The Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art hasn't been on the market long, but it has already begun to make some serious waves. Lenstip and DxO have rated it the sharpest 85mm lens ever created, beating out even the legendary 85mm F1.4 Zeiss Otus, which isn't something that we take lightly. We were lucky enough to get our hands on the lens back in mid-November and we were very impressed to say the least, so much so that it took top honors for the 'Best Prime Lens of 2016' as chosen by our staff.

It has, without a doubt, been a pretty big topic of discussion not only amongst our staff members, but also amongst portrait photographers around the world. With that said we just had to get our hands on it to see how it really performs and to see how it holds up next to some very stiff competition at 85mm. The Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM is a very formidable competitor and arguably the best modern 85mm F1.4 on the market (behind the manual focus Zeiss Otus, of course). With that in mind, the question is; can the Sigma hold its own? Our review will answer that question and more.

APS-C   

With an equivalent focal length of 136mm and an equivalent aperture of F2.2, this lens can be used on an APS-C camera. Even with its slightly longer focal length, it does still fit into the focal range that's often used by portrait photographers and the fast aperture does allow for it to be used in low-light situations as well. However, its size, weight and price makes it worth considering 85mm F1.8 lenses instead.

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art headline features

  • F1.4 maximum aperture
  • 85mm max fixed focal range
  • 2 SLD glass elements
  • 1 aspherical element
  • Canon EF, Nikon (FX) and Sigma SA Bayonet mounts

Specifications Compared

  Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art
 MSRP $1800.00  $1199.00
 Lens Type Prime Prime
 Focal Length 85mm  85mm 
 Filter Thread 77mm 86mm
Image Stabilization No No
Lens Mount  Sony FE Canon EF, Nikon (FX), Sigma SA Bayonet 
Aperture Ring Yes (w/ d-click feature) No
Maximum Aperture  F1.4 F1.4
Minimum Aperture F16  F16
Minimum Focus  0.80 m (31.5″) 0.85 m (33.46″)
Diaphragm Blades  11 9
Elements  11  14
Groups  8 12
Special Elements/Coatings  1 'Extreme Aspherical' element, 3 ED elements and 'Nano AR' coating 2 SLD glass elements and 1 Aspherical element
Autofocus  Yes Yes
Motor Type  Ring-type Supersonic Wave Ring-type Hypersonic
Full Time Manual  Yes Yes
Focus Method  Internal Internal
Distance Scale  No Yes 
DoF Scale  No Yes
Full Weather Sealing  Yes No (dust and splash proof)
Weight 820g (1.81 lb) 1131g (2.49 lb) 
Dimensions  108 mm (4.23″) x 90mm (3.52″) 126mm (5.0") x 95mm (3.7")
Hood  Yes ( ALC-SH142) Yes

As you can see the lenses are fairly different in terms of build and design. The Sony 85mm has a manual aperture ring that can not only function on its own, but the aperture can also be adjusted with the camera by switching the ring to 'A'. This ring also features a special de-click feature for smooth, silent aperture changes while shooting video. The Sigma 85mm lacks the weather sealing that the Sony has and there's also a fairly substantial difference in size and weight as the Sony 85mm is a fair bit smaller and lighter. The price point is one area of the where the Sigma really prevails over the Sony, on paper, at least.

Specifications are fun to look at, but the real question is how do these lenses perform? Read on, to find out.