Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG DN Art Review

September 14, 2020 | Mark Goldstein |

Conclusion

The new 85mm F1.4 DG DN Art is Sigma's best lens yet for Sony Alpha full-frame cameras.

It's a bold re-imagining of the large, heavy 85mm f1.4 DG HSM Art optic that we enthusiastically reviewed two years ago, offering even better image quality and auto-focus performance in a much, much smaller and lighter format.

It's a very fast and tack-sharp lens, both in the centre and at the edges of the frame, with only the wide-open aperture of f/1.4 suffering from a little softness.

The new 11-blade aperture creates some lovely bokeh effects and super-smooth out of focus backgrounds.

There's little evidence of chromatic aberrations and virtually no distortion, whilst sunstars are nicely rendered and flare is largely well controlled with the lens hood fitted.

Vignetting at wide-open apertures is the only real optical issue of note, something that other fast lenses also suffer from, and stopping down to f/4 solves this problem altogether.

As with most other Sigma Art lenses, the build quality is fantastic, with the brass lens mount and sober all-black design adding to the high-quality feel, and Sigma have also included a very good petal-shaped lens hood complete with a locking mechanism and a good quality padded case with strap.

Auto-focusing was reliably quick and pleasingly quiet on the Sony A7 III that we tested the lens with, and manual focus over-ride at any time via the Sony DMF auto-focus mode is a great feature, with the well-damped focusing ring proving a pleasure to use.

Whilst the lens no longer has a distance scale or any hard stops at the ends of the focusing range, it does benefit from several new features, most notably the excellent aperture ring complete with de-click function for video use and a lock button.

The 85mm f1.4 DG HSM Art was a massive lens given the modest 85mm focal length, predominantly because it was still a DSLR lens at heart that had been modified to fit onto a mirrorless camera.

The new 85mm F1.4 DG DN Art is really the lens that Sigma should have released instead of the 85mm f1.4 DG HSM Art - it's smaller, lighter, sharper, producing better bokeh effects, focuses more quickly and quietly, and has more features, all at the same price-point.

Compared with the excellent Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM, the new 85mm F1.4 DG DN Art is lighter, sharper in the corners, and quicker to focus, whilst costing about half the price.

Overall, the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG DN Art fixes all of the criticisms that we made about the original version, and is now simply the best 85mm prime lens for Sony Alpha full-frame cameras.

5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 5
Value for money 5