I read reviews but outside of some reviews on Amazon, this is my first that I’m writing. No details on the specs, no spectral diagrams, no super-duper technical anything. Just my take on a couple of very inexpensive pieces of equipment that I bought, played with and am impressed with. The lens is a Sigma 50mm F2.8 EX DG Macro that I got used off ebay for $235. The macro light was a dirt cheap Meike LED Macro Ring Flash FC100 I got from Amazon for a whopping $26.95. (Meike seems to be the same ring as sold under the Neewer name, which is what my Amazon invoice says I bought.) The macro ring looked halfway decent and since I knew I wouldn’t use it on a daily basis, it didn’t have to be super heavy duty. I did research the lens online before buying it. It got good reviews pretty much everywhere, so I’m tossing in my 2-cents as well.
I absolutely love the Sigma macro lens. The apertures range from f2.8 up to a silly f45. However, the image quality degrades after f22 or f29, but perhaps its just my lens. I originally bought it for photographing jewelry and figured the higher f-stop would help with the problem of depth of field with macro shots. But I don’t need to go up that high – f14 still gives good results. Below are two pieces of custom jewelry that I shot recently with this lens set at f14. Both of the smaller images below are linked to the full size photos (both are over 1mb in size, so they might take a bit to load). These jewelry shots were taken in a light box hand-holding my Canon 5D Mark II camera.
Photos by Colleen D. Gjefle / © 2011 / GJFOTO.com
As sweet as this lens is for jewelry photography, the real artistic strength is, of course, in the wide-open f2.8 aperture. The super shallow depth of field really locks your attention on the spot that is in focus. I love this to no end! It can make for some terrific semi-abstract photos that are just plain fun. Below is a close-up of one flower on my African violet, which is happily blooming right now. I was hand-holding my camera with the Meike macro light attached. The lens was only about 2” away from the flower I was photographing, and the flower is only about 1” in diameter to begin with. So if you ask me, that’s pretty impressive as most “macro” lenses still have to be several inches away from the subject.
Once again, the smaller photo above is linked to the full-size image. Note that the yellow stamen is in focus and everything else is beautifully out of focus. A friend said this shot reminded her of a painting, which I can only take as a compliment.
The macro light is a lightweight LED light that runs on 4 AA batteries with the power source connecting to the camera’s hotshoe. It came with 7 different sized adapter rings so you can use it with a variety of lenses with different filter sizes. You can have it operate as a flash, which provides more power, or as a continuous light source, with a lower light output. There are also 7 different light levels easily changed by the push of a button. I don’t know how durable it would be if used on a daily basis. But at only $27 bucks, it’s practically disposable!
So here’s what the macro light and my Sigma lens look like. Small investments, but I don’t regret either one.