ZEP Review - The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras
It's been a little while since ZEP.com picked up any new DSLR gear. There's been the occasional purchase of mirrorless gear, but for the most part, it's been all quiet on the western front. At the end of last year's wedding season, my wonderful, beautiful, amazing second shooter mentioned that she really loved my Canon 24-70L, and that she'd really like to start using it. Seeing an opportunity I couldn't pass up, I made the offer to loan that piece to her indefinitely, as long as I could get my hands on one of the newest pieces of glass to come out of camp Sigma, the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Lens.
I really should just stop the review right here and tell you that, if you're a DSLR owner, you're a fool for not going out and buying this lens, putting it on your camera, and NEVER TAKING IT OFF AGAIN! This could very well be one of the best lenses I've ever used, and if Canon and Nikon aren't shaking in their boots over this lens, they're in for a world of hurt in the not-too-distant future.
That being said, I guess I should probably comment on the actual lens, right?
I was shocked to pick the Amazon box up on the day this lens arrived, and feel its immense weight. I've owned a few Sigma lenses before, and while they were not in Sigma's Art line, I had assumed the build quality would be similar.
Now, before I go any further, understand that I like feeling some heft to my lenses. Weight lets me feel as though a lens is built to take a beating, and has had a lot put into it. Weight means bigger glass, better glass, more mechanics and a confident feeling. Pick up Canon's "Nifty 50" and your first thought very well could be, "this lens feels like it belongs on a toy camera".
With the Sigma 35mm, you really get a sense that something magical has been built into the body of the lens. The lens isn't joking around. At 1.5 pounds, this lens is only .3 pounds less than the Canon 24-70L II. It feels good to the touch, and not once have I taken hold of this lens and worried about something breaking off, or coming loose. Even the focus switch has a fluid, smooth slide to it that lets you know the exact position with each click. Like a masterfully crafted sword, the balance of this lens offsets any body attached to it, and you don't feel as though you're going to rock the whole kit backward with every movement.
As for the technical specifications? You're looking at 13 Elements in 11 Groups, a 63.4 degree angle of view, and 9 diaphragm blades to set your aperture. The lens also contains a Floating inner focusing system for extremely high optical performance for close up photos.
Image quality out of this lens is superb. Color and contrast are rich and deep, and you'll be amazed at the photos that come out of this lens, SOOC. While shooting a birthday party shortly after receiving the lens, I was showing the photos to some of the guests directly on the screen of the camera. Those "in the know" of photography were amazed at how rich the images looked, even on the back of a crappy little LCD screen. I could go on and on about the photos, but it would be best to let the images speak for themselves...
Two key features really rock the performance of this lens:
- This lens is fast. It focuses fast, it shoots fast, it even looks fast. Low light, lotsa light, you name it; this lens is going to find what it needs, focus on it, and deliver a photo to you as quickly as possible. A wide-open aperture of f/1.4 really helps, and the optics and mechanics of the lens round off superior performance and speed
- This lens is quiet. Face it, there are some really noisy lenses on the market (looking at you, nifty 50). With the Sigma 35mm, I hardly know I've focused. My completely unscientific view is that this might be one of the quietest lenses I've ever used.
It's a pretty lethal combination, and two components that make the Sigma 35mm one of the best lenses currently on the market.
You'll notice that I didn't list anything negative about this lens. There's a good reason for that: I didn't want to make anything up and lie to my readers. Let me be very clear about one thing: The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Lens could very well be one of the best lenses ever made at a consumer/prosumer level.
Oh, what's that? I didn't list any price? Hold onto your butts, folks. The Sigma 35mm? This bad boy retails for the low, low price of $899. That's a sub-$1000 35mm 1.4 lens that performs at, or better than, most of the lenses in its class. Look around the internet, and you'll see this baby getting scores higher than the "big name" brands like Canon and Nikon. Expect this lens to win awards, and expect Sigma to really start making some waves in the glass world.
Do yourself a favor. Go buy this lens right now.
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