Sigma 90mm F2.8 Macro A-mount lens review by Phil Wood

reviewer#44246 date: Mar-15-2019
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta - AF 50mm f2.8 macro
Minolta - AF 50mm f3.5 macro
Sigma - 70 F2.8 EX DG Macro
Minolta - AF 100mm F2.8
Sony 85mm f2.8 SAM
price paid:80 GBP
positive:Compact, sharp full frame tele macro, useful portrait length, good 1:2 macro.
negative:Not 1:1.
comment:First impressions of a newly acquired lens.

This is a nice lens - built with plenty of metal, reminiscent of the original Minolta 50mm macro, similar in length but broader of beam. Focusing is pretty good and there is a focus limiter to help when it begins to hunt. Images are sharp if not the sharpest - it is no match for the Minolta macros in that respect. However, it is a useful length for handheld bug hunting and noticeably smaller, lighter and cheaper than the Minolta 100mm D.

I am a great fan of macro primes in general preferring them to conventional primes - the only normal lens I have of similar FL is the Sony 85mm f2.8 SAM. Choosing between the two would be difficult, the Sony has better IQ within its limits (no macro) and is lighter with better coatings - but it is clearly built to a very tight budget; this Sigma is far better built, making it heavier, has good IQ and 1:2 macro and is cheaper.

There is a 1:1 converter, which I do not have, but it seems to be a matched close-up lens, I won't put a lot of effort into finding one. The lens would obviously be better with integral 1:1, but it's not that much of an issue (easy for me to say since I have the 1:1 Minolta macros).

Comparing the Sigma with the Minolta 100mm is a bit like comparing the Minolta 2.8 and 3.5 50mms - a lighter 1:2 macro vs a considerably more substantive 1:1. However, where there is little to choose between the two Minolta 50s in terms of IQ the Sigma is clearly second to the Minolta 100 (to be fair the Minolta is my all time favourite prime). I can see myself selecting the Sigma over the Minolta when I want to save space/weight and want a macro in the bag in case of need.

My copy came via ebay from Germany so postage pushed up the price, but it is still well below typical prices for the Tamron 90mms or the Minolta 100mms, whilst the extra cash will be a sensible outlay if you are keen on this sort of FL macro, the Sigma is not a bad option if the budget is tight.

UPDATE: I have now had the opportunity to compare it with the same manufacturer's 70mm macro. The 70mm is a true 1:1 macro lens, but I still prefer the 90mm, largely because the 70mm has a stupidly close MFD that makes 1:1 shooting of anything a bit of a trial (it's little better than the Sony DT 30mm macro in that respect).

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 22
  • sharpness: 4.70
  • color: 4.36
  • build: 4.45
  • distortion: 4.86
  • flare control: 4.32
  • overall: 4.54 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania