The B-Roll King? (Sigma 105mm f/2.8 macro lens review)
I know every professional filmmaker/photographer out there has their favorite macro lens and will praise it until the day they die. Although I am not technically considered a professional, the Sigma 105mm is my go-to macro lens. In this review, I'll go through why I love it as much as I do and provide some examples to showcase how well this glass really performs. I will not be going into scientific details and mathematical equations, only my opinions and experiences with this beast so far.
1.) Aperture: Opening all the way to f/2.8, shallow depth of field and low-light situations are as easy as cutting butter with a warm knife.
Details are super sharp, especially thanks to the macro features of this lens. This allows you to take close up shots like this one to the right. I was about 6 inches away before snapping that shot and the details that were in focus are super sharp but leave everything else with a smooth blur to create a pleasing image.
2.) Macro: Like I briefly mentioned before, the macro capabilities of this lens are incredible. This is probably the main reason I purchased this glass. The level of macro this lens goes to is extraordinary.
The above photo showcases the detail and sharpness even at the macro level. These pine cones are only about an inch in length but the parts that are in focus have incredible clarity. I have not had the chance yet to test it myself, but I have also seen this lens performing exceptionally when it comes to insect and other plant photography. Being able to get in this close with such sharpness also comes in great handy when shooting for just about any type of b-roll (especially so with product b-roll or insert shots in narrative filmmaking).
3.) Optical Stabilization: Boasting three different levels of built-in lens optical stabilization, this Sigma 105mm can help save a lot of shots from shaky hands. While it is not perfect and cannot just subtract all of the shake completely, this feature does an excellent job at cancelling out micro-jitter. That usual bit of shake that is more likely to show up when shooting video handheld that is very subtle but noticeable at the same time.
With this feature turned off, you get maximum field of view but the shake is more apparent. This is useful when utilizing a tripod/gimbal/any kind of external stabilizer. However, if the situation calls for handheld shooting, turning on optical stabilization can help out greatly. The first setting is, of course, much less drastic than the second. If there is only a minute amount of shake you would rather not deal with, all it takes is moving the switch to the first setting or if the shake is still too present, another move of the switch will put it to the second and eliminate that much more.
The technology of this feature is incredibly useful and only crops a fraction of the image that is virtually not noticeable.
4.) Pricing: Most of this lens's competition is priced in the $800+ range (i.e. the Canon L series equivalent 100mm f/2.8L macro prices at $799 on just about every deal on Amazon). This Sigma lens came in at only $499 and seems to produce the same, if not somewhat better quality.
The fact of this lens not being a brand name but rather a third party lens also makes it much less likely to be stolen when travelling. Most thieves will look for the red ring and Canon logo because those fetch the most money. None of this is to bash on Canon. They make extraordinary lenses as well, but the price tends to be off putting, especially for a lot of budget filmmakers/photographers.
Overall, for the quality of this glass, the price is amazing.
5.) Mount options: Like most, if not all, Sigma lenses, this one can be purchased for Canon, Sony, and Nikon cameras. Having this option is great for all camera users alike. This helps those that don't want to buy a lens and an adapter to allow it to fit on their device.
For example, if someone were to buy a Canon lens but uses a Sony camera, they would also have to make the extra investment to get a lens adapter. Sigma alleviates this issue by making their tech available for several brands. This is honestly one of the main reasons I shop third party lenses (along with pricing because they are generally cheaper too).
6.) Auto-focus: As an independent filmmaker that has never really had a crew to work with, auto-focus is a necessity for me. When I am on set I do not have the ability to worry about directing and worry about every part of the camera. For example, if I have a shot that is panning or moving in any fashion, it is difficult to rack focus at the same time and remain accurate. Having auto-focus is truly a lifesaver and this lens is very on point with this. As is, I have had very few issues with using Sigma's auto-focus. It may not be the quickest all the time but when it gets there it does it right.
Now, take into account the camera itself when it comes to focusing too. Some cameras in general are not quick with auto-focus. I use Canon cameras which are generally well know for their focusing abilities but other brands like Sony and Nikon may be a tad slower.
Regardless, this lens can serve really well for anyone working with even a glidecam or gimbal.
7.) Build quality: Built to last, Sigma always delivers a sturdy lens that will give you its value through the years. Even when I first pulled it out of the box, I knew it would be a lens that would never break unless something horrible happened to it like being thrown at the ground or dropped off of a cliff.
Otherwise, general care and lens safety will not only keep this lens good for years but will honestly not decrease its value much, if at all. So years down the road, if you decide you do not need the lens anymore, you would be able to sell it for a value just under its pricing for a brand new one without much issue.
With all of this being said, if you are in the market for a good telephoto macro lens, this would be a good option to consider. I am a single individual, however, and I do not know everything and have not experienced every lens similar to this one on the market. This is based off of my personal experience. Please feel free to do more research into other options and find the one that best fits for you.
If you need to be able to test the lens yourself before making the purchase as well, there are likely numerous rental options for you to get your hands on it without having to pay full price. Thank you for reading this article today. I hope it has been beneficial to you.