Another significant new product introduced at Photokina: the much-anticipated Sigma ART short tele.
Sigma has made a real splash, consistently, over several years now, with its high-end ART series of lenses. I've reviewed only one, but I used two samples on two different brands of camera, and had many good things to say.
The new Sigma 85mm ƒ/1.4 DG HSM Art lens makes the ART primes into a complete set, adding to the 20mm, 24mm, 35mm, and 50mm (I would get either the 20mm or the 24mm but not both, and probably the 35mm or 50mm but not both).
The two greatest restrictions on lens designers are 1. intended selling price, and 2. size and weight. Sigma seems to be defying the laws of lens design when it comes to the former; its art lenses significantly undercut the competition's pricing without any noticeable cutting of corners or sacrifices in performance. (I look forward to what Roger Cicala has to say about that, and reserve the right to change my opinion later in light of whatever he says!) But with all the ART lenses, restriction 2. is where you, the buyer, will make your sacrifice: these are solid, hefty lenses. In fact, Sigma hasn't even told us the weight of the new 85mm yet. They probably don't want people talking about it!
This is a big lens, though, five inches long and with a whopping 86mm filter size. (My first medium-format camera had a large filter size on its 80mm normal lens, and I was impressed with how big the filter was. It was a 67mm.)
But hey, it's just a decision. At least it's a clear one. You buy into this lineup, you deal with size and weight. You don't want to deal with size and weight, you look elsewhere. Simple, clear equation.
The lens has 14 elements in 12 groups, which is either delightful or risible depending on your point of view, and with that many elements, you bet your socks it has great multicoating—it has to. (Thank zooms for improving multicoating so much over the years.) It also has a beefed-up HSM focusing motor, said to have more torque, for moving all that glass around. Two of the elements are FLD, which Sigma says is the equal of fluorite (which Canon uses), and one still-exotic anomalous partial dispersion/high-refractive-index element. It has a rounded, nine-bladed aperture.
Best of all...it was very likely designed by the same wizards who designed the other Sigma ART lenses, which is good news. My personal opinion is that those guys, whoever they are, have photographic taste as well as scientific expertise and design skill. I could see it in the 35mm ART. That's just my bet, but I'd bet on it.
It will cost $1,199.
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