Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art Lens First Impressions L Mount

Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art Lens First Impressions L Mount:

The L Mount Alliance has grown steadily with new gear coming out from all three manufacturers.  As some of you know, I have always been big Sigma fan, and every lens that I’ve used so far with my Leica SL and now, my SL2 have been fantastic.  Well, there might just be another one added to that list.  I don’t normally shoot much macro…not that I have anything against it.  It’s just something I don’t do much but recently, I’ve been testing the Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art lens, and I have to say, I’m very impressed so far.  In addition to doing its macro duties, it has been my short tele for the last few weeks.

So, let me get this out of the way first: Sigma Art lenses are generally brilliant optically, and made to handle real professional use but a lot of them are big and heavy.  It comes with the territory, so it’s not just Sigma choosing to make big lenses just for the fun of it :).  I don’t mind the size and weight, so long as the quality, and performance are there but I know others may not feel the same way.  Plus, it depends on what you’re shooting too.  Obviously, if I’m on vacation, I don’t want to carry anything huge and heavy ;).  There’s good news: the 70mm f2.8 Macro is actually not so big, and it weighs only 515 g.  Just for comparisons sake, my APO-Summicron-SL 90mm f2 ASPH is 700 g.  It’s been extremely hot and humid these couple of weeks in New York City but I’m happy to say that this lens mounted on my SL2 has not been a struggle to carry around all day.  I would actually consider this a bit of a lightweight considering focal length, max aperture, build etc.

↑ The Leica SL2 with the Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art lens attached.

↑ When you’re shooting really close, the lens extends out like this as it focuses.

Of course, the overall quality and construction have not suffered.  On the contrary, the Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art is built up to the same level of quality that you would expect from Sigma’s Art line of lenses.  The 70mm f2.8 Macro is constructed using a Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material, as well as, traditional metals for greater precision, and use in wide temperature variations.  The bayonet is made of brass for accuracy and durability.  This lens is also dust and splash resistant.  Bottom line is the 70mm f2.8 macro is built for professional use.  It’s very solid feeling, and matches the SL2 quite well.

↑ Switches for MF and AF and distance.

I also found the autofocus to be pretty decent overall.  The 70mm f2.8 Macro doesn’t have the fastest autofocus system I’ve used but it’s certainly not the slowest either.  I’d say it’s pretty fast for most cases.  Let’s put it this way: the autofocus is not on my mind when I’m shooting, which is a good thing.  It means I’m content, and the autofocus performance isn’t bothering me.  It does, however, slow down a bit when you’re shooting macro but that’s to be expected.

↑ This was taken using 400 ISO.  The settings were f5.6, and 1/250s.

↑ This was also taken using 400 ISO.  The settings were f11 and 1/250s.

↑ This was taken at f8, 1/250s using 160 ISO.

As for image quality, the Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art is downright impressive.  Actually, stunning might be a better word.  I knew this lens would be a pretty cool judging from my past experiences with Sigma products but quite honestly, I didn’t expect to be this floored by it.  The 70mm f2.8 is up there with some of the best, if you ask me.  It’s incredibly sharp for one.  It captures every little detail imaginable whether you’re using it for macro or other subjects like portraiture or landscape.  There’s great clarity, and three-dimensional pop to the images.  The bokeh is also excellent.  It has a modern look but at the same time, it’s so buttery smooth.

↑ This was taken at f2.8 using 100 ISO.  As you can see, the bokeh is ultra smooth.  I didn’t do too many macro shots at wide open aperture because the depth of field was just too thin for me.

↑ I wish I could post the full resolution shots up here just to show the quality.  This is a 100% crop of the photo above.

↑ This was taken at f8, 1/250s using 100 ISO.

↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.

↑ Here’s a shot taken using 800 ISO at f8, 1/250s.

For people who love shooting macro, this lens is able to achieve life-size 1:1 maximum magnification along with a 10.2″ minimum focusing distance.  I’m not a macro photographer but I’ve been having so much fun shooting macro.  Of course, even though this is technically a macro lens, the Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art makes a great short tele for general use as well.  I used this lens for other types of photography, and have to say that it simply excels at everything I’ve tried so far.  I took some cityscape images, and they came out so incredibly sharp.  I took some wide open portrait shots (which I will post in my review), and those came out great as well.  There are some incredible lenses in the L Mount Alliance but let’s be honest, there is a shortage of smaller, and lighter lenses.  M lenses are great, and can be nice alternatives but I want autofocus :).  Here’s a lightweight, and compact 70mm lens that also produces reference level image quality.

↑ This lens is definitely up for other things besides macro.  This was taken using 250 ISO and f4.5, 1/250s.

↑ This was taken using 100 ISO, and f8, 1/100s.

↑ This was taken at f8, 1/250s using 320 ISO.

Best of all, the price is actually reasonable; the Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art goes for $569, and currently, there’s an instant saving thing going on, which has knocked off $100.  The price now is $469.  For this kind of quality and build, I think it’s a steal, especially if you’re coming from the Leica world ;).

Anyway, I’m almost done testing this lens, so expect my full review very soon.  I’m enjoying it quite a bit, so I have plenty to say about it.  If you have any questions, let me know, and thanks for stopping by!

For those interested in purchasing the 70mm f2.8 f2.8 DG Macro Art, you can check out the links below:

Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art at B&H Photo

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