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LENS PORN: Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 D Macro (1996)

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)
Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)


The Sigma 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 Macro. There comes 3 versions of this lens according to the Sigma UK website. The one in review now was released in 1996. By the mid-90s, lens coating has already greatly improved, as the images I shot can prove. At one time, this lens became my go-to lens for product shots because of its versatile range, close focusing capability and great image quality.

On FX, this lens is wide angle to short telephoto range; while on DX, this lens is normal to short telephoto.

I had once borrowed a Sigma Aspherical 24-70mm f/3.5-5.6 D. After some research, it turned out to be an earlier version from 1994.



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SPECS


Sigma 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 D Macro

Year Launched: 1996

Focal Length: 28 - 80 mm
DX = 42-120mm

Minimum Focusing Disance:
0.5 meters in Normal Mode
0.25 meters at Macro Mode

Macro Mode: Maximum of 1:2 at 80mm

Filter Thread Size: 55 mm

Made in Japan


Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)
Fully retracted at 50mm.

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)
Fully extended at 80mm.

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Summary



For

Incredible image quality: sharpness and contrast are awesome as any modern kit lens. This was my favorite lens for product shots while I still had it. (I let go for a lens that has wider range, the Nikkor AF 28-105mm, which has a 1:2 Macro from 50-105mm).

It has a longer end at 80mm, which I find more useful than an 18-55mm.

Macro Mode that goes down to 1:2. Even without the macro, the lens is already close-focusing with a MFD of 0.5 meters.

Wide grip for focus ring... perfect for manual focusing.

Unlike 18-55mm kit lenses that are only for crop sensor cameras, this can be used on both full-frame and crop-sensor cameras.

It's very silent while focusing, unlike those old Nikkor AF lenses from the 80s and 90s.

Zooming is smooth and has not much resistance that causes vibration (this matters when shooting videos).

It's very light and compact, just the same with 18-55mm kit lenses. 

Focus throw of 90-degrees feels just right to quickly nail focus on moving subjects, but still not too short so you can always get beautiful focus pull in videos.



Neutral

Does not have a built-in AF motor. It won't AF on non-motorized bodies. I don't find this an issue at all since I always shoot in manual.

Plastic build, plastic mount. It's not an issue given the light weight, and it feels well-built or nowhere near cheap when I hold it in my hands.

A lens hood isn't necessary unless you're shooting with alot of sun.

Even without VR, photos have always been snappy. Note that my shutter speed is always at 1/60". With that speed, I can still shoot 500mm lenses without vibration blur.



Against

While IQ has always been nice, I find that shooting landscape where the sun isn't even in the scene -- images appear to have loss of contrast and that bluish UV cast. I guess it doesn't cut out UV rays effectively.

I always thought 55mm filter thread to be a dread since you won't find this size in local shops. One has to shop online for filters of that size.

Zoom to 80mm to get to macro, then engage the macro switch before you can use the macro range for focusing. The extra switch is annoying. I like lenses that can just focus directly to macro range without extra switches or rituals.

The front rotates and extends while focusing. There is a tendency that when I use CPL: I set the focus, adjust the filter since the front barrel rotates, then the front barrel accidentally gets refocused while I'm adjusting the filter. So sometimes adjusting the focus with a CPL just never ends. You get the picture.



Conclusion
The Sigma 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 D Macro is a very nice lens that I relied heavily especially for product photography. You can't tell the difference of images shot with this lens made in 1996 versus my Nikkor 18-55mm VR2 kit lens launched in 2014.

The only difference where it can show is when I'm shooting landscape with skies and sun in the background. The Sigma kit lens loses contrast, becomes overexposed, and there's a bluish overall cast to the images. Whereas, my Nikkor 18-55mm VR2 kit lens still has great contrast and details in the same scene. See comparison photo below.

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)
The Sigma, at 28mm f22 and CPL. The sun isn't even on the scene!
Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)
Shot with the Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR2 (2014) and CPL.
The lens filters out UV much better, resulting in better and true-to-life colors.


You can see that the Nikkor had the clear advantage here, plus built-in vibration reduction that the Sigma doesn't have. But I still liked the Sigma by a landslide because it has a longer range, has a macro at 80mm, an aperture ring that comes handy for shooting videos, and strangely images still look brighter at 80mm f/5.6 (vs. Nikkor's 55mm f/5.6). The only thing missing is the 18mm end, but I rarely shoot at 18mm and 28mm (DX = 42mm) is my favorite starting point.

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Further Reading





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Samples


Shot with Nikon D5200.
All samples are unedited.

Camera Settings:
Size - Basic/Small
White Balance - Preset
Picture Profile - SD (Standard)
HDR/ADL/Flash/Noise Reduction - Off

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)
28mm

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)
80mm, Macro Mode

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)
80mm

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)
28mm

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)
28mm

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)
28mm f/22 with CPL

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)
80mm with CPL

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)
80mm

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)
28mm

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)
28mm, gloomy rainy late afternoon

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)
28mm

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)
28mm f/3.5, noon time

Sigma Aspherical 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 (Macro = 1:2)



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The Nikon D5200 as my weapon of choice.

Vintage lenses are my poison.

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