Monday, February 13, 2017

Has a new champion been crowned? Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art lens review

The Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art hasn't been on the market long, but it has already begun to make some serious waves. Lenstip and DxO have rated it the sharpest 85mm lens ever created, beating out even the legendary 85mm F1.4 Zeiss Otus, which isn't something that we take lightly. We were lucky enough to get our hands on the lens back in mid-November and we were very impressed to say the least, so much so that it took top honors for the 'Best Prime Lens of 2016' as chosen by our staff.

It has, without a doubt, been a pretty big topic of discussion not only amongst our staff members, but also amongst portrait photographers around the world. With that said we just had to get our hands on it to see how it really performs and to see how it holds up next to some very stiff competition at 85mm. The Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM is a very formidable competitor and arguably the best modern 85mm F1.4 on the market (behind the manual focus Zeiss Otus, of course). With that in mind, the question is; can the Sigma hold its own? Our review will answer that question and more.


With an equivalent focal length of 136mm and an equivalent aperture of F2.2, this lens can be used on an APS-C camera. Even with its slightly longer focal length, it does still fit into the focal range that's often used by portrait photographers and the fast aperture does allow for it to be used in low-light situations as well. However, its size, weight and price makes it worth considering 85mm F1.8 lenses instead.

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art headline features

  • F1.4 maximum aperture
  • 85mm max fixed focal range
  • 2 SLD glass elements
  • 1 aspherical element
  • Canon EF, Nikon (FX) and Sigma SA Bayonet mounts

Specifications Compared

Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GMSigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art
 MSRP$1800.00 $1199.00
 Lens TypePrimePrime
 Focal Length85mm 85mm 
 Filter Thread77mm86mm
Image StabilizationNoNo
Lens Mount Sony FECanon EF, Nikon (FX), Sigma SA Bayonet 
Aperture RingYes (w/ d-click feature)No
Maximum Aperture F1.4F1.4
Minimum ApertureF16 F16
Minimum Focus 0.80 m (31.5″)0.85 m (33.46″)
Diaphragm Blades 119
Elements 11 14
Groups 812
Special Elements/Coatings 1 'Extreme Aspherical' element, 3 ED elements and 'Nano AR' coating2 SLD glass elements and 1 Aspherical element
Autofocus YesYes
Motor Type Ring-type Supersonic WaveRing-type Hypersonic
Full Time Manual YesYes
Focus Method InternalInternal
Distance Scale NoYes 
DoF Scale NoYes
Full Weather Sealing YesNo (dust and splash proof)
Weight820g (1.81 lb)1131g (2.49 lb) 
Dimensions 108 mm (4.23″) x 90mm (3.52″)126mm (5.0") x 95mm (3.7")
Hood Yes ( ALC-SH142)Yes
As you can see the lenses are fairly different in terms of build and design. The Sony 85mm has a manual aperture ring that can not only function on its own, but the aperture can also be adjusted with the camera by switching the ring to 'A'. This ring also features a special de-click feature for smooth, silent aperture changes while shooting video. The Sigma 85mm lacks the weather sealing that the Sony has and there's also a fairly substantial difference in size and weight as the Sony 85mm is a fair bit smaller and lighter. The price point is one area of the where the Sigma really prevails over the Sony, on paper, at least.

Specifications are fun to look at, but the real question is how do these lenses perform? 

Read on, to find out.

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