Sigma 90mm F2.8 Macro A-mount lens review by awa54

reviewer#7002 date: Mar-5-2010
sharpness: 5
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.4
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 50 f1.7 RS
Minolta 35-70 f4
Minolta 100-200 f4.5
Min 50 3.5 macro
Min 50 2.8 macro
Min 100 2.8 macro
Sigma 180 5.6 macro
Sigma 300 4 APO macro
price paid:$200 USD (used)
positive:*very* sharp
Short OAL even at 1:2
Fast AF on the a700 even without the limiter set
negative:Gear noise when focusing
Un-damped rough focus feel
No 1:1 magnification without adapter
Not a color match to my Minolta glass
bokeh runs from "meh" to terrible depending on shot
comment:This lens has shortcomings for sure, but they are few and easy to live with especially considering the price.

Tremendous IQ from this lens at all focus distances, color is excellent although quite different from OEM Minolta color rendition; a bit more blue in most situations and contrast is somehow rendered differently. I would say that sharpness is very acceptable even wide open on an APS-C sensor. This lens doesn't show any CA even with strongly backlit subjects.

You can see the difference in sharpness over the 100mm setting on the Min 100-200 on-camera (zoomed well in of course), the improvement over macro or 70mm on the 35-70 and closeups or portraits with the 50 need a larger screen to be certain of.

I'd rate this as a supremely versatile walkaround macro and ditto as an ultra-sharp short telephoto. The main complaint I have is with the somewhat rough and loose feel of the focusing in manual mode, strangely its also noisiest when manually copy *is* the loudest lens in my kit, but I find other reviewers' noise complaints puzzling; it really isn't overly loud compared to other lenses from its design generation...if you're trying to be subtle and capture candid images an SLR is the wrong tool anyway IMO.

I did not get mine with the screw-on closeup lens for 1:1 magnification, sorry no opinions on that accessory, instead I'll be getting an extension tube for that role (it'll work with all my other lenses too!).

**added after extended use**

I feel that after a few hundred more images taken with this lens I can make a few more comments; First, it really is *that* sharp, now when I look at an image I have taken with this lens it is immediately clear that the sharpness is better than any of the other lenses in my kit. Second, the boke is not as good in some situations as I would like...with distant complicated out of focus areas like backlit undergrowth the boke becomes very choppy and the shape of the aperture is clearly imposed on the out of focus shapes, however with closer less de-focused subjects the boke is nice and smooth, with little or none of this effect (btw, my copy has a 6 bladed aperture, not 7). Third, a good skylight filter (*not* UV, but skylight 1B in my case) tames some of the excess blue in images, although the lens still renders both color and contrast differently than vintage Minolta glass, the filter helps mediate that "Sigma color" look it has without resorting to CC in post.

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