View Full Version : Sigma 150mm Macro: hints and tips for use please

22nd May 2012, 12:08 PM
Hi All

I am wondering if anyone here, who owns or has owned/used the Sigma 150mm Macro, can offer some advice as to its use please.

Admittedly, I have only owned this lens a week or so, and for the portrait shots I have taken with it, I am very pleased. It is fast, and very sharp wide open - usually a performance feature reserved for Oly glass. However, I was out last night on a lovely evening stroll with Jen and Heather, had the 150mm on the E-5 but didn't get one decent macro shot with it. The light was super, really bright and plenty of it about, shutter speeds were fast enough for me to stop down to f7-8'ish to increase DoF - yet I am pleased with not one shot!

OK, I am more than happy to 'learn the lens', to experiment and try things out - as I have done this with several other lenses (the 70-300 in particular, which I love) but I thought I'd get at least a single decent macro shot, alas not. Not one!

I gather the E-5 allows front/rear focus adjustment - what's the best way to check this for the 150mm? Is this a per lens setting for the E-5 or will it apply any adjustments/corrections made to all lenses I place on it...?

I guess it's out with the tripod and a static dead fly or bee to try out some macro focusing etc. I am wondering though, if I am ever going to be able to get the awesome quality macro images of the likes that I have seen from this lens from others here.

Any tips...?

22nd May 2012, 12:39 PM
You don't mention what it is that you are not satisfied with, which makes a helpful reply difficult!

I find the 150 slow to focus compared to my Oly lenses but, having tried all the others, I think it's the best macro FT lens by a mile. I seldom use it for anything other than macro and for macro I always use flash - FL50 or Metz 44 - and either an E3 or an E5. That gives 1/250 and I stop down to around f11 or more depending on the subject and ambient lighting. I get the usual proportion of duff shots but there are always several with which I'm very pleased. For a recent sample look at the mouse in my thread 'Heather Angel' on foto fair, although that was with an E3 rather than an E5. I'll just drop in the fact that the E3 is for sale having been replaced by another E5.

The E5 does do focus adjust but I'm not sure if it works with Sigma lenses.

22nd May 2012, 01:01 PM
John, the person I consult with is Peter Drury on E-5 and Sigma 150 macro & BIGMA :D I suggest you pm him.

I only use the 150 as a Macro for "small items and lots of detail" vis butterflies or flowers

Ross the fiddler
22nd May 2012, 01:03 PM
You can leave the lens (& the camera) on AF & still manually adjust it to get close to focus before pressing the shutter button (or AFL), but while it might quietly move through the extremes of the focus range, if it can't lock on to anything immediately, it will make its many small steps & if hand held, can be chasing the focus point for some time. Well it does for me as I wobble about the place, trying to hold it still. I have used twin FL36R flashhes with it, but the FL50(R) with a diffuser does just fine. Daylight shots (without flash) do need to have a fast enough shutter speed for the focal length, but then a sheet of white paper held up near the end of the lens with the cameras pop up flash can be good too. Take David's advice, re: aperture & shutter speed etc.

22nd May 2012, 01:08 PM
Thanks David, Chevvy and Ross

David: the problems I experienced were all pretty much oof shots - I was almost there, but nothing like the sharpness I've seen on here, nor that I have obtained (handheld) with my ZD50mm or even Oly 70-300 in close focus mode. I appreciate that F7 might be a little too wide to get a decent DoF and so I will take your advice and try F11 with flash. I'll get out in the garden later this evening to see what I can obtain.

I have fine point focus enabled, and can stand pretty still during composition and when taking the shot - I guess I ought to try the lens out on a tripod to eliminate any movement on my part.

Looks like I still have a lot to learn before I can master this beast!

Thanks for the replies.

Nick Temple-Fry
22nd May 2012, 01:17 PM
Personally I use C-AF for hand held macros, I find it helps with holding focus whilst the world moves around me (I am of course the 'still point around which everything else revolves)


22nd May 2012, 01:48 PM
John, the lens definitely requires a steady stance and stopping down a little further when using for macro.
If you have a look through my gallery there are quite a few images taken with it, some without a flash.

22nd May 2012, 01:52 PM
John, the lens definitely requires a steady stance and stopping down a little further when using for macro.
If you have a look through my gallery there are quite a few images taken with it, some without a flash.

Hi Huw - yep, I have a lot to learn here!! The lens is perfect, it's the idiot user who needs a service :) haha.

I'll seek out your gallery to go green with envy!!

I'll try it this evening in the garden or possibly along the river bank close to my house, with the FL-50 and report back later.

22nd May 2012, 01:58 PM
Best of luck *chr
I'll just through in that it works quite well with the EC-14, you will see some of my images are 212mm FL, these are the Sigma and EC-14.

An example..
http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/P7106509_1024.jpg (http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/36734)

22nd May 2012, 01:59 PM
Holy cow!

Go away.... go on... go away... :)


22nd May 2012, 02:18 PM
Some great posts here. I use several of the focussing methods above on my DSLR - sometimes C-AF, sometimes manual focus and move slowly through the point of focus (swaying back and forward gently to feel exactly where the best point to press the shutter is).

Its hinted above but not explictly mentioned that manual exposure settings work really well with a flash - 1/250 & F8 - F11, perhaps with ISO 200 or 400. Then most of your light on the subject is coming from the flash with an effective speed of around 1/1000s due to the short duration, freezing any movement pretty well. Using flash the challenge then becomes how to diffuse the flash so you can't see any reflection (as in the great shot above). A couple of ideas for you
http://www.flickr.com/photos/khaosproductions/6176039902/in/set-72157625241679318 (disclaimer that's my Flickr site)
http://www.flickr.com/groups/bbcspringwatch/discuss/72157629770992782/ (not my site)

Finally in terms of getting the most in focus, remember there is a very thin plane of focus in the picture, all the way across. So use it to your advantage (once again see above) - getting the insect on an angle or side on accentuates the use of that plane nicely. Think of it as a portrait shot with a few different challenges..

A good site to read is here - although Canon focussed its got some interesting reading