Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Hand-held macro the easy way, no fuss, simple tools

Hand-held macro the easy way, no fuss, simple tools

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Thanks to the lockdown, in recent months I’ve spent a lot of time at home and that’s meant fewer opportunities to get out for photography. Fortunately, though, I’ve been in a cohabiting bubble with a rather remarkable lens, the Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art for L-Mount.

Macfilos carried an article in April this year, with some of my earlier macro efforts from the garden. But I’ve been getting a bit more adventurous since then and becoming even more impressed with this bargain prime.

Click on any image to open in the Lightbox and view the slideshow

f/2.8 at 1/125s

Conventional wisdom dictates that the best macro photography needs a lot of setting up, including the use of a tripod and judicious use of lighting – perhaps even a ring light. I can’t be doing with all that fussing around, so I decided to try the SL2 and the Sigma Macro with absolutely no special precautions. There was no tripod, just the SL2 (with its in-body stabilisation) and the £499 Sigma seventy. A little bit of judicious use of flash was all I allowed. Would it work? Would I make a pig’s ear of it?

As it happens, no, it wasn’t a disaster as you can see from the accompanying photographs. These were the simplest of tools and they’re available to anyone who wants to try some ad hoc macro work.

f/16 at 1/60s

Focus

I tried autofocus, I wanted it to work. But in the end the rig wouldn’t lock on to these tiny insects, despite using the precise + focus point. But manual focus was remarkably easy, despite the flighty nature of the subjects, and I have been surprised just how good the results have been. Bear in mind that some of these insects are not more than a few millimetres across.

f/16 at 1/60s

What does impress me is the image quality from this bargain lens. For around £450, it’s a stellar performer, both as a macro lens and as a very respectable portrait lens. In the latter guise, it’s even more effective when bolted to a CL or TL to give an effective focal length of 105 mm, just the ticket for portraits.


Patrick Leong’s review of the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art

Link to Red Dot Cameras

11 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve got one on my CL. For me, it doesn’t work at all with autofocus; or, if it does, it’s only occasionally. On the other hand, with manual focus and moving the camera to grab focus, the end results are very good. The nice thing is that the cost of this lens is so reasonable, and it was the first of the Sigma L-mounts I bought. I’m still pondering whether to buy the Leica 60mm TL Macro, but I have a feeling that, if and when things get back to normal, my yen for macro photography won’t have a price tag of £2k on it.

    • That is absolutely the problem. I have never really explored macro but the affordability of this lens is a great incentive. With the TL lens you need to be sure you are going to benefit from the expense!

    • Presumably, the autofocus problems are when attempting macro and not in general use for the lens. I think Ivor mentions that he also had problems with the AF and finally settled for manual as you describe. But I assume this lens focuses reliably in general.

  2. These photos are beautiful in their clarity and their colour. If anything I should have liked a smidgeon more DOF in some of them to get the whole insect in focus. I was trying to remember if Panasonic does an L-mount as the Leica is out of my range. Some of my best macro shots have been with the X-Vario at 70mm then slightly cropped. Again: clarity and colour. But thank you for yours.

  3. Love Ivor macro on Instagram, I stay away from critters every since I disturbed a nest of bees and got 18 stings and carry epi pen since then, 3 years ago. Can still appreciate the work of others but gladly from a distance. Please keep your work coming, that shot with the Spider is enough to keep Steven King awake at nites.

  4. Thank you Ivor, I very much enjoyed this article and pictures and congratulate you for coming up with something so positive to do photographically during these troubled times, and I also appreciated what amounted to being a very useful write up/test of what is it seems a very affordable yet very good and highly versatile lens any of us could use on our Leica SL’s, CL’s T’s and TL”‘s.

  5. I have spent the majority of the lockdown either working, or pondering my sanity – and ended up photographers doldrums. Now my favourite events are shut down for the year, i just have not felt it yet. However I do aim to get out with a camera or two.

    I must take my hat off to Ivor, as I have never really got in to this style of photography, probably because of Ivors description – tripod, ring flash etc etc. I have to say thought you have pulled this off well, and those images are proof you dont always need the gear, just the idea and patience.

    Thank you for sharing.

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