Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM for Sony E-Mount Review
The Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM for Sony E-Mount is one of the first in a new range of native Sigma lenses dedicated to Sony's full-frame range of mirrorless cameras.
It features a newly developed control algorithm that optimises the autofocus drive and maximises the data transmission speed specifically for mirrorless cameras, in theory making it quicker to focus than using the DSLR version of the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM lens with a lens adapter from Sigma, Metabones etc. It's also compatible with Sony’s Continuous AF (AF-C) and high-speed autofocus modes, plus the camera's in-body image stabilisation, if it's available.
This short telephoto prime lens 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 for Sony E-Mount lens is currently available for £1099.99 / $1199.99 in the UK and the US, respectively (the same pricing as the DSLR version).
Ease of Use
Weighing in at around 1250 grams and measuring almost 15cm in length, the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM for Sony E-Mount is a very big lens given its focal length. It's significantly larger and heavier than all the other 85mm lenses that are available for Sony's mirrorless system, and also than most 85mm DSLR lenses too. On the other hand, it's actually about the same size and weight as the DSLR version of the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM plus a lens adapter.
As seen in the photos below, it dwarves a full-frame mirrorless camera like the Sony A7 III that we tested it with, requiring you to cradle the lens barrel in your left-hand and hold the camera grip with your right.
As with Sigma's previous Art lenses for DSLR cameras, build quality is once again 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.
In terms of features, the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM for Sony E-Mount 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.
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 when using Sony's DMF focus mode. A clear distance scale in both feet and meters runs from the closest focusing distance of 0.85m / 2.79ft to infinity.
The Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM for Sony E-Mount 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 for Sony E-Mount zoom isn't the quickest performer, taking about 0.35 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Sony A7 III 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.
The Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM for Sony E-Mount ships with a good quality soft case and strap and also a large plastic petal-shaped lens hood. It accepts 86mm filters.
Here is the Sony version of the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM compared to the Canon EF version (on the right). As you can see, the newly incoporated mount at the base of the lens makes it almost 2.5cms longer than the Canon version, as well as making it heavier.
At the 85mm focal length the angle of view is 28.6 degrees.
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.
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.
The Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM for Sony E-Mount 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.
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 for Sony E-Mount 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 examples below for your perusal.
In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.