Sigma’s popular tele-macro lens sees the addition of optical stabilisation and new lens coatings. Mat Gallagher discovers just how good this new version really is
Features and build
Although only 45mm longer than the popular 105mm macro (which has also been updated in recent years), the 150mm is much larger. This is due in part to the removable mount collar, which allows a more even balance point for tripod use, and the lens is lengthened further by the substantial full-sized lens hood.
The finish is a smooth matt black, which gives the lens a premium feel that is finished off with the signature gold ring around the end of the barrel. The focus ring sits at the front of the lens and is nice and wide, with a smooth action and plenty of resistance to ensure accurate adjustment. This is important here, as the lens will often be used with manual focus. Just a half turn takes the lens from minimum focus to infinity, which sounds quite short but this feels the right balance between accuracy and speed.
The focus window sits behind the focus ring and gives measurements in feet, metres and magnification ratio, which is useful for technical work. Autofocus can be limited to above or below 53cm on a side switch, while a manual override is always available in autofocus. Optical stabilisation comes with two settings for full stabilisation (mode 1) or vertical-only stabilisation (mode 2) to allow for panning and claims a 4EV benefit.
The lens is specified by Sigma as DG rather than DC, which means that, although it is optimised for digital cameras, it is not limited to purely APS-C-sized sensors and is suitable for full-frame models. Internally, the lens is constructed of 19 elements in 13 groups, three of which are Special Low Dispersion (SLD) elements, while both front and rear elements feature a Super-Multi Layer coating to reduce flare and ghosting. The front element has a regular 72mm filter thread.
The maximum aperture is f/2.8 with a minimum of f/22, although the effective aperture varies according to the focal distance, reducing the aperture by as much as 2 stops at the maximum 1:1 magnification to give an f/5.6-f/45 range. Focusing is internal and uses a Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) for fast and quiet operation.
We tested a Nikon-mount version of the Sigma 150mm f/2.8. Using an internal motor means it is suitable for all Nikon DSLR models. The lens is also available in Canon and Sigma mounts.
Image: This macro shot at full 1:1 ratio shows the shallow depth of field even with an effective f/5.6 aperture