Top critical review
49 people found this helpful
Least impressive of the macro lenses around 100mm
on March 25, 2013
I am reviewing the Canon version of the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 Macro OS lens.
There are probably more macro lenses at or near the focal length of 100mm than at any other focal length. If this were the only macro lens around 100mm, I would consider it a good lens worth having. It has pretty good image quality and a solid build. Unfortunately for Sigma, "pretty good" isn't good enough in a crowded field of ~100mm macros that include the Canon 100mm f/2.8, the Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS, the Tamron 90mm f/2.8, the Tamron 90mm f.2.8 VC, the Tokina AT-X 100mm f/2.8 PRO D Macro and the Zeiss 100mm F/2 Makro Planar ZE. I have had a chance to test and work with all of these except the Tokina.
Among the lenses I've tested, the Zeiss ranks highest in terms of image quality, but is a rather specialized, expensive f/2 manual focus lens that does not have 1:1 macro capabilities, auto focus or image stabilization. That rules it out for a lot of folks. Among the autofocus 1:1 macro lenses, the Canon f/2.8L IS takes the top spot for image quality, with the new Tamron 90mm VC coming in a very close second and the non-L, non-IS Canon 100mm and non-VC Tamron 90mm not at all far behind. In fact in the real world you're not going to see much difference in IQ between any of these four lenses, they're all that good.
The Sigma 105, on the other hand, while a good performer by most standards, has a hard time competing with any of the aforementioned primo lenses. It's just not as sharp and contrasty, the autofocus isn't as fast and hunts in low light, and it's too heavy. Why settle for a compromise when there are all those other great macros to choose from? Actually I really like and much prefer Sigma's 150mm macro, which is even heavier, but the image quality is superb, and that's really the main criteria I have for keeping a lens.
My favorite pick among all of these: The new Tamron 90mm VC released in early 2013. It has everything I want in a macro lens: super sharp, snappy focus, light weight, reasonably compact, and has impressive, nearly silent image stabilization. I never thought I'd say this, but I now prefer the Tamron 90mm VC over the Canon 100mm L.
Sorry, Sigma, you didn't make the cut this time. I've been holding off on writing this review until I sold the copy I had. It's gone and I won't be purchasing it again. Next.