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Review of the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art Lens

20 Mar
Review of the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art Lens

Portrait sample using the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art lens.

Last summer I had the opportunity to test out the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art lens and review it for dPS. I absolutely loved the lens, so when the opportunity arose to try Sigma’s 85mm f/1.4 Art lens, I jumped at the chance.

I continue to be excited by Sigma’s lineup of Art lenses, as they offer incredible image quality for a great price. Several of my photographer friends were singing this lens’s praises since it began shipping, so I was eager to see if it lived up to its reputation.

Review of the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art Lens

The Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM A

First Impressions of the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art Lens

As a Nikon shooter, I tested the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art lens in a Nikon mount. The first thing I noticed about this lens is that it is an absolute beast. The lens is 3.7 inches wide by 5 inches long (94.7mm x 126.2mm), and weighs in at a whopping two and a half pounds (1113 g / 39.3 oz.)!  Compare this to Canon’s 85mm f/1.2L II lens, which weighs in at four ounces lighter and is more than an inch and a half shorter. The filter thread is 86mm, compared to 72mm for the Canon one. For another comparison, Nikon’s 85mm f/1.4G is also more than an inch and a half shorter and 2/10 of an inch slimmer, weighs more than a pound less than the Sigma at 595 g / 21oz.), and accepts a 77mm filter.

Specs

The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art lens consists of 14 elements in 12 groups, featuring two low dispersion SLD elements and an aspherical element to help reduce chromatic aberration. The construction of the lens feels as solid as other Sigma Art lenses I’ve used. The metal barrel has a nice finished look, the switches and focusing ring have a high quality feel to them and they are easily located when looking through the viewfinder. The ribbed rubber focusing ring takes up a large portion of the lens barrel and provides a long, smooth throw, perfect for manually focusing if you desire.

There is rubber sealing around the lens mount to protect against dust and moisture, as well as oil repellent coatings on the front and rear elements. Sigma also states that the lens’s hypersonic motor (HSM) has 1.3x more torque than its predecessor, allowing the lens to focus faster. Minimum focus distance is 33.3 inches, similar to competitors’ lenses.

Review of the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art Lens

The Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM A

Fast glass

The fast maximum aperture of the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art makes this lens a workhorse for many applications. At f/1.4, you’re getting a lot of light through the lens and onto the imaging sensor, making it ideal for low light situations. In addition, that fast aperture allows for use of lower ISOs, helping to minimize noise. Finally, working at wider apertures such as f/1.4 mean you can force your viewer to look exactly where you want by creating images with extremely shallow depth of field.

Accessories

The lens ships with a high quality padded soft case, ideal for transporting the lens. Sigma also provides a sizable plastic hood, ideal for helping to eliminate lens flare off the sizable front element. The hood locks into place securely and offers good protection from impact as well.

The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art lens is compatible with Sigma’s USB dock, which helps facilitate the updating of firmware, lens calibration, or other customizations such as focus parameters. Unfortunately, I was not provided with the USB dock for this review. My first time shooting with the lens I found it to front focus quite a bit. This was corrected by using my Nikon D810’s AF Fine Tune feature, but in my 25 years in photography, that’s a feature I’ve never had to use before, so I was a little put off by the need to do so.

In Practical Use

Once the AF issues were corrected, the lens was awesome to use. The autofocus was fast and quiet and the lens was tack sharp. The beauty of a portrait lens at f/1.4 is the ability to blur the background way out of focus and have the sharp areas of the image really jump out at you. This made the initial front-focusing issues all the more of a problem because when you photograph using such shallow depth of field if you miss your focus, you really miss it! It’s imperative that you’re precise and that the lens can be counted on to focus where you tell it to.  See this article I wrote: Fast Glass: Tips for Working With Wide Aperture Lenses for more that.

The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art is an excellent portrait lens. The bokeh is buttery smooth and the contrast and sharpness make for a beautiful look to the image straight out of the camera. Repeatability of focus was a bit of an issue at times, and I occasionally had to refocus the lens when taking multiple shots at the same distance.  While for me it wasn’t a major problem, it’s worth noting when you may need to work under greater pressure than what I was facing in my test shoots.

Portrait sample with the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 art lens.

Portrait sample with the Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art lens.

Other applications

The lens does exhibit some focus breathing when changing focus from one distance to another. Focus breathing is where objects in the image become more or less magnified as the focus is changed. This won’t be a major problem for still shooters unless you are focus stacking, but for video shooters, this may be a slight cause for concern, especially when doing drastic focus pulls.

While I did not have a chance to use the lens under these circumstances, I was struck by how quickly the lens focused and thought it would have made an excellent lens for photographing sports such as basketball, back in my sports photography days. In addition, the excellent image quality and wide aperture mean the lens can be used in many other situations. Those include; landscape photography, when either a moderate telephoto focal length is needed, or when photographing a flower, tree, or another object when you want a shallow depth of field to blur the background or foreground.

Wildlife Example Using Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art

Wildlife example shot with the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art lens. Photo courtesy Dennis Clark / dennisaclark.com

Pros

When properly calibrated, the lens is tack sharp and provides stellar image quality. Build quality is outstanding, and the lens felt good in my hands. The autofocus was fast and smooth, as well as quiet. Image quality was outstanding.

Price-wise, the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art lens is a bargain, comparatively speaking. The Nikon 85mm f/1.4G retails for $ 1599, while Canon’s 85mm f/1.2L lists for $ 1899 (at the time of writing this review). At $ 1199, the Sigma provides outstanding image quality at quite a bit less than its competitors. The lens is available in Nikon, Canon, or Sigma mounts.

Portrait sample using the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art lens

Portrait sample using the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art lens.

Cons

This lens is heavy. Combined with a pro body, you could be lifting almost 6 pounds every time you take a shot. For wedding and portrait photographers who might want to use this lens a good portion of their workday, that means a lot of heavy lifting and arm fatigue after a while.

Also, there is no image stabilization on the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art. While neither Nikon nor Canon offers image stabilization on their fast 85mm offerings, it should be noted that Tamron’s SP 85mm f/1.8 lens, while a stop slower, does have that feature. That allows the lens to be handheld at shutter speeds slower than could be achieved with the Sigma at 85mm f/1.4.

 

Summary

The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art lens is an outstanding value that provides incredible image quality at a good price. While I would prefer it to be a bit small and lighter, there’s no denying that the bottom line for image makers is image quality and the Sigma delivers that. Four stars.

Review of the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art Lens

Portrait example using the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art

 

Review of the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art Lens

Another portrait example using the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art

Review of the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art Lens

Portrait example using the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art lens.

Review of the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art Lens

Nature example using the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art. Photo courtesy Dennis Clark / dennisaclark.com

The post Review of the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art Lens by Rick Berk appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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CP+ 2017: Ricoh teases upcoming D FA* 50mm F1.4

24 Feb

CP+ 2017: Ricoh teases upcoming D FA* 50mm F1.4

Ricoh has added two prime lenses to its full-frame lens roadmap for the Pentax K-1: the forthcoming D FA* 50mm F1.4 and 85mm F1.4. Although details are scant, we did sneak a peek at the 50mm, which was showcased in a plexiglass box on the show floor.

Here it is – the forthcoming D FA* 50mm F1.4 ‘reference lens’.

CP+ 2017: Ricoh teases upcoming D FA* 50mm F1.4

If you look closely at the gold ring on the lens barrel, a strip of tape has been used to cover up some lettering, after the lens name. We wonder whether it conceals ‘WR’. We’d expect flagship primes to be weather-sealed, but it’s possible that this aspect of the specification has yet to be finalized.

CP+ 2017: Ricoh teases upcoming D FA* 50mm F1.4

Although this appears to be a cosmetically (more or less) final lens, it stayed firmly under plexiglass. We asked really nicely, but this was as close as we could get. 

CP+ 2017: Ricoh teases upcoming D FA* 50mm F1.4

Designed to cover a full-frame imaging circle, the 50mm and 85mm primes will, according to Ricoh, deliver ‘high-contrast images and [a] beautiful bokeh (defocus) effect’.

CP+ 2017: Ricoh teases upcoming D FA* 50mm F1.4

The FA* denotes flagship, reference lenses, which should represent the pinnacle of image quality for the K-mount when they are eventually released. 

CP+ 2017: Ricoh teases upcoming D FA* 50mm F1.4

We’ll add more details (and images) if we can persuade someone to lift up the box and show us the lens at close quarters, but for now, here’s a picture of a Pentax KP that’s been cut in half, just to tide you over.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Pentax announces development of 50mm F1.4, adds lenses to K-mount roadmap

23 Feb

Pentax is displaying a prototype version of a new 50mm F1.4 for K-mount at CP+ 2017, and has also added an 85mm F1.4 and an unspecified telephoto zoom to their roadmap.

Press Release

RICOH to Exhibit One Reference Product at CP? 2017 Camera and Imaging Show

TOKYO, February 22, 2017 ?RICOH COMPANY, LTD and RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD. is pleased to inform the exhibition of one reference product — interchangeable lens currently under development — at CP + 2017 , one of the largest and most comprehensive camera and imaging show in Asia. This annual event will be held from February 23rd to February 26th at the PACIFICO YOKOHAMA convention center in Japan.

Reference of Products
Interchangeable lens for PENTAX K mount digital cameras
Model name: D FA?50mmF1.4(tentative)
Product information:
?An image circle accommodating the image size of 35mm full-frame digital cameras
?High-performance Star (?)-series lens with high-resolution , high-contrast images and beautiful bokeh (defocus) effect
?Price: Not decided
?Market launch: Not decided
Notes:
Model name, design, specification are all tentative and subject to change without notice. Price and marketing launch date will be announced at later date.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Has a new champion been crowned? Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art lens review

08 Feb

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 usefully 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 FLD glass elements (low-distortion glass with fluorite-like performance)
  • 1 Aspherical SLD 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 FLD glass elements and 1 Aspherical SLD 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.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Leica Summilux-SL 50mm F1.4 sample gallery

06 Feb

The full-frame Leica SL is no lightweight, and neither is its fast, normal prime. The Summilux-SL 50mm F1.4 is one of three lenses in its range, complemented by 24-90mm and 90-280mm F2.8-4 zooms. It went on sale at the end of last year and a loaner copy has found its way into our hands – take a look at what it can do.

See our Leica Summilux-SL 50mm F1.4 ASPH sample gallery

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Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art DxO results: a new king is crowned

03 Feb

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DxO just published its score for the Nikon mount Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM A. Drumroll please: it received the highest score ever for a lens on DxO, a 50 when mounted to a D810 and a 51 when mounted to the D800E. What’s even more impressive is that it actually scored a perfect 36 P-Mpix for image sharpness on a D810, which has a 36MP sensor.

That’s pretty incredible. We know that sharpness isn’t everything when it comes to shooting portraits, but you have to admire the sheer feat of engineering that Sigma was able to accomplish with this lens. 

See our Sigma Art 85mm F1.4
sample gallery

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art sample gallery updated

25 Jan

The Sigma Art 85mm F1.4 DG HSM is one impressive piece of glass. We’ve got a number of portraits in our gallery, but we wanted to see how it fared in the streets too. In this update you’ll find a collection of street, architecture and cityscape photography.

See our Sigma Art 85mm F1.4
sample gallery

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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New Leica SL firmware improves tethered shooting, SL 50mm F1.4 goes on sale

14 Dec

German photo brand Leica has announced new firmware for its full frame SL mirrorless camera, making it fully compatible with the latest version of the company’s tethered shooting and remote control applications. Firmware 2.2 bolsters the camera’s ability to operate with both Leica Image Shuttle 3.5 for Mac and Windows, as well as Tethered Plug-in 1.1.0 for Mac. Image Shuttle is the company’s application for controlling the camera remotely, while Tethered Plug-in allows images to be drawn directly into Adobe’s Lightroom when connected via a USB cable.

The firmware also removes the restriction on long shutter speeds for those using 6-bit M lenses with the M-Adapter T/SL, as well as some mystery improvements to the camera that are not specified.

The company has also today released the Summilux-SL 50mm F1.4 ASPH for sale. Announced alongside the SL itself the lens should offer a very slightly more compact alternative to the 24-90mm F2.8-4 and 90-280mm F2.8-4 zoom lenses the company has released so far. It costs $ 5295/£4080.

For more information visit the Leica website.

Press release:

Firmware update 2.2 for Leica SL with improved support for Leica Image Shuttle software and Leica Summilux-SL 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. lens – available today

Leica Camera has released Firmware Update 2.2 for the Leica SL mirrorless system camera, improving support for the Mac versions of Leica Image Shuttle 3.5 and Tethered Plug-in 1.1.0., as well as supporting the new Microsoft Windows version of Leica Image Shuttle 3.5.

Registered Leica SL owners can download the new software and firmware updates from the Leica Owners’ Area (https://owners.leica-camera.com) or take their camera to their local Leica Store or Leica Customer Care in the UK for a complimentary installation.

Leica Image Shuttle 3.5 improves workflow efficiency for tethered shooting with the Leica SL and allows the camera to be controlled from a computer via a USB 3.0 cable connection. All relevant exposure parameters such as shutter speed, aperture, ISO value and autofocus can be set and controlled from the computer, and exposures can be displayed directly on a large monitor screen for assessment.

The Leica Tethered Plug-in 1.1.0 (for Mac) – also available as a download from the Leica Owners’ Area – establishes a direct connection between the Leica SL and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 / CC for Mac via USB cable. The camera’s shutter release can be activated from the plug-in and the images captured can be displayed directly in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 / CC (for Mac), making the workflow even faster and more reliable. The corresponding firmware update is required for the use of Leica Image Shuttle and the Leica Tethered Plug-in.

Firmware update 2.2 also removes the shutter speed limitation when shooting with 6-bit coded Leica M-Lenses, while further optimising the performance of the Leica SL system.

Available from today, the Leica Summilux-SL 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. is the first prime lens for the Leica SL-System and sets a new standard in its class. Its large maximum aperture makes this high-performance lens ideal for photography in challenging lighting conditions, and enables the use of shallow depth of focus as a creative tool. Furthermore, the fast, precise and reliable autofocusing ensures that photographers can concentrate fully on composition and creativity. The lens’ combination of resolving power and soft bokeh in unsharp areas clearly isolates subjects from their background, particularly when shooting at maximum aperture.

For additional product specifications, please visit: Leica Summilux-SL 50mm f/1.4 ASPH.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Lensrentals tears down the Nikon 105mm F1.4

03 Dec

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The folks at Lensrentals had high hopes for the construction of Nikon’s new ultra-fast 105mm F1.4, and in some many ways were satisfied with what they saw inside the lens. Take a look at a few images from the process above, and head to Lensrentals’ blog for the full teardown. It’s well worth your time as Roger Cicala picks a bone with Nikon’s marketing department, identifies the lens-repair equivalent of ‘crossing the streams’ and ultimately offers a look inside a very high quality, well-made lens.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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It’s finally here: Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art sample gallery

15 Nov

The Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art is finally here, with units of the $ 1199 lens shipping now. The big question, almost as big as the lens itself: is it worth the wait? And, is it worth the weight? To find out, we wasted no time taking it out to shoot some portraits. Lots and lots of portraits.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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