A few weeks ago SIGMA announced their newest offerings to be released which included a 12-24F4 Art lens, a 500mmF4 Sports lens and the lens I myself have been waiting what feels like an eternity for; The Sigma 85F1.4 Art lens.
(Image courtesy of Roberts Camera’s Website)
First off, let me say that I am not paid for this review or overview of any Sigma products. Roberts Camera does not pay me, but they do loan me a camera to do this for us to publish the findings on my blog and their blog! That said, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got my loaner copy of the NEW Sigma 85F1.4 Art lens. I LOVE my Nikon 85F1.4D lens but it’s seen its fair share of miles the last 1o years or so that I’ve owned it. I never upgraded to Nikon’s newest AF-S 85F1.4 primarily due to cost (which was $2100 when it was released!). I knew that Sigma had been killing it with their primes and decided to wait and see what happened. Considering it’s now in my hands, and its list price is $1199 to be released soon? My wait was not in vain.
In regards to the lens let me just say: THIS THING IS HUGE. My emails with Sigma have confirmed I’m not the only one shocked by its size. Most of my lenses have a 77 mm filter on the front (except for the exotic stuff), but this Sigma? 86mm. This is the Sigma next to my trusty Nikon 85F1.4D.
Yea. It’s like that. If that’s not enough, here is a shot of the Sigma 85F1.4 Art with it’s hood attached to a 5D Mark II sitting on my 15″ Macbook Pro. Yowza!
Despite the lens’s size, it feels just as well built as all the other Sigmas I’ve tested recently. Gone are the days of Sigma lens barrels made of plastic. This lens is high quality metal and it feels like it. The focus ring moves exceptionally smoothly and the lens snaps to focus much faster than I expected, especially on the 5D Mark II that I’ve had it mounted to (which as you recall, is not a camera known for it’s autofocus). The 85F1.4 has a close-focus distance of just inside a meter as well, which is solid. I don’t know off-hand what my antique Nikon 85F1.4D lens’s close-focus distance is, but it’s a good distance that’s for sure. Now with that data out of the way, how is it?
(Canon 5D Mark II, NEW Sigma 85F1.4 Art, 1/5000th@F1.6@100ISO. Phottix Indra500 to camera on a 7′ Kupo Click Stand with a 14″x72″ Phottix Strip soft box set to 1/2 power. Indra triggered by Phottix ODIN 1 for Canon on the camera hot shoe).
Bloody marvelous. This was a 15 minute shoot (and 20 minutes struggling to assemble a soft box) in my friend John’s driveway. John graciously agreed to have his photo taken for this project. John is also quite the capable photographer, whom I’ve shot with several times as he is the Team photographer for the Indiana Fuel. I also knew John would love to look at Sigma’s new 85F1.4 so this made a great opportunity to catch up before hockey season, and to play around. The lens did not disappoint me one bit in regards to sharpness while wide open. Did I test the lens at a variety of different apertures? Not really. I shot a couple shots at F5.6 and F10, but I don’t buy a F1.4 lens for its ability to shoot at F5.6 or F10. I buy them to shoot in the F1.4-F2 range so that’s what I did.
(Canon 5D Mark II, NEW Sigma 85F1.4 Art. 1/4000th@F1.4 at 100ISO. Phottix Indra500 to camera on a 7′ Kupo Click Stand with a 14″x72″ Phottix Strip soft box set to 1/4 power. Indra triggered by Phottix ODIN 1 for Canon on the camera hot shoe).
Here’s another shot of John in his driveway. Even at distance the 5D Mark II was able to keep this new 85F1.4 in focus significantly more than not. Even in ambient light, the thing had very few misses.
(Canon 5D Mark II, NEW Sigma 85F1.4 Art. 1/100th@F1.4 at 100ISO.)
That’s Nick. Any of you folks call into Roberts Camera to buy something likely you’ve talked to him before. He was at Roberts when I went to pick up the 5D Mark II, and he couldn’t resist seeing the 85. I don’t blame him, I was excited and the camera locked right onto him for what was 2 snaps to create the image above. While I don’t like the 5D Mark II, I must say I was impressed with how the lens grabbed quickly even under the fluorescents of Roberts Camera’s mail order department. Even Cheeto was impressed at the sharpness and speed at which the 85 Worked.
(Canon 5D Mark II, NEW Sigma 85F1.4 Art. 1/800th@F1.4 at 250ISO.)
(Canon 5D Mark II, NEW Sigma 85F1.4 Art, 1/125th@F1.4. 50ISO. Phottix Indra500 on a Manfrotto 13′ Stacker stand to camera left up about 9′ with a Phottix Luna Folding beauty dish attached. Indra set to 1/16th power from the Phottix ODIN 1 For Canon on the hot shoe.)
So in a word am I impressed? YES. Is the lens everything I thought it would be? YES. Is it more? I think so. Why do I think so? Because it’s on a 5D Mark II. At one time the 5D2 was a mecca of technology (except for the AF which came directly from the 5D1). I briefly had the lens on a 5D Mark III and it autofocused even faster, but was it anymore accurate? I don’t know. That said, if it’s just as accurate on a 5D3 as it is on the 5D2 (and there is no reason to believe it wouldn’t be) this is a no-brainer. I’m not sure when it’s expected to hit stores for Canon or Nikon, but one thing I can tell you is that I’m going to have Roberts put me on the list for one. The wait is finally over for Sigma’s highly anticipated 85F1.4 Art and it does not disappoint. If you are thinking about getting one, you should pre-order one over at Roberts Camera. They are good people and will do you right.
Keep on the lookout for more soon because tomorrow I drop the Canon 5D Mark II off, but I’m picking up a Canon 1DX.