• Claire Stott

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro test shots

Having spent many years now taking macro photographs with a standard 17-55mm kit lens and various extension tubes and magnifying filters I finally decided it was time to treat myself to an upgrade!

Unfortunately a top-spec canon lens was far beyond my budget but after a little research the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM (canon fit) came very highly recommended. With an average retail price of around £399 this is no bargain either but much offers much the same versatility and image quality of some much pricier models. You can read a brief review of this lens here

When the lens arrived (the very next day at no extra cost – thanks Park Cameras!) I was keen to get out testing it right away but unfortunately the weather has not been particularly favourable. It has been overcast and blustery in recent days, not ideal conditions for the insects I have been trying to photograph, but I am hoping to get out over the weekend during the sunshine and give the lens a proper test run. In the meantime below are images captured during a few brief sunny intervals.

Rather naively I thought I could simply pop this lens onto my canon body and start photographing using similar settings as I would have done on the old kit lens, but this was not quite the case! In aperture priority mode my camera’s auto ISO function struggled and often resulted in very dark or very blown out images.

I almost always use the auto ISO feature to allow the camera to automatically adjust for changing light conditions much quicker than I can – rather lazily perhaps. Adjusting the ISO sensitivity myself and also experimenting in full manual mode produced far superior results with this particular lens.

This lens makes me work harder and put more thought into my settings before shooting, but this will only help to improve my skills and I look forward to what it will teach me. From the few shots taken so far the results are certainly worthwhile. Any fault in them being down to my own failings rather than the equipment itself!

The images are sharp, vivid and with a pleasant bokeh in the out of focus areas of the images, exactly what I was hoping for.

I particularly like this first image of a bee cleaning it’s antennae. With a wide aperture of f/3.5 however only a very narrow field of view is in focus and this image could be improved were more of the insect in focus. The shutter speed selected by the camera of just 1/200sec was just enough to freeze the movement here under the bright conditions.

Aperture priority mode: f/3.5   1/200sec   ISO 200  +0.3 exposure


A seven spot ladybird warming up in the sunshine. Changing from aperture to full manual here I increased the aperture to bring more of the ladybird into focus, and increased the shutter speed to freeze any movement should it suddenly put on a turn of speed (it didn’t!).

Manual mode: f/7.1  1/640sec  ISO 640


A tiny fly on my red robin plant, the subtle details of it’s hairy body not lost with this lens’ superb image quality.

Manual mode:   f/3.5  1/200sec  ISO640


Red mason bee feeding on a rapeseed flower. I think I just about nailed the exposure here!

Manual mode: f/5  1/800sec   ISO 200


Another mason bee captured in the garden as it feeds on rosemary flowers. Keeping the ISO at 640 I dialed up the shutter speed to 1/1000sec to freeze the movement.

Manual mode: f/3.5   1/1000sec   ISO 640


A tiny yet striking beetle caught investigating the cat bowl. This was captured using the widest aperture this lens can achieve, a tiny f/2.8.

Manual mode:  f/2.8  1/400sec  ISO 640


All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography 2019 © www.greyfeatherphotography.com

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#macrophotography #outdoors #photography #sigma #masonbees #bees #insects #lens

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