Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art Lens Review: A Prime Contender

Sigma 85 1.4 Lens Review

Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art Lens Review

It’s difficult to hold the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens in your hands without feeling like you’re holding something special.  It’s as if you’re holding an artifact from history that, hundreds of years from now (more on that later), archeologists will be digging in the dirt, unearth, and marvel at the build quality and aesthetics of “Photography Equipment” from the early 21st century.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself…

The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens was announced in late 2016, and released in the early months of 2017, and having had a few months to use this lens, really put it through its paces, and have some fun with it, I can officially say that I’m in love.  I hate to bury the lede, but this lens has rarely left my main shooting body, and usurped the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art Lens as my go-to lens for everyday carry.

Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art

The Sigma Art LensTechnical Specs

So, for the number nerds, let’s take a look at the technical specifications of the Sigma Art Lens.

From Sigma’s website (https://www.sigmaphoto.com/85mm-f14-dg-hsm-a)

Specification Summary:

Lens Construction 14 elements in 12 groups

Angle of View (35mm) 28.6°

Number of Diaphragm Blades 9 (Rounded diaphragm)

Mininum Aperture F16

Minimum Focusing Distance 85cm / 33.5in.

Filter Size (mm) φ86㎜

Maximum Magnifications 1:8.5

Dimensions (Diameter x Length) φ94.7mm × 126.2mm / 3.7in. × 5.0in.

Weight 1,130g / 39.9oz.

In layman’s terms, the Sigma 85mm is an 85mm Prime lens, with a minimum aperture of F16, and a maximum aperture of f/1.4.  It takes an 86mm filter size (in case you want to use a UV filter, or something) and comes in at a whopping 2.5 pounds. And therein lies one of my only complaints about this lens (that, in reality, is actually a compliment); this lens is HEAVY!

You are going to feel like you’re hefting around a solid piece of equipment when you have this on your shoulder, or around your neck. Call up your physical therapist if you have a wedding scheduled, because this 2.5 pound monster is going to feel like it weighs about 25 pounds by the end of the day.

Sigma 85 1.4 Art

Putting the Sigma 85mm Art Lens To Work

With a  maximum aperture of 1.4, you’re going to get some creamy bokeh, and beautifully blurred backgrounds throughout most of the early aperture settings.  I found the sweet spot of this lens to be right around f/2, and had very little issues obtaining focus at that aperture.  You’re still going to get images that appear to lift your subject right off of the background, but with enough strength to grab that focus!

With this being a prime lens, it’s also going to focus quickly, and quietly, which means you’re not going to disturb wedding guests during the quiet moments, and have no problems freezing focus on a kid that just won’t sit still.

Of note, though, is the fact that Sigma seems to have a minor issue with QA (quality assurance) in their Art series.  I haven’t personally experienced this issue, but in talking to some other photographers, it would seem that, much like the 35mm Art before it, the 85mm Art can ship with some minor calibration issues.  

As stated before, I hve not personally experienced them, but it should be noted that purchasing this lens could come with a small amount of work, getting it calibrated correctly. Fortunately, there are some great resources in our Forum that can help get you started on the right path! (http://www.prettyforum.com/forum/showthread.php?13115-Having-trouble-with-f…)

Sigma 85mm 1.4

Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art Lens Image Quality

This is where the Sigma 85mm Art lens truly shines! Simply put, the Sigma 85mm Art lens will allow you to create some of the most beautiful, proportional, dreamy, and magical photos that you will ever shoot.

There’s minimal chromatic aberration (and even that can be fixed in Photoshop or Lightroom with a few button clicks) and the Sigma 85mm is going to be sharp and crisp at nearly any aperture. With this lens being a prime lens, you’re going to get that creamy, beautiful quality of photos that you may be accustomed to in the rest of Sigma’s line of Art lenses.

Even at higher ISOs, I was still able to get clean, great looking photos, with minimal noise and absolutely zero distortion.

The 85mm lens is perfect for portraits, and going to really knock a bride and groom’s socks off when you shoot their wedding. It also excels during family shoots, and will make photos of couples look like they belong on the cover of “Engaged Couples Monthly”. Although I’m not even sure if that’s a real magazine.

Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art for Canon

Sigma Art Lens Pros

  • Fast
  • Crisp
  • Solid build quality
  • Beautiful images at most ISOs, on newer camera bodies
  • Another fine entry in the Sigma Art line

    Sigma Art Lens Cons

    • Heavy
    • Minor calibration issues
    • Pricier than most consumer and prosumer level lenses

    Conclusion

    It’s tough not to gush about this Sigma Art Lens and make it seem as if I have a “Sigma” tattoo somewhere on my body, while at the same time naming my first-born “Sigmatthew”, but they’ve really knocked it out of the park with this lens.

    Some people may scoff a bit at the weight, but it’s worth hitting the gym an extra day or two a week to build up the strength to carry around this workhorse. It’s versatile and beautiful, and from the moment you put this lens on your camera, you will never want to take it off.

    And when you compare it to the other “professional” level 85mm lenses out there, it’s on-par as far as image quality goes, with the added bonus of being a few hundred dollars cheaper. While that is still not cheap by a lot of standards, at least you will have a little money left over if you budgeted for the Canon 85mm L lens for example.

    I give this lens a big thumbs up! You definitely will not be disappointed if you decide to pick up this Sigma Lens and add it to your arsenal!

      Do you have any questions or comments about my Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art Lens Review?  Leave us a comment below - We would LOVE to hear from you!  And PLEASE SHARE our review using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!

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