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Owners and uses of DSLR cameras will know that there are dozens of different lenses that can be attached to the cameras to enable different types of photography to be done correctly.
The original or kit lenses that come with most DSLR`s are capable of doing a bit of everything but only at low levels, if you want to take certain images, get long zoom possibilities or shoot creatively then you need to get the right lens for the right job.
One favourite with a lot of DSLR users is Macro photography which is basically shooting close ups of things, the average camera lens will only focus properly at a minimum distance of around 59cm whereas a macro lens will let you get in much closer. This particular lens (Sigma EX macro lens - 50 mm F/2.8) allows you to focus on objects as close in as 20cm.
Sigma make many other claims about this lens, such as it having (SLD) special low dispertion and (ELD) extra low dispertion glass elements which help to provide excellent correction of colour aberrations as well as having super multi-layer lens coating to help prevent lens flare and image ghosting which are common problems with digital cameras that film cameras never had.
In my opinion however the final images shot with this lens still showed signs of ghosting and lens flare is still a problem in very bright light so these claims do not hold much water with me to be honest. It is however a very decent macro lens without these add ons and one that performs very well with natural light macro photography as well as flash using macro flash rings, if you attempt to use an on camera flash or a flash not designed for macro however then this lens just cannot produce the same type of images.
The feel of the lens and the build of the lens are both very good, it feels like a lens you could trust for a long time and it is well built and not at all cheap and cheerful. Many of the aftermarket lenses both look and feel very cheap and plastic but this is definitely not the case with this Sigma lens.
This lens focuses very smoothly, a bit slowly (this is normal with macro lenses) but most importantly with macro it focuses quietly, I say quiet is most important because a lot of people that shoot macro shoot insects and butterflies and a noisy focus ring can soon frighten the subject off and then you end up with a photo of the branch or leaf that they were once sat upon instead of the creature itself, so for focusing ability I rate this lens very highly.
This lens is currently available to fit Sigma, Canon, Minolta, Nikon and Pentax and it is priced roughly the same across the board, it will have been designed with Sigma in mind so it probably gives its best results when fitted to a Sigma unit but I tested it with Sigma and with Nikon units and I have to say there was little difference if any at all.
The lens has the option via a small switch on the side of being used in auto focus or manual focus which is great for serious macro shooting because all the macro photographers I know much prefer to focus manually to ensure they get the right focus and effect with every shot, some of the cheaper lenses do not offer this ability to change and therefore fall behind this lens.
Focal Length 50mm
Max Aperture f/2.8
Min Aperture f/45-f/32
Angle of view 46.8
Min Focus 189mm (1:1)
Filter size 55mm (72mm with hood)
Mount available Sigma, Canon, Minolta (f/45) Nikon, Pentax (f/32)
Price (RRP) 229.99
I enjoyed using this lens it felt good in my hand and felt very professional to use, I am fairly positive it will offer good longevity and that it would be very suitable for basic macro shooters to high end amateurs although I am certain professionals will look for much more from their lenses.
The final images were good but never great, they throw up a few colour reproduction issues and a few aberration issues but this has to be expected from a low priced macro lens and remember this is coming from a professional trained to spot this and most amateurs will never pick up on these problems .
There is very little wrong with this lens and for its price of between £299.99 and £318.99 depending on which fitment and where you buy it, it has to be seen to be good value for money. The main good points of the lens for me are its good build quality and nice finish, its 20cm focusing capabilities and most of all its very reasonable price.
The few bad points for me are the typical slow autofocus, the fact that the claims about dealing with correction of colour and aberrations by using SLD and ELD glass elements are not actually met and the small point that it does not come supplied with a soft case or lens hood to help protect it.
I think the good outweighs the bad with this lens and it is one I would recommend but there are other macro lenses out there that for about £50 more will bully this one in many ways, so it really is down to your level of experience with macro and how much you wish to spend. To put the price into some context my own macro lens (Sony SAL-100M28) cost me £599.99 and it is by no means the most expensive lens out there.
In digital photography as far as lenses go, you really get what you pay for and what you get with this Sigma lens is a good starter macro lens that will allow you to get your macro photography up to scratch before you splash out on bigger, better and much more expensive gear.
Thanks for reading.