At this juncture, I don’t believe the Sigma Art series of lenses really needs any introduction – having launched in 2013, the Art line has been nothing short of incredible for professional and amateur photographers alike. The Art primes have always showcased a lot of value for your dollar. Fast primes get expensive, and I think the Art series has really helped push Sigma and every other lens manufacturer to a level where the competition is ultimately rewarding to the consumer.
Today, I’m going to talk about how often I’ve used these lenses in the field during work, as well as share some samples. I shoot almost exclusively with the Sigma 35mm Art and the Sigma 85mm Art for my portrait work. I’ve also owned the 24mm, as well as the 50mm Art lenses. I’ve shot these lenses on Canon’s 5D Mark II, Mark III and Mark IV as well as the Sony A7iii.
Sigma 35mm A 1/125 at f/1.4, ISO 200
This shot was taken about a month ago in Elbow Falls. You’ll notice soon that I almost always shoot at the fastest aperture I can get. I spend money on lenses to be able to shoot with confidence wide open. The Sigma 35mm has always nailed this for me since the first day I got it back sometime in 2013. I had switched over from shooting with two zooms (Canon 24-70 and 70-200 2.8) and had decided that I wanted fast primes that I could shoot wide open with confidence. I had never really been a 50mm man (that has mostly changed now…) but after reading the reviews that had come out for the Sigma 50mm Art, I pre-ordered the 35mm and waited.
Sigma 85mm A 1/640 at f/1.4, ISO 200
In a similar fashion, after switching to primes – I was never truly satisfied with the performance of the Canon 85mm F1.2L. I found focusing on the lens was a nightmare; although, when the lens was used with care and attention, it was able to produce truly spectacular results. I just never found the lens consistent enough. The Sigma 85mm however, has always been good to me. Quick to focus, and always tack sharp wide open. Sigma 24mm A 1/40 at f/1.4, ISO 100
I took a trip to Tokyo last year and only shot with the 24mm Sigma Art, I like being on the street and shooting wide. I also enjoyed being able to shoot wide open, and although many people on the internet report of the lens having troubling ‘coma’; issues I never really noticed, and was very happy with the photos I was able to leave Japan with.
On one occasion, I had a small hiccup shooting a reception for a client with the 5D Mark IV coupled with the Sigma 35mm Art. The lens correction, which is by default enabled in the on position in the Mark IV created two large black circles on the outer rim of my images. This was written onto the RAW files themselves which made me panic a little mid shoot. Thinking on my feet, I was able to tinker within the menus and turn off all lens correction which then alleviated my problem. Google-ing the problem brought me to Sigma’s official statement:
“When using a SIGMA interchangeable lens for EOS, setting the corrections to [Disable] is recommended, as “Lens Correction” functions of the camera, such as Peripheral illumination correction, Chromatic aberration correction, Diffraction correction and Distortion correction are not supported.”
Since then I’ve continued to shoot the Sigma 35mm without any problems on a 5D Mark IV. The Art series of lenses is now starting to make its way over to Sony’s E mount as well which is very exciting as the fast primes currently available in Sony’s lineup are beautiful – but extremely expensive, the competition will hopefully ensure that Sony and other third party lens manufacturers respond in kind to what is currently being offered by Sigma’s lenses.
Sigma 35mm A 1/1000 at f/1.4, ISO 100 (A7iii & MC-11 adapter)
The MC-11 behaved extremely well for me, and I never once felt slowed down by my lens and body not speaking natively to each other. A part of me really thinks that this is due to how good the A7iii’s AF system is, just simply having so much speed and power to get through the small hiccup of not speaking natively. Here the couple is executing a classic spin and the autofocus was able to stay and track them completely. In addition to offering a mount conversion service, Sigma also has the MC-11 and I’ve had the opportunity to field test an Sony A7iii paired with an MC-11 with a 35mm Sigma Art.
Sigma 35mm A 1/200 at f/1.4, ISO 64 (A7iii & MC-11 adapter)
Here we used an off camera flash, with my YN triggers that I had talked about in my previous post. They too interacted with a Sony body and Canon flash flawlessly. Again, focus was never an issue and being able to position myself correctly and shoot at waist level with the tilt screen was a breeze. I really enjoyed shooting with the A7iii with its new Z-type battery. I found the old W-type to be abysmal, and was difficult for me to take with confidence towards a shoot even after I bought a grip for it. The camera always wanted more power – coupled with an extremely powerful sensor and EVF the camera just sucked batteries dry.
Sigma 24mm A 1/1250 at f/1.4, ISO 100
A large part of the appeal to me are how cost-effective these lenses are. For instance I found that some of the time with my 24mm, the images would come out a little too soft. I can deal with some slight issues as I find that often times minor flaws can create a level of character in my lenses that I enjoy the longer I shoot with them. Admittedly, I do understand that some of things may bother people especially as these lenses, although often cheaper than their counterparts, still cost quite a bit.
Sigma 85mm A 1/400 at f/2.0, ISO 200
Maybe I’ve been lucky with my lenses, but they’ve never let me down. Besides some level of minor micro AF adjustments – there have been no issues. I’ve been shooting them professionally and recreationally since both the 35 and 85 were released. Combined with a 7 year warranty, I know that if any problems occur I’m covered, and that lets me shoot with confidence.
About the Author:
Danny Luong is on our general sales team and has been interested in photography since his gramps showed him pictures from the Vietnam War. He turned this interest into photographing the softer side of life – engagements, weddings, and families.