position Size:3x5.5x4.6 - inches Weight: 12 ounces Street Price: $229
1Powerful GN of 165 (expressed in feet at ISO 100)