Hello Guest

Author Topic: A Day In The Field With Sigma 180mm F/2.8 APO MACRO EX DG OS HSM Lens.  (Read 6428 times)

Offline dranand

  • Mentor
  • Loyalist
  • *
  • Posts: 103
Dear friends , I was eagerly waiting to test this beast for long time. Finally it came true during my visit to Amboli ( Maharashtra) for exclusive Butterflies visit. Mr. Hemant Ogale my friend ( Butterfly expert) and Owner of famous resort in Amboli  ?WHISTLING WOODS? owns this lens and was using for more than 6-7 months and very happy with its performance in the field. So I decided to test this lens in the field giving rest to my sweet baby Canon 100mm F/2.8 L IS.

Sigma producing excellent macro lenses for quite some time , but earlier versions lack of  good auto focus , compatibility issue and most imp. Quality , I remember  earlier we used to say every Sigma lens is different. In fact  I was planning to buy my first macro lens sigma 105 but once I had saw dust particles in brand new lens that also more than 3 copies decided to switch to trusty CANON. But recently Sigma is improving a lot in all aspects as a  Lens manufacturer and giving tough competition to Canon and Nikon.




 


Technical details of  Sigma 180mm F/2.8 Macro







Performance
Focal Length   180mm
Aperture   Maximum: f/2.8
Minimum: f/22.0
Camera Mount Type   Canon EF
Format Compatibility   35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor
Canon (APS-C)
Angle of View   13.7?
Minimum Focus Distance   18.5" (46.99 cm)
Maximum Reproduction Ratio   1:1
Elements/Groups   14/19
Diaphragm Blades   9
Features
Image Stabilization   Yes
Autofocus   Yes
Tripod Collar   Yes
Physical
Filter Thread   Front:86 mm
Dimensions (DxL)   Approx. 3.74 x 8.03" (95 x 203.9 mm)
Weight   3.6 lb (1.63 kg)

Overall Details of the equipment ?

This lens incorporates 3 FLD glass elements for color aberration corrections, as well as a floating inner focusing system to reduce other aberrations such as field curvature and distortion, resulting in accurate scene rendition from 1:1 magnification to infinity. A Super Multi-Layer coating helps to eliminate ghosting and flare as well as produce images with more contrast and sharpness. The rounded 9 blade diaphragm also provides an appealing bokeh, especially when photographing at the maximum aperture or at 1:1 magnification.

The integrated OS (Optical Stabilizer) system permits users to photograph handheld with shutter speeds up to 4 stops lower than usually possible. An HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) is also incorporated into the design, ensuring quiet and quick auto focusing and manual focus capabilities.
1.   High-speed f/2.8 180mm macro lens provides 1:1 magnification ratio.
2.   FLD glass elements and a floating inner focusing system help to correct for color aberration, field curvature, and image distortion.
3.   Multi-layer coating reduces ghosting and flare and provides greater contrast and color fidelity.
4.   Rounded 9 blade diaphragm produces an attractive out of focus quality.
5.   Integrated Optical Stabilizer system permits users to photograph handheld with shutter speeds up to 4 stops lower than usually possible.
6.   A Hyper Sonic Motor is incorporated into the lens design, ensuring quiet and quick auto focusing and manual focus capabilities.



Now I will straight start with hands on review.

Build Quality ? Lens build is good , looks solid. But if u handled older Sigma 180 F/3.5 macro then new version looks slightly inferior to older version.  Its switches ? MF/AF , OS Version 1 ,2  are quite hard compare to any Canon L series Lenses.

Handling ? The major problem with this lens is weight 1600gm is too much considering its macro lens and most of the time it is very difficult to shoot on tripod. My 99% macro work with Canon 100 L macro is handheld. Considering  Canon 180mm is just 1kg , Sigma is almost 600gms more.  If u attached Flash on camera then your gear becomes too heavy. Sigma seriously should work on choosing different material to build their lenses , like how Canon is improving and seriously making lenses very light. U cant hold this lens and shoot more than 2 hours continuously. Even u cant carry this lens with camera on your neck for more than 15 mins. Certainly I wont recommend this lens on any entry level camera body. With pro body  ( high grip area) lens balance very well.
Focusing ? This is major concern for person like me who shoot very fast. Its new HSM motor is really silent and Sigma improved by miles when compared to its older lenses. But still not up to the mark when compare to Canon L series lenses , even more than 10 years old  technology USM motor on my Canon 100-400 L focus superfast.  Focusing  from infinity to 1:4 or 1:2 takes lots of time ( same vice versa). Back focusing is another problem I faced and that too many times. So u have to take care while shooting adjust focus closer to your requirement. For best focusing  , use center single point focus in av servo mode. Avoid using multiple focus point.  Focusing on Canon 1100D and 600D is very slow compare to pro bodies. Shooting in- flight  or fast action shots not possible at all with this lens. But overall really great improvement compare to any 3 rd party lenses.  Canon hard core L series lens users will certainly feel slow focusing.

Optical / Image Stabilizer ? This is most imp. Feature in any macro lens when comes to hand held macrophotography and until this date (FEB 2014) only this Sigma lens in the world who has this feature at 180mm focal length This feature works pretty well and full marks to Sigma.  I was getting super sharp imgs from 1/150s shutter speed. Below 1/100 it was getting tough. Still I manage to get sharp imgs at 1/50s. But I will prefer not let to go shutter speed below 1/150 .

Optics , bokeh  and sharpness -
This lens produce beautiful colors and contrast. Lens is super sharp from F/4 and more @ F/8 . When looking at some pics at 100% I feel slightly oversharp ( Canon 5D Mark II).No need to add sharpness in photoshop.  About bokeh no words at all specially at F/4 ??. Super creamy bokeh. U don?t feel shooting above that after watching imgs at F/4 or F/5 . Still manageable at F/8.  Working distance is amazing specially on crop bodies , without disturbing subject u can click photos.  Now lets post some imgs and discuss each photo.

1.   This is very small butterfly called Quaker shoot at F/5 for creamy bokeh , upper tip of the butterfly is gone slightly blur , but still manage to get good parallel img.

 

2.   Another pic of same butterfly with different pose , shoot at F/8 and now check the difference with end to end sharpness. But slightly compromise on creamy bokeh.





3.   Another small butterfly Dingy Line Blue shoot at F/8  with perfect sharpness and bokeh





4.   Here I tried photo stacking with 2 photos , both butterflies were sitting parallel but at few distance away.  Stacking done with manual focusing , had lots of problem in autofocus , as I said earlier selecting different focus point take time during focusing. 
Shoot at F/7.1 , may be becoz of wind I didn?t manage to get sharp wing of right butterfly.




5.   80% crop from center , still manageable to print 8X12inch easily.



6.   Bokeh Difference between F/5 and F/7.1??. the reason behind using  F/4 or F/5. Butterfly is slightly larger in size , with perfect parallelism give end to end sharpness even at F/5 , no need to stop down at all.
Shadow taken here specially to avoid harsh light and use of diffuse natural  light with fill flash.




At F/8??. With direct sunlight.




7.   Bokeh Difference between 180mm and 100mm macro lens ? This is blue mormon , Maharashtra ?s large butterfly . It?s a newly emerged butterfly so I had chance to shoot same with different lenses.

Canon EF100mm F/2.8 L IS




Sigma 180mm F/2.8




8.   Brown King Crow Caterpillar  at F/8




9.   Tessaratoma Papillosa ? Shoot F/4  , look at its tail side complete loss depth of field.





10.    Few more varieties of Butterflies
















Use of Flash ? Most of the time I use flash for my macro subjects.  Once u r using high focal length lens like 180mm built-in flash become useless. U have use  big external flash along with flash blenders to blend the light on subject.

Pros ? Good sharpness from end to end from F/4 onwards.
         Good colors and contrast
         Optical Image stabilizer works superb.

Cons -  Very Heavy
           Slow focusing when compared to Canon L series lenses.
           No Dust proof seal.
           Hefty price tag.


Value For Money -  Currently this lens is selling for almost Rs.1,00,000/- which is a lot. But till today (Feb 2014) there is no lens with image stabilizer on 180mm. If price is under 80K then certainly it is value for money.  Being Canon Hard core L series fan I will certainly wait for Canon 180 macro L IS then will decide which lens to buy. As I am more concern about weight and fast focusing. But surely Canon wont launch their new 180 macro less than 1.25L  :'( :'( :'( :'(


Verdict  - Most of People buy 180mm macro lens becoz of bokeh and more working distance.  They just see bokeh but don?t  see  Ahead of bokeh ie subject  >:( >:(?Considering how to get sharp img , depth of field , light , shadows, use of external flash and perfect parallelism. I won?t  recommend this lens to novice in macro photography , advice them to use First  100mm focal length for at least 1 year , use high focal zoom or prime lens regularly to get the feel ,  then only think of 180mm. Very tiny subjects ,  1:1 or max.1:2 magnification  or work with Extension tube  is much better or easier  in 100mm.  Indoor work 100mm is superb , so Never sell100mm , 180mm has to accompany with 100mm.  I had seen few experts selling 180mm and switch to 100mm , as getting sharp imgs from 180mm is not easy. So first think your requirement , most imp skill , usability. New version Sigma 180mm sure will help u take good photos . Go and grab it , it wont disappoint u.

Special thanks again to Mr.Hemant Ogale for providing Sigma 180 F/2.8 APO DG OS HSM.


Pl do feel free to ask any doubts , questions and suggestions too.

Offline theqca

  • Hero
  • *
  • Posts: 2221
    • Framed For Life
Re: A Day In The Field With Sigma 180mm F/2.8 APO MACRO EX DG OS HSM Lens.
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2014, 10:29:40 AM »
Insightful review Anand.. And an amazing set of photos to accompany it.

I have a query about the last bit that you've mentioned about learning to use a 100mm first as the 180 is more difficult.... Wouldn't the 180 be a bit easier due to the better working distance it will provide?

What are your thoughts?
Nikon FM(black), Nikon FG, Nikon D700, Nikon FM(silver), Nikon FM10, Pentax Spotmatic, Zenith TTL, Minox Wetzlar, Agfa Optima III, Yashica & Rollei rangefinders etc

28mm 2.8, 70-300vr, 200mm f4, 50mm 1.4, 55mm 2.8 macro, 50mm 1.8, 16mm 2.8, 70-210 f4 macro, Lensbaby, Helios 44 f2, 90mm macro, etc

Offline dranand

  • Mentor
  • Loyalist
  • *
  • Posts: 103
Re: A Day In The Field With Sigma 180mm F/2.8 APO MACRO EX DG OS HSM Lens.
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2014, 10:53:02 AM »

I have a query about the last bit that you've mentioned about learning to use a 100mm first as the 180 is more difficult.... Wouldn't the 180 be a bit easier due to the better working distance it will provide?

What are your thoughts?

The major drawback of any 180mm is its wt and focal length.  So getting sharp imgs handheld is very difficult even if lens has image stabilizer. U req. more than 1/150 sec. to get constant sharp img , and most of the time u wont get so. Same rule apply when u r thinking to buy any super tele prime like 500 , 600. Even if u use tripod getting sharp img from these tele beast is difficult.
 So basics of macro photography , some basic of nature or even how to hold cam and lens is very imp. In short u cant drive Rolls Royce at first , go slowly step by step upwards. And i had mentioned 180mm has to accompany with 100mm , in fact i would say opposite. 
I know most people click 50 - 100 imgs of single subject and show one sharp img , if anybody shoot this way then straight go ahead and buy sigma180mm ........ but they has to understand they r missing learning curve in photography.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2014, 10:55:26 AM by dranand »

Offline theqca

  • Hero
  • *
  • Posts: 2221
    • Framed For Life
Re: A Day In The Field With Sigma 180mm F/2.8 APO MACRO EX DG OS HSM Lens.
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2014, 11:37:19 AM »
Okay valid points.. Hand held will be difficult.

What if you've got focusing rails and a tripod - would u prefer a longer focal length or a shorter one?

How does this sigma 180 compare with something like the 200mm macro from Nikon?
Nikon FM(black), Nikon FG, Nikon D700, Nikon FM(silver), Nikon FM10, Pentax Spotmatic, Zenith TTL, Minox Wetzlar, Agfa Optima III, Yashica & Rollei rangefinders etc

28mm 2.8, 70-300vr, 200mm f4, 50mm 1.4, 55mm 2.8 macro, 50mm 1.8, 16mm 2.8, 70-210 f4 macro, Lensbaby, Helios 44 f2, 90mm macro, etc

Offline dranand

  • Mentor
  • Loyalist
  • *
  • Posts: 103
Re: A Day In The Field With Sigma 180mm F/2.8 APO MACRO EX DG OS HSM Lens.
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2014, 11:47:39 AM »

What if you've got focusing rails and a tripod - would u prefer a longer focal length or a shorter one?



Yes tripod it will be gr8 in fact it is highly recommended but subject has to be steady , shooting insects , butterflies is very difficult with tripod. All above photos i had clicked r full ground shots , i have to literally sleep to click these beauties so placing tripod in this case was impossible.

About Nikkor 200 ................ certainly with image stabilizer Sigma 180 is on top.  Nikon and Canon should pull up their socks and launch their new versions of tele macro lens soon otherwise they will start  loosing pristine clients very fast.

Offline Madhav Bhakta

  • Hero
  • *
  • Posts: 634
  • I love to see things from Viewfinder
Re: A Day In The Field With Sigma 180mm F/2.8 APO MACRO EX DG OS HSM Lens.
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2014, 12:53:30 PM »
Detailed review and awesome photographs. Superb work Doc.
Canon 7D, Canon 100mm f2.8 USM Macro, Tamron 17-50mm f2.8, Canon 55-250mm IS, Vivitar 28mm f2.8, Opteka 6.5mm f3.5 Fisheye Lens, Raynox DCR 250, Benro 1980F, Fancierstudio 6664 Ballhead, 4 Way Macro Rail.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/m_bhakt/

Offline ISO

  • Hero
  • *
  • Posts: 624
Re: A Day In The Field With Sigma 180mm F/2.8 APO MACRO EX DG OS HSM Lens.
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2014, 04:25:53 PM »
Super lens Super review.


Offline Prabir

  • Trusted Member
  • Hero
  • *
  • Posts: 810
  • There is more to it than the eyes can see.
Re: A Day In The Field With Sigma 180mm F/2.8 APO MACRO EX DG OS HSM Lens.
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2014, 04:27:34 PM »
Very informative, good samples.
Thanks for the review.
Prabir K. Bhattacharyya

[Canon 5DM2 & 7DM2, a few glass pieces, sun glasses and a lot of friends...

Offline Ramstrong

  • Hero
  • *
  • Posts: 1025
  • I'm Still Learning!
Very good & detailed review of the new Sigma 180mm Macro lens.

The accompanying photos are just excellent. Thanks for the review & the photos, Dr. Anand! :)
NikonD810+D700+D7000+MB-D10&11+Some Nikon Glasses+Helios81N 50mmF2 Lens+Vanguard AP263AT+GH100+SB600+SB400+YN560II+YN560+YN622Nx2.

Canon EOS5D MkII+EOS650D+EF24-105mmF4 L Lens+EF40mmF2.8STM+Tammy SP70-300mmVC+Fujinon55mmF1.8 MF Lens+Nissin Di866Mk2Pro1+YN603Cx4.

Offline somnath goswami

  • Trusted Member
  • Hero
  • *
  • Posts: 1155
Dear Anand Bhai ,,,,

great read ...superb images. Stunning that is all I can say

cheers

Somnath

Offline Jasii

  • Trusted Member
  • Hero
  • *
  • Posts: 3203
Comprehensive, Informative review, complemented with excellent Shots.  Kudos!!!
 :like:
+1
A Year young with my DSLR and loving it.........
Gear: Canon 600d + 18-55, +55-250

Offline Rakesh J.V

  • Trusted Member
  • Loyalist
  • *
  • Posts: 192
Amazing review.. Thanks for putting in time for this. +1 to you

Offline dranand

  • Mentor
  • Loyalist
  • *
  • Posts: 103
Thanks Friends for encouraging comments , this is the first time i reviewed any lens. Sure in future will work like same.