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Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM review

December 2012 | By Andy Westlake

At Photokina 2012, Sigma announced a reorganization of its lens lineup into three categories - 'Contemporary' covering lightweight, flexible zooms, 'Sports' for larger telephoto lenses, and 'Art' for a wide range of optics aimed at serious photographers, including ultra-wideangles, macros and fast primes. At the same time the company announced three new lenses, one in each class, with the 35mm F1.4 DG HSM as the first release in the Art category. It's designed as a high-quality alternative to the camera manufacturers' equivalents at a substantially lower cost; even at its ca. £800 / $900 launch price, it's a tempting proposition compared to Canon, Nikon and Sony's offerings, which all sell for upwards of £1000 / $1300.

Despite this, the Sigma gives up nothing in terms of ambition when it comes to optical design. Its 13 element, 11 group construction is the most complex in its class, and includes no fewer than four elements made from Super-Low Dispersion (SLD) glass, along with one formed from fluorite-like 'F' Low Dispersion (FLD) glass, and two aspheric elements. According to Sigma this allows the minimization of an array of aberrations including both longitudinal and lateral chromatic aberration, astigmatism, and field curvature.

The lens also incorporates an ultrasonic-type HyperSonic Motor for fast, quiet autofocus with full-time manual override. This drives a floating inner focus system, that's designed to maintain high image quality at all subject distances. The aperture diaphragm uses nine curved blades for the attractive rendition of background blur, and Super-Multi-Layer Coating is employed to minimise flare and ghosting. As the icing on the cake, Sigma says each lens will be individually inspected before leaving the factory, using a measuring system based on its own high-resolution Foveon sensor.

This clearly all adds up to an impressive-sounding package. But make no mistake the Sigma is up against very strong competition, with the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM, Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G, and Sony 35mm F1.4 G all very highly regarded within their respective lineups. This type of lens is a significant investment too, and mainly bought by professionals or serious amateurs demanding excellent image quality and flawless operation. Let's see if the Sigma can deliver on these requirements.

Headline features

  • 35mm focal length
  • Fast F1.4 maximum aperture; F16 minimum
  • Hypersonic Motor (HSM) focusing with full-time manual override
  • 0.3m closest focus, offering 0.19x magnification
  • Available for Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sigma and Sony mounts

Angle of view

The pictures below illustrate the angle of view on full frame and APS-C. On full frame the 35mm offers a moderate wideangle; on APS-C it behaves as a slightly long 'normal' lens.

Full frame 1.6x APS-C (56mm equivalent)

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM specifications

 Price  • $900 (US)
 • £800 (UK)
 Date introduced  September 2012
 Maximum format size  35mm full frame
 Focal length  35mm
 35mm equivalent focal length
 • 52.5mm (1.5x APS-C / DX)
 • 56mm (1.6x Canon APS-C)
 Diagonal Angle of view  • 63º (full frame)
 • 44º (APS-C)
 Maximum aperture  F1.4
 Minimum aperture  F16
 Lens Construction  • 13 elements / 11 groups
 • 4 SLD glass element
 • 1 FLD glass element
 • 2 aspherical elements
 Number of diaphragm blades  9, rounded
 Minimum focus  0.3m
 Maximum magnification  0.19x
 AF motor type  • Ring-type Hypersonic Motor
 • Full-time manual focus
 Focus method  Internal
 Image stabilization  • No
 Filter thread  • 67mm
 • Does not rotate on focus
 Supplied accessories*  • Front and rear caps
 • Petal-type Hood LH730-03
 • Soft lens case
 Weight  665 g (23.5 oz)
 Dimensions 77 mm diameter x 94 mm length
(3.0 x 3.7 in)
 Lens Mount Canon, Nikon, Pentax (KAF3), Sigma, Sony

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X, Y, and Z and ideally A, B, and C.

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Total comments: 21

Just received my second copy (for Nikon) of this lens. First one had inaccurate Focus (needed a camera internal adjustment of +15) and it still had random front and backfocus. Really annyoing. The second copy of the lens (+14) is a bit better but still not very accurate. Has the same random focus issue when doing the focus test on a tripod. In a real life scenario it feels better though. Wenn it hits it is very very sharp and shows barely any optical flaws even at f1.4 (despite vignetting). It is really incredibly sharp at its widest aperture and when stopped down slightly it becomes surreal sharp. Very nice. Such a pity the focus isn't too accurate with this lens.

p.S. A badly adjusted AF wouldn't be that bad if it is constant. You could adjust it with the "dock". This "random back and front focus" problem though can't be solved with adjustment. It is a quality control or design flaw.

My frustrated score for this lens would be *** but if it works it's better than that!


i got mine yesterday but focusing doesnt feel right. I tried setting up tripod with d7200 and fine tune the AF but still not very confident about the focus. Should i try anything else?


Thanks for the review. I've purchased it after reading good reviews here. My first test shots:



How is this with long exp? Like night images and such?

And, will this be better to use on crop than the 50mm A?


The 50mm A on crop will bi very narrow! I'd get the 35mm Sigma.

If you shoot Nikon, I'd get the 200$ 35mm 1.8 DX though. I don't know the Canon equivalent.


i got one!! crazy images at 1.4


Recent owner of it, very solid and sharp. I'm not sure i like the contrast of it that much over other lenses but it's a great over all lense.
I know it's short-ish focal length so I guess I should have low expectations in the Bokeh department but I do not like the Bokeh on it. Great wide open editorial style shots.

No noticeable distortion and overall CA/Moire not noticeable either.

Nikon D800E


This lens is extremely amazing! It's sharp as hell! I just recently bought this lens 4 months ago, it focuses really fast.

Nevertheless, I would just like to share and ask for your thoughts about the problem I encountered a two weeks ago. I first tested the AF button on my Canon 6D, I was on AI Servo, the lens was on AF mode and at f1.4. When I started shooting a moving object, the Aperture's iris suddenly locked to the minimum aperture. It temporarily unable to focus, the view finder was dark due to the constricted iris. It was a relief and the Iris went to normal operation when I removed the lens from the body, but after several testings and using higher aperture f4 - f8 on multiple shots (not using the AF back button), I again, encountered the same problem. Now, I have been having the same issue every time I use higher aperture on AF mode.

Appreciate your thoughts and feedback.

Note: The lens is still in its' 1 year warranty period.

Thanks for reading.


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

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 Lightning Deal the other day and purchased it for only $699. WOW!


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


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

munro harrap

"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.)


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.

Stealthy Ninja

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.


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.


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!


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
Stealthy Ninja

No problems on my 1Dx.

unknown member
By (unknown member) (Aug 31, 2013)

I just bought one! :)


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

Total comments: 21