Sigma 35 1.4 review
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG OS HSM “Art”
DG – refers to digital, lenses for digital cameras
f/1.4 brightest aperture, this is quite bright lens, very useful in low light situations, like wedding, concert, campfire and such occasions
Focal length: 35mm very useful on FF on Aps-C it is also not bad
Compatibility: Full frame
Optical construction: 13 elements in 11 groups
Exotic elements: one FLD and 2 SLD glass elements
Weight: 665 g (23.46 oz)
Dimensions: 77 x 94 mm (3.03 x 3.7″)
Minimal focus distance: 30 cm ( 1′)
Aperture blades: 9 rounded blades
Filter size: 67 mm plastic threads, non rotating
Price: 899 dollar/ 800 Eur
Autofocus: HSM (Hypersonic motor) Sigma’s copy of Canon’s USM drive
Available mounts: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Sigma, Pentax
Aperture ring: No
Focus limiter: No
Infrared index: No
Manual focus override: Yes
Distance scale: yes
Switches: 1 Auto focus – Manual focus
Hard infinity focus stop ( important at filmmaking ): No
Hood: Sigma LH 730 03 included
Max magnification: 0.19 x
Reproduction ratio: 1: 5.2
Sealing against moisture: No
Made in: Japan
Seems Sigma has produced a real winner here: better than the Canon and the Nikon counterparts, sharp and contrasty wide open (except at the corners). The f/1.4 very sharp and contrasty aperture means that the the new Sigma is an ultimate low light lens, can be used in pubs, summer campfire in the night or many other situations. Compare to the Canon 50mm f/1.4, the Sigma is much shaper at f/1.4 perhaps as sharp as the Canon 50mm at f4.
The lens is nicely assembled, and has solid build quality. The look and feel is similar to Sigma’s other new Art lenses, like the Sigma 18-35 or the Sigma 24-105 f/4 lenses. This new design is much better than the older grey design with many names, like “sandpaper” etc, which was not really durable.
The lens has a good look and feel, which helps the desire to own it. The autofocus is quick and nearly silent, similar to Canon’s Usm drive. The broad rubberized manual focus ring nicely can be operated. Despite f/1.4 bright aperture the lens is relatively small in the hand (67mm filters).
This is a very nice lens, very sharp at f/1.4 wide open at the center of the frame, and not bad even in the corners. On Aps-C sharp even in the corners wide open, and sharpens a little afterwards. Stopping down a bit improves the corners a little bit (little to be improved). Please note that at f/1.4 the depth of field is quite shallow. Below pictures has been made before sunset at the afternoon. The contrast is excellent as well right from f/1.4. On Full frame strong vignetting is expected. Seems the Sigma 35 1.4 A has no problems with flare.
Bokeh – highlights
The bokeh is very nice for a wide angle lens, thanks to the f/1.4 bright aperture. Unlike many other older prime lenses, this Sigma is absolutely usable wide open with excellent sharpness and bokeh. Contrast level is also very good wide open already. Please consider that the samples were made a 8Mp crop camera, on Full frame the bokeh is much better. The bokeh at f/5.6 on Full frame camera is similar to the bokeh at f/2.8 on a crop sensor camera. But even on a crop sensor camera the background can be thrown out nicely. The circular diapragm blades helps to create nice round highlights.
The autofocus is quick, silent and very precise. It is absolutely needed for the shallow depth of field photography, for which this lens is designed for. It is a HSM drive not a conventional whiny micro motor. My experience is quite good with Sigma’s HSM drive, it is quite fast, silent, but not as good or fast as in Canon’s USM in the higher end lenses.
What is this lens good for ?
On Full frame pretty much for everything, except wildlife and macro, on Aps-C as a normal, portrait or street lens. This lens more of a Full frame lens though. With it’s price perhaps not very practical on Aps-C, because the 35mm is not really good for example landscapes or internal shots, the field of view is a little narrow. For this reason for an Aps-C I suggest the new unique Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 I admit that the f/1.4 aperture is very tempting though. The 35mm f/1.4 is sharp at f/1.4, the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 is sharp at f1.8, which is a fantastic achievement for a zoom lens. I more tempted to the 35 f1.4 though, but logically everything is vote for a Sigma 18-35mm on crop camera, which is a very sharp lens, and is much more useful with its range, but this is only an Aps-C lens designed for crop sensor cameras. On Full frame the focal length of the 35mm f1.4 is much better and perhaps can serve as a one lens, or main lens solution for some people. What if the Full sensor 18 35 f1.8 comes out….Brrr!
Canon 35 1.4, Nikon 35 1.4, Samyang 35 1.4
The Samyang is a manual focus lens, the latest AE version let’s to control the iris from the camera, otherwise no electrical connection with the camera body, meaning no exif data, cannot determine the aperture shutter speed used, etc. Optically not at the same leage as the Sigma especially wide open. At f/1.4 the Sigma has better resolution and contrast. Stopped down the Samyang gets very sharp, but normally you buy f/1.4 for the bright aperture performance.
The Canon 35mm f/1.4 is quite similar in optical quality, but the Sigma better wide open especially in the corners, but in the center as well. The Canon perhaps has a hair better contrast, and the center is a little better stopped down. The big difference is that the Canon cost 1500 USD, while the Sigma is 900 USD. Canon’s USM drive is better generally according to my opinion, regarding speed, compatibility, long term reliability, and compatibility. As we write about camera rumors and camera news frequently, we guess the Canon 35mm f/1.4 version two coming soon, as Canon already submitted a pantent for the new lens. Not needed to be an expert to understand though that it will cost more than the current version. This means that a Sigma has an excellent value.
There are other lenses with f/2 aperture, but they are not really in competitor if our aim is f/1.4. Otherwise the smaller size can be tempting. The older screw driven Canon 35mm f/2 is not very sharp at f/2, very sharp at f/4, a very small and light lens. There is a new is version of the lens as well, the Canon 35mm f/2 is. It is optically better, than the earlier screw type ancestor, but not as special as the Sigma 35mm f/1.4. The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 HSM A is better at f/1.4 than the Canon 35mm f/2 is at f/2. The Canon lens is much more compact though, and weighs only 335g. There are several other even more compact lenses around: the Canon 40mm f/2.8 pancake, and the newest Aps-C Canon 24mm f/2.8 is pancake lenses for ones who has small size and weight preference.
In Nikon land for Dx the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 G is better choice because it is much cheaper, and also very sharp, even wide open. Obviously the much bigger and more expensive Sigma is sharper at f/1.8. The Nikon is only 200g.
-Excellent optical quality, even wide open
-Very useful focal length
-Full frame coverage
-Low CA around 0.5 pixel in high contrast areas
– Future compatibility on non-Sigma cameras is not for granted
– On Full frame cameras high light falloff at large apertures, at f/1.4 more than 2.5 EV, stopped down helps to reduce vignetting to lower levels.
– not small and light, many people like primes because some of the primes are very small and light and is a joy to use even with a bigger Full Frame cameras.
This is not so small lens, about the same size and weight as the Canon 135 f/2 L lens.
– Distortion or light fallof is not corrected in camera in Canon and Nikon cameras
– some people has autofocus issues with the lens, which can be a big problem at wide open aperture, I mostly use center af point on my cameras, I think other af points are absolutely useless on most cameras, as not cross type, or even cross type points not really reliable. Sigma has an USB dock for fine tuning af, I would not imagine myself messing with such a thing. For professional photography reliable af is a must.
Bottom line / recommendation:
Highly recommended ! It is a clear winner here. A very sharp lens even at f/1.4, very nice bokeh, excellent build quality, ultrasonic autofocus and a reduced price compare to the competition. A very nice lens overall, with the very useful focal length on Full frame. Can serve as a general purpose bright lens. On Aps-c / Dx the field of view is a little narrow, best for street photography or not so tight portraits. The bokeh is more enhanced in Full frame cameras.
Normally the first link is Canon and the second is Nikon