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Sigma 150mm and 180mm f/2.8 APO-Macro DG HSM

I was impressed enough with the Sigma 35/1.4 DG HSM to want to at least take a look at two of Sigma’s telephoto macro lenses, the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 APO-Macro DG HSM and Sigma 180mm f/2.8 APO-Macro DG HSM.

It is not necessarily my intent to do an in-depth study of both lenses, but at the least I want to get some sense of the potential of each lens for both closeup and distance work.

The APO designation is always appealing, even if the meaning of APO varies by manufacturer. And for the 180mm in particular, there really is no other high performance* all-around 180mm lens out there today, unless you count the non-macro Nikon and Canon 200mm f/2 offerings. And 180mm is also enough spacing from the 135m focal length (Zeiss APO-Sonnar).

For Nikon users, the main candidate is the Nikon AF-Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4 IF-ED, which is a sharp lens (but I haven't tested it on the D800). The 200/4 is a full stop slower, so that at macro range it approaches f/5.6. And it has lens coatings that are less good than on today’s best Nikkors, and screw-drive focusing. The Canon 180mm f/3.5L was a disappointment even when I tried it on lower resolution cameras, but it would be the nominal choice for Canon users, albeit 2/3 stop slower.

Basicallly, if I’m going to shoot a ~180mm lens for macro, they’re all big and heavy and the Sigma 180mm, if it delivers, doesn’t really lose in any size contest. And for true macro, ergonomic factors like manual focus do come into play and as yet “no comment” there until I try it out.

Both Sigma lenses are available in Nikon, Canon, Sony and Sigma mount.

* High performance meaning f/2.8 with AF-S style focusing and a high level of color correction with high performance lens coatings.

Specifications for Sigma telephoto APO macro lenses
Focal length: Sigma 150mm f/2.8 APO-Macro EX DG OS HSM Sigma 180mm f/2.8 APO-Macro EX DG OS HSM
Special glass: SLD three FLD elments
Construction 19 elements in 13 groups, 9 blade aperture 19 elements in 14 groups, 9 blade aperture
Aperture scale: f/2.8 - f/22 f/2.8 - f/22
Focusing range: 15 in / 38cm - infinity
internal focusing
18.5 in/47cm - infinity
internal focusing
Angular of view: 16.4° 13.7°
Image ratio at close range:            1:1 1:1
Filter thread: 72mm 86mm
Features: Optical Stabilizer (OS), Hypersonic Motor (HSM), Super Multi-Layer Coating Optical Stabilizer (OS), Hypersonic Motor (HSM), Super Multi-Layer Coating
Weight: 3.1 pounds / 1150 g

5.7 pounds / 1638g

Dimensions (with caps): 3.1 X 5.9 inches 3.7 X 8.0 inches
List price: $1099 (street price) $1599 (street price)

The small difference in focal length does not account for the very large difference in size (and weight) as can be seen below. Given the large difference, one wonders what gains are possible with the 180mm lens, which apparently is more highly optimized, but the differences are not explained by Sigma.

Sigma 150mm f/2.8 APO-Macro DG HSM and Sigma 180mm f/2.8 APO-Macro DG HSM
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