Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art Review

November 15, 2016 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM is a new short telephoto prime lens for full-frame DSLR cameras. The Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM is comprised of 14 elements in 12 groups and features a rounded 9 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out of focus areas of the image. It has a Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) for smooth, quiet and accurate autofocusing, Super Multi-Layer Coating to reduce flare and ghosting, a minimum focusing distance of 85cm / 33.5in and a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:8.5. The Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM lens is currently available for £1099.99 / $1199.99 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

Weighing in at 1130 grams and measuring 12.6cm in length, the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM is a very big lens given its focal length, and signficantly larger and heavier than other standard 85mm lenses, with the exception of the Zeiss Otus 85mm F1.4. As seen in the photos below, it complements a full-frame camera like the Canon EOS 5DS R very well though, feeling well-balanced if a little heavy!

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM The Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM The Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM The Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM The Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM lens alongside a Canon EOS 5DS R

Build quality is excellent. The lens has a plastic shell with a mixture of metallic parts and a new compound material, TSC (Thermally Stable Composite), used inside. It also incorporates a brass bayonet mount that's supposed to be more durable. The optical elements are made of high-grade glass. The focus ring is very wide, nicely damped and ridged for easier grip.

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSMFront of the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Front of the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

In terms of features, the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM offers all the basics that you need from a prime lens. The main exception is the lack of built-in Vibration Reduction, although the very fast maximum aperture of f/1.4 helps to make up for this.

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSMFront of the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSMRear of the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

Focusing is usefully internal and manual focusing is possible when set via the Focus switch on the lens barrel. Full-time manual focus override is also available at any time simply by rotating the focus ring. A clear distance scale in both feet and meters runs from the closest focusing distance of 0.85m / 2.79ft to infinity.

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSMFront of the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSMRear of the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

The Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM ships with a good quality soft case and strap and also a large plastic petal-shaped lens hood. It accepts 86mm filters.

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSMThe Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM lens in-hand

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSMFront of the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM lens, with the supplied LH927-02 lens hood fitted

Focal Range

At the 85mm focal length the angle of view is 28.6 degrees.

 Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSMField of view at 85mm

Focusing

The Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM lens has an enormously wide focus ring. There are hard stops at both ends of the range, making it easier to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the 86mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM zoom isn't the quickest performer, taking about 0.35 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Canon EOS 5DS R that we tested it with.

We didn't experience too much "hunting", either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time. It's also a quiet performer, thanks to the built-in HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor), which makes this lens quite well-suited to video recording.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are only conspicuous by their almost complete absence from our test shots. The examples below show the worst-case scenario.

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM

Light Fall-off

With the lens set to its maximum aperture of f/1.4, there is significant light fall-off in the corners. Stopping-down to f/4 virtually eliminates this.

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSMLight fall-off

Macro

The Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM isn't claimed to be a macro lens, with a minimum focusing distance of 85cm / 33.5in and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:8.5. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to your subject.

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSMClose-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. In the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM lens, Sigma employed an iris diaphragm with 9 rounded blades, which has resulted in very nice bokeh in our view. We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several 100% crops for your perusal.

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM
   
Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.

Entry Tags

review, nikon, canon, full frame, full-frame, sigma, aps-c, f1.4, 85mm, f 1.4, Sigma 85mm art, Sigma 85mm review, fx lens, sigma 85mm, Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Review

Tracker Pixel for Entry