Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM review
The 35mm F1.4 DG HSM marks a new direction for Sigma in terms of design and build quality. Cosmetically it's unlike any of the company's previous optics, with an all-metal barrel that uses mainly a matte finish, but with a more-glossy section next to the mount. A small inlaid silver plaque with the letter 'A' denotes that it's part of Sigma's new 'Art' line.
The broad manual focus ring occupies the front of the barrel, and turns smoothly - it doesn't rotate during autofocus, which is always welcome. The auto/manual focus mode switch on the side of the barrel is unusually generously-sized, and a large area of the barrel's underside is ridged to provide a positive grip when changing lenses. These thoughtful little touches help make the lens a pleasure to use.
There's really nothing to complain about here in terms of fit and finish either, which feels superb. The lens looks attractive too, which is utterly non-essential but still always a bonus. One possible concern, depending on your needs, is that the lens isn't weathersealed (unlike its Nikon counterpart).
Key specifications compared to other 35mm F1.4 SLR lenses
The table below compares the Sigma's key specifications to its main competitors. All offer minimum apertures of F16 or F22, and minimum focus distances of about 0.3m.
|Focus||AF||AF||AF||AF||Manual only||Manual only|
|AF motor|| Ring-type
|Filter dia||• 67mm||• 72mm||• 67mm||• 55mm||• 77mm||• 72mm|
|• No||• No||• Yes||• No||• No||• No|
|Available mounts|| • Canon
|• Canon||• Nikon||• Sony|| • Canon
• Four Thirds
• Samsung NX
| • Canon
On the camera
The Sigma is a fairly chunky optic, indeed it's the heaviest and physically longest of all autofocus 35mm F1.4s. Despite this it balances well on larger SLRs, and is perhaps most at home on mid-size full frame bodies such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Nikon D800 or Sony SLT-A99. On small APS-C SLRs like the Canon EOS 650D shown right, the overall balance shifts much more towards the lens itself. But with a normal grip supporting the lens with your left hand, this really isn't a problem.
The 35mm uses Sigma's Hypersonic Motor for autofocus. For normal eye-level shooting we've found our Canon-mount copy to perform very well, offering fast, silent and positive focusing. We've seen no evidence for systematic focus errors on test bodies ranging form the entry-level EOS 650D to the top-of-the-line EOS-1Ds Mark III, either. As always, though, it must be noted that focus speed and accuracy is dependent upon a number of variables, including the camera body used, subject contrast, and light levels.
Switch from the optical viewfinder to live view, though, and the story changes. Focusing slows down considerably, although the exact speed will be highly dependent on the camera used. It's still pretty quiet, but if you refocus during movie recording, the clicking of the AF motor as it fine-tunes focus might be audible on your soundtrack in quieter conditions.
Lens body elements
|The lens comes in Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sigma and Sony versions; our review sample was in the Canon EF mount.
One point worthy of note is that there's no rubber seal around the mount, or any other specific claim of weathersealing, in contrast to the more-expensive Canon and Nikon equivalents.
|The filter thread is 67mm, and due to the lens's internal focus design it doesn't rotate on focusing. This means filters such as polarisers and neutral density gradients are much easier to use.|
|The bayonet-mount hood is provided as standard, and clicks positively into place on the front of the lens. It's made from thick plastic, and features ribbed moldings on the inside to minimize reflections of stray light into the lens. Sigma has even added a ribbed grip to make it easier to remove.
A discrete grey mark aids alignment for mounting, and the hood reverses neatly for storage.
|The focus ring has a 25mm-wide ridged rubber grip, and rotates 90 degrees clockwise from infinity to 0.30m, matching Canon and Sony lenses but opposite to those from Pentax and Nikon. Its action is nice and smooth, and it doesn't rotate on autofocus.|
|The lens has a basic distance scale, with depth-of-field indicators for the minimum aperture of F16 only. Note that these are calibrated for use on full frame cameras; on APS-C the extremes of the indicated range won't appear as sharp.|
|The large, positive focus mode switch is prominently placed on the side of the barrel. When set to AF a white inlay is visible behind it; switch to MF and the other side is black. This provides a quick visual cue to confirm the focus mode, that's easier to see in dark conditions.|
|A generous 31mm-wide ridged grip covers most of the underside of the barrel, and provides positive handling when changing lenses.|
|A small silver inlay on the barrel denotes that the 35mm F1.4 is part of Sigma's new 'Art' line of lenses.|
|Sigma's redesign exercise extends to offering new front and rear caps. The chunky front cap has deep centre-pinch grips, that make it particularly easy to remove or replace with the lens hood in position.|
A rising number of multi-camera designs means that sensor suppliers are struggling to meet increased demand.
Panasonic's Lumix DC-GX9 is a 20MP rangefinder-style mirrorless camera that aims to do a bit of everything. It borrows features from both the GX8 and the smaller GX80 / GX85, but does it strike the right balance?
Apparently, Huawei hasn't learned its lesson. Two years after passing off a DSLR image as a smartphone image, it's once again misleading consumers in a new, 30-second advertisement for its Novi 3 and 3i smartphones.
Nikon has posted teaser number five for its full-frame mirrorless system being announced in just three days. In this one, early users of the camera share their first impressions, and there's also a quick glimpse of an F-mount adapter.
It's not just the Seattle team celebrating ten years since the announcement of the first mirrorless system. Chris and Jordan have also been looking back at the camera that started it all: the Panasonic Lumix DMC G1.
On a hot and hazy afternoon, DPR staffer Carey Rose took the Panasonic Lumix GX9 and Lumix G Vario 35-100mm F2.8 lens to a neighborhood music festival to gather some impressions of the autofocus system. Here's what he found.
The European Imaging and Sound Association has announced the winners of its 2018-19 awards, with Sony doing particularly well and coming away with five of the eighteen prizes.
When it was introduced earlier this year, Google's new cloud storage service wasn't available to new customers. Now, anyone in the US can sign up for a Google One plan, starting at $2/month for 100GB of storage.
DJI has launched a new video teasing its upcoming launch event. The August 23 date is more than a month later than the original July 18 event date given by DJI back in June.
A veteran wildlife photographer and typically a Nikon shooter, Aaron Baggenstos took the Sony a9 on a recent trip to the Alaskan Wilderness. Find out his impressions of the camera and see some of the incredible images he was able to capture.
Parent company Longsys has announced that Lexar will be back "in full production" and shipping globally this fall.
Owners of V-mount Hasselblad lenses will now be able to use their modern and historic glass on the front of the Hasselblad X1D. The XV adapter hinted at late last year has now been officially announced and will cost €199 / $249 / £179.
Scottish whisky producer Macallen has teamed up with photographic cooperative Magnum Photos to create a single malt whisky in collaboration with Steve McCurry, Martin Parr, Paolo Pellegrin, Mark Power, Gueorgui Pinkhassov and Alec Soth.
The photography competition seeks "pictures that show the importance of health in society and the impact health issues have on people and communities worldwide."
Nikon has posted another teaser video for its upcoming full-frame mirrorless system featuring some classic Nikkor lenses. Perhaps the most notable thing about the video is the lens that's shown first...
Following the CES 2017 announcement of its revival, Kodak Alaris has started shipping test rolls of its new Ektachrome to photographers for beta testing.
Take an inside look at the work that goes into testing Nikon cameras from drops, dust, water and debris. There were definitely cameras harmed in the making of this video.
In a press release issued this morning, Sony announced it has sold more full-frame cameras than any other brand in the US over the past six months, measured both by units sold and by value.
Yuneec has introduced the Mantis Q, a consumer drone with an integrated 4K camera, electronic image stabilization and voice control.
The new 3 Legged Thing Patti is a compact tripod that doesn't break the bank.
Alex and Kathryn are photographers, friends and Tokyo residents who love exploring Japan's hidden cultural treasures. They each brought a Canon EOS M50 on a recent trip starting in bustling Tokyo and ending in the peaceful riverside town of Gujo Hachiman.
The triple-camera in Samsung's 2019 Galaxy S10 smartphone is expected to use three sensors with varying pixel counts.
Net SE, the parent company behind the likes of Oprema Jena, Meyer Optik Görlitz, Emil Busch, C.P. Goerz, Ihagee and A. Schacht products has filed for bankruptcy and removed itself from the German stock exchange.
Canon's latest 70-200mm F4L comes with a five stops of image stabilization, a new coat of paint and impressive sharpness. We've been shooting with our copy for several weeks now - see how it stacks up in our sample gallery.
Special 4K and 6K Photo modes may be one of the most under-appreciated features on recent cameras. In this week's episode, Chris and Jordan take a closer look at these modes and explain why – and when – you'll be glad to have them on your camera.
Ten years ago this month Panasonic and Olympus announced a new concept called Micro Four Thirds. We're now on the brink of full-frame mirrorless from at least one major player, so perhaps it's a good time to take a look back at where it all started – and how far we've come.
Ted Forbes of The Art of Photography breaks down five 'hacks' for organizing your camera equipment.
The City of Redding has published a series of aerial images showing the devastation caused by the ongoing Carr Fire in Shasta County, California.