Sigma has added a short telephoto macro to its Art lens lineup: the 105mm f/2.8 DG DN Macro Art lens. The new lens offers 1:1, life-size rendering, a handful of manual controls, and the exacting sharpness that has become synonymous with Sigma Art glass. Designed specifically for mirrorless cameras, it is available in E-mount for Sony cameras and L-mount for Sigma, Leica, and Panasonic cameras. I paired mine with Sony’s a7R IV to capture some autumn colors around the city.
Having reviewed Sigma’s 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art lens about two years ago, I was excited to see what its latest macro would bring to the table beyond a longer focal length. Right out of the box, I noticed a reconfigured lens barrel packed with manual controls. Call me old-fashioned, but I am a sucker for manual aperture rings, a feature that Sigma has started incorporating into the design of some of its DG DN lenses with greater frequency.
The 105mm includes hard clicks in ⅓-stop increments and the option to “de-click” the ring so you can smoothly set your aperture anywhere between f/2.8 and f/22. This feature also enables silent, fluid adjustments when recording video. For those who prefer to make aperture adjustments entirely in-camera, a lock on the right side of the lens can be activated when the ring is set to “A,” preventing accidental manual adjustments.
Like the 70mm Art, the 105mm includes an AF/MF switch so you can quickly go back and forth between focusing modes without needing to involve your camera. I have always found this feature a useful addition to macro lenses. It is easier and faster to have AF lock onto the center of the image before switching to manual to tweak focus than to navigate through extreme blur manually or try to have AF read my mind. Speaking of focusing, a programmable AFL button is also included below the AF/MF switch that can be used to hold focus, manage AF, or activate a handful of other controls. I found it most helpful as a focus magnifier when making manual adjustments.
The 105mm incorporates a hypersonic focusing motor (HSM), which keeps AF quick and quiet. It is also compatible with Sony’s face and eye detection for portrait applications. To speed up workflow, a focus limiter switch is incorporated on the left side of the lens. There are three selectable focusing ranges to choose from: 11.6" to 1.6', 1.6' to infinity, and the full 11.6" to infinity range. This is a great feature when working with complex compositions that include visual elements in the foreground or background that may compete with your subject when using autofocus. Nothing is more frustrating than having a macro lens’s AF abandon the subject directly in front of it for something 50 yards away. Getting into the habit of using the focus limiter switch effectively eliminates such annoyances.
If you are familiar with Sigma’s Art lenses, you know that they are sharp—really, really sharp. The new macro is no exception. I found in-focus areas to be rich in detail and focus falloff to be fairly smooth and natural. Bokeh enthusiasts will appreciate the nine rounded blade aperture design of this lens. Optically, the lens uses an all-new design consisting of 17 elements arranged into 12 groups, including one Super Low Dispersion (SLD) element to minimize chromatic aberration. A Super Multi-Layer Coating also controls flare for working in bright and backlit conditions.
The minimum focusing distance of this lens is 11.6", which, when you take into account the length of the lens, means you can get the front element as close as 5.5" from your subject, achieving 1:1 maximum magnification. L-mount users can further boost their magnification by pairing the lens with Sigma’s 1.4x or 2x teleconverters. The front of the lens accepts 62mm screw-in filters.
The physical build of the lens shares the same solid construction and attention to detail as the rest of the Sigma Art lenses. Those venturing out into the wild will appreciate the dust and splash-proof design of the lens for “all-weather” uses. Though physically larger than Sigma’s previous Art macro, the 105mm is still a fairly modest lens when compared to some of the behemoths in the Art line. Weighing 1.6 lb and measuring 2.9 x 5.3", it is easy to toss into your bag and forget about until you need it. Speaking of travel, it comes with a padded case for safekeeping, and a detachable lens hood is also included.
What do you make of Sigma’s latest Art lens? Share your thoughts in the Comments section, below.