Lens review

Sigma 180 mm f/3.5 EX DG HSM Macro APO

26 April 2010
Arkadiusz Olech

4. Image resolution

The high class EX series, a fix-focal lens, a possibility of shooting macro photos but also with some potential of taking nature pictures from longer distances or even narrow portraits – all these features suggested that in the case of the Sigma 180 mm f/3.5 we would deal with very sharp images at practically all apertures. The picture below, showing a relation between the MTF50 function and aperture values, tells us how in reality the lens fares both in the frame centre and at the frame edge. We would like to remind you that our measurements were based on RAW files from a Canon 20D camera.

Sigma 180 mm f/3.5 EX DG HSM Macro APO - Image resolution

At the maximum aperture we really have no reservations about the tested lens. The results over 34 lpmm are nothing to be ashamed of, even in the case of a high class “prime” lens. The beginning is good but the problems await us later. In the case of a good quality prime instrument we would expect a very steep improvement of the image quality – near f/5.6-f/8.0 it should reach or even exceed the level of 40 lpmm. The Sigma 180 mm doesn’t behave that way, though. By f/5.6 the image quality becomes slightly better, reaching the level over 36 lpmm, and that’s it. Anyway, the image quality of 36 lpmm is nothing you can carp about so you can hardly call such a result bad but from a high quality prime lens we should expect exceptionally sharp images and we haven’t seen such a performance here.

Unfortunately, at the frame edge the situation is even worse. For most of apertures we deal there with a level near 30 lpmm which, in the absolute scale, we consider to be the borderline between medium and good image quality. Once again it might have been acceptable for a zoom lens but in the case of a high quality prime, which is quite expensive by the way, it simply falls short of our expectations.

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To sum up you can hardly be delighted with the results in this category. If you care about a macro lens with a longer focal length it is definitely better to become interested in a bit cheaper Sigma 150 mm, which fares distinctly better when it come to resolution.

Sigma 180 mm f/3.5 EX DG HSM Macro APO - Image resolution