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

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

I must admit that I don’t really shoot much macro probably because I was a Leica M user for so many years, and while there are ways to shoot macro with an M like say using the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4, it’s just not really that convenient.  The Leica SL system changed a lot for me, especially when the L Mount Alliance was established.  One way it changed things for me was being able to shoot with a lens like the Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art lens.  I had this lens on loan for a few weeks, and tested it entirely with my Leica SL2.  Here’s what I think of it.

Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art Lens Build Quality:

Let’s start off talking about the build quality, which by the way, is excellent.  This is a Sigma Art Line lens, so you can bet it’s built for professional use.  The 70mm f2.8 Macro is constructed from a combination of metal, and Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material.  According to Sigma, this allows for greater precision, and use in wide temperature variations.  The bayonet mount is also made of brass.  Thanks to rubber sealing, the lens is dust and splash resistant as well.

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

Overall, the 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art lens feels very solid with absolutely no signs of inferior workmanship.  There are no creaks, rattles or any signs of lower quality build whatsoever.  There’s a big focus ring, which makes it easy to grab and rotate.  It’s also smooth as you rotate it.  The switches on the side of the lens for things like AF/MF, and the focusing limiter click solidly as you choose each setting.  There is no image stabilization but I’ve been using this on the SL2, which does have image stabilization, and I didn’t run into any instability issues.  Overall, the build is impressive, and matches every other Sigma Art Line lens that I’ve tested so far.

↑ There are AF/MF and focus limiter switches on the side.

Now, I’ll admit that most of the Sigma Art Line lenses that I’ve reviewed so far have been large and heavy.  Sigma’s Art Line is all about the optics even if its at the cost of size and weight.  I’m a person who is definitely for this philosophy; weight and size are generally not a factor for me, so long as I get the results that I’m after.  However, not everyone wants to carry a big and heavy lens, which is understandable.  Plus, it depends on what you’re shooting too.  Obviously, if I’m on vacation, I’m probably going lighter ;).  Good news about the 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art lens is the image quality is fantastic (I will speak more about it below), so optics have clearly not been sacrificed at all but the 70mm f2.8 is also a lens that is quite manageable in terms of weight and size.

↑ Top view of the 70mm f2.8 DG Macro lens.

Considering its focal length, image quality, and maximum aperture, the 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art lens is actually a relatively compact and light lens.  In terms of size, it’s kind of like the Leica Summicron-SL lenses.  As for weight, the 70mm f2.8 Macro is just 515 g, which is actually lighter than my APO-Summicron-SL 90mm f2 ASPH.  The latter is 700 g.

↑ When you’re focusing close, the barrel extends out, an you can see what ratio you’re shooting at.

What all of this basically means is the 70mm f2.8 is actually great to walk around with all day.  It balances nicely on my SL2 but besides that, it’s not a large lens, so it still can be discreet and easy to manage.  Being that it’s also relatively light, it’s something that isn’t going to tire you out either.  I had this lens on loan during some very hot weeks here in New York City.  How hot?  Well, as I’m writing this right now, it’s actually 99 degrees outside, and that’s not factoring in the humidity or anything else.  This is definitely one of the easier lenses that you can carry around, especially for the L mount system.  You won’t be struggling with it at the end of the day.

As for what is included with the 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art lens, you get a lens case with zipper opening, and a lens hood.  I had absolutely no issues with flare during normal testing (meaning I did not purposely aim at the sun, for instance), so I only used the lens hood for the first few days that I had it.  Afterwards, I left it at home.

↑ The Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art lens comes with a zippered pouch, and a lens hood.

Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art Lens Autofocus:

Now that we finished talking about the build quality, let’s get into the autofocus system.  The Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art lens uses a newly developed coreless DC motor.  It uses a focus by wire system.  Full-time manual focus is possible even during autofocus, so the photographer can make small adjustments simply by turning the focus ring.

So that above is all the tech stuff.  In actual usage, I found the 70mm f2.8 Macro’s autofocus to be decent overall.  It does not have the fastest autofocus out there but it’s also not the slowest either.  In other words, it’s average.  I tried this lens with everything from cityscape, portraits, some action, and of course, macro; overall, the autofocus wasn’t something that was causing me any issues.  For instance, a model during a casual shoot I scheduled was still able to be spontaneous with her poses.  However, the closer you get to 1:1, the more the autofocus will hunt, which isn’t out of the ordinary.  Still, it was fast enough to capture a bee on a flower before it flew away, for example.  What helps is the focus limiter switch I mentioned earlier.

Also, while the autofocus is very quiet, you’ll still hear a little bit of noise from the motor.  But it’s nothing that would scare off any bugs for instance, when you’re out doing macro work.

Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art Lens Image Quality:

Let’s talk about image quality, which is where the 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art lens truly shines.  When I first got this lens in to review, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I’ve reviewed Sigma products in the past, and overall, I love what they can produce.  But I don’t do much macro work, and I wasn’t thinking I would enjoy this lens as much even though you can use it for other subjects besides macro photography.  But after using it, I can definitely see why for one, this is the first Sigma prime macro lens to carry the Art Line badge, and two, why this has become one of my favorite lenses.

↑ This was taken using 250 ISO and f4.5, 1/250s.

↑ This was taken at f8, 1/250s with 400 ISO.

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

First off, this lens is incredibly sharp.  The pics here probably do not do it justice simply because of the compression.  The amount of detail that the 70mm f2.8 Macro resolves is astounding.  This lens is easily up there with the best.  Center sharpness at f2.8 is excellent with the corners pretty much on par as well.  It’s so sharp that quite frankly, it’s difficult to see any real noticeable difference even when you stop this lens down.  In other words, feel free to use this lens throughout its aperture range.

↑ This was taken at f8, 1/250s with 400 ISO.  The bee had just flown into the pic right before I took it, so it is slightly off focus.

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

↑ This was taken at f2.8, 1/250s with 400 ISO.

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

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

↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.  This lens retrieves every single little detail.

In addition to sharpness, the 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art lens has other excellent traits.  Color rendering and contrast are great.  There isn’t any noticeable distortion that I see, and flare wasn’t an issue for me at all.  There is vignetting at f2.8, which is not out of the ordinary but stopping down to just f4 helps quite a bit.  After that, it’s not an issue.  Overall, if you’re looking for a macro lens or just a short tele that simply has superb optics, you probably don’t need to look any further.  There’s not much I can fault this lens optically.

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

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

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

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

To top it off, I found the bokeh and shallow depth of field to be extremely pleasing.  The 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art lens has a 9-blade rounded diaphragm, which contributes to the quality of its bokeh.  I did use it for a casual shoot I was able to schedule with a friend, and the background simply melts away at f2.8.  When shooting macro, I found stopping down to f5.6, f8 or even further was better simply because at f2.8, and with such a close distance, so much is thrown out of focus.  Even at smaller apertures though, the bokeh was ultra smooth and inviting.

↑I wanted to do more shoots to test this lens but with New York City only recently getting out of lockdown because of the corona virus, scheduling shoots was still pretty difficult.  Here’s a shot of my friend taken at f2.8, and 1/250s with 50 ISO.

↑ 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 my taste.

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

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

Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art Lens Pros And Cons:

Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art Lens Pros:

  • Well-built.
  • Compact and light.
  • Incredible optics.
  • SHARP.
  • Great bokeh.
  • 1:1 macro capability.
  • You can get this lens in multiple mounts.
  • Affordable price.

Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art LensCons:

  • Lack of image stabilization.

Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art Lens Verdict:

I didn’t think I would enjoy the 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art lens as much as I did at first because I’m not really a macro photographer but after my time with it, the 70mm f2.8 has quickly become one of my favorite lenses.  You’re really getting a lot here, and at what I think is also a great price.  The list price of this lens is $569 but currently, there’s a $100 rebate bringing the price down to $469.  Yet at this price, you’re getting a lens that I feel matches with the best out there.  For one, the build is excellent.  It’s also compact and light, so it’s something that can be easily carried around all day.  The autofocus is decent for the most part.  Lastly, the optics are downright impressive.  I don’t want to keep repeating myself but I really want to emphasize that optically, this is one spectacular lens.  The way that this lens resolves will blow you away.

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

Furthermore, you don’t need to necessarily be into macro photography to reap the benefits of this lens.  In other words, the 70mm f2.8 Macro works great as a normal short telephoto as well.  As you can see in my review, I used it for many different subjects.  All of its strengths like its build, size, weight, and of course, optics make it a great lens to always have in your bag in general.  The macro ability for me is just an added plus.

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

Bottom line is the 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art lens is seriously hard to beat.  This lens has quite frankly impressed me, and has only made me an even bigger fan of the Sigma Art line of lenses.  If you’re looking for macro capability for an L mount camera and/or just a superb short tele, I highly suggest you put this on your short list of lenses to consider.  I can’t recommend it enough.

Thanks for taking the time to read my review!  If you’re considering purchasing the Sigma 70mm f2.8 Macro, and my review helped you decide, please help support this site by purchasing from the link below or any mentioned in this review.  It will not cost you anything extra.  Thank you for your support!

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

Leica SL2 at B&H Photo

2 comments… add one
  • David G.

    Patrick,

    Thanks for the great review. I’d been thinking about this lens for a while, and your review got me off the fence. I picked it up a couple days ago. And for anyone still thinking about it, there is a $100 instant discount on this lens at B&H through 31 July. (The discount may be available at other retailers as well; I haven’t checked.)

    David

    • Patrick

      Hi David,

      Thanks for the kind words and for taking the time to read it! Congrats on the lens! Yes, I heard about the $100 discount. It makes it even more enticing :). I hope that lens works out for you. Let me know what you think of it after you’ve used it for a bit! Thanks for stopping by!

      Best,

      Patrick

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