Look at the beautiful flower in the photo above. This image was captured outdoors at a botanic garden. Notice how the stamen is in sharp focus while the background is a buttery smooth blur. What type of lens do you need to create a shot like this? An expensive pro level lens with a fast aperture of F1.8 or better… you can’t make a shot like this unless you use high-priced professional level lenses. Right? Not necessarily!
This is a test shot I made with a newly purchased used lens that cost me a grand total of $15 (in mint condition with case, including shipping) online. In fact, this is the perfect budget lens for anyone who loves to capture close-up flower images with smoothly blurred backgrounds (my favorite photographic subject). The flower photo below was also shot with this lens. Want to know what this lens is and where to find it?
It is the Sigma Zoom 75-250mm F:4-5 with the Achromatic Macro Lens. Introduced in 1982, it is solidly constructed manual zoom lens that comes with a matched screw-on macro lens for sharp close-up photos. Both of the photos shown above were shot with the screw-on Achromatic Macro lens. As you can see, it is a capable combination ideal for close-up flower photography. The photo below shows an ad from Popular Photography magazine in April, 1982 featuring this Sigma lens.
I like the overall image quality of this well constructed vintage Sigma lens very much. The images it produces have very good color contrast and saturation. The matched Achromatic Macro Lens is a great performer, and is well matched to the main lens. Usually, with older lenses of this vintage, purple fringing can be a problem. However, it only shows up rarely in images shot with this lens, an excellent testimony to its optical design.
This Sigma Zoom is quite sharp when stopped-down to F:8 or more. Plus, it has a built in lens hood and uses the same 52mm polarizer filter size as my standard kit lens. The beautiful, all-metal construction of the Sigma 75-250mm is of premium quality. The focusing ring is smooth and accurate. Keep in mind that this is a manual lens (with auto diaphragm). It is also quite easy to focus and works well with the focus confirmation feature of my Pentax DSLR. One caution: This is an all metal lens and a bit heavy by today’s standards. Use a sturdy tripod and remote shutter trigger along with mirror lockup or self timer to get the sharpest possible macro photos.
On the used market this lens is an absolute bargain. It is quite easy to find this lens on Ebay.com for prices ranging from $12 to $30 in good condition in a variety of lens mounts. Just be sure that the screw-on Achromatic Macro Lens is included. That gives you the close-focusing ability for great flower photos! -Don Peterson