Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro

 
Lens Reviews / Sigma Lenses i Lab tested

Lab Test Results

  • Blur
  • Chromatic Aberration
  • Vignetting
  • Geometric Distortion
  • Blur
  • Chromatic Aberration
  • Vignetting
  • Geometric Distortion

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(From Sigma lens literature) The Sigma Corporation is pleased to announce the launch of the new Macro 70mm f/2.8 EX DG lens. This medium telephoto macro lens is ideal for both digital SLR cameras and 35mm film SLR cameras. The 70mm focal length gives an equivalent field of view as our popular 105mm macro lens when used on digital SLR cameras with an APS-C size image sensor.

The design of this lens makes it suitable for taking pictures in all situations from infinity to 1:1 macro, both with natural light conditions or flash.

A Special Low Dispersion (SLD) lens and two high refractive index SLD lenses provide excellent correction for all types of aberrations and produce an exceptional level of optical performance. Sigma's super multi-layer lens coating reduces flare and ghosting, and helps create a natural color balance.

The floating focus system provides extremely high optical performance from infinity to 1:1 Macro.

A "Focus Limiter Switch" in incorporated on the lens, improving the speed and accuracy of autofocus by limiting the focus range. A screw-in lens hood is included for convenient use of circular polarizing filters.

* Nikon and Pentax mount lens do not have an aperture ring, therefore depending on Camera model some functions may not work.

Test Notes
Medium focal length macro-focusing primes are often the sharpest lenses in a manufacturer's lineup. The Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro certainly follows this trend, being one of the sharpest lenses we've tested to date. Read on for all the details!

Sharpness
As noted, this is a very sharp lens. Even at its maximum aperture of f/2.8, it's sharp from corner to corner of the frame, the sharpness increasing only slightly as you stop down. Things stay wonderfully sharp as you continue to close the aperture, diffraction limiting first being detectable in the DxO-generated results as early as f/8, but probably not even faintly detectable in real-world images until f/16.

Chromatic Aberration
Chromatic aberration is well on the low side of average across the aperture range, increasing very slightly at f/22.

Shading ("Vignetting")
Shading is very low, hitting a maximum of about 1/4 EV at f/2.8, but decreasing to undetectable levels at f/4 and higher.

Distortion
Geometric distortion is also almost undetectably low, less than 0.1% pincushion.

AF Operation
As is common with most macro lenses, AF operation is smooth, but far from fast. The enormous range of focal distances this lens covers (combined with somewhat sluggish gearing) means that it can take two and a half to three seconds for the lens to slew from closest focus to infinity. A focus limit switch restricts focusing to distances of 1.75 feet or greater though, and this reduces worst-case AF time to a second or less.

As you'd expect, the manual focus ring has plenty of travel, permitting very accurate manual focusing.

Macro
Likewise as you'd expect, the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 is a superb macro performer. On our 20D body, the minimum image frame was 21.5mm at a focal distance of about 71mm from the front element of the lens.

Build Quality and Handling
This is a well-built, solid-feeling lens, although there was a little play between the moving and stationary barrel elements. The manual focus ring operated very smoothly, and as just noted above, had plenty of travel.

This is very much an external-focusing lens, as the barrel extends fully 57mm in going from infinity to closest focus. The front element doesn't rotate during focusing, something we always like to see, as it makes the lens well-suited for use with polarizers, graduated ND filters or other front-element filters that may be sensitive to rotation. It has a pleasant heft without feeling bulky, and balanced well on our Canon 20D and 5D test bodies.

The Competition

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM ~$360-499
As it's an EF-S lens, we don't have test data for the Canon 60mm f/2.8 Macro on a full-frame body. On our 20D test body though, the Canon loses out to the Sigma on multiple fronts. It's not as sharp, particularly at f/2.8, and its chromatic aberration is somewhat higher as well. Geometric distortion is similar between the two lenses, but the Canon's shading performance is worse by a factor of two from f/2.8-f/4.0. (The Canon's shading is also higher at f/5.6 and above, but is so low in absolute terms that it's not worth discussing.) Overall, the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 is the stronger performer here.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM ~$480
Apart from its longer focal length and somewhat higher price, the Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro and the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro could be twins of each other. both are very sharp, the Sigma just barely edging the Canon in our DxO-derived data, but to such a small extent that the difference almost certainly won't be discernible by human eyes. Shading is very close, the Canon holding a very slight edge. Distortion is a little different though, the Canon showing very low barrel, the Sigma a bit higher pincushion. Overall, close to a tossup between the two. Given the price differential, the Sigma's a bit of a better bargain though.

Nikon 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED AF-S VR Micro ~$735-899
As we've said elsewhere, we lament the passing of the non-VR version of this lens, as it was an excellent optic at an affordable price. The VR version is very good as well, but the price paid for the VR feature gives us a little pause. (Still though, VR can be very helpful when hand-holding close-in macro shots of little bugs and beasties.) While the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 VR is an excellent lens though, it doesn't match the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 for sharpness. It gets close, with the aperture closed down a couple of stops, but never quite catches the Sigma. The Nikon does have somewhat lower chromatic aberration, and edges the Tamron on geometric distortion, while the Tamron has slightly lower shading at maximum aperture. If you need VR for macro shooting on the Nikon platform, the 105mm f/2.8 VR Nikkor is the only way to go. If you can get by without the VR (or just can't afford it), the Sigma again represents an unbeatable bargain.

Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 SP AF ~$340-490
The Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro is a great lens, but the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 beats it handily in the sharpness department, particularly in sharpness uniformity at f/2.8. The Sigma also edges out the Tamron in CA performance, but the two lenses are almost a tie in Shading, and Tamron wins by a nose in geometric distortion. It'd be close to a tossup between these two lenses, were it not for the Sigma's superior sharpness.


Summary
By any measure, the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 is a superb macro lens, offering exceptional optical performance and good build quality at an excellent price. It outperforms anything in its price/focal length bracket by anything from a narrow to a wide margin, and represents one of the best bargains in a high-quality, medium focal length macro lens on the market today. Highly recommended!

Sample Photos!
Beginning in July 2007, we now provide sample photos of two laboratory test targets to help in our readers' evaluation of the lenses we test. The VFA target should give you a good idea of sharpness in the center and corners, as well as some idea of the extent of barrel or pincushion distortion and chromatic aberration, while the Still Life subject may help in judging contrast and color. We shoot both images using the default JPEG settings and manual white balance of our test bodies, so the images should be quite consistent from lens to lens.

As appropriate, we shoot these with both full-frame and sub-frame bodies, at a range of focal lengths, and at both maximum aperture and f/8. For the "VFA" target (the viewfinder accuracy target from Imaging Resource), we also provide sample crops from the center and upper-left corner of each shot, so you can quickly get a sense of relative sharpness, without having to download and inspect the full-res images. To avoid space limitations with the layout of our review pages, indexes to the test shots launch in separate windows.

To see the sample shots from this lens captured with this lens on our Canon EOS-20D and EOS-5D test bodies, just click on either of the thumbnails below, and scroll as needed in the window that appears.


Still Life shot


VFA target

Full-Frame Test Notes:

There's really not a lot to say on the full-frame side that we didn't already cover with the sub-frame writeup. Amazingly, the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 Macro is almost as flat corner to corner on the full-frame 5D as it was on the sub-frame 20D. You can just barely make out the slightest lift in the f/2.8 blur plot in the corners, but the change there is well below the level perceptible to humans. Chromatic aberration is even lower than on the 20D, thanks to the 5D's larger pixels. As you'd expect, shading is somewhat greater with a larger sensor, reading just over 1/2 EV at f/2.8, dropping to about 0.2 EV at f/4, and generally hovering in the vicinity of 1/10 EV across the rest of the aperture range. Geometric distortion is also a little higher, at about 0.2% pincushion around the very edges.

Bottom line, this is a superb macro lens, whether you're shooting on a full-frame or sub-frame camera. Highly recommended!

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro

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Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro User Reviews

9.0/10 average of 21 reviews Build Quality 8.9/10 Image Quality 9.4/10
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (2 reviews)
    Very sharp. Excellent macro. Dreamy background when wide open.
    Slow AF

    My favorite lens. Very sharp. Almost surreal at times. I have owned this lens since 2007 and I have used it with the Nikon D70, D90 and D7100. It changed the way I use my camera.

    reviewed April 4th, 2016
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    Love the range. Great portrait and macro lens. Very sharp.
    slow focus and noisy.

    Got this from a pawn shop. Really nice sharp macro lens. f2.8 with a confirmation chip is definitely an advantage. I love how close I can get to an object but dont rely on the AF. I use manual for macro shots.

    reviewed March 25th, 2016 (purchased for $170)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (3 reviews)
    Ultra sharp sharpness, scary sharp.
    Tedious AF.

    Wow! I just tried this out on my new 36MP D810 - an awesome combination.

    reviewed January 25th, 2015
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (2 reviews)
    Sharpest lens corner to corner
    tube extension ,1/2 stop over exposes

    I have Sigma 70mm 2.8 Macro and it is as sharp as Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art in the center and sharper on the corners. I have 3 other sharp lenses (Nikon 135mm DC F2, Nikon 85mm 1.8G and Nikon 50mm 1.8G) , but they are nowhere near these 2 Sigmas in sharpness. I compared all lenses at F5.6 in 3 occasions and results are consistent. Other macro I tried was Nikon 105mm VR Micro , but it was softer than 85mm 1.8G unfortunately.

    reviewed February 27th, 2014 (purchased for $450)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (4 reviews)
    sharp, bokeh
    nothing really

    Perfect macro lens on Nikon dx. Sharp wide open, with dreamy out of focus areas. Also does well for portraits. Highly recomended!

    reviewed May 30th, 2013 (purchased for $400)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (40 reviews)
    Extraordinary sharpness and contrast at every aperture, accurate autofocus
    Lens hood is screw in type

    Often I am slightly disappointed by third party lenses, but this one is a pleasant exception and definitely a keeper. Sharpness and contrast are outstanding at all apertures straight from f/2.8. Really, I can't find anything to whine about. The bokeh is nice and smooth. Auto focus is not lightning fast, but I don't find it too slow. It's accurate and that's important. The lens itself is not very big and heavy, but it does feel solid and well constructed. Not sure about the 'rubbery' coating on the lens barrel though. Apart from being a nice macro lens, it can serve as a high quality portrait lens as well. Some photographers probably start to feel depressed when I say this, but I think you can never have enough detail. You can always easily remove some of it later, but you can never get more. If you love sharpness and good contrast and don't need super fast action tracking auto focus, this surely is a winner.

    reviewed July 30th, 2011
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (13 reviews)
    Sharp - sharp - sharp
    autofocus is slooooow

    Got lucky and found a cheap one.

    Bought it based on the reviews I found. Was thinking of the Nikon 85 as a portrait lens, but decided to go for this one.

    Apart from the sloooww focus (it is slow), a killer lens !

    reviewed July 18th, 2011 (purchased for $300)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (4 reviews)
    sharpness, AF limiter switch, 9 aperture blades, smooth MF
    AF is noisy and not quite accurate, AF also slow if not limiting AF via switch, lens hood

    Well, this lens is tack sharp and makes a lot of fun. For macros I use the MF, so the AF is just disturbing if you will focus from infinity to macro distance. You really will need a lot of patience. And after that time, it is not said, that the AF is accurate... Another point is the lenshood, which will be screwed in the front. So, in the other direction, you can't mount it e.g. for transportation.

    Most of that points are not quite nerving me, 'cause I just use it for outdoor macros and portraits, where this lens has superb qualities because of the nice bokeh and the sharpness. Price, weight and build are good!

    So, if you always use the AF limiter, you will get a really sharp and useful lens.

    reviewed April 27th, 2011 (purchased for $419)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (9 reviews)
    Sharp, high-quality construction, inexpensive
    Extending barrel, AF performance, not full-time manual

    The Sigma 100mm macro is a suitable alternative for Canon and Nikon photographers on a budget, and probably the best macro option for Pentax and Sony users. The lens is nearly tack-sharp wide open, though my copy did suffer from a "slanted" line of best focus at macro distances. Build quality is great, not as refined as a Canon L lens but not nearly as expensive, either. Focus is slow, somewhat loud, and inconvenient (no full-time manual override, barrel extends when focusing.) The price is right, though I consider the Canon 100mm macro well worth the premium.

    reviewed May 21st, 2010
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    sharpest lens ever, very good construction, solid feel
    no HSM, some CA, slight overexposure

    On a Nikon DX overexposes slightly (no problem, I just leave the body -2 f-stops =0,7eV) in a sunny atmosphere. It has critical sharpness from f/2.8 to f/16. As oposed to other macro lenses, it has a good working distance at 1:1. Very good for portraits, maybe a little too sharp. The construction is top notch, with the mount and the extending front tube made from metal. It does have some CA in contrasting places but that can easily be corrected. In the hands of a macro shooter, this lens can performe alongside the best of the best. Overall, if you're looking for the best macro lens in the business, look no further. This is the sharpest lens ever made!

    reviewed April 14th, 2010 (purchased for $250)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (2 reviews)
    Critical sharpness, accurate focus, bokeh, solid build
    slow focus, chromatic abberation

    This is a special tool. Under controlled settings, the sharpness and image quality is unbeatable at this focal length for macro shots, portraits or other photos showing high level of detail. I have only compared this to Canon and Nikon macros and primes between 50 and 105 mm, and this lens is sharper. High praise indeed as those are also excellent lenses. Near infinity focus is also excellent compared to similar macro lenses. AF was found to be slow but spot on, and it is also extremely accurate when used on cameras in Live View modes. Build quality does inspire confidence- solid but not sexy. All of these comments apply to both cropped and full frame sensors.

    What do I mean by controlled settings? Take time to make sure exposure is correct. Near blown-out highlights results in purple fringing. Also, AF, while accurate is slow, so this lens is not a quick portrait tool or a modest telephoto for sports or performances. For those purposes, 50 and 85 mm primes and 70-200 2.8 zooms respectively are better.

    So, if you have just a little time to exercise control, you will get the sharpest photo at this focal length that any product can offer. This is one of the few third party lenses that can truly compete with the major brand names.

    reviewed February 5th, 2010 (purchased for $450)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (7 reviews)
    Very sharp lens for macro and portrait. Good colors rendition.
    AF a bit slow (but accurate)

    Used on full frame Canon 5D.

    I've exchanged my Canon 100mm macro against this one (the 70mm focal in studio was more useful for me, the 100mm was too short, or too long) and I've no regrets. This lens is a gem! Very sharp at 2.8 at medium distance (so for portraits outside it's a winner) and very good in macro, too.

    Yes, the AF is not a high-speed one but I found it very accurate on my Canon 5D. The lens is well constructed, only the "AF-MF" button seems a bit hard to activate.

    reviewed December 23rd, 2009 (purchased for $400)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    Sharpness, bokeh, very accurate AF
    Slow AF

    Excellent sharpness starting from f2.8. Very good color and contrast. Pleasing bokeh.
    Slow but very accurate AF.
    105mm with APSC sensors.

    reviewed September 19th, 2009 (purchased for $365)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    superb sharpness and contrast, smart AF implementation, perfect FL for crop portraits
    (nitpicking) MWD could be a little better

    Great lens, optically and mechanically.

    Optically, the test at slrgear says it all, it's possibly the sharpesst lens tested here, sharper than the Zeiss 100mm or the Canon 100mm macro.

    Mechanically, it's well built and it has a very smart implementation of focusing path + focus limiter. Let me explain : the lens has a very long focusing path (around 270°, so it sticks out some 5.5 centimeters for 1:1 macro). The AF motor is non HSM, so watching the lens going through all this path is very slow and noisy. But the focusing path is implemented in such a way that normal focusing distances (between infinityt and 0.5m) take up only 40° or about 1cm of lens protruding. So if you use the focus limiter, the lens is very fast and responsive at normal focusing distances. For macro, you can go in manual mode and the long focusing path will let you make very precise focusing. It's really a very well thought out lens.

    The only disadvantages are that it has a minimum working distance of only 7cm at 1:1 (decent, but more is usually better here) and that it partially blocks the popup flash for 1:1 macro, so you can use the built in flash for macro photos only until 1:1.5 maginification (that's still very well for crop camera users who don't want to buy a dedicated ring macro flash).

    reviewed May 20th, 2009 (purchased for $240)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (6 reviews)
    Fantastic sharp, all-in-one focal length, build quality
    Slow focus, cant reverse hood for storage

    This is the sharpest lens i ever tested. I guess it deserves 15-20 mega pixels to match its optical performance. Its a shame i only have 6 on the Canon. I moved to Pentax and planed to buy this lens with Pentax mount, but got a used Tamron 90mm very cheap so i bought that instead. In my opinion the build quality of Sigma 70mm is excellent.

    I use this lens for flowers and insects, and for portraits. (f/2,8 gives short enough DOF for "headshots")

    The downsides of this lens is slow focus for portraits. The limiter makes it less painfull. For macro work i use manual focus so lack of AF speed doesn't matter there.

    The hood is tube-shaped, not flower shaped. Its made of metal and is not reversible. Sigma should replace the hood with a plastic flower shaped, reversible hood.

    Soft lens case is included in the price.

    Bokeh is a little sharp edged, but decently round at f/2.8

    I would choose this over Tamron 90mm f/2,8 macro if the price was more or less the same.

    reviewed May 19th, 2009 (purchased for $550)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (10 reviews)
    Sharp, Sharp, Sharp! AF is swift. Focus limiter switch. Pretty good build. f2.8 aperture. 9 aperture blades.
    Aperture blades not circular. Focus ring could have been slightly larger and have a clutch as to not rotate during AF.

    This lens is truely sharp from f2.8 and onward through f11. f16 is good, but I do not know beyond that since I have not bothered to try. The aperture does not have round blades. So I am not sure what effect that will have on the quality of the bokeh when stopped down past f4 or f5.6. I would have liked a slightly larger focus ring. Its size is okay, but a 1/4 inch more of rubber would have been nice. I don't mind that it does not have a clutch in the focus ring, but for a macro lens it would have been a nice feature. Others say that the focus is not fast. That's not true. When using it as a "normal" 70mm telephoto lens with the focus limiter enabled for the "normal" range focus is really fast. However, using this lens in the macro range with or without the limiter it seems to take forever. It is a dedicated macro lens afterall. It needs to extend quite a bit to get the 1:1 ratio when you need it.

    This lens is what all the reviews have stated it too be optically......Sharp! from f2.8 and from corner to corner. If you need a macro lens between the range of 50mm and 100mm this is one you should heavily consider.

    reviewed August 3rd, 2008 (purchased for $389)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    Sharpness, build quality, price
    Cannot reverse the lens hood for storage, no HSM

    After reading a lot of reviews I bought this lens and I have been very happy with it. It suits for macros (although I could use longer working distance some times) and also for portraits. Bokeh is quite good for macro, although some times the background can get a little busy. But better than most (if not all) macros around this focal length. And this lens is brutally sharp from corner to corner - even on full frame.

    Even though the focus is fast enough for my needs 95% of times, I would prefer to have a HSM version.

    I can highly recommend this lens. Price/performance ratio is excellent!

    reviewed June 19th, 2008 (purchased for $460)
  • 3 out of 10 points and not recommended by (1 reviews)
    Build quality seemed OK
    Below par focus in macro, outright mediocre as a normal lens!

    I did a lot of research prior to purchasing this lens. Went to numerous review sites and found that most had very favorable reviews, but there was this constant thread mentioning the fact that Sigma was inconsistent with their product control and to not be surprised if you got a bum one.
    Well, I got the bum one!! Right out of the box I noticed that the rear lens cap was not securely fastened. No big deal. I was however impressed with the build quality. Nice and solid, good hood.
    Then came the picture taking. My first few prints were so surprisingly poor that I re-checked the lens and its functions, as well as my Nikon D200. Photographed some more, printed them on another printer, same results!! Macro was marginal, which was disappointing because of the reviews. As a normal lens it was very poor. I repeated my re-check of camera and lens because I just couldn't believe the poor results. I even took it over to a friend who is a pro wedding photog, she took some shots, printed them on her printer, and the results were equally as poor at both macro and especially at normal. Shipped back to Amazon that same day!!

    Most of the review sites had very favorable responses with only a few negatives, so I am sure that this is a good lens. I guess it is up to the luck of the draw that you get one that was assembled on a good day at Sigma! I have never drifted from the Nikon lens line so maybe this was just bad karma. However, my next macro will be the new Nikon 60mm 2.8 with silent wave technology.

    reviewed March 28th, 2008 (purchased for $406)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (19 reviews)
    sharpest lens in the world , AF ok when not using in macro range
    build is not as good as that of the EF-S60 , it extends itself while focusing

    As for serious macro work , it is unbeatable but I prefer the EF-S60 since I mostly use them for street photography , I need super fast AF of the Canon.......

    But, as I said ,for most of others , it is the best macro lens , sharper than all others , I was shcoked to see this lens actually was sharper than my EF-S60 ,EF100 macro , Sigma 150 EX and Tamorn 90 ............you have to know those are all super sharp lenses and non of them are bad choice at all , though this Sigma 70 is a scary , really painfully sharp , insanely sharp .........


    With that said, if I had to choose one lens over all other macros I have had , I'd choose the EF-S60 ; it is a great lens , very sharp (a bit sharper than my 100 macro and 150 EX) , it produces perfect color , it has no distortion and focuses super fast , especially when I use it as a walk around lens on my XTI , I put my 17-55IS on my 40D and the 60 on my XTI .............

    But we are lucky that we do not have to choose one lens over all others , we can have all , so I use this Sigma along with my EF-S60 and Tamorn 90 macro , I think I will sell the 100 macro and Sigma 150 , since I do not really like them , the Sigma is too long for me and the Canon 100 is not as sharp as my 60 and this 70 , and I prefer the Tamorn 90 as for portrait because of the beautiful Tmaorn bokeh.

    Any way , this Sigma is , in my humble opinion , one of the best Sigma lenses you can buy now.


    If this lens had had the USM AF , would have been an almost perfect lens , I dont know why Sigma missed it .

    reviewed September 15th, 2007 (purchased for $400)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (24 reviews)
    fantastic sharp, very contrasty and good construccion and colours
    none

    This lense is a real champ! No weakness and brilliant performence - extremly sharp and very good handlings - in this days may be the No.1 in macro, only the Canon MP-E 65 is even better but playing in a different category - the TIPA- price for the best semi-professional lens of 2007 says everything. The 1:1 and 1:2 magnification is outstandingly good. If you love macros, buy this one - a good alternative are the Tamron DI 90 and Sigma EX DG 50.
    1000% recommended!

    reviewed May 15th, 2007 (purchased for $400)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (17 reviews)
    Sharpest Macro I've seen.. Sigma Coating...
    Sigma Coating...

    A Very SHARP lens.. well.. something that is expected in a macro lens..

    Regarding the focal length.. it has its pros and cons..

    of course the longer the length, the better the working distance, but it also requires a faster shutter..

    I guess if you are going to use this to for walk-around macro shooting or portrait then this would definitely fit into your gear..

    But with its sharpness, it shouldn't stop you from using this with product shoots...

    reviewed January 11th, 2007 (purchased for $410)