New Sigma observation

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
anotherMike Forum Pro • Posts: 10,042
Re: New Sigma observation

I'd disagree on quite a bit of what you typed.

First off, the "length" from front element to sensor is not a "given"; it depends on the design.

Second, within the realm of 85mm lenses, the best, still today, in terms of wide open sharpness and control of color aberrations, is the Zeiss Otus 85mm F/1.4, which has, you guessed it, 86 mm filters. The Sigma 85 art was an attempt to approach/beat the Art (which it got pretty close to except for axial CA, where it fell down a bit), and as such, no surprise; to get that level of optical performance, they had to go with a wider/heavier/longer lens. Sigma was swinging for the fences, and while possibly they could have cut down on the size/weight and maintained image quality, they might not have been able to do so for the price. Yet if you've ever held/shot an Otus 85 (I have), well, it's a beast of a big lens too. In the traditional DSLR mounts, in order to get the really great image quality, there is no getting around it - you're going to have to use expensive glass (as the Otus does), have a lot of elements, and it's going to have some size to it. No shortcuts. I own the 85 art, and have shot the Otus, and while the art is damned good for the money, and ridiculously sharp, the Otus is even a notch better.

Software correction is frankly a crutch in many cases. In some, it's a viable tradeoff. I'd say that vignetting correction is reasonably harmless. A bit of distortion correction isn't horrible, but at some point, as Lloyd Chambers has noted, it tends to supress some of the image qualities. I don't personally like correction for the color domain aberrations and prefer lenses that optically as best as possible. Remember, we can't create what the lens didn't capture in the first place, we can only modify what it gave us. So for those of us looking at the edges of high image quality, and I understand not everyone is, the lens that doesn't rely on software correction is the better lens.

The advantages of the mirrorless mounts, more so Nikon than anyone else, is that the mount parameters give the designers more freedom to meet their design goals than the longer throw old F mount. That "advantage" can, or can not be used, or somewhere in between. Ultimately it should be possible to design better wide angles in the mirrorless ecosystem than in the DSLR realm, but only time will tell if it will or has occurred. Once we get to the mid telephotos - and an 85mm is such, the advantages go away a bit.

I haven't shot the new 85 art personally, not being a Sony owner. I've seen the samples, I've seen Dustin Abbotts review, and with large grains of salt on the table given I don't have personal experience with the lens, I'd say Sigma simply chose *different* trade offs than last time - it's not some sudden increasing of their capability - they just went with a slightly smaller/lighter 85mm that "beat" the original in some areas (axial CA for sure), but not in others - in all samples and the review, I found the originals image quality to have a bit more bite, more consistent across the frame resolution, and as such, given what I'd want out of an 85, this one doesn't frankly impress me enough to warrant further investigation. (This is unlike when I heard about the 35/1.2 Art mirrorless specific design, where I did chase down a Sony body to evaluate, and came away *very* impressed). I think it will of course appeal to those who want "good enough" at a smaller size/footprint, and that's absolutely valid too. I just don't see this lens as being any indicator of a "new Sigma" from a capability wise. Not at all.


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