on March 3, 2015
Before I took the plunge and bought this lens, I was a total Canon snob. I didn't think that there was anything superior to a canon lens. Before purchasing this, my favorite lenses were the Canon 135mm f/2L and the 50mm f/1.2L. I love how creamy and beautiful the depth of field was on both lenses when shooting wide open. And, to me, both were very sharp.
But, after receiving the Sigma 35mm and doing some micro adjustments, I realized that this lens FAR surpasses any Canon lens I own. It is SHARP. Holy crap it's sharp. I've used a lot of different lenses and this lens produces the sharpest and most visually pleasing portraits.
I tend to shoot at f/2 for portraits with this lens, but even when I open it up more, it's still super sharp.
If you're on the line about buying a Sigma over a Canon, don't be. Definitely buy this lens right now. From now on, I will be looking at Sigma ART lenses before I even think about buying another L series lens. Super happy with this purchase.
on December 18, 2012
I was very excited for this lens to come out, and had one on pre-order as soon as I was able.
I was lucky enough to already own the Canon 35L, so I was able to do some side by side comparisons. Just as every review site on the web has said, this lens is flat out amazing. The color rendition and contrast was easily on-par with my 35L, and sharpness was much better than the 35L.
Build quality is amazing, and really more on par with the Zeiss type lenses than any of the Canon L series. It feels good in the hand. Solid and smooth. The focus ring is large and easy to turn, while still providing a comfortable level of tension to keep the adjustments from being jumpy.
I did have to dial in +2 Micro Adjustment on my 5D3 in order to get the best results, but once that was done, the sharpness far surpassed the sharpness of my 35L.
Long story short, after a week with the Sigma 35, my 35L was up for sale.
Sigma used this new lines of lenses to try to reinvent themselves as lens makers, and show their dedication to a superior product. With all of that build-up, I was disappointed to have to add +2 MA to make the lens right when it was fresh out of the box. However, I haven't noticed any focus shift issues like previous Sigma lenses I've had.
Filter size - The nice thing about Canon L's is that for the most part, everything is 77mm or 72mm threads. Sure, I could get a reducing ring to make my 77mm filters work on the Sigma, but that would be at a cost of not being able to use the hood. I do like the smaller form factor of this lens though, and don't find myself needing to use a CPL on a regular basis like with some other lenses.
In short, if you already have a 35L, by buying this lens, you'd gain a good bit of sharpness wide open. If you don't have a 35mm f/1.4 already, I'd highly recommend this one above the Canon, and above the Zeiss.
on December 24, 2012
Well, I will tip my cap to Sigma on this 35mm 1.4 DG HSM Lens. I read some very early reviews on this which were mostly quite positive and decided it was time to purchase a 35mm prime for my Nikon D700 full frame body. I am *NOT* disappointed in the slightest bit. This lens is delivering everything I had hoped for and more. Having owned several of Nikon's professional lenses (24-70 2.8, 80-200 2.8, etc) I was surprised to see build quality to be as good as it is. I feel I'll own this lens for 20 years; it's built like a tank.
The optics are top notch and comparing samples from my shooting over the past 2-3 weeks, it's likely the sharpest lens I've ever owned. Not much fine tuning needed with my D700 to get pinpoint perfect focus either. Color rendition is very good. I process all images via RAW in Lightroom and the amount of data I have to work with here is fantastic.
I honestly couldn't recommend this lens enough. Though I've not shot with Nikon's own expensive 35mm lens, I can't possibly imagine that lens offering anything this isn't. If this is was Sigma has to offer in terms of the future of their artist line of products, Nikon & Canon are *genuinely* going to have a problem on their hands. I'd fill my entire lens lineup with Sigma glass if it were all this good no problem.
on July 23, 2013
I first rented the Sigma from lensrentals to use on my then primary camera (Nikon D800) and it was spectacular. I was so thrilled with the results that I bought it for the D800. It required an AFMA adjustment of +20 and it was still nowhere near the Liveview focused photos. I returned it and tried again with the Canon 5DMK3. Again, more AF issues, I went through three bad copies for the Canon mount.
Each Sigma had unique focusing issues, from working well outdoors and badly missing focus in artificial lighting, needing different AFMA adjustments on center and outer AF sensors, to only working at certain distances. If I was not paid to shoot, I would have kept the Sigma that was almost reliable. I have since bought a 35L and it was golden on the first try. So far, I love the 35L, to me having total confidence in my gear is bliss. I would rather have a star that performs in the clutch than a superstar that chokes when it matters most.
It is a shame because in ideal light lighting conditions (outdoors at medium distances) the Sigma is spectacular, but this is where I would least use it.
I saw a demo showing the Sigma USB software and it has the option of AFMA at different distances. However, I do not know if it will solve the artificial light problem or AFMA difference on the corner sensors. From what I have seen, the software will not solve these issues.
on December 27, 2012
I own the Canon L 24 1.4, 50 1.2, the 100 2.8 Macro and now, the Sigma 35mm 1.4. I have rented the Canon 35 1.4 extensively for events, and as next year's calendar is filling out with more, I needed to pull the trigger and add this focal length to my main kit.
I don't know if Sigma is losing money on this lens as a loss leader to promote their new art line, or Canon's lenses are just overly premium priced without real competition but this lens is a steal at $900. It is underpriced for it's build and construction, it's optical qualities at 1.4 and 2 are as good if not better than it's brand named counterpart.
I have owned many lenses the last 20 years, and I think the only better constructed lens I have owned was one of my Hasselblad CFE lenses for film.
I would like to add that I use Classic 5Ds and that I feel the AF focus on the Sigma is as fast (if not slightly faster) than the Canon version. This is quite a boon because it breathes new life into my older camera bodies. AF is silent.
I shoot mainly low light events with fill flash at mid to high ISOs and this puppy lights up the rooms and makes my subjects look almost too sharp. What a great problem I have!
I EAGERLY await a redesign of the 85mm 1.4 into this lens style, along with the 24mm 1.4 and would love to see what Sigma can do with a new 50 in this art line (although you will have to be prying my Canon 50 1.2 from my cold dead hands- and even then I may come back and go zombie walker on you!).
Wow! I love this lens!
on January 26, 2014
It pairs nicely with my Nikon D600. It's really sharp, has nice weight and simple controls. The lens itself is beautiful, as are the images it produces. Im very happy with my purchase. I even bought an adapter to use it with my Olympus OMD EM1 (micro 4/3 camera).
on September 2, 2015
STOP RESEARCHING! Don't waste anymore time debating if you should get this over the Nikon. Because thats all I did for weeks, so save yourself time and just get this, trust me, you won't regret it. And NO, I did not get a special deal on this.
Ive owned this lens for almost a year now btw.
This was my first full frame lens for my Nikon D750 and I have nothing but positive praises for this beast. It is a beast too, it weighs a good chunk, but what do you expect for all that glass? Trust me, once you start shooting with it, you'll forget about the weight. I've never used a sharper lens.
-If I had to fault it for something, it would be the lack of a full water proof seal. And its so odd too because the rest of the lens is of superb build quality.
I will continue to update if anything changes. Ive uploaded a photo sample to show the sharpness at 1.4
on July 11, 2013
First, let me say that a really wanted to love this lens. As many other reviewers have stated, the optical and build quality are outstanding. Images are as good or better than any from my Canon L primes. The keepers are astounding and the term "Art" truly reflects the nature of the images.
But, there was a significant flaw with at least my copy. It would consistently either front or back focus depending on the subject distance and no amount of AFMA helped. I ran tests with it vs several Canon lenses and only the Sigma showed this flaw. I don't know if this was just an unlucky bad copy or a fundamental issue with the product. In the end, I decided that I couldn't trust the lens and returned it rather that try a second copy.
I gave it a three star rating simply because the keepers are really that fantastic.
on December 26, 2015
I have only just started taking my camera off automatic and experimenting with lenses when I had children. So this is an amateur review. I have been looking for a great portrait lens to capture my forever moving children, and this is it. I own several canon lenses now, and this is my first Sigma. It's by far the most superior lens I have in my collection. I honestly didn't know that a lens could take such a crisp photo. The colors are vivid, the bokeh is beautiful, the focus is fast, smooth and accurate. It performs very well indoors. What I feel this lens has done is taken my photography to another level. I absolutely love the photos it produces. Just as well, people have been asking me left and right to take their holiday photos and newborn photos since I started using this lens. I highly recommend it.
on April 4, 2016
I just recently purchased this lens as my first step into "pro level" glass. Optically, it is outstanding, but there a couple issues that I have with it, although not enough to keep me from liking it a lot. This is my initial review, and I plan to update it later after I take more pictures with it.
Sharp. Holy crap it's sharp. When it nails focus, it gives you contrasty, crispy images. You can zoom way in 2:1 or even 3:1 and still get great detail. I've heard from many reviews from great sources that this the sharpest 35mm money can buy apart from Zeiss and Canon's 35mmL mark ii, both of which are way more expensive. Even wide open at f1.4, it's as sharp or sharper than other lenses at f2.8. It is incredibly helpful to have a sharp lens that can open up to f1.4, because it really allows you to lower your ISO, raise your shutter speed, or both. The f1.4 aperture also makes backgrounds really melt away, even on my crop sensor Canon 70D. The backgrounds will be even more buttery on a full frame camera. Most of the other lenses I own have an aperture of f2.8; this lens is a full two stops faster. Meaning instead of shooting at ISO 3200, I can shoot at ISO 800, for example. I haven't gotten to test the performance in backlit situations or other tough scenarios, but I will update later.
It's really solid, and quite heavy for a prime lens. There's a lot of glass in there. You can really tell that Sigma has upped their game with the ART line. It's probably heavier than I'd like but it balances fine on my 70D, and probably even better on a full frame camera. The manual focus ring is very large and has some resistance to it. I don't manually focus often, but I found no issue when I needed to.
Here's where things get a little tricky. Yes, it probably depends on the copy of the lens. I've heard some who got great results, and some who couldn't get the lens to focus at all. I tried to use the Reikan Focal program (it helps with AFMA) with this lens, but it gave me some results that actually made the focus worse. I believe that because the aperture is so wide (1.4), Focal does have some issues really nailing the focus automatically. I had no issues with Focal on any of my other lenses, although none are as fast as this Sigma. I ended up attempting to manually test and adjust the AFMA myself, but found that different focus distances gave me different numbers. For example, leaving the AFMA at 0 gave me good results at a couple feet, but was terrible at anything further than that. Huh. Frustrating that I couldn't get this lens to work great right off the bat. Enter the Sigma Dock, which you can use with their software to calibrate the lens AFMA at four different focus distances. I got the dock, and after some lengthy manual testing, I believe I have finally found the sweet spots for the AFMA at all four focus distances. I do wish the four different focus distances were adjustable, as my copy had some weird focus issues between 6 feet and infinity, but after tinkering with the settings, I think I have it down anyways. The lens does miss focus sometimes (not terribly often, but you'll definitely notice when is misses), especially wide open. It isn't so often that it is a problem to me, but if I were photographing a wedding, for example, I'd be nervous that I'd miss that one important moment that I can't get back. I do wish it would nail focus every time, but maybe I'm just being too demanding.
While this is an expensive lens, you're getting phenomenal image quality and build. The autofocus issues are the only gripe I have with this lens. I think if you have patience with microadjustments and are willing to get the dock, it's a great value.
I plan to keep this lens on my camera to see what I can get out of it. I am also planning to do a newborn shoot in a couple months, and I will probably use this lens for most of the shots, if I find the focusing trustworthy with further testing.
I will add more to this review in the coming months.
Unfortunately the autofocus issues continue to present themselves. The lens focuses extremely well inside of the 3 feet. But between 3 feet and infinity there are some spots where the autofocus is way off. The adjustments I made on the dock cover most focus areas but there are a few key distances where it continuously refuses to focus. My copy was back focusing mostly, but would front focus badly a few areas in that 3 ft. to infinity range. We're talking like more than a few inches of front focusing. This especially seemed to occur in lower light situations, but happened even in good lighting, where I got maybe an 80% hit rate, even at f2; very disappointing. I confirmed this with the Reikan Focal AFMA system; I tested it at one foot increments from 3 feet all the way out to 10 feet, and got wildly different results at a couple focus ranges. I have a Canon 70D which has good cross type focus points across the board so it didn't seem to be a camera issue. The lens is extremely sharp when it does nail focus though. It makes beautiful images with great blurry backgrounds/bokeh, but I really need that reliability with the autofocus. I am more of a spontaneous/candid/street shooter so I would take slightly less sharpness for the autofocus accuracy. If you can take your time to find a good copy, I'd say go for it if ultimate sharpness is your goal. But not for me; I don't want to be taking gambles at getting a good copy and I don't want to send my camera/lens in for adjustment. I am going to return this lens and try out the Canon 35mm f2 IS, a lens renowned for outstanding AF accuracy and very good sharpness at all apertures. Sure, it's slower and not quite as sharp, but it's $300 cheaper, is only about 2/3 of a stop slower according to DXOMark (Sigma has a T stop of 1.6, the Canon's is right at 2.0), plus I get IS and the much smaller size/lighter weight. I wish you the best of luck if you decide to get this lens; if you can get a copy that autofocuses well, I guarantee you won't be disappointed.