The Blog: See what
Sigma is saying.

09.30.2011

It’s now officially Autumn here in the Northern Hemisphere. The days are getting shorter and hillside stands of trees are bursting into colorful displays of crimsons and golds. Obviously, it is a great time for ultrawide landscapes to capture those sweeping vistas. But it is also prime season for packing a telephoto macro lens like the Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro to capture the grandeur and spirit of the season in its tiny details.

Fiery-colored maple seed pods after a fall rain. Canon EOS 5D and Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro 1/60 f/4.0 ISO 400, Sigma EF-610 DG Super E-TTL, angled downward for macro capture. OS activated.

There are a number of great reasons to pack this great tele macro (or add it quickly to your kit!) for fall foliage season.

The Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro employs HSM-powered internal focusing, meaning the lens barrel doesn’t extend as you zoom to higher magnifications. There are several very cool benefits of this design.

For starters, that longer working distance means less chance of your own shadow messing up your exposures. And it also means that many swivel-and-spin shoe-mount strobes such as the Sigma EF-610 DG Super E-TTL that can be angled downward can be used to illuminate your macro subjects all the way to 1:1 reproduction, instead of needing to rely on a dedicated macro ring flash.

Half-turned fallen leaf and lichen on flagstone. Canon EOS 5D and Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro. 1/200 f/2.8 ISO 400, Sigma EF-610 DG Super E-TTL, angled downward for macro capture.

Rain or morning dew can adds a great reflective and abstract element to seasonal detail shots. This silver maple leaf feels very reptilian to me. You can see the catchlights the shoe-mount strobe adds to this shallow depth of field composition. Canon EOS 5D and Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro. 1/50 f/4.0 ISO 100, Sigma EF-610 DG Super E-TTL, angled downward for macro capture. OS activated.

And with or without a shoe-mount strobe for lighting, that longer working distance is a fantastic feature for capturing insects with this telephoto macro lens. And Fall is a great time to make shots of bugs for several reasons!

As insects are cold-blooded creatures, they are generally must less active when it is cooler, so early in the morning before the heat of the day, and as the sun goes down in the afternoon, you’ll find that insects are more likely to be sitting still for longer periods of time.

This grasshopper lives in a bed of ivy in the corner of my front yard. I’ve seen it a few times over the past few days, and was able to track it through some tall grass to make some macro shots late in the day. This is one of my favorites, as it puts this little creature firmly in its environment. The telephoto reach and internal focusing of the Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro kept a working distance that didn’t panic my grass-hopping friend. Canon EOS 5D and Sigma EF-610 DG Super E-TTL, angled downward for macro capture. 1/160, F4.0 ISO 100.

A late-season dandelion puff offers a landing spot for a small house fly. It was on the cool side, and my fly subject wasn’t super-energetic, and the longer working distance also did not cause any spooking issues. My biggest struggle with this shot was fighting a light breeze that shifted the bloom–meaning a slower shutter speed would result in motion blur, and that light breeze changed the correct focal distance! But this frame is sharp right where I want it! Optical Stabilizer was activated to overcome camera shake. 1/80, F5.6 ISO 400. Canon EOS 5D, and Sigma EF-610 DG Super E-TTL, angled downward for macro capture.

Here is a 100% pixel view of a detail of the above image, showing the exceptionally shallow depth of field at macro settings on this telephoto prime lens.

And spiders continue to spin great webs. Here in my section of New Jersey, there’s a lot less orbweavers overall, but the ones that have survived all summer are now much bigger than they were a few short months back! And many wasps and hornets are very busy this time of year–and when you are thinking of shooting these dangerous insects, a longer working distance is a very, very good thing!

This orbweaver spider caught late September is much bigger than it was when I first captured it in mid-summer with the 70mm macro lens! Canon EOS 5D and Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro and EM-140 DG Macro Flash. 1/200 F18 ISO 100.

This 150mm prime is a true macro lens, but it is also an amazing portrait lens. As I was working on some of the leaf and lichen shots in my yard in this article, my young daughter started acting amazingly photogenic. With just a quick change of the focus limiter setting, I was able to go from 1:1 macros with strobe, to great casual portraits with lovely fast tele-prime bokeh and back again. Whether it’s your kids, a nearby bird, or your hiking partner, this macro lens is also amazing as a portrait tool!

The two-mode Optical Stabilizer built into this 150mm macro helps keep the frame sharp at slower shutter speeds without a tripod, for great mobility, whenever and wherever you discover great macro-scale action. This feature helped me make several of the shots in this article, as the captions explain. (For much information on making the most of Sigma’s Optical Stabilizer lens feature, check this out.)

This photo reads "Autumn" loud and clear even though there's just a sliver of pumpkin that's tack-sharp in this frame! We stopped way down to F11 to increase depth of field. We used a tripod for this shot to perfectly adjust the focus and a cable release to make sure we didn't introduce any camera shake when firing the trigger. 1/15 F11 ISO 250

Whatever the season, a dedicated telephoto macro like the Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro helps tell the story in small details writ large: twilight snowflakes bathed in bluish shadows and golden highlights as the cold winter sun fades in the west, the tiniest buds of flowers springing to life, fingers wet with grains of fine sand in high summer. When it comes to evoking seasons, the tiniest details revealed by a long macro can tell amazing stories.

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  1. Please send me one for free, I will use it every day, I promise you. (For CANON 5D Mark II)

  2. The images taken with this lens look very high quality. But… for the price range I’d expect the lens to come with a stabilizer (unless your mount is a Sony Alpha where the IS is on the camera). Even the standard lens that comes with a Nikon 18-55 F3.5-5.6 you can get the Vibration Reduction feature.

  3. It would help if you actually post pictures that are sharp and not fuzzy like the ones above. Everyone of them is out of focus. I actually considered buying the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 this year, but after seeing these images, I changed my mind.
    Stephan Peters

  4. Stephan, are you scaling up your pages for a bigger font size? If so, depending on your browser, this also blows the images up beyond their native screen resolution, which can result in the images looking a little softer overall. Some of the images employ very shallow depth of field-typical of a tele macro lens, but all have a very sharp focal plane.

  5. The OS in the name of this lens stands for Optical Stabilizer, and yes, indeed, it has an optical stabilizer lens group. I used it on many of the shots in this gallery–check the captions ;)

  6. “The Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro employs HSM-powered internal focusing, meaning the lens barrel doesn’t extend as you zoom to higher magnifications.”

    Doesn’t extend as you zoom?

    Impressive – a prime lens that’s also a zoom!

  7. Michael, thanks for the funny post about the choice of wording there. Perhaps “climb” would have been a less ambiguous and confusing choice of verb in this context ;) ~~~ Jack

  8. I am newbie, using Nikon D300s and intend to have 1(one) macro lens.
    Which one should I pick up from Sigma ? 105 or 150 mm ?

  9. Sunarto, I can say the 70mm f2.8 I have from Sigma is razor sharp, but I would go longer if I knew the working distance would be so close. Go for the 150mm , though I have heard the first version without image stabilization is a consistently “Sharper Lens”, plus the price went up 50% !

  10. the DOF seems pretty shallow even at f11 (Melon)… also at f4 the DOF for the grasshopper and the leaf are very different. Is it because of the distance from the subject?