Sigma Lenses, etc

I’m still relatively new to camera scanning, but am getting good results with a Sigma Art 70mm, minus the need for vignetting correction. I read on that close up lens review site that the 105mm Sigma is supposed to be better, but I’m wondering if it is noticeable? They did not actually do a direct comparison of the two. Another site had resolution tests of each, but taken on different cameras with a disclaimer that you cannot compare the results from different cameras (???).

If one were to be super-obsessed with the best possible quality, but would stop short of adapting a process lens, what is the best lens out there for scanning (Sony mount)? I’ve read nice things about some Voigtlaenders as well, so where do those fit?

Lens tests are hard to evaluate because we rarely get all the details about how the lens was set.
Changing magnification can change quality and not many manufacturers or testers publish figures like the MTF charts shown on this site:

Will differences show? Depends on whether you use 12 Mpixels or 60 Mpixels and how much of these you waste because the negative’s aspect ratio might not match your camera’s. Some preprocessing might help improve the looks, try e.g. DxO PureRaw.

I have a decent number of macro lenses:

  • Sigma 150mm f/2.8 1:1
  • Sigma 70mm Art f/2.8 1:1
  • Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 1:1
  • Canon RF 85mm f/2 1:2
  • Olympus Zuiko 80mm f/4 1:1 Auto
  • Olympus Zuiko 50mm f/3.5 1:2
  • Olympus Zuiko 135mm f/4.5 (forget the mag)

And I can tell you, the Sigma 70mm Art is so extremely good that it is basically pointless to lust after the 105 for image quality only. Such an “upgrade” will only get you a sharper view of individual film grains. It may indeed be sharper, but my point is that the 70mm is already superbly sharp. In fact I more often use a vintage Zuiko 80mm for film scanning on a 45MP sensor (Canon R5) and it is not as good as the Sigma, but even that is still more than enough for scanning IMHO (I like it because Oly made a nice film copy bellows attachment for it). I would have to make huge prints for the sharpness difference to be perceivable.

One big advantage of shorter lenses for copy work is that any vibration at all in your setup becomes magnified at longer working distances. So long as all else is held equal and you are backlighting your film, a shorter lens is better when it comes to scanning. Of course the difference between 70mm and 105mm is not massive, but just pointing out that the 70mm is well suited for copy work.

All that being said, by all accounts the Sigma 105mm is a top notch lens, so if you want it, don’t let me stop you! I’d be more interested in it for its increased working distance and better autofocus.


The 70 is definitely impressive, and has this nice micro-contrast “pop” to it. I’m in no hurry to upgrade, but if I found a deal on the 105, curiosity might get the better of me.

Hello Gabedamien

Your answer just caught my interest since I was fighting through the internet to decide on a macro lens for scanning my 35mm film. I have a Canon EOS R. Did I understand correctly that you would highly suggest buying the Sigma 70mm Art f2.8 and use it with the EF-RF adapter? Thank you so much!

PS: I currently use an old Canon FD 50mm macro, but I loose so many pixels since it’s not 1:1…

@lucaloads yes, the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 ART Macro lens (on EF-RF adapter, for R series cameras) is a terrific choice for film scanning.

It’s maybe not the best lens for other purposes, e.g. live insects, portraits, etc. – for that I might consider the Canon RF 100mm F2.8 L Macro IS USM lens as it has IS, goes beyond 1:1 to 1.4:1 (!) macro, doesn’t need an adapter, has more working distance, weather sealing, faster autofocus, etc.

But the Sigma has comparable or even better image quality at a much better price ($520 vs $1200 at this moment), so if you specifically want a lens for copy work, I can happily recommend the Sigma, as you don’t need most of those other features for scanning.

Heck, you could buy the Sigma AND an RF 85mm F2 1:2 Macro IS STM for $600 and still come out ahead on price, and keep the Sigma for scanning while using the 85mm for portraits and light field macro! Not saying that makes more sense than the single 100mm L lens, just pointing out the price diff is significant.

@lucaloads The Sigma 70mm ART f2.8 and its stablemate the 105mm ART f2.8 Macros come highly recommended for this type of work. Unusually for a general purpose macro lens they have a very flat field at the magnifications used for film copying. reviews them both at these magnifications on perfectly flat and highly detailed silicon wafers.

On the other hand the lens you are using, the Canon FD 50mm f3.5 was designed to be used with the Canon FD 25mm extension tube for 1:1. These are plentiful and inexpensive and the lens even has its own separate magnification scale for use with that tube. Why not try that first?

Comparisons with other highly regarded lenses (but not the Sigmas, this is 2012!) at the bottom of this page here:

The Sigma 70mm ART will be better, and AF, but how much better and will you notice on actual slides or negatives…?

Thank you for the quick and detailed answer! Highly appreciated!
As a matter of fact I used to use the FD 50mm with the 25mm extension tube (came delivered with it). However, after doing a 1-to-1 experiment I noticed a SIGNIFICANT difference in sharpness (to the worse) with the extension tube, which is why I seek to avoid extension tubes. So I have decided that I’d rather sacrifice pixels (i still have around 3200x2100) than accepting that muddy sharpness the extension tube gave me.

Strange, no muddy sharpness in the example on that website, seems just as good as the (revered) 55mm Micro-Nikkor f2.8 in that real world test. There is nothing wrong with using extension tubes per se if the lens is designed to be used with it, it is just a way to save weight with all metal lenses when you don’t need to go to 1:1, you do have to be extra careful with focus at 1:1 though, and sharpness deteriorates beyond f8 due to diffraction. People tend to use them with standard non-macro lenses and then blame the extension tube which I appreciate you are not doing here.

I don’t know about any other opinions and results. i just took two scans of the same negative, one without the tube and one with, and the shot without the tube ended up to me much sharper (yes, i made sure I nailed focus with manual focus peaking).
What does that mean “you do have to be extra careful with focus at 1:1”?

I have the Canon FD 50mm macro withe the extension tube and I think that it is super sharp at 1:1

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