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Buy on GearShopFrom $899.00

Conclusion - Pros

  • Superb optics that beat anything else in its class
  • Impressive flare resistance
  • Fast, silent, and accurate autofocus
  • Excellent build quality
  • Very competitive price

Conclusion - Cons

  • Slightly fussy rendition of out-of-focus backgrounds under some conditions
  • No weather sealing

Overall conclusion

Sigma has produced some really fine lenses over the past few years, including the 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM (which we liked a lot when we reviewed it in 2008) and the 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM. But the 35mm F1.4 DG HSM may possibly be its best yet. In fact it's one of those rare lenses for which finding any fault seems almost churlish, so good is its overall performance.

Let's start with the optics. It's remarkably sharp, even wide open, outperforming not only its Canon, Nikon and Sony equivalents, but also the far more expensive Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 1,4/35 in lab tests. Chromatic aberration is also impressively well controlled (both lateral and longitudinal), distortion is low and vignetting more-or-less typical for its class. The rendition of out-of-focus regions is generally quite attractive, although complex backgrounds can end up looking rather 'fussy'. The overall result, though, is a lens that delivers fine-looking images with the minimum of fuss, shot after shot.

There's nothing to complain about with regards to handling either. Focusing is fast, silent and positive, and we've found our Canon-mount test sample to be very accurate too (although this being an F1.4 prime, you've got to take great care over where you place your focus point). The manual focus ring is smooth and precise, and allows the focus position to be adjusted after autofocus. Several small-but-useful touches, such as a ridged grip on the underside of the barrel, and even a redesigned, unusually-positive centre-pinch front cap, all add to the usability. Sigma has clearly put a lot of thought into every aspect of the lens's design.

Equally, it's difficult to find fault with the build quality, which feels reassuringly solid. But one point to note is that Sigma doesn't describe the lens as weather-sealed, unlike its more expensive Nikon counterpart. So if this is particularly important to you, then the Sigma may not be the best choice. The aren't many other obvious reasons not to buy it (although Canon users who value image stabilisation over outright speed, perhaps for video work, should also consider the EF 35mm f/2 IS USM).

The Final Word

Every now and then we come across a camera or lens that hits a sweet spot of image quality, usability and price that makes it an easy recommendation. The Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM is just such a beast - it manages the impressive trick of being substantially cheaper than the camera manufacturers' equivalents while matching or beating them optically. If you're after a top quality fast prime at this focal length it should be right at the top of your short list, and it easily earns our top award.

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM
Category: Normal Lens
Optical Quality
Build Quality
Autofocus
Ergonomics and Handling
Value
PoorExcellent
Good for
Photographers looking for a top-notch, fast 35mm autofocus prime without breaking the bank.
Not so good for
Anyone who shoots a lot in damp or dusty conditions.
Overall score
89%
The Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM is a truly excellent lens, that performs as well in the field as its superb lab test results suggest. With fast silent focusing and solid build, its lower price makes it a compelling alternative to the camera manufacturers' equivalents if you don't need weather-sealing.

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Samples Gallery

There are 25 images in the review samples gallery and 19 images in the preview samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.

Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. Because our review images are now hosted on the 'galleries' section of dpreview.com, you can enjoy all of the new galleries functionality when browsing these samples.

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM review samples

25 images • posted 21st December 2012 • View album
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Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Preview Samples

23 images • posted 4th December 2012 • View album
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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