35 mm 1.4 which would you get?

Started Sep 22, 2013 | Discussions thread
anotherMike Veteran Member • Posts: 8,861
Re: 35 mm 1.4 which would you get?

Generally an easy answer although it may depend on what you shoot: The Sigma 35/1.4

A little history: I've shot Nikon since the mid 70's, have shot more than 40 Nikon lenses in that time, and I like Nikon glass. Prior to the Sigma 35/1.4, there was no way I would have owned a Sigma - didn't like their earlier lenses, don't like their 50, don't like their 85. But since the son has taken over the reigns at Sigma and concentrated on doing some world class lenses, things have apparently have changed. I had a Nikon 35/1.4G which I loved on my D700 but it wasn't quite performing as well as I had hoped in terms of edge/corner sharpness on my D800E, so I was looking for an improvement. I evaluated both the Zeiss 35/2 (very nice, a bit "fringy" though), and then right when I was about to seriously consider the Zeiss, I got to try out one of the first Sigma 35/1.4 in the US and I was impressed. Ended up buying the sample and after comparing, sold the Nikon. The Sigma is definitely and obviously sharper in the close to moderate distance ranges, where I feel it has been optimized (which is why you're not seeing it "beat" the Zeiss 35/1.4 in a comparison in another post - remember that lens performance often varies by distance range, so this has to be considered in your analysis).  The sigma is still very very good at infinity and long subject distances, but the *magnitude* of difference between it and the competitors is much less at distance than it is in the closer ranges. The Nikon simply got beat, particularly in the corners and edges at distance, and all over the place at what I'd call the studio distances. The Sigma is also considerably sharper at those first couple of apertures (1.4, 2).

HOWEVER - I shoot landscape and studio. I do NOT shoot street or near wide open event work. The Nikon 35/1.4G *does* have an advantage in terms of bokeh and OOF rendering and it's more flare resistant with better coatings than the Sigma. So this is where I might argue my own opinion - IF I were primarily a street shooter where I was more concerned with rendering and bokeh and tonal transition and because of this type of work (which is generally NOT all about sharpness), I would say I would actually prefer the Nikon 35/1.4G - one has to understand that in some forms of photography, "the best" in sharpness may not matter - hand held wide aperture work at lower shutter speeds where blur and focus would impede the maximum sharpness possible of the situation, but bokeh and flare resistance and rendering would be more important. So while I have personally made the choice for the Sigma because in the things I shoot (studio and landscape, never event, never street), its advantages are important, for someone who shoots wide or near wide open street, well, they may prefer the rendering and bokeh of the Nikon since in this type of work, absolute sharpness is not perhaps the primary goal.

As a note, when I had the 35/1.4G Nikon, I never had ANY AF issues at any distance; it was my "money" lens in terms of "get the shot without questioning it" on my D700 and even on the tweakier D800E AF system, it still did very well. Much better AF accuracy than my 24/1.4G; a lens I love but one whose AF issues wide open and near it can be frustrating.


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