Affordable Macro Performance: In Praise of the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM

Sigma has been busy producing some interesting new glass over the last 12 months, but its 105mm f/2.8 Macro is one of its older lenses that’s proven to be popular over the years. How does it stand up almost a decade after it was released?

The Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DG Macro HSM OS for Nikon F and Canon EF (with mounts also available for Sony and Sigma DSLRs) was widely praised since its release in February 2011. Right now, it’s reduced from $969 down to $569, making it an appealing prospect for anyone looking for a sharp lens suitable for portraits or close-up work. Even better, you can scoop it up secondhand for less than $400

As you’ll note, autofocus isn’t the snappiest, but given that portraits and macro work tend to be a little slower, this probably isn’t much of an issue for most people wondering whether to add this to their arsenal. Corner sharpness wide open isn’t the best, but again, this shouldn’t concern those shooting macro at smaller apertures or portraits, where the subject tends to sit towards the center of the frame. 

Sony mirrorless and Leica shooters now have their option from Sigma in the shape of the recently-released 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro Art, which is available — notably without any stabilization — for $799.

Is this a lens that's still worth buying today? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Jon Kellett's picture

I purchased the EF mount version of this in 2015 and it became one of the most fun and rewarding lenses I've used. Also one of the most frustratingly slow lenses. Focusing via AF was poor. Using manual focus, not much better. In the end I simply moved my body to focus...

Fast forward to 2019 and having moved to Sony... Amazing. This lens actually focuses faster on the Sony body with an adaptor than it did on the Canon. It's now fast enough in AF to actually be usable... Which is nice because this lens produces such lovely images, especially portraits.

Thomas Cheeseman's picture

How does this perform on the EOS R with the RF to EF Adaptor?

Tom Reichner's picture

I have needed a true macro lens for my Canon DSLRs for years, and now I can finally justify such a purchase. So I'm looking at the various options available, reading specs and reviews, and comparing each against the others. This is one of the lenses that I am considering very seriously.

One question I have for those with macro lens experience ..... If cost were not an issue, what advantage does this Sigma have over the Canon 100mm f2.8 IS ? What can this do that the Canon can't? Or, what can this Sigma do better than the Canon?

Jon Kellett's picture

I seem to recall that the Canon had worse CA, but was generally a better lens. For me though, price was a factor :-)

Funny how CA wouldn't be such a strong consideration now, with how much better image processing is.

Tom Reichner's picture

Thanks, Jon!

CA would actually matter to me, because I don't have editing software that can automatically remove it, and wouldn't know how to do it even if I did have such software. Getting colors right in-camera is important for me, due to my lack of editing know-how and lack of software.

Simon Wiltshire's picture

I have had this lens in my kit for about 5 years now and it has got some fantastic results. It's not one I usually elect to take out with me, but when I do I usuay get something good. I have found the results particularly good in the mid-range AF zone, more so than the closest setting. Here I can still get a nice tight shot, great detail and lovely bokeh but without being overly macro. I hadn't used it for a few months but my daughter got a plasma light for Christmas and this lens was just the ticket! I recently bought the 1.4 variant which is incredibly sharp and the 1.4 is superb for portraits, but it's a real pain to carry. For its macro capability, stabilisation, and ease of carry, the 2.8 macro will stay in my kit bag for the foreseeable.