Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens REVIEW
What is the Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens, how good is it and what is so special about this lens we are going to find on this in-depth review. Stay tuned folks, you are about to read one of the most in-detail reviews on the internet about this Sigma 105mm F2.8 macro lens.
This Sigma 105mm F2.8 lens was considered until present one of the best macro lens for the price range. I own this lens for over two years and the time of updating this review and took thousands of photographs with it. Here is my honest review
The sigma 105mm I used to carry around a lot of times. I’ve been taken not only macro photographs but nature, landscape, event, and even night photography with it.
Later in the post, I will try to cover different niches which you can use this Sigma 105mm lens and how can actually outperform any competitors for the price range.
There are pros and cons for this lens and I will try also to split this review into a few categories, for a better understanding of each.
Sigma 105mm F2.8 in detail
There’s no questioning that the first thing and the most important thing of a lens is quality. It has to have good quality to take outstanding pictures.
There’s absolutely no questioning about the quality of this lens. This Sigma lens played a major role in my best pictures I had ever taken. But please keep in mind that I had it only on my NIKON D500 (DX Format) and only recently I had the chance to use it for a while with my D750 (full-frame camera format)
But in the short time where I used this lens with my D750, I’ve noticed an increased sharpness on my photographs. The lens was mainly designed to work flawlessly with a full-frame camera.
Although this is an FX lens, it can be used on a DX body where you get the 1.5x crop factor. The advantage of it on a DX camera format is that you will see barely or none vignetting and can be classified as a medium telephoto lens not only a macro lens.
The Aperture of 2.8 allows you to take pretty good low light situation photographs. But don’t count on it to do miracles, because of it’s limited capabilities. It won’t be any good for astrophotography, for instance…
Keep in mind that is also a PRIME lens, not a zoom lens. The quality is far superior on prime lenses than the zoom lenses. That’s a fact.
It’s sharp. Very sharp. The downside about quality? … Not so much. Nothing to complain about. Almost nothing…
I can’t ignore the fact that I’ve noticed some chromatic aberration on a few of my photographs. But nothing to worry about too much, and nothing which can’t be easily removed in Lightroom or Photoshop.
- Quality verdict?
I will give about 4.7 stars out of 5 for quality.
The autofocus is not the fastest one on the market but is pretty much accurate. From my tests on normal lighting conditions, about 9 out of 10 photographs are focus properly, while two of them are slightly out of focus.
In low light situation, I can throw a score of 7 out of 10 photographs are quite properly focused (depending on some more factors, it can be better or worse)
The Optical Stabiliser left some room for improvements. I can give a score of 3.5 out of 5 stars for the OS. It comes in 2 stages: The Normal mode OS and the Sport mode OS (1 and 2).
Although I used over time both stages of the OS, I’ve noticed no difference between them on my copy of Sigma 105mm F2.8
It does its job, I’m not saying it doesn’t… but the OS on the other lenses I own are far more superior than on this one.
Besides, I had noticed something strange with the OS on my copy of the product. It does make a really strange sound when the OS is on and I try to focus on a subject. Maybe is just my copy? or maybe its just the Ultrasonic Motor (UM) which could fail? no idea…
But as updated for this review, the ultrasonic motor did not fail. It still works flawlessly and does accept any challenges for both cameras I own.
There’s as well a Macro Mode on this lens (gotta be honest, this lens is advertised as a macro lens) which you have to switch manually between the distances you want to photograph.
- The FULL Mode is the best for casual photography of subjects which they aren’t too close to you (such as flowers or any other macro objects)
- The 0.45m to infinite mode is intended for photographs of subjects taken at any distances down to 0.45m (is a good mode for floral photography for instance)
- The 0.312 – 0.45m is the full macro mode of the lens. Strongly recommend using a tripod on this mode with the OS OFF for the best results.
Verdict? For performance I will personally give a 4 stars out of 5.
The Sigma 105mm lens is around 800 grams (give or take) with the lens hood on and both of the covers.
The Sigma 105mm F2.8 is pretty balanced when mounted on my Nikon D500 (not too heavy and not too light) and the grip is pretty much standard as the majority of the lenses on the market.
The focus ring is huge. You can have a good grip on the lens when trying to take pictures and easily use the manual focus without too much distraction. But as well you can mistakenly change the focus on any other situations when you use the lens on autofocus mode.
I can give a score of 4.5 out of 5 stars for this category.
At this time, you can buy the Sigma 105mm F2.8 Macro lens at around £360. When I got my copy of the lens one year and a half ago, I paid about £400 on it.
On Euro or Dollar market, the prices fluctuate around the same for the pound (plus / minus). This is just an estimative price as they always change in time, and you can get on offer even cheaper (if you are lucky). But don’t go for the second hand ones as the product was first released in 2011 and you will have no idea how much was used before you.
You can buy the Sigma 105mm F2.8 Macro lens FOR NIKON from Amazon, following our affiliate link (we may get a small commission to pay our hosting if you buy through us)
Verdict? For the price I give a 4.9 out of 5 stars. Definitely.
5. Final verdict of Sigma 105mm F2.8
“To buy or not to buy? This is the question”
If you are looking for a macro lens for this price range, definitely there’s nothing better on the market (as far as I am aware). Even for casual photography, the Sigma 105mm is a good pick if you’re looking to take some medium telephoto photographs.
But this is totally up to you.
Being honest, If I would have to buy again the lens, I definitely won’t think twice. But please, don’t do the mistake to go for second-hand ones. It won’t worth the money then…
Coming to the final verdict, this lens has my personal rating of 4.5 stars out of 5
My experience of using the Sigma 105mm F2.8 Macro
The above information I wrote about this lens is based on my experience of using it. Moreover, I want to extend this article by writing additional information which can help you make a decision if you are aiming to buy this lens or not.
Below I want to write the photography niches I used and how well it performed. Keep in mind that although this is a “macro” lens, you can benefit more for widely using it.
Using the Sigma 105mm F2.8 Macro lens in:
- Astrophotography: 6/10 (for advanced users), 2/10 (for beginner users)
I did mention at the beginning of this review that this lens is not that good for Astrophotography. I tried it several times and although this does not perform well in general, I want to share my experiences on using it, because it can be game-changing.
105mm on a DX body with a 1.5x crop ratio means that you have approximately a focal distance of 157mm. In astrophotography, there is a rule called the 500 rule.
You take the number 500 and then is divided by the focal length of your lens. This is the longest exposure you can take before you start to get star trails. In our case 500/157 is slightly over 3 seconds. Three seconds is the maximum exposure time you can use for this lens in astrophotography.
And although this lens has an aperture of f2.8, this is not too bad if you are trying to take some specific astrophotographs
Some other lenses with a shorter focal distance have more benefit from it = longer exposure, wider the field of view of the stars, but:
Even with a 3-second exposure, if you are looking specifically to take photographs to a messier object such as M42, the Orion nebula or M45, the Pleiades, you have better chances with this lens than any other lenses. Not only that if you are taking at least a dozen of 3-second exposure series which allows you to boost the exposure and accordingly, create an image made from photographs with high ISO values (6400+) with nearly no noise, but other lenses they are either too wide or too telephoto (not enough exposure time) to take picture to those specific messier objects.
Also, keep in mind that in Astrophotography those are some quite advanced techniques in order to have a successful chance of getting some crazy images. Just trying to photograph the stars with this lens will not simply work. Therefore my score of using Sigma 105mm f2.8 in astrophotography is of 6 out of 10 for advanced users and 2 out 10 for beginners.
- Portrait Photography 8/10
The above image I took with this sigma lens to a friend (he agreed for me to use this image on the post as a reference photograph) and I had the chance to have another few session where I used the Sigma lens
On a DX body (as the above image) the crop ratio factor is 1.5x as probably I mentioned earlier. This lens acts as a medium telephoto and in portrait photography, this is just great.
There are photographers who are using telephoto lenses over normal lenses when is about taking portraits. This lens never failed me in this situation.
You can click on the above photo to be able to zoom in. This is one another real-life example of how sharp and good the Sigma 105mm F2.8 can be outside of the macro zone.
- Macro Photography 9/10
Probably you’ve seen the above photograph throughout this review already. This is a sigma macro lens. This is macro photography, and the above photograph is taken handheld.
You can click the image to be able to zoom in.
The quality is excellent when is about macro photography. There is no questioning here. You can also check my post about MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY if you want to learn more.
- Landscape Photography 6/10
The obvious reason I gave this score of 6/10 is the fact that this macro or medium telephoto lens is not made for landscape photography.
Although landscapes are taken with wide lenses, some photographers prefer to use telephoto lenses for some special landscapes.
The above photo I took two years ago is not an actual landscape (maybe just a bit xD ) the same quality can be resulted in any other landscape scenarios.
Why is it that good? because of the sharpness and at f/10 plus or minus, the sharpness of this lens exceeds any other lenses for the same price range.
- Wildlife photography 6/10
I am giving the same score for wildlife photography as for the landscape. Maybe I am a bit too drastic on giving those relatively low scores, but we are trying to apply this lens in a real-life situation, where a 105mm may be not enough for wildlife photography compared to 500mm+
But as long as you are doing close-up wildlife photography, this lens will never let you down, as it never let me down in fact.
- Wedding photography 8/10
Using this lens for wedding photography in the same way you are using for portrait photography is a good way to take some outstanding and unique photographs of the bride 🙂
Keep in mind that due to the fact that in a wedding situation you may have to take group photographs, this I would not recommend due to the focal distance (unless you have an ultra-large wedding space)
But from the artistic point of view, this lens worth being placed on your photography bag or your second camera if you are doing wedding photography.
- Night or low light photography 9/10
Try to analyze the above photograph (click to zoom) and tell me how this lens performs in low light situation. You may be saying that although this is a nighttime photograph, there was more than enough light for this lens to face the challenge
True, but I do have a dozen more photographs taken during the events with my Sigma 105mm f2.8 and not any other lenses. All of the photos they look fabulous.
I had stressed this lens under tough and challenging conditions in special during the night at different events, indoors and on the streets, including fireworks photography taken handheld. The lens always said, OK, I CAN DO IT.
The above photograph was taken with my Sigma 105mm F2.8 “MACRO” at night handheld with autofocus on. If you want you can read more my guide about how to photograph fireworks
For this reason, I want to give a lovely score of 9 out of 10. Why not a pure 10? If you read at the beginning I mentioned that sometimes the lens failed to focus on low light scenarios or it just took too long to focus. But this is not only due to the lens, but a camera can also contribute to this factor as well.
But still, I will stick to my score of 9.
- Fine-art photography x/10
This is a random score for fine-art photography. Every photographer sees fine-art in different ways, but this lens can contribute to a fine-art image like any other lenses, as main things to focus on is the quality of the photograph or sharpness of that specific scene.
The above photograph I consider to be a fine-art image. It is actually a real image I took with my Nikon 500 and this Sigma 105mm F2.8 Macro lens of a giant silhouette statue in front of a huge fire.
If you don’t know how to use it, it can be 1 out of 10, if you master the lens and fine-art photography, you can get a 10 out of 10 for this lens.
Sweet&Love my lens! Conclusion?
I hope that by now you have decided if you want to buy the Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens or not. I hope also that this post contains the information you were looking for.
But I am glad that you stick with us ’till the end. I wish you to have a great day and please leave a comment if you own this lens, you want to buy or you are looking for any extra information, and I will do my best to answer as quickly as possible.
Until then, farewell my friend.
You can check a few of my other posts if you want:
- 10 Macro Photography Tips
- Should you add watermark on your photographs?
- The best 7 unique tips for new photographers
- Can you earn money with stock photography?
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