Sigma has been on a roll producing high-quality lenses in a variety of mounts including Canon, Nikon, Sony and the new L-Mount alliance with Panasonic and Leica. They have changed the perception of third party lenses from purely being a value brand to a premium alternative by creating glass that is precise, sharp, well-built and backed by a 7-year Canadian warranty. On the other hand, they are sometimes criticized for being larger and bulkier than native mirrorless lenses. For example, Sony is also creating incredible glass that is not only praised for sharpness, durability, and compactness but also autofocus performance. A critical factor for Sony in particular since they have developed a high-tech Real-Time Tracking Autofocus system that requires lenses that can keep up.
Before I get any further into this, I will admit that we are by no means a fancy lab with charts and scientific testing to prove how good lenses are. Rather, we are a bunch of photographers here who care big time about two things, image quality and performance. Of course, we want durability too. However, when it comes to how gaga we are going to get over a new lens, the ruggedness takes a back seat to having the ability to make beautiful photos in a fast, precise way.
When looking at photographs captured with Sigma E-mount lenses, the results are great. Images are sharp with excellent edge to edge detail. This is due to the advanced optical design and an ideal combination of elements and coating to give the best possible optical quality without distortion or other shortcomings seen in older lens designs.
The Sigma 35mm F1.4 FE E-mount lens sports a Hyper Sonic Motor to produce quick, smooth, and quiet autofocus performance with full-time manual focus override. The most noticeable advantage when it comes to performance, compared to the new Sony 35mm F1.8, is that acquiring focus feels slightly smoother and tracks a bit better on a Sony native lens due to their new linear motor system. This will come down to preference for videographers who use autofocus for video. But, the overall speed and hit rate are very comparable for photographers.
Optical excellence comes with a caveat, an increase in size compared to the Sony native lenses. If there were a sacrifice with going with a Sigma lens over a Sony, it would be that you add a bit of size to your kit. To some, this could be a deal-breaker. But, to others, it’s worth having an extremely sharp lens, with great performance at a more affordable price point even if it were slightly bigger and heavier.
The proof is always in the pudding. Based on image quality, performance and affordability, I would choose a Sigma lens for photography. I personally wouldn’t mind a slightly bigger and heavier lens on my camera as long and it could resolve great detail and would work well with Sony’s autofocus system. If you are on the fence, pop one on your camera to see for yourself.
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