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Studio Tests (APS-C)

The Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM performs extremely well on APS-C in the studio, matching or surpassing any other lens in its class (although the differences aren't necessarily huge). Sharpness is impressive even at maximum aperture, and just gets better on stopping down. Distortion, CA and vignetting are all very low too.

Sharpness Central sharpness is impressively high even at F1.4, and there's relatively little drop-off towards the corners too. Things only improve on stopping down, with truly excellent cross-frame sharpness from F2.8 to F8. Diffraction starts to degrade the image at smaller apertures, but F16 is still eminently usable if you need the extra depth of field.
Chromatic Aberration Lateral chromatic aberration is exceptionally low. There's a tiny amount of red/cyan fringing towards the edge of the frame, but you'll have to look very closely to see it.
Vignetting Vignetting is negligible, as usual for a full frame lens used on APS-C.
Distortion Distortion is extremely low, with just a little barrel-type visible if you look closely.

Macro Focus

Macro (APS-C) - 108 x 72 mm coverage
Measured magnification: 0.21x
Distortion: Mild barrel

Minimum focus distance*: 28.5cm
Working distance**: 14.7cm
Focal length: 35mm (56mm equiv)
* Minimum focus is defined as the distance from the camera's sensor to the subject
** Working distance is measured from the front of the lens to the subject

We'd never really consider a 35mm F1.4 to be the ideal candidate for close-up work, and the Sigma is no different to any other. Its measured maximum magnification using manual focus is 0.21x, fractionally higher than specified but still pretty typical for its class. Note though that SLRs won't generally autofocus quite this closely.

Image quality is rather impressive. At F1.4 central sharpness is very decent, but a little longitudinal chromatic aberration is visible and the corners are slightly soft. But this all cleans up quickly on stopping down, with the centre of the frame becoming extremely sharp at F2.8. By F5.6 our flat test chart is critically sharp right across the frame, with practically no chromatic aberration and just a little barrel distortion.

Specific image quality issues

As always, our studio tests are backed up by taking hundreds of photographs with the lens across a range of subjects, and examining them in detail. This allows us to confirm our studio observations, and identify any other issues which don't show up in the tests. Here we're looking at issues specific to APS-C users; for a fuller picture, be sure to read the next page too.

Lateral Chromatic Aberration

The 35mm F1.4's CA profile means that colour fringing towards the corners of the frame is slightly more visible on APS-C cameras, compared to full frame. But even so, it's far from problematic, and can be corrected in post-processing where necessary. Nikon SLRs will also compensate for this in their JPEG processing, but other brands won't. The example below shows what to expect - there's a little red/cyan fringing along high contrast edges, but it's not really objectionable even in the extreme corners.

Canon EOS 650D, F8 100% crop, bottom left corner
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Comments

Total comments: 13
Springfield81
By Springfield81 (8 months ago)

I bought this lens last year after agonising over the choice btween it and the Canon 35 1.4L. Glad I did. I have used it extensively on both 5D MkII and 5D MkIII with no problems. It is exceptionally sharp and has excellent build quality. In use it feels good the focus ring being smooth and well damped. The auto focus is quick and when I did my normal check to see if the lens had either back or front focus error, I found it had neither irrespective of which camera it was fitted to. The only downside is that it does not have the weather sealing of the Canon L lens but this is a minor point as far as I am concerned.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
WolfyWho
By WolfyWho (9 months ago)

I've been contemplating purchasing this lens for some time because of it's quality and great price of $899. I'm glad I waited because I got in on an Amazon.com Lightning Deal the other day and purchased it for only $699. WOW!

0 upvotes
InTheMist
By InTheMist (8 months ago)

That's a great deal. I paid full price and even then it's worth every penny.

2 upvotes
gregvett
By gregvett (3 months ago)

What is an Amazon lightning deal???? thanks... Greg

0 upvotes
munro harrap
By munro harrap (9 months ago)

"The focus ring is nicely damped and operates smoothly. It rotates in "Canon" style, however, which is the exact opposite of how the focus ring works on Nikkor lenses. If you're used to the Nikon way of manual focusing, the Sigma lens may be a challenge for your muscle memory. And you'll also have to remember that the focus assist in the viewfinder assumes a Nikon lens and consequently suggest the wrong direction of focus ring movement."

This is from the Photozone review, and yes, it makes a crucial difference.If you make a lens for a camera it has to relate to the requirements of that camera system, so Nikon users buy Sigma at their peril, unfortunately, because we are definitely missing out on suitable machinery. There's the new 24-105mm F4 Art, as well as the 35mm F1.4 and the 18-35mm F1.8 (very useful if you have a D7100 that gets noisy at 400 and above.)

0 upvotes
Cemal
By Cemal (10 months ago)

I bought one of these lenses to photograph ballet performance/practice/rehearsal sessions in dimly lit theatrical settings. Focusing was frustratingly slow, after each attempt to use it I ended up switching to my Canon 24-105 which had no problems whatsoever focusing. My camera is Canon 5D M3. I really wanted to like this lens, but alas I ended up returning to the retailer after several days of tries.

0 upvotes
Stealthy Ninja
By Stealthy Ninja (Sep 11, 2013)

I bought one of these just after hearing Roger Cicala say he was surprised how good it was... it was just out, so I was taking a little bit of a risk (it was this or the Canon 35 1.4L). I'm so happy I took that risk. This lens is my favourite lens I've owned.

2 upvotes
VINAPIX
By VINAPIX (Sep 8, 2013)

I was deciding between the Nikon and the Sigma. Talk to a friend and he said "If you really want the Nikon, buy his Nikon 35mm 1.4g and he will buy the Sigma."

Went out and bought the lens and I am so happy.

2 upvotes
VINAPIX
By VINAPIX (Sep 8, 2013)

Just bought one last week. All I can say is WOW. The sharpest lens I own. Tested from 2 ft to infinity. Left & right outer focus points - Flawless!

3 upvotes
dpreviewg
By dpreviewg (Sep 3, 2013)

i've read of focus issues for the sigma 35mm 1.4 on the newer canon full frames on amazon reviews.

Comment edited 54 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Stealthy Ninja
By Stealthy Ninja (Sep 11, 2013)

No problems on my 1Dx.

3 upvotes
Apewithacamera
By Apewithacamera (Aug 31, 2013)

I just bought one! :)

0 upvotes
fakuryu
By fakuryu (Aug 30, 2013)

Probably and currently the best 35mm in the market and not one single comment

2 upvotes
Total comments: 13