Reviews

Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM: Hands On Review

The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM lens is part of Sigma’s new Art series. Sharp, fast-focusing, solid build quality and with a silky smooth bokeh when shooting with a shallow depth of field, this lens is, in my opinion, a must have addition to your bag.

If you’ve ever thought about purchasing a new 35mm prime, look no further.

Finding A New Lens

I had been contemplating my next glass purchase for some time. Too long, perhaps. I would settle on something, read another review or ask another person about it, and talk myself out of it being my next purchase. Without a whole lot of cash to throw around, I wanted to ensure that the purchase I was making would last, I would not wind up regretting, and was great value for money. When the new Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM lens was released I was, at first, reluctant. Sigma is a brand that people associate with cheap lenses with sub-par build quality and average performance. But the more I heard, read, and saw of this lens, well, I took the plunge. Do I have any regrets? Not in the slightest. Sigma has well and truly changed the game with this lens.

My Use of the Lens

I’ve had this lens now for a month. The only time it has been off my camera has been for Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L II USM Lens to do some specialty work. It is a gorgeous lens to use and one you just want to use all the time.

At live music gigs, I have found the lens great for wide shots. It is fast-focusing and spot on with focus (though, I have heard reports from friends who have had to micro-adjust focus on it). Even in low light (on my Canon 5D Mk III), it did not have the issues that plague me with the Canon 50mm f/1.8. To my recollection it has only ever hunted for focus once, which was likely my error and not the lens. Presently, my family is running a Christmas light display to help raise money for charity. Taking photos of Christmas lights with the lens is great, with bokeh in the background being globules of round light goodness.

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And, as to be expected by anyone who knows me, my main use of a lens is for portraiture. While I have not done a lot lately due to work and uni and writing, I made sure I took some headshots to test and then show off this lens. It performs as I came to expect. It is beautiful right through the aperture range, producing quality, sharp images. There may be the slightest bit of distortion on the edges of the frame, but nothing overly noticeable. While this lens performs well right through the aperture range, this lens just excels when wide open. At f/1.4, it is beautiful. The bokeh is smooth, the depth of field beautiful, and it is as sharp as I believe possible. Admittedly, I do love a shallow depth of field with my headshots, and while it does look superb at f/4-5.6, I honestly think I’ll be taking a lot of images at f/1.4.

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In Summary

Buy the lens. Okay, seriously, the lens performs beyond expectation. I still cannot believe how sharp it is, nor how nice the bokeh looks. It breaks the stigma associated with Sigma of their lenses being cheap and not worth touching and, after playing with the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L USM, I honestly believe it out performs the much more expensive Canon model. If I HAD to find a fault with it, I would say the MF/AF switch on the side of the camera tends to stick a little. But the only time I use it is when I’m using the lens for video. For me, that’s not a big deal, and definitely not a deal-breaker. So, again, in summary… If you’re thinking about splurging and getting a 35mm prime lens, don’t look any further than the Sigma. As someone said to me when I was still debating about whether to get it or not… Seriously, just buy the lens.