When we all shot film, one of the favorite focal lengths for a macro lens was 105mm. Sigma’s new 70mm ƒ/2.8 macro lens fits that tradition for digital cameras. All photographers using digital SLRs with small-format, APS-C-sized sensors will find that this lens acts like a 105mm lens with a 35mm camera because of the crop or multiply factor.
I love this size of macro lens. The focal length is long enough to allow some distance between lens and subject—that gives you more of a chance to not spook wary subjects, such as many insects. Another important aspect of focal length and distance-to-subject is light; with short focal lengths, you end up so close to the subject that you can block the light on it. Plus, it can make it difficult to use flash.
I also liked the ƒ/2.8 maximum aperture of the lens. This offers more depth-of-field control, plus it helps with photographing people. I also shoot portraits (for which this lens has an ideal focal length) and low-light people photography, and an ƒ/2.8 lens is a huge advantage over most zoom lenses of this range. Even if you do get a zoom that covers this focal length with that ƒ-stop, this lens is a fraction of the size and weight. That makes it a versatile lens.
The Sigma performed very well in the field. It’s well balanced and has a nice finish that's comfortable to hold. In addition, images taken with this lens look great. It includes three low-dispersion glass elements in the lens, which are used to correct many lens aberrations, and that’s certainly evident here. I can’t give you the optical bench qualities of the lens (we don’t have that capability), but frankly, what matters to me is how a lens works on real subjects. I found this lens to be a very capable macro lens with excellent sharpness and color rendition. While designed to optimize digital macro photography, the Sigma 70mm macro works just fine on film and full-frame digital cameras, too. Estimated Street Price: $480.
Contact: Sigma, (631) 585-1144, www.sigma-photo.com.
Specs Of Note
Focal Length: 70mm
ƒ-Stop Range: ƒ/2.8-ƒ/22
Filter Size: 62mm
Lens Construction: 10 elements in nine groups (includes three SLD glass elements)
Size: 3.0x3.7 inches
Weight: 18.5 ounces
Mounts: Canon, Nikon, Sigma (Sony and Pentax TBA)
1 Fast ƒ/2.8 70mm macro lens for digital cameras
2 True 1:1 macro focusing capability at 10.1 inches
3 Focal length gives 35mm angle-of-view equivalent to 105mm when used on most digital SLRs