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Macro lens

A new macro lens is highly requested it seems, in spite of Sigma already covering all relevant focal lengths and price points with the EX lineup.

Sigma macro lenses

50mm f/2.8 70mm f/2.8 105mm f/2.8 150mm f/2.8 180mm f/2.8
Dimensions (mm) 71.5 × 64 76 × 95 78.7 × 126.4 79.6 × 150 95 × 203.9
Weight 320 g 525 g 725 g 1,150 g 1,638 g
Min. Focusing Distance 13.5 cm 25.7 cm 31.2 cm 38 cm 47 cm
Working Distance 7.1 cm 16.2 cm 18.56 cm 23 cm 26.61 cm
Special Glass* None 3 SLD 2 SLD 3 SLD 3 FLD
Filter Size 55mm 62mm 62mm 72mm 86mm
Diaphragm Blades 7 9 9 (rounded) 9 (rounded) 9 (rounded)
US Price $349 $449 $669 $1,099 $1,699
Release Year 2004 2006 2011 2010 2012
Status Discontinued Discontinued In Production In Production In Production

“Minimum focusing distance”: from the sensor plane. “Working distance”: from the front of the lens, w/o lens shade.

* From Sigma: FLD (“F” Low Dispersion) glass is the highest level low dispersion glass available with extremely high light transmission. This glass has a performance equal to fluorite glass which has a low refractive index and low dispersion compared to current optical glass. FLD glass offers superior optical performance, equal to fluorite, at an affordable price. ELD (Extraordinary Low Dispersion) glass has lower dispersion characteristics than SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass, which Sigma has been using in its APO lenses (and some non-APO lenses as well) for many years now. It has other advantageous properties as well.

So what’s possibly coming?

When a manufacturer starts a lens line for a given type of shooting, the most used focal length usually comes first. For macro, it is around 100mm. This alone makes a 105mm DG OS HSM Art (Sigma is from the 105mm “consortium”) a likely opener.

But with no less than 8 options to choose from, the 100mm macro segment is one of the most crowded of the market, so Sigma has to come up with a perfect package to stand out. That means top-notch optical performance at all apertures and distances, and an effective stabilization.

An original but not-too-niche design would help. How about a 120 or 125mm? The longer focal length enables more working distance and diffused out-of-focus areas, without making the lens overly large and hard to maneuver. Make it as good as Voigtländer’s superb 125mm Macro APO-Lanthar, and have a winner that everyone will refer to as the Sigländer.

More seriously, in terms of focal length coverage, this is probably not the best choice – a 120-150-180mm offering would be too dense, not to mention that prospective (non-macro) 135mm f/2.

Something Sigma could do to differentiate and garner attention is a 2:1-capable macro lens. We can see that the newly released Venus 60mm f/2.8 2:1 Ultra-Macro lens picks the interest of macro enthusiasts.

Another idea is to keep the glass but update everything else, just like Sigma did with the 120-300mm f/2.8 EX OS HSM. The 70mm f/2.8 EX and 180mm f/2.8 EX Macro would be suitable candidates. They really don’t need any optical modification, just the usual Global Vision refinements. Given the reasons why the 70mm was discontinued, I don’t see this happen with that lens though.

In the end – reasonably – I’d wager on a regular 105mm with 1:1 magnification.

What do you think, or want?

  • Marco

    I think that OS is not so useful as expected for a macro lens. A 60-70 mm (f/2.4?) could be a wonderful choice together with a 120-125 mm (f/2.4? f/2.8?). Furthermore, I think that a 60 mm f2.4 1:2 could be also a wonderful normal/near macro lens (like the Voitglander 65 mm for Sony E).

  • GB

    The 70 / 2.8 macro is definitely a favorite of mine. An update with HSM, OS, and IF would be just the ticket. If they could make it f/2 without sacrificing the IQ stopped down (think the Tamron 60 / 2 macro or Zeiss 100 / 2 macro), that would be awesome. But just HSM, OS, and IF, with the same optics, would be reason enough to upgrade.

    • Florent – SigmaRumors

      I agree 100%.

  • Chaitanya

    Sigma can do a cheap upgrade to existing 105/150/180 OS Macro lenses to Art series as they were all recently upgraded from older designs. Only New lens they need to release is a 60mm OS lens which I will buy in a heartbeat to accompany my 150mm OS lens. Also I really hope sigma makes their Macro lenses weather sealed as most of the times these lenses are used in harsh environments in which some of the other lenses are never used.

  • I can see them updating the 150mm f2.8 to give it faster AF and weather sealing, since it’s Sigma’s trademark macro – light, sharp, and long. If the 105mm was updated, it would no longer compete price-wise against other manufacturers, and the 180mm is a bit too niche – already pricey with many people opting for the 150mm instead. I do look forward to seeing how Sigma approaches their next line of macros, but for now my 105mm OS suits me perfectly. I’d love to see them try a T/S though – with Nikon’s tilt axis fixed relative to the shift, and Schneider’s high prices and low max magnifications, I think there’s a real market in there.

    • Pittsburgh Kid

      An Art T/S would be awesome. The Samyang/Rokinon is the only alternative to high $ Canon/Nikon and the excellent Schneider. It’s niche partially due to the steep entry fee for anything good. A $1K 17 to 24-ish alternative to the UWA Canon TS would be tops on my list.

  • Russell Ferris

    Make something slightly different like a sixteen bladed 100mm f2

  • Karr

    I can’t see the need for an Art macro lens. The current Sigma line up is up to date (2010,2011,2012). All macro lenses are nearly equally sharp, even my 30year old Tamron 90mm is pin sharp.
    I had a Sigma 105mm and switched to the canon 100mm L. The only reason i did was the anoying slow focussing.

    I would like to see an macro/protrait lens, like an 135mm f2 and 1:2 magnification. I’ve the canon 135mm and it’s a great lense, but i would drop it for something more modern.

  • Jeffry De Meyer

    I would be more interested in seeing the 70-200 updated to the 120-300 standaard

  • SimenO1

    I would like a two in one lens, a portrait and macro. I have the 70mm f/2.8 and its great optically, but the focus motor is slow and the noen reversable metal hood is very impractical. Since the glass in the 70mm is no longer made, i suggest designing an APS-C portrait lens at 85mm f/2.0 with 1:1 macro, HSM, and easily retractable hood. Maby even with a built in ring LED flash.

    • Florent – SigmaRumors

      That’s why I like Zeiss’ approach with their 50mm f/2 and 100mm f/2. 1:2 magnification can be a deal breaker though.

  • Stéphane.B

    Sigländer… I like that !

  • Pittsburgh Kid

    Why on earth make yet another 100mm Macro? Dumb idea. DUMB.

    Upgrade the 150/180 to an OS Art version and be done with it. Only other option is a 60-ish OS Macro, or a T-S Macro anywhere <85mm.

    And PLEASE go for best optical quality instead of large apertures. Sigma blew it by trying to do their 24 in f1.4, instead of a world-class (Zeiss-matching) 2.0. Had they done it in 2.0 w/OS they could have hit a home run.

    • Florent – SigmaRumors

      Yes, we would like to have something more exciting. But if there are so many 100mm macro out there, that’s for a reason: people do buy them!

      • Pittsburgh Kid

        Not sure what Sigma’s unique value proposition would be against existing lenses. Going into an already crowded field with many excellent options at competitive prices. Margins will be minimized to attract attention. It saps resources from products with greater opportunities for distinction.

        In short, hit em where they ain’t!

        • EarlFargis

          Add Samyang/Rokinon/et al to the list of 100mm f/2.8 macro lenses. If Sigma is going to find a niche in this space give up the notion of videography since Samyang seems to be leaning that way with “VDSLR Cine Lens Features” and even provides a pretty meh sample video (which I could have shot at a local Starbucks and in my kitchen): Oddly, there’s only a little bit of close-up work in the sample video much of which you probably could shoot with a lot of non-macro lenses and nothing I’d call macro being demonstrated by Samyang. So it’s unclear, IMHO, Samyang’s target audience and unclear if the lens is any good for it’s intended specialty (though I’d guess it’s pretty good based on their previous efforts).

          As I’ve basically said elsewhere in this thread, I don’t only question a Sigma 100mm macro but Sigma focusing (no pun intended) on macro lenses in general right now. Is it really a pressing need for the company?

          • Pittsburgh Kid

            It goes back to their marketing, which is dreadful.

            I saw more companies screwed up by marketing than any other department. They consistently ignored engineering, production, accounting, every department. Fancy suits and empty heads.

  • bjorn

    If I were Sigma, I would create a different niche, there are a few options:
    1. 50-105mm macro-zoom f2,8 OS HSM
    2. 70-180mm f2,8-f4 macro zoom –> remember the Nikkor AF ED D f4/f5,6 ?

    3. 50mm F2 Macro (AF Zeiss-like quality)
    4. 70mm f2 MAcro, maybe with VFC like Minolta did in the past
    5. tilt option…


    • animalsbybarry

      Make option 2
      But in 70-300 f2.9-4
      Or even 100-300mm
      There are currently no macros available over 200mm and it is a very neccessary range.
      Such a lens would be so popular that Sigma would be totally unable to fill the demand for it.
      When years ago I asked for 150-600 I said it would be so popular Sigma would be inable to fill the demand.
      This is the macro range that every wildlife/nature photographer wants but nobody makes.
      It has to be high quality though…the old 70-300 macro was a super usefull range but the lens was of very poor quality.
      Anyone that will buy an expensive macro lens reguires a

  • EarlFargis

    Warning hung-over from last night and in a major coffee deficit this morning so who know where this comment will lead! ;^)

    The Sigma 180 has such an outstanding reputation I can’t imagine it getting a nod any time soon. It’s the most expensive meaning it probably isn’t a huge seller and it’s the most recently introduced so there’s that too. I almost pulled the trigger on a refurbished version of this lens on Sigma’s web site but I’d be paying a huge premium for an on-paper longer focal length reviewers say isn’t as impressive as it sounds because the lens is so huge. Plus – surprise, surprise – I’ve completely soured on the brand. I’m eyeing a Nikkor down the line though it’s an extremely low priority as I find really solid macro photography well beyond my skill levels.

    The bottom line on the 180? Unless Sigma can make it more compact for a better practical working distance so you don’t scare off bugs I don’t see the point.

    I get 100mm is often called a macro sweat spot but I’ve found my 100mm Sony macro lens to be well short of a reasonable working distance for most insects in the wild. I can’t imagine shooting with a 50mm macro though it’s a popular entry-level lens (Sony even made a 30mm cheap-o Chinese ‘plastic fantastic’). But at least a 50mm might be useable as a normal lens. 100mm, at least on an APS-C body, wasn’t a lens I used a lot other than for macro shots so it collected a thick layer of dust.

    Based upon age of the lenses, I expect Sigma to open with a 50mm macro. There’s a lot of competition in this space so they’ll have to be aggressive on price. I get Sigma discontinued the 70mm over glass supply issues and lack of popularity but another interesting twist would be forgo the standard 50mm macro and make a slightly longer 70mm priced at a 50mm price point their entry-level choice. However, as Florent points out, it’ll require a full redesign.

    Whatever Sigma does they need to do it quick to interrupt production of the 150-600 Sports again. I hear Sigma is going for a Guinness record for history’s longest backorder. Hate to risk that. ;^)

    • Florent – SigmaRumors

      The 180mm FL is fantastic to blur/exclude background distractions.

      Also, the Sigma 180mm is really good even at long distances (barring centering issues, needless to say). It makes a fine landscape lens for single or stitched images. But there’s definitely a learning curve to use it well for its primary purpose.

  • Alfred

    A 4/300mm 1:1 Macro would be fine, also a 6,3/600mm for BIF!
    Copying products of other brands doesn’t show much brainpower….

  • Paul Menard

    having tried the 105 and 150, imnot sure how you could improve the optics, but they could impliment the stuff for the dock and mount changing

  • animalsbybarry

    Sigma makes a 70-300mm macro zoom.
    It is compact , and highly usefull , it is not a true macro, and not of very high quality.
    A true macro zoom of 70-300mm f3.5 or f4 at the long end, and 1 to 1 magnification at all focal lengths.
    Biild this with superb optical quality…ESPECIALLY AT 300MM…and sigma would have the ultimate macro lens.

    • animalsbybarry

      More thoughts about the 70-300 macro
      The old one utilized a barrel extension that lengthens the lens for close focus at the longer focal lengths only.
      This is a good feature that should be incorporated into the new one, and used to establish a macro range..there should be a close focus range,to1/2, ..a macro range to 1/1, and of possible a super macro range closer than 1/1.
      In the old version focus was achieved by barrel extension thereby maintaining focal length, but in macro that makes focus difficult so internal focus shouldl be used for focus within each range…the range could be set manually with a ring as this would simplify the lens desighn.
      300mm could focus to 1/1 but higher magnification could be achieved by varying the focal length while maintaing the barrel extension.
      It am a big time macro user and utilize multiple focal lengths of maro lenses…if this could be made of high enoupgh optical quality it would be a must have for someone like me .

      • EarlFargis

        The Sigma 70-300 ‘macro’ reminds me of the old school habit manufacturers had of putting some limited close-up capability into lenses and spraying “macro” on the body. A classic example of that is a cheap (probably wasn’t when it was issued) Minolta 35-70mm lens I picked up on FleaBay with a macro switch. I can’t begin to tell you how poorly that works. ;^)

        DSLR photography in the iPhone era has evolved to a more serious place and buyers are more sophisticated (except me, I’m a dedicated moron for life!) and expect more. Manufacturers and buyers are cognizant of minimum working distances of lenses which, IMHO, is good enough as a marketing point without stretching the meaning of “macro.”

        Most of the ‘macro’ photography I do is use really long lenses to get as close to bugs and such I can. Cropping can do much of the rest of the job though, of course, I’m not going to get those amazing true macro shots of, say, fly eyes. But I’m not going to get that walking around with a macro lens dangling on my neck either. ;^) Really good, true macro photography is very skilled, very hard, specialized work (more often than you’d think in staged controlled environments).

        I do like the idea of a longer macro lens but don’t know enough about lens design to know if, say, a 300mm macro is a good idea. I’m sure there’s a reason Nikkor stops at 200mm and Sigma stops at 180mm.

        • animalsbybarry

          I too generally do more of what could be described as close up photography rather than true macro photography.
          Perhaps calling a lens such as I suggest a closeup lens might be a good idea.
          True macro lenses are optimized for extremely flat field to achieve high technical accuracy, but in nature photography that may not be totally necessary.
          If the lens were optimized for maximum sharpness at close up distances that would ne sufficient for nature even if minor distortion abberations are not fully corrected.
          Also…for some reason f2.8 is popular for macro lenses, but dof is extremely shallow at f 2.8 so I have to wonder why f3.5 or f4 is not more common.
          By the do you like your new custom engraved lens?

          • EarlFargis

            Haven’t gotten my personally engraved Sigma 150-600 Sports yet. My submission was rejected by Sigma as being too profane and insulting to their corporate management. ;^)

            I may just settle for Kazuto Yamaki autographing mine since he promised to build it personally for me in 2016. Yeah, Sigma just cares so much! ;^)

            Yeah, slower makes sense to me with the caveat it’s accompanied with a longer focal length to keep bulk and cost down. It seems curious to me Sigma puts such an emphasis on macros given it’s such a specialized field. Meanwhile they don’t offer, say, a tilt-shift lens.

            I would also argue the crazy popularity of their 150-600 lenses would clue them in telephoto for sports and nature is a huge unmet need. As we both realize, a really good long telephoto (prime?) is the best close-up option for most of us. If Sigma could come out with an affordable compact 500mm or 600mm with better close-up capability they’d set the world on fire. I get that’s a tall order but, say, the new Nikkor 300mm f/4 PF proves technology exists to make telephoto primes significantly more compact and this design is compatible with improved close focus. Sigma’s dated stabilization-less 500mm f/4.5, for example, is in greater need of an update than any Sigma macro, IMHO. Cut the price on a 500mm or 600mm f/4 to ~$3,000 and make it ~40% lighter (what Nikon achieved with the 300 PF) plus other modernization like stabilization and docking ability. Oh my, did I just create another potential Sigma backorder nightmare?!? ;^)

            Oh well, off to do my federal taxes. There goes another thousand buckeroos…. ;^)

          • animalsbybarry

            I think all long lenses should have an extra barrel extension built in to allow a close focus range.
            Most people generally shoot long lenses at longer distances than the minumum focus but are frustrated when they occasionally need to get closer but cant.
            This would greatly increase the funtionality of the lenses at minimal cost.
            I have used extension tubes on the Bigma.
            They allow a little bit closer focus…the usability is decresed by the long focal length…but they also make a huge differrence in the maximum magnification.
            This is because internal focus lenses focus by changing the focal length.
            The extension tube therefore effectively increases the focal length the lens uses for close focus and has a bigger effect on magnification ratio than on focusing distance.
            Extension tubes though usefull, are a pain in the neck to put on and take off every time the subject moves.
            Additional barrel extension would be like a built in extension tube without the hastle.
            A telescoping E mount adapter..for Sony E mount to Canon or Nikon or A mount would be a usefull product…it would offer closer focus for any lens.

          • EarlFargis

            Took a breather from the intense pain and anxiety of doing my federal taxes – memo to self never join a publicly traded limited oil partnership again; paperwork thicker than the Manhattan phone directory and almost as confusing as Sigma’s lens strategy; tax dodge saved me enough money to buy McDonald’s happy meal – and looking for my Beretta to shoot myself to end it all but first had an urge to see if you’d replied to me on Sigma Rumors. You’re a real lifesaver, Barry! ;^)

            On a whim last year I picked up a Canon D500 close-up lens. Paired with my Nikkor 300 f/4 it is capable of good results and was my short-term (permanent?) alternative to that Sigma 180 macro I mentioned earlier I was flirting with. So it loosely fits what we were talking about earlier: a long f/4 lens with pseudo-macro capability. I don’t use it all that much. Sharpness is reasonably good for the price and better than you’d expect for what it is.

            I’ve never tried extension tubes. Building such a ‘macro’ capability in would be pretty cool. Kind of like the old macro switch concept. Intuitively, I would assume it’s a pretty easy to pull off mechanically and not particularly expensive in light I’m think coupling with a prime telephoto lens that’s not going to be a budget item anyhow.

            Oh well, back to my taxes. The good news is it looks like I’ll be paying off the national debt – all of it – this year. So there is that. ;^)

          • animalsbybarry

            I hsave the d500.
            This is an acromat..2 elements …and is substantially better than a skingle element close up lens.
            Yours is +2 diopter…that meanxs 1/2 meter focal length and will allow you a 500mm working distance at infinity.
            You dor not need to remove the lens to put it on so it s fairly easy to use.
            Sigma just released an AML 72-01.
            This is also a 2 element acromat but of 1.7 diopter, so it will give you a little more working distance than your D500 .
            Results from these acromats will be reasonably close to the results that extension tubes will give you…there are advantages and disadvantages to each.
            Savgage Macro Art makes a 51-72 mm extension tube.
            It is long enough for long lens use and the zoom allows more flexibility in terms of working distance.
            I just got one for use with my obviously I have not been able to try it out yet.

          • EarlFargis

            The biggest disadvantage for the Canon D500 close-up lens for your use case, obviously, is it’s not going to fit on the end of the huge Sigma 150-600 Sports. It fits my Nikkor 300 f/4 perfectly and I have a step down ring for my Nikkor 70-200 f/4.

            Do you use any specialized lighting for your ‘macro’ photography?

          • animalsbybarry

            I do not use scew on lenses for my full size cameras..but they can bxe usedj… I used them with point and shoot, and I got the new Sima aml 72-01 for use with my 70-300 on the nikon 1.
            I actually like the extension tubes a littlte

      • animalsbybarry

        Along the same lines as my 70-300 suggestion worupld be to make a sconda version of the 120-300 but incorporate macro capability into it.
        A barrell extension and possibly some sfort oqf close up correction, are probably allvthat would be necessary, and by essentially retaining the same desighn it would put less stress on Sigma’s already overstressed production capacity

    • EarlFargis

      There are 2 used Nikkor 500 f/4’s of the exact vintage I’m interested on FleaBay priced ~$3,800 with shipping that are so tempting. Unfortunately, they’re not U.S. sourced so hang up Nikon support. Henry’s promises support if I ship it off to Canada… oh, the temptation! But double the price, no VR, no protective filter, and even more weight keep me sane (relative term, I admit, folks! ;^) ).

      Yeah, in 2 months the birds are a bust here. Canadian geese, some ducks, and even the rare heron show up year round on the lake behind my house and at sanctuaries in my area.

      I’m close to cancelling. In addition to my frustration boiling over due to the wait, I’ve had some bills come up like some scheduled surgery. Plus, as someone else raged against me, I’ve turned into a Sigma “hater.” ;^)

      Don’t know if I’d go Tamron. Probably not though it’s a solid choice.

    • EarlFargis

      I’m not sure what the folks working at Amazon are smoking but I just got another email “delivery estimate update” on my Sigma 150-600 Sports. At first I was excited until I read it then discovered a couple of problems.

      One, the starting range date is February 25th 2015 and it’s April. Two, the ending range date is June 18th 2015 which I’m pretty sure is the same as it ever was. Amazon didn’t have to rub it in! ;^)

    • EarlFargis

      On a related note, Sigma’s backorder mess is so bad I just realized I need to keep an eye on the credit card I’m using on Amazon. Sigma is so slow delivering it my credit card is likely to expire before it ships and I’ll have to update the expiration date when it’s reissued. Amazon needs to keep in mind when setting up Sigma preorders the company is such a mess and most credit cards get reissued every couple of years – too quick for Sigma. ;^)

  • EnKiu

    None of the above.

    I want a standard walk around zoom given the Art treatment with a superb stabilization (at least 4 stop). Preferably 16-50mm F2.8 OS.

    Seriously, how many people shoot proper macro and have a need for such a lens? Compare it to how many need an Art quality walk around lens?

    For that matter how many are asking for an ultra wide Art zoom? Or a crop sensor wide Art prime? There are many other lenses we need ahead of another macro!

    • I use the 17-70 C macro on a D7100 as my walk-around lens. Mine is tack sharp at all distances and way better than its price would indicate.

      • EnKiu

        I am actually looking into this lens. However, the lenstip review suggests that the sharpness is not consisten across the zoom range.

    • Florent – SigmaRumors

      People buy much less from the old lens line now that Art lenses and the like exist. The GV lineup is a bit more than 2 years old – now Sigma needs to offer at least one true macro GV lens. It does not preclude the development of other lenses.

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