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Thursday, 11 February 2016


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I don't understand why anyone would put up with the size, weight, and price of a 35mm f:1.4 lens, when all you gotta do is up the ISO.
Things were quite different when I needed a Summilux with Kodachrome ASA=25 just for dark days. (Cost $250, weighed 6 oz).

Love 35mm for street shooting and this looks incredible. Unfortunately, for me, I rarely shoot with my Canon 5Dsr (too big to tote all day).
But looks awesome.

Mi dos pesos.

I don't own a camera that I could put with one of these but I still read your review, which is an indication of how much I respect your writing. What a great review. It tells so much more than any of the MTF bar graph type review sites.

If you are comparing to the best, I would be interested in how this compares to the Zeiss lenses for Sony FE mount and/or the Zeiss Milvus, Otus, and Distagon lenses for Canikons. That seems to be where the action is these days.

Thanks for the informative review. I've always been intrigued by these Art series lenses. I love it when companies dedicate themselves to making thoughtful, distinctive, stand-out lenses at a reasonable price.

My one little niggle with Fuji is the lack of brand and version variety in the lenses. Not because there's anything wrong with the Fuji lenses - they're fantastic - but because like you I enjoy having a variety in my preferred focal length. (50mm is a bit too long for me - especially since they usually end up being 52 or 53mm - and 35mm a bit too wide; I prefer something in the 40-45mm range, but usually end up having to opt for 50mm.) I know I could buy the Zeiss Touit in X-mount, but I've never been sufficiently impressed with them vis a vis the Fuji equivalents to spend the money. It's too bad Sigma isn't making the Art series in X-mount.

I don't really care about this particular focal length (too narrow for wide angle shots, to wide for portrait), but I'd love to read your take on the new Sony 85/1.4GM that I'm salivating over right now :)

As good as the Pentax Limited 31mm f/1.8? IIRC, you liked the bokeh of that lens.

The Pentax Limited 31mm lens is now $718.85 at "that big camera place in New York".

How does it compare with the equivalent FOV Fuji 23mm f/1.4? You have said nice things about it in the past, I believe. It's a bit more than twice the weight, the same price. I've pretty much given up on full size lenses and traditional full sized bodies. I've adopted the Fuji system and am quite happy with both the primes and zooms.

[I should review that one too, since I own it and use it. --Mike]

Yes, you definitely should review the Fuji 23 f/1.4! ;-)

Thanks for writing about this one. I've been on the fence. I think you may have just pushed me over. Thanks?

What about AF accuracy? That's been my issue with the Sigmas i've tried on the Canon 5D platform. With and without the AF calibration feature.

[Oh, you know, I didn't test that. I didn't notice any problems, but I really didn't check it. Sorry. --Mike]

I'm really happy to see Sigma releasing these high-end lenses as an alternative to the much more expensive equivalents from the big brands. I love my Sigma 50mm and 24mm f/1.4 Art lenses, and so I gave the 35mm a test when I found a used copy at KEH. Of course I discovered that I have no need to fill that hole between 24 and 50 so I returned it, but it struck me as a sweet lens. I'm looking forward to Sigma's 85mm Art lens -- not that there's any official word that one is in the works.

Mike, great review. I have been eyeing this lens ever since I have pared down my Nikon lens collection to fund my Fuji glass. I still need at least one good general prime lens and find the 35mm focal length, the perfect choice for much of my work. I love this type of review, no charts, just a "real world" way to look a the lens. Thanks again for all your good work.

The excellent Zeiss 35/2 lives on as the Milvus. Essentially the same innards.

Another Pentax-related comparison request, since you had written on this previously: the 35 mm f2.8 Limited. Assuming a slightly larger image circle (i.e. maybe a 1.1 crop on the upcoming full frame!), how would it compare overall with the Sigma?

But, how is the bokeh on big fat lake effect snowflakes?

It's a weird thing about lenses, the reasons that the ones that really grab you seem so good can be difficult to describe. A favorite of mine is an old Konica 40mm (60mm equivalent on my a6000). A thrift store find. It has some fogging and maybe even a little mold, but it makes images that put a smile on my face. I can't say why. The state of unclean certainly detracts from it's potential since shooting into brightness can create a fog-fest. I'm hoping to move back to Nikon for a real raw file someday and I'm really going to miss using this lens.

[Why not just buy a clean copy on eBay? They're plentiful and cost considerably less than a C-note.

That lens was highly regarded and a bit of a cult lens in its time. It has a 3-D look and exceptionally high contrast. Very pretty. --Mike]

This is my general purpose lens on the Canon 6D. I am very happy with it. It's a fine night lens as well. When weight is an issue and I plan to use f/5.6 to f/11 (landscapes while on long hikes), I use the Canon pancake 40mm f/2.8, which for those situations is an amazingly good value per gram.

Does this lens come with a lens hood? I think of them as useful tools- but it seems many photographers, and some manufacturers, can't be bothered to use or supply them.

[Yes, it comes with a hood included in the box. You can click on the "In the box" link at the B&H Photo page to see everything a product comes with. --Mike]

Why do the picture taken with the Zeiss look like monochrome? I can see green grass in the Sigma pic

[Different day, different month. --Mike]

Why does sharpness matter?

Are we talking dialing sights and gunnery?

[No, we are not talking dialing sights and gunnery.

Sharpness might or might not matter to any particular picture aesthetically. But it's an aspect of how lenses render, and this is a lens review. --Mike]

How does it compare with the 2/35 Minolta which I believe you have or at least had, for the A900?

I've been hearing that the Art series has terrible micro contrast. What was your thoughts on that?

[My thought on that is that three quarters of the people who are saying that probably can't either define or recognize it. --Mike

I also like 35mm focal length, probably my favourite one. Using the Loxia 35 f2 now, while waiting for a future Batis 35 f2:)

Nice review.

I've been using the Sigma 35mm Art lens for almost two years and love it!


PS: Images on your site can look terrible. I hope you eventually upgrade to a website platform that is designed for image viewing. After all, for the majority of your readers, our web reading is mostly about photography.

Here for those who find 35 not wide enough or too wide and the 50 too narrow ..... Join the sinking ship

Petax give you the lovely 43mm ...perfect

I was drawn to this as soon as it was announced. The size is absurd and I can't get past it. I'm an X-Leica M owner shooter (very sorry to say) and while I shoot a not small in the hand D3 I still shoot a very old screw focus 35 F2. Its all the size.

Oh how I wish Sigma, or anybody would make a killer line of F2 lenses. Do we really need 1.4? What with off the chart good HI ISO performance theses days I wonder and i love low light shooting.

[I tend to prefer f/2 lenses myself, but f/1.4 is the standard for a high-speed lenses. Shallow depth of field is popular these days, and for low light work every little bit (potentially) helps. --Mike]

I think we can agree that there are legitimate reasons to seek out the sharpest lenses available -- balanced, of course, with other important characteristics like bokeh and contrast.

If I may use myself as an example: A few years ago I exhibited a set of large prints from my Workspace series. Those prints were all about the extremely fine detail, including text, that filled the workspaces. bit.ly/1QbQ57j Another series from just a couple years ago, The Booth, was also about the tiny details that make up a larger scene. I exhibited prints as large as a panorama at 24x60" bit.ly/1Kfwz7M (In the exhibited print, you could read the entries on the calendar at the right side of the image!)

I wouldn't give up other important qualities for sharpness for its own sake, but I do consider sharpness a very important quality for much of my work.

I have had the new lens for about 2 weeks. It is paired with my Nikon D750. I dialed in a correction of about +6 on the AF fine tune. And then, absolute brilliance. The 35mm focal length is just about perfect for anything (for me). I really like your review.

Yeah, love this post. More more more . . .

"Mike replies: Someday I should just do an article about how to test lenses using pictures. I've been saying that for years, though."

I hope you do! Even a series of short articles, each covering various qualities, would be great.

Thanks for sharing your insights and impressions of what is no doubt a wonderful lens. It makes not a bit of difference to me, though. I've long ago come to accept the fact that I'm too damned cheap to buy a lens in this price range, no matter how good it is. My art and I are just not worth it.

Even if it was a fourth the cost I still wouldn't buy it because, by my standards, it's too big and heavy. Pros get paid to haul heavy equipment from place to place; either that, or they shoot in the comfort of a studio, with the heavy stuff mounted on tripods and light stands. Call me weak and lazy, but I hate carrying a heavy load all day for free.

Please understand, this isn't coming from a place of hate or envy. The world would be a much less exciting place without Porsches, Rolexes, and Leicas; they're just made for someone other than me.

"Only $900...." How sad...

[The equivalent Nikkor costs $1,697, the equivalent Canon $1,799, the new Zeiss FE $1,598 and the Leica Summilux-M $4,232. So, yes, only $900. --Mike]

What is the 'white stuff' against the boards of the building in the image made by the Zeiss 24mm ƒ/1.8 E-series lens on the NEX-6? Also, the roof looks odd in this photo; out-of-focus?

[Are we looking at the same picture?? I have no idea what you're asking about here.... --Mike]

I'm sure I've chimed in in the past when you've mentioned this lens. It's my favorite, without a doubt, and capable of stunning results. It pairs gorgeously with my D800. 35mm is a particularly good focal length for landscape and I almost never take it off my camera.

If anyone is looking for an example of what this lens is capable of in a monochrome landscape context, here's a link to a full resolution JPG (18MB download, watch out). http://daltonrooney.com/public/d800-sigma35.jpg

The last photo in your article above (made with Zeiss 24mm + NEX-6) is where the roof looks odd (out of focus/distorted shingles), and I guess the white stuff against the building is snow?

It is not my computer because I saw it first at home and now at work, completely different computer screens, etc.

So, I went to buy the 35mm but I ended up with the 24-35mm Art lens instead. But I figure I still got some 35mm out of the deal....

Simply my favorite lens ever. I have a hard time taking it off my camera even when I need a different focal length, "maybe I'll just crop!"

Good read, but until Sigma makes it for Micro 4/3 mount, I can't use it.

This made me think of my film days. I had Nikon and a 28mm Series E, 35mm f2.8 Nikkor, 55mm f3.5 Micro Nikkor and my only zoom was the 70-150mm Series E.

I got far better pictures than I do today. Why? Because the fixed focal length lenses made me move around. These days I stand in one spot and try to make the 24-400mm zoom do the work. It doesn't work. Of course, I'm not as physically capable of moving around now.

It would interest me to see a comparison between your Zeiss 35mm for your Sony and the Zeiss 24-200mm f2.8 on the Sony RX10 at the same focal length. In other words, just how good are these do-all zooms? I can see the quality of the fixed lens in your last shot. Lovely.

Sorry, I meant your 24mm f1.8 Zeiss as in the last shot. With the RX10's zoom adjusted for the same view.

I realise you don't have an RX10. Just waffling. I'd lend you mine but it's a bit far.

I was a bit surprised by the beginning of your review on the Sigma 35 mm Art. You have always complained about lack of stabilization, preferably in-body, and yet, you so quickly discounted the Tamron. I bought the Sigma the instant that it came out. It was going to be my go to lens. Shot a party that same night with it - backfocused 6~8 inches, on a Nikon D800. The USB docking station (an absolute must for about $60) was not available, yet. After getting it back from Sigma, and testing it with AF fine tuning, it behaved itself. However, the unstabilized weight was unbearable (pun intended). I couldn't wait to get rid of it. Finally, Nikon added a 35 mm to their f/1.8 series and I tried that. In direct field comparisons, as well as my own standard tests, the Sigma was sharper but not significantly. It was almost too sharp. And I have several pictures where you cannot tell which lens was used. I also found that the close focusing ability of the Sigma was not one of its strong features. I bought the Nikon and gave the Sigma to my son whose first comment was about its weight.

The new Tamron 35 mm SP lens is stabilized, and a delight to use (based on my lensrentals.com time with it and my actual purchase of the companion Tamron 45 mm). Close focus on these lenses is fantastic. I think that you should have tried it. I do have a confession; I have never been fully able to get my head around the 35 mm view point. I like a 28 mm and a 45 mm, but never could love the 35 mm - I have tried :)

I'm glad for you that you liked the Sigma, but being a non-tripod guy, I could not carry that beast around all day. Why Sigma put out a line of "Art" lenses that are unstabilized, for me, was a big disappointment.

Wow, that red-apple corner is impressive!!

I would like if Sigma would begin to make high end lenses for M4/3.

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