Optically, the Sigma 180mm f/2.8 macro lens is quite complex, comprising 19 elements in 14 groups. Three of these are ‘F’ low dispersion (FLD) with a performance claimed to equal fluorite, which can be used instead of glass due to its low dispersion characteristics. This drastically reduces the dispersal of colour wavelengths, which helps cut down on chromatic aberrations. All the lenses have Sigma’s Super Multi Layer Coating, which reduces flare and ghosting while maintaining contrast.
The maximum f/2.8 aperture should ensure that the lens reaches its optimum aperture at around f/8-f/11, while also ensuring that it can let in enough light for handheld shooting. However, the lens is not just for macro images, as a 180mm f/2.8 is also useful for sports events and portraits. On a camera with an APS-C-sized sensor, the 270mm equivalent will also make it useful for some wildlife, particularly with the minimum focus distance of just 47cm.
Sigma states that this is the first 180mm macro lens in the world with image stabilisation, and claims that the stabilisation will help correct camera shake by up to 4 stops. However, the firm does note that the stabilisation becomes less effective as the focus distance decreases.
A Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) focuses the lens. When paired with a Canon EOS-1D X, the lens snapped quickly into focus when shooting at distances over a metre. For closer subjects, though, it was best to use the focus-range switch on the side of the lens to restrict the focus range. There are three settings on this switch: full AF range; 67cm to infinity; and 47cm to 67cm, for macro images. Importantly, the Hyper Sonic AF is quiet so shouldn’t disturb insects or wildlife too much.
Image: Taken handheld with image stabilisation of the lens switched on, a staggering amount of detail can be resolved in this 1:1 image