Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art Lens Review

Howdy, everyone! So I am back with a new blog today, reviewing the most loved portrait lens, Sigma’s 85mm f/1.4 Art (for APS-H Cameras). Its been almost 5 years that I have been using Nikon’s 85mm 1.8 and I still love that piece of glass. But eventually, I got more curious when I got to know about this lens after it was first announced. I was lucky to have received this for review from Sigma India and this is my review about Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art.

First things first! The Sigma 85 mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is the most stunning and sublime portrait lens. It has a great sharpness with the lovely buttery bokeh. The built quality of the lens like every other lens from the Art series is premium. It’s heavier and slightly bigger than other 85mm lenses, weighing a little more than 1100gms. Its made up of 14 elements in 12 groups, two elements of which are a special type of glass, and one element are aspherically round. The front element is big, which has a filter size of 86mm. The lens comes with a flower-shaped hood that looks sturdy but is made of good quality plastic. (Thank God, it saves some extra weight!) The front part of the lens is an entire big focus ring that is smooth. Behind this ring is a window where you can read the set distance and get an indication of the depth of the field. The lens narrows at the end, towards the mount. In the end, we only find one switch, for the AF/MF function. So you can switch between autofocus and manual focus. The autofocus can also be manually adjusted at any time. The lens has no image stabilization. The lens is 126mm long and 95mm in diameter.

The image quality of this lens is undoubtedly the best in class. I preferred shooting on f/1.6 or higher because I found 2 out of 5 images softer at 1.4. I also encountered a few back focusing issues with the lens, but I am sure it can be corrected by fine-tuning the autofocus function in the camera. The corners get sharper from 1.6 and above. Even though there’s a lot of vignetting while the lens is wide open just like other bright lenses, it’s not excessive and is easy to get rid of in post-processing, if you want. For portraits, a little bit of vignetting is often attractive. The vignetting is already so low at f/2.8 that you won’t see it anymore. The amount of Axial chromatic aberrations is almost zero even it well-backlit situations. The lens is free of distortion and has no problems with backlighting.

While I talk about the Autofocus, I should say that it’s moderately slow depending upon the contrast in the scenes. Although it’s very smooth and silent, it takes a bit of time to focus the areas with minimum contrast. The Sigma 85 mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art features Sigma’s HyperSonic Motor which is relatively stronger than the Sigma lenses from EX series. if the lens has to go from infinity to close up or from 2 meters to 8 meters, you’ll notice it takes some time. More important is actually that the lens also focuses quite precisely. If you want to make a close-up portrait at wide open aperture, the depth of field is very small. If you focus on the eyes, then the lashes are actually already out of the depth of field. It’s a narrow plane of focus every time you choose to shoot up close. The autofocus is reasonably quiet, and in practice, you have to make an effort to hear anything from the autofocus motor. The shortest setting distance is 0.85 m. That’s enough for a close portrait, but it would have been nice if it could have been slightly shorter.

While I talk about the pricing and competitors, the Nikon 85 f/1. is the direct competitor, performing almost similar to this art. {Both the Sigma 85mm Art f/1.4 and Nikon 85mm f/1.4 are priced around INR. 1,35,000) If I compare the size and weights, Nikon 85 is much lighter, almost half kg! and it won’t ache your hands while you are at the shoot with the camera being constantly in your hands. I would say that 85 Art is a good choice for Canon shooters as its an option for Canon’s 85 1.2 with the difference of almost INR 40,000!That being said, Sigma’s Art series has never stopped to amaze me. I have loved 24mm and 35mm for its phenomenal optical performances and 85mm Art is not any different than this. If you are ok with the extra bucks and extra weight of the lens, this magical optical wonder is for you!

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