A Site for Photographers by Photographers

Community > Forums > Canon EOS > sigma 90mm f/2.8 macro

sigma 90mm f/2.8 macro

Robert Davis , Mar 30, 2004; 12:41 p.m.

I'm having a hard time researching this lens. Does anyone have experience with it? It's old, the AF sucks, but it seems sharp. Can it give me 1:1 macro shots, or do I need an accessory?

Any other thoughts are appreciated. THANKS!


Jay . , Mar 30, 2004; 01:25 p.m.

My thoughts from several years experience is that the Tamron 90/2.8SP Macro (1:1 without attachment)is *the* lens to get. It is resoundingly sharper for macro work than either of the Canon 100 macros and on a par with the Leica 100-APO-Macro.

Carina Cisneros , Mar 30, 2004; 01:28 p.m.

Robert, I believe there were two "generations" of this Sigma macro, for AF. I know the first, and probably the second, are right off the old manual focus Sigma macro (Canon FD mount). The autofocus is bad, but autofocus is rarely a selling point on a macro lens, if you intend to use it as a macro lens. As for the quality, it is a VERY sharp lens. The Sigma 90mm is sharper than their new(er) 105mm macro; old lens-test results in photo magazines prove this. This lens is as good as Canon's old/new macros, too. I suspect your lens, since you are asking about 1:1, is like the old manual 90mm macro. You, apparently, didnt get the 1:1 matched diopter lens (like a filter, screws in to deliver 1:1 instead of 1:2, which is the max for the lens without the diopter) when you bought this. Not sure how you go about getting that now. What is nice about this type of 1:2 design, which uses an accessory for 1:1, is that the lens is much more compact, and lighter, since it need not rack out as far for true 1:1 (Vivitar current macro is like this, too, and some old Mamiya, Vivitars and Tamrons are, too). If you put my old Sigma 90mm FD next to a Kiron 105mm, the height of the latter makes the former look like a 50mm normal lens, in that it is so much smaller. I am not positive, but this older macro of yours might not work on some Canon EOS bodies. The earliest 90mm macro, I think but cannot prove, only works on Canon 620 / 630 / 650 / RT bodies, whereas the second one works through EOS 5 -- or so I have read. You can find out for yourself, but the lens is sharp; I think this site lists scores for the old/new Sigma/Canon, and the old 90mm design got the same score as Canon's new(er) macros. Truth be told, macros are specialty lenses, and most ever made are VERY sharp.


Chris Lutz , Mar 30, 2004; 05:10 p.m.

I'm with Jay on this, the Tamron 90/2.8 macro is one of the best lenses I have used.

Vincent J M , Mar 30, 2004; 08:41 p.m.

Sigma poor compared to Tamron and Canon.

Never knew Sigma made a 90 macro, but I have tested the 105 and 180 and they are not great. The Tamron is an excellent performer. I'd choose the tamron any day.

Demetri P. , Mar 30, 2004; 10:49 p.m.

I've got the older sigma 90 and its awesome. Almost identical wide open as stopped down. Yes, you need it's 52mm diopter lens for 1:1. Problem is that which I've seen other older sigmas suffer: weak focusing mechanicals. I used to use the lens on a minolta xtsi decent AF speed, not blazing. Then I upgraded to a newer model (maxxum 5) and the torque of the new camera warped the gear train enough to prevent af from reliably engaging. This is starting to happen on an otherwise outstanding 24mm sigma I have as well. You get what you pay for I guess...

Carina Cisneros , Mar 31, 2004; 12:58 p.m.

It is interesting that a question about a specific lens made by a specific company results in replies about a completely different lens which was never mentioned, and a judgment on the lens asked about, based not on the lens asked about, but about some other lenses made by that company.

This Sigma lens is as close as you can get to the Tamron, without spending the money of the Tamron (or the Canon). This lens, used, often brings less than $100 on the used market (a friend got one on ebay for $59). Try getting a Tamron or Canon for that.

As for the mechanical quality of the lens, and other older Sigma lenses, many people report a "stripping" of the gears in the autofocus mechanism. This is what happens, but it does not happen for the reason people usually state. In the instruction book for the 90mm Sigma macro (and in that of the 50mm macro and the 24mm lens mentioned above) it clearly states that you are never to manually focus the lens when in autofocus mode. These old Sigma lenses are NOT like Canon's new lensed with full-time manual overide. Manually focusing these lenses when in autofocus mode is how the damage occurs.

Demetri P. , Mar 31, 2004; 07:41 p.m.

Well, I don't know what happens to other people's lenses, but I never manually focus mine. Also, on the minolta bodies I use, you have to disengange the AF clutch mechanism first to manually focus. The problems I'm having with the old sigmas is really sad since they're some of the best glass out there. They just can't take the punishment from the newer AF motors.

Carina Cisneros , Apr 03, 2004; 12:49 p.m.

Demetri, Perhaps you are correct about what causes the problem (I got my information from a former camera repairman, though). True, you are supposed to flip the AF/MF switch to MF before you actually turn the lens barrel; it is when you dont do NOT do this that you run the risk of stripping the internals (it is possible to turn in manually, when in AF). This is why the early Sigma manuals state never to turn (focus) when in AF mode. The damage could also result from dropping the lens (should it hit an object which somehow turns the barrel), or possible other things. We bought our 24mm's (3 of them, between our outfit) way back when we had EOS 620-630 bodies. These, too, not lightning quick autofocus. But years ago we switched to EOS A2e/5's which are very fast, and we have not experienced any problems. Maybe we are lucky, or maybe not all 24mm`s are the same exact build/materials? I agree though, I love that old 24 from Sigma: metal mount, rubberized outer coating, great close focus, doesnt flare, 52mm filters, tack-sharp, etc.

Back to top

Notify me of Responses