105VR or Sigma 150, which would you get?

Started May 16, 2008 | Discussions
TrekSF6 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,090
105VR or Sigma 150, which would you get?

I am torn between these two lenses. There seems to be a lot of excitement over the quality of the Sigma, and that is holding me back from making a decision.

I own both the 1.4 and 1.7 Nikon TCs so I was kind of set on the 105. But IQ is much more important to me, and it seems that the opinion of many here is that the Sigma outclasses the 105.

So I decided to start this thread to get an idea of which lens seems to be more loved around here.
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Bobby Handal
Bobby Handal Veteran Member • Posts: 5,661
Re: 105VR or Sigma 150, which would you get?

Both are great lenses, you could not possibly go wrong with either. I own both, and the most difficult problem I have is which one to take with me.

One thing you must decide is the type of usage of the lens. The longer the better for insects and snakes, but the more difficult it is to work with shallow deph of field.

The Nikkor has a great VR, and may serve as a pretty good portrait lens on a FX camera - but I feel it hunts a little more than the Sigma.

I hope this helps, but as I said, you can not go wrong.
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penghai Contributing Member • Posts: 601
Re: 105VR or Sigma 150, which would you get?

I'd get both is money is no subject.

What's the focal length you are most comfortable with? Get that first.

Or get Sigma first if you like to use tripod and get real sharp photos. The Sigma comes with a builtin tripod collar which is invaluable for macro and close up. Sigma got real good boken too.

Both lenses are excellent. Whether you can get a good one is up to the specific copy you get. So judge from your use is the most important.

I no longer believe most comparisons of macro lenses. Most of them are excellent. And the difference is more from copy to copy.

Eric.

S.A. wrote:

I am torn between these two lenses. There seems to be a lot of
excitement over the quality of the Sigma, and that is holding me back
from making a decision.
I own both the 1.4 and 1.7 Nikon TCs so I was kind of set on the 105.
But IQ is much more important to me, and it seems that the opinion of
many here is that the Sigma outclasses the 105.
So I decided to start this thread to get an idea of which lens seems
to be more loved around here.
--
Scott A.

philip callaci Regular Member • Posts: 148
Re: 105VR or Sigma 150, which would you get?

Sigma is awesome but this is on a D3 with any camera with a crop factor it might be to long for normal use- but as i said it is perfect for full frame & tack sharp even at wide aps

iweiny Forum Member • Posts: 87
Re: 105VR or Sigma 150, which would you get?

I too am torn between the lenses.

I want to get one for my wife as she really loves macro shooting. However, she does not spend a lot of time with the tripod. She prefers to hand hold and loves the VR in the 18-200. I worry that getting the 150 will require her to use a tripod (point Nikon VR). She prefers flowers and plants, not so much bugs, however, she feels the 150 would be better to get closer without having to move so much (point Sigma). (This seems to make sense at botanical gardens etc.) I also like the thought of having a 150mm f2.8 for a low light zoom, perhaps some indoor sports etc. (not its primary purpose but from what I have read, it would work.) (1/2 point Sigma) Image quality seems to go to Sigma (point Sigma!)...

Any thoughts on this comparison?

Ira

mothman13 Contributing Member • Posts: 925
Mostly agree with your analysis

iweiny wrote:

I too am torn between the lenses.

I want to get one for my wife as she really loves macro shooting.
However, she does not spend a lot of time with the tripod. She
prefers to hand hold and loves the VR in the 18-200. I worry that
getting the 150 will require her to use a tripod (point Nikon VR).
She prefers flowers and plants, not so much bugs, however, she feels
the 150 would be better to get closer without having to move so much
(point Sigma). (This seems to make sense at botanical gardens etc.)
I also like the thought of having a 150mm f2.8 for a low light zoom,
perhaps some indoor sports etc. (not its primary purpose but from
what I have read, it would work.) (1/2 point Sigma) Image quality
seems to go to Sigma (point Sigma!)...

Any thoughts on this comparison?

Ira

I had the Tamron 90mm Macro but changed to the Sigma 150mm Macro to get increased working distance and to get a medium F/2.8 telephoto. I picked up the Nikon 85mm F/1.8, so feel I have the 105VR's portrait use fairly well covered.

I think you'll find the image quality more affected by the photographer and the post processing rather than the inherent qualities. They're both excellent lenses.

For your stated purposes, use by the wife, more flowers and plants rather than at 1:1 magnification you and she would be best served by buying the Nikon. For the "subjects" she'll be photographing she would always have the VR available and it would actually prove useful. The Sigma, while only 18% heavier than the Nikon it's definately a bigger lens. I think for what she'll primarily be photographing, the VR will prove more useful than the tripod ring on the Sigma. Big advantage to not having to drag around a tripod and still get great shots.

As far as photographing indoor sports, since they're both F/2.8 lenses what you really need to consider is the field of view at varying distances. If you're talking about shooting volleyball from close to the court, the Sigma will be way too long. If your looking at shooting basketball from the 23rd row of the bleachers, the 105mm will probably be too short. It all depends on your proximity to the subjects.

Nikon 105mm field of view values:
@ 15 feet - 3.3 x 2.2 feet
@ 30 feet - 6.7 x 4.4 feet
@ 90 feet - 20 x 13 feet

Sigma 150mm field of view values:
@ 15 feet - 2.3 x 1.5 feet
@ 30 feet - 4.7 x 3.1 feet
@ 90 feet - 14 x 9.4 feet

You can see all the values from 5 feet to 90 feet for a variety of focal lengths, here:

5 - 30 feet
http://www.pbase.com/mothman13/image/74511515

35 - 60 feet
http://www.pbase.com/mothman13/image/74511517

65 - 90 feet
http://www.pbase.com/mothman13/image/92899167

I REALLY love my Sigma 150, but overall I think your wife would be happier with the Nikon 105 VR.

Just my $.02

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kylevrabac Forum Member • Posts: 63
Re: 105VR or Sigma 150, which would you get?

philip callaci wrote:

Sigma is awesome but this is on a D3 with any camera with a crop
factor it might be to long for normal use- but as i said it is
perfect for full frame & tack sharp even at wide aps

I have done a simple test comparing the 150 fl on my d40 with the kit 55-200(dx lens) at 155. They have basically the same crop. When I add on the 1.4TC to the 150, it becomes a 210. The 100% crop is only a bit tighter (as it should be). The 150 seems to be a 150 on both FX and DX sensors.

Perhaps I am thinking this through wrong, but as the 150 is "built" for FX sensors, but still matches 150 on a dx sensor (at least compared to a dx lens) doesn't that mean it's the same FL on both? This kind of threw a wrench into how I thought I understood how the FX to DX relationship worked (in terms of lens use).

Can anyone explain?

By the way, I am very happy with this lens and my choice in it over the 105vr. 99% of what I shoot is outside, though, so this was the better choice for me.

raymondox Veteran Member • Posts: 3,680
Re: 105VR or Sigma 150, which would you get?

kylevrabac wrote:

philip callaci wrote:

Sigma is awesome but this is on a D3 with any camera with a crop
factor it might be to long for normal use- but as i said it is
perfect for full frame & tack sharp even at wide aps

I have done a simple test comparing the 150 fl on my d40 with the kit
55-200(dx lens) at 155. They have basically the same crop. When I
add on the 1.4TC to the 150, it becomes a 210. The 100% crop is only
a bit tighter (as it should be). The 150 seems to be a 150 on both
FX and DX sensors.

Perhaps I am thinking this through wrong, but as the 150 is "built"
for FX sensors, but still matches 150 on a dx sensor (at least
compared to a dx lens) doesn't that mean it's the same FL on both?
This kind of threw a wrench into how I thought I understood how the
FX to DX relationship worked (in terms of lens use).

Can anyone explain?

By the way, I am very happy with this lens and my choice in it over
the 105vr. 99% of what I shoot is outside, though, so this was the
better choice for me.

The fl of a lens is the same for fx and dx lens and is obviously the same on dx and fx cameras. What you see on a DX and FX camera is determined by the size of the sensor. On a DX camera you will get the same shot as it uses a smaller area of the lens ie onlt the central part of an FX lens. This is called the crop facter a DX camera automatically crops an FX lens to be the same as a DX lens.

On a FX camera the shot using the FX lens will have a much wider fitled os view as it uses all the focal area. When you put a DX lens on a FX camera you will get a round image as the DX lens is built to deliver a smaller area of view to match a DX sensor and you lose the edges of the picture.

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Bluenose

dizzle Regular Member • Posts: 321
Re: 105VR or Sigma 150, which would you get?

I have been wanting a macro lens for over a year now. I have had my eyes set on the Sigma 150mm based on samples I have seen here and elsewhere; and price/performance. Unfortunately, a macro lens is lower in my queue than other lens priorities, so it has been on the backburner. Recently, my wife determined that due to her work, she could no longer wait for a macro lens and purchase would need to be soon. Of course I support this

The other day we went out to test options to find what would work best for her needs. I was still thinking the Sigma 150 would be the best bet and so we set our budget at around $500.

The store we visited had the Sigma 150mm, Sigma 105mm, Sigma 50mm, Nikon 105mm, and Nikon 60mm. They did not stock the Tamron 90mm or 180mm and unfortunately Tokina is unavailable in my area, eliminating the 100mm or their new macro zoom. The 50-60mm range is too short for our application, so this focal length was left out of comparison.

Because of the inherent sharpness and minimized distortion of macro lenses, our decision making process was also primarily informed by the way the lens was intended to be used.

My wife will be hand-holding the lens in the field 90% of the time, often in lighting conditions that are less than optimal, and she prefers AF. I however would be on a tripod in controlled light 90% of the time, and I prefer MF.

We tried the three available lenses in the following order, under inadquate store lighting andno tripod support (a good indication of the worst case scenario for use). We brought a sample of bleached coral, which has been a difficult subject for us to photograph using non-macro lenses. Our impressions were as follows.

Sigma 150mm Macro "Bugma":

Excellent build quality. Internal focus. Quiet-'ish' AF with a moderate amount of focus hunting. At f/2.8 it produced an odd, illuminated, blurred halo around the subject approximately 30 pixels in width - perhaps a bad sample? At f/4 IQ was good, but not extraordinary. It left my wife wondering "what this lens would do that our existing non-macro lenses wouldn't". Given the available light and no tripod, f/8 required impossible shutter speeds (aka, 1/4 second).

Sigma 105mm Macro:

Decent build quality, though less impressive than the 150mm. The lack of internal focus resulted in logistical concerns regarding field use. Loud and slow AF with significant focus hunting. Although I expected the shorter focal length to result in a faster shutter speed with smaller apertures, the 45mm reduction provided little to no noticable increase in hand-held performance. In fact, the ratio of hand-held "keepers" from the 105 was far worse than that of the 150mm.

Nikon 105mm Micro VR:

Superb build quailty, perceptably better than the Sigmas, though not enough to be a deal breaker. Internal focus. Quiet, quiet, quiet AF. More focus hunting than what I'm used to with AF zooms, but less than the Sigmas. There were a much higher ratio of hand-held keepers than the other two lenses. IQ was very nice, and the sharpness was unbelievable. To seal the deal, my wife shot a close-up of my shirt from the hip. At 100% zoom, the image showed crisp, individual threads and distinctly revealed their weave pattern. As to be expected, the VR provided a significant performance advantage for hand-held use; particularly in low light.

We left the store discussing the reality that if we were already going to spend $500 on a new lens, why not spend the extra $250 to make sure it did all that we needed it to. So yesterday we bought the Nikon 105mm Micro.

As mentioned previously, I was set on the Sigma 150mm. I have no doubt it is a fantastic lens, particularly based on the samples I have seen. Even with the experience we had, I would still be inclined to purchase the 150 if it were solely for my own use. But in consideration of my wife's need to hand-hold in lighting conditions that are not always optimal, the VR on the Nikon 105mm made it the obvious choice in our situation. And I cannot deny the convenience of that capability in my own use. Ultimately I never considered the Nikon 105mm because I thought the price difference wasn't worth VR. Ironically enough, after our comparisons, the case turned out to the contrary.

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Capricorny Regular Member • Posts: 388
For hand-held macro, VR is extremely useful

Your decision about the 105 VR seems the only reasonable one for me. I've been shooting quite a lot hand-held with the 105 Sigma, and though the percentage of keepers isn't that bad, I have had to use too big apertures, and often I get a tiny blur from camera shake - the picture is OK for documentation purposes, but bad as a macro shot. I'm going to get the 150 Bugma some time in the future, and using it with both FX and DX sensors, I'll get bot "105" and "150" perspective. Very seldom hand-held, though. But in many cases, a monopod may be enough (e.g. erratically moving bugs defeating most tripod setups..)

Interesting to hear about the possible QC issues with the 150/2.8. Seems like you also have to cherry-pick those.

raymondox Veteran Member • Posts: 3,680
Re: 105VR or Sigma 150, which would you get?

I've just got the Nikon 105 VR for the reasons you spoke about earlier. My choice was between the nion and the Sigma 150. VR swung it for me for normal and semi macro use.

I discounted the sigma because the working distance at full macro was ppor due to the extending focus needs. I would have picked the nikon over the sigma 105 for this reason alone and the internal motor..

Bluenose

Marcofm3a Regular Member • Posts: 117
Re: For hand-held macro, VR is extremely useful

I also own both lenses. Both lenses are very sharp but the 105 vr gives nicer out of focus and colours in my opinion. And with the use of a monopod and vr you are very flexible (is this english?) if you are in the field spotting butterflies and so on. With the 1.4TC it gives you more reach and vr. The only thing that the 105 vr failes is a collar. The lens and the body are not nicely balanced when the body is mounted on a tripod because of the weight of the lens.

The 150mm macro can be used with a 1.4TC (not the Nikon) and gives you a 210mm macro but has to be manually focussed if your subject is very close.
So I am very happy with both of my lenses.

Picture below is taken with D200 and the 105VR on a monopod with a little flash.
1/125 sec - F7.1 - ISO 400

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Forgive me my poor English

PeeKaa Regular Member • Posts: 339
Re: 105VR or Sigma 150, which would you get?

I bouight the 105VR (mainly on a D300).

Never considered the Sigma.......

Patrick Reed Regular Member • Posts: 148
Re: 105VR or Sigma 150, which would you get?

Scott,

This week I was also considering either getting the Sigma 150 or the Nikkor 105 vr. I looked at many pictures online and they both looked like they produced great images - as much as anyone can tell from most web quality images any way.

The best way to decide between the two I think is to decide exactly what type of shooting you want to do. I went with the nikon 105 vr because after I viewed many of the flower pictures created with it, I decided I want to shoot flowers more than insects, which seems to be the forte of the 150 and greater focal lengths. (Take a look at the water covered pink flower that is one of the pictures on nikon's homepage right now as an example). Another reason I picked the nikon is that I preferred the colors and bokeh of the nikon over the sigma, although the sigma's look incredible as well. I also like that portraits and other photography is made easier with the nikon via VR. The nikon is already on the long end for portraits, I imagine it's even harder with the sigma.

I got the nikon 3 days ago and I have really been enjoying it. I imagine I wouldn't have been disappointed with the Sigma either though. Here are some shots I've taken in the short time I've had it. These are hand held and wide open.

Creamy color and bokeh on a bouganvilla:

60% crop of Pecan Tree leaf:

I plan to shoot a lot more flower shots this weekend and will post some others afterwords.

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OP TrekSF6 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,090
Re: 105VR or Sigma 150, which would you get?

Well, thanks everyone for your feedback here. After looking at bunches of pictures, and reading bunches of posts, I have decided to go with the 105. Should be plenty of working distance for me. And if I need more, I have an extension tube that I use with my 300 F4. You can shoot from a couple feet away with that set up.

Just need to wait for a couple more of my auctions to end on Ebay before I have the rest of the money.
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DaiG Senior Member • Posts: 1,079
Re: 105VR or Sigma 150, which would you get?

I discounted the sigma because the working distance at full macro was ppor due to the extending focus needs

Is this right? I thought the working distance between front of lens and subject is greater with the Sigma 150 than the Nikon 105

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dizzle Regular Member • Posts: 321
Minimum focus distance on availabe F-Mount lenses

Hope I didn't leave any out here. Minimum focus distance, per manufacturer spec., on current macro lenses.

Nikon AF Micro-NIKKOR 60mm f/2.8D: 22.0 cm
Nikon AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 60mm f/2.8G ED: 18.5 cm
Nikon AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED: 31.4 cm
Nikon AF Micro-NIKKOR 200mm f/4 IF-ED: 50.0 cm
Sigma Macro 50mm f/2.8 EX DG: 18.9 cm
Sigma Macro 70mm f/2.8 EX DG: 25.7 cm
Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 EX DG: 31.3 cm
Sigma APO Macro 150mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM: 38.0 cm
Sigma APO Macro 180mm f/3.5 EX DG IF HSM: 46.0 cm
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di 1:1 Macro: 29.0 cm
Tamron SP AF 180mm f/3.5 Di LD IF 1:1 Macro: 47.0 cm
Tokina AT-X M35 PRO DX AF 35mm f/2.8 Macro: 14.0 cm
Tokina AT-X M100 PRO D AF 100mm f/2.8 Macro: 30.0 cm
Zeiss ZF Makro-Planar T* 50mm f/2.0: 24.0 cm
Zeiss ZF Makro-Planar T* 100mm f/2.0: 44.0 cm
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CaseyJ Senior Member • Posts: 1,856
Re: Minimum focus distance on availabe F-Mount lenses

Dizzle wrote:

Hope I didn't leave any out here. Minimum focus distance, per
manufacturer spec., on current macro lenses.
--

Manufacturers minimum focus distances are one good reference but may confuse those who do not understand exactly what they mean. The minimum focus distance means from the subject to the focal plane (sensor) not from the subject to the front of the lens. Take the Nikon 105mm AF-S VR which has a minimum focus distance of 31.4 cm and compare it to the Sigma 105mm macro with a minimum distance of 31.3. Looks like either would be equal for photographing insects, however the front of the Sigma lens extends some distance when focusing at macro or near macro distances while the Nikon does not extend at all. Therefore the the front of the Sigma lens will be closer to the insect at 1:1 than the Nikon lens, over 1 inch closer in fact. The closer the front of the lens to the subject the more apt an insect will to be frightened off as well as a reduction in light reaching other subjects such as flowers.

See here http://www.jeffree.co.uk/pages/macro-lens-calcs.html for a chart showing working distances for Macro lens in Nikon mount.

CaseyJ

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Boschje Contributing Member • Posts: 667
Re: 105VR or Sigma 150, which would you get?

Hello,

Before I bought my 105 VR Nikkor I bought the Sigma 150 due to the difference in costs (Yes the price gap has closed almost since, but not at that time)... I returned it due to focus problems. It was seriously backfocussing on (at that time) my D2X and D70s. Before that I also had focussing problems with a Sigma 30mm F/1.4 which I traded for a Nikkor 35mm F/2.0 which was just perfect right out of the box. Anyway, AF problems are issues which can most of the time be fixed by calibrating the lens. But since I personally expect a lens to be flawless out of the box and not having to send it in for service directly after purchase, I got a 105 VR instead.

I might have been unlucky, but I solely stick to Nikkor lenses since...

Not taken into account this AF issues, I still prefer the Nikkor. The colours it produces are simply better that the Sigma. There have been threads and people around here which think it is the other way around. But if I compare my Sigma 150mm with my 105mm VR, the Nikkor wins. When I changed the lens I took test shots of the same subjects under the same lightning conditions.

raymondox Veteran Member • Posts: 3,680
Re: 105VR or Sigma 150, which would you get?

DaiG wrote:

I discounted the sigma because the working distance at full macro was ppor due to the extending focus needs

Is this right? I thought the working distance between front of lens
and subject is greater with the Sigma 150 than the Nikon 105

The Sigma 150 does not extend. The 105 and 70 does though. The 150 does have a greater working distance than the Nikkon 105.

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Bluenose

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