Review: Sigma 150mm f2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro (Sony Alpha)

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That right there is the Sigma 150mm f2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro in all its mid-range telephoto glory. I should not that that photo is of the lens with its hood attached, which takes up roughly half of the length. Ideal for portraits, some street work, events, sports, and wildlife, the 150mm f2.8 is an ideal addition to your kit if you frequently shoot those types. With a large aperture for its focal length and optical stabilization, this lens can work wonders with crisp colors and a great deal of sharpness. Herein lies my review.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

-Wide aperture
-Crisp colors
-Wide focusing range from 1:1 to infinity

Cons:

-A bit pricey
-Two-piece lens hood effectively doubles the length of the lens (watch where you’re walking)

Gear Used

I used the Sigma 150mm f2.8 with my Sony a580, which renders a 225mm field of view with the 1.5x crop factor.

Tech Specs

Courtesy of Adorama’s listing:

Lens Construction 19 Elements in 13 Groups
Angle of View 16.4
Number of Diaphragm Blades 9
Minimum Aperture F22
Minimum Focusing Distance 38 cm / 15 in
Filter Size (mm) 72mm
Maximum Magnifications 1:1
Corresponding Mounts Sony: OS
HSM
APO
EX
DG
Dimensions (Dia x L) 79.6 x 150 mm/3.1″ x 5.9″
Weight 41.6 oz/ 1179.34 g

Ergonomics

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All of the magic happens on the left side of the lens. There are three sliders which control the focusing range, AF/MF, and optical stabilization. With the focusing range, you can set it to Full, .38mm to .53mm, or .53mm to infinity. The Optical Stabilization comes into play to compensate for camera shake with OS2 providing greater help. Here you’ll also see the tripod collar which is removable.

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On top you’ll find the depth of field scale, and in front of that, also seen in the previous photo, is the large focusing ring which is a major boon for hands of all sizes. It has manual override, so that you can adjust it if the lens out of focus.

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Here’s a better view of how long the hood is. It’s a two-piece hood, with the smaller part up top attaching to the lens. Be mindful of how you carry your camera with this lens attached.

Build Quality

The Sigma 150mm f2.8 is a pure beast of a lens. Clocking in at roughly 2.5 pounds, this lens will weigh your camera down, and if you’re the mobile type, support the lens with your hand while walking. It doesn’t matter what strap you use, you will feel the weight, but regardless of that, the weight speaks to the engineering that went in to produce a lens like this. With a Hypersonic Motor for quiet, internal autofocusing and built-in optical stabilization, you’ll understand why this lens weighs as much as it does. It has a smooth exterior and a large focusing ring that makes for a good deal of comfort when holding it.

Autofocus

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The Sigma 150mm f2.8 autofocuses very quickly, and works great in all types of light. There were times when it went of focus, but that’s easily remedied by the focus ring which doesn’t lock in autofocus. I found that the focus ring moved a bit too quickly which made focusing an extra sensitive ordeal, but I left it in AF most of the time.

Ease of Use

Given that my kit is mostly Minolta AF lenses, this lens has more controls than I’m used to, so there was a bit of a learning curve. But it was very slight as its mostly self explanatory. Aim, focus, shoot.

Image Quality

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The Sigma 150mm f2.8 can take beautiful images at all ranges. With 9 aperture blades and optical stabilization, this lens does everything it can to help you create the best possible photographs. It produces brilliant colors and a great amount of sharpness so that no detail is lost.

Bokeh

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Bokeh is super smooth, and it will give your images a very sleek look. The blur is gradual and very clean, and it highlights your subject perfectly. There is absolutely no distraction with this lens’s bokeh. It would be perfect for product and portrait photographers.

Sharpness

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Sharpness is one of this lenses greatest attributes. Both wide and stopped down, sharpness is always on point. This aided by its built-in optical stabilization as camera shake is understandable issue with a lens this heavy. The slightest twitch could throw off any image, but this lens is able to compensate for that.

Color Fringing

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If this lens has it, its very slight, and honestly, I couldn’t find it.

Color Rendering

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Colors were rendered very well, and only minor tweaks for contrast were done in Lightroom 4. With portraiture and macro photography in mind for this lens, accurate color rendering is an absolutely necessity, and it produces very colorful images. For photojournalists on assignment who, for whatever reason, cannot get as close as they’d like, this lens would be one of their best, most accurate companions.

Extra Image Samples

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Conclusion

This lens was a great addition to my kit for the month that I had it, and I’m sad to see it go. It’s another entry in Sigma’s fantastic lineup, and it’s a strong player in third party glass. With super quiet autofocusing, optical stabilization, a fast aperture, and a wide focusing range, the Sigma 150mm f2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro will help you create many beautiful photographs. Granted, it is a bit heavy, so avoid leaving it around your neck for a while. But it’s solidly built, and it’s an optical powerhouse.

If you’re in the market for a mid-range telephoto lens, you can pick this up at Adorama and Amazon.

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