Recently I had the pleasure of trying the new SIGMA 70mm F2.8 DG MACRO | Art lens with a SIGMA TELE CONVERTER TC-1401 (1.4x) with my Canon 5DMKiii in the field photographing invertebrates. Personally for me I prefer the longer focal length of the 180mm due to the subjects I am photographing, but I can see this being a great lens for studio macro work, food photography, portraiture and those starting out in macro photography.
The SIGMA 70mm F2.8 DG Macro Art lens is small and compact compared to my SIGMA 180mm F2.8 APO MACRO EX DG OS HSM lens which I’m accustomed to using. It doesn’t have built-in image stabilisation which helps to make the lens smaller in size and weight which also makes using the 70mm handheld more achievable. A plus when it is not always possible to use a tripod especially when photographing crickets in rosehip and bramble bushes.
I’m use to using longer focal length lenses so it was an adjustment using the shorter 70mm focal length with a lens barrel that extends out. Generally this is not a problem except in situations when you are shooting around the minimum focus distance and have potentially skittish subjects. The barrel extension can then put you at risk of nudging or disturbing your subject which is something you must take into consideration.
The SIGMA 70mm MACRO | Art lens also has a different autofocus system compared to the SIGMA 180mm MACRO in that it has a focus-by-wire system that is driven by a coreless DC motor as opposed to the Hyper Sonic Motor in the 180mm, but how did this compare?
In terms of autofocus I did find it to be a fraction slower than I am used to but it was still quick enough to capture shots in the majority of situations. When you get close to the minimum focusing distance (25.8 cm/10.2 in) it did start to hunt more than slighter wider out and struggled a little when shooting in busy habitats but works great if you have clean backgrounds. This is when the full-time manual focus override becomes very useful at this stage. The focus ring’s rotation allows you to get precise focusing.
I also paired the lens with the SIGMA TELE CONVERTER TC-1401 1.4x converter which allows the lens to be used as a 98mm f/4 macro. Autofocus still works with the Canon 5DMKiii, but I found that it was a bit hit and miss, sometimes it would work and other times it wouldn’t, however when using live view it did autofocus every time with no problem.
The image quality overall is incredible and truly deserving to be part of the Art series. Both close-up and in wider shots, on their own or taken with the 1.4x converter are incredible. Subjects are pin sharp whilst keeping backgrounds soft and out of focus, it is possible to create some beautiful images with this lens. My experience showed it will obviously take some time to familiarise yourself with using this new style lens especially if you have a background in MACRO like myself. If you want the image quality of a SIGMA Art lens with the advantage of razor sharp MACRO lens then once you are comfortable with how it works, it is a wonderful small macro lens that you can easily carry around and shoot handheld.
You can see more images created by Victoria and learn about her “Forgotten Little Creatures” project on one of the following links: