Richard Sibley compares APu2019s Fixed Focal Length Lens of the Year, the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro, with 90mm and 100mm optics from Tamron and Tokina, and explains why such focal lengths are so enduringly popular
The three lenses on test here produce superb photographs, and the amount of detail that can be resolved, whether used for macro or portraits, is quite staggering. They are among the sharpest we have tested.
Most of the differences between the lenses lie in their build and handling. The Tamron 90mm and the Sigma 105mm optics are hard to separate. Both have internal focusing and image stabilisation, with the stabilisation particularly good in the Tamron lens, so perhaps this offers a slight advantage. For regular shooters of handheld macro images, the stabilisation in the Sigma and Tamron lenses offers a distinct advantage.
As good as the Tokina lens is, it is a little dated. That it has no internal focusing, image stabilisation or a macro focus limit will be problematic to many. However, it does have its positives. It is the smallest and lightest of the lenses on test, so is easy to carry and hold for longer. Plus, as an older design, the Tokina is also the least expensive lens here, and can be found for just over £300.
Asked to pick just one of these lenses, I would be hard-pushed to choose. With little difference in image quality, it would have to come down to handling and focal length, and while I prefer the stabilisation of the Tamron lens I also prefer the focal length of the Sigma model. Enthusiast photographers would be pleased to own either of them.
Sigma 105mm – 5 out of 5
Tamron 90mm – 5 out of 5
Tokina 100mm – 4 out of 5