We trusted Sigma with their promises and we pre-ordered a long-anticipated Sigma 85mm f1.4 Art. This lens isn’t as cheap as its little brothers (24mm, 35mm & 50mm) but since we have been photographing weddings with Sigma primes over the last few years we decided to add this bad boy (or two to be precise) to our clan. We promised ourselves that 2016 season will be the last for using the extensive and heavy equipment. In other words the longer we are in this industry the more we learn and realise that there is absolutely no need for tons of lenses, cameras, flashes (you name it) to photograph weddings. In fact, the less is better especially with the style of photography we offer. We are documentary wedding photographers and since we do not pose our couples (except for must haves and creative portraits of the bride & groom) we are always on the hunt. We need to be ready for fast and very often unexpected moments, therefore we decided to strip down our equipment so that we can focus more on shooting without worrying about carrying bags full of equipment. We love how lenses of a different focal length give us the ability to create a ‘different look’ or composition. What we don’t like on the other hand is the fact that it usually takes about three days to recover after each wedding (especially when we photograph two or three back to back) simply because of the weight we carry on our shoulders all day. We made the decision to buy one anyway and we absolutely love it.
Oh boy this lens is so sexy!
The new Sigma 85 Art looks great and you immediately realise you carry a pro lens! This wasn’t the case with its predecessor. Sigma 85mm f1.4 EX had a very solid but somewhat plasticky feel so the new Art is a fantastic improvement – well done Sigma. We knew (from other online sources / reviews) that this lens is going to be big and heavy but we were still a bit shocked when it arrived, it’s massive! We just so got used to Nikkor 85mm and Sigma 85 EX that the new Art felt more like 70-200 once on a camera.
Sigma fulfilled the exacting standards of the Art line, this lens is built to last full stop. Weighing in at 1130 grams and measuring 12.6 cm in length, the Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art is a true winner in gluttony! It feels extremely well built and leveraged with latest innovations and materials.
As mentioned above we have been using both Nikkor and Sigma lenses for quite some time now and the Sigma 85 F1.4 EX has been one of our favourite work horses. We use / have Nikon F1.4G, Nikon F1.8G and Sigma F1.4 EX (and the new Art of course). The main reason behind using its older brother (Sigma 85 EX) over the Nikon versions wasn’t the price but the AF speed. We have been using the Nikon 85mm F1.4G and Nikon 85mm 1.8G and although we love the build and image quality of the two, the auto focus speed was always a huge disappointment. Due to our shooting style we choose the AF speed over the picture quality. This may sound a bit odd but we rather prefer sharp (in focus) pictures.
Unless we can have it all!
We had big expectations from the new Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art lens and it certainly did not disappoint. Not only is it faster, the image quality and sharpness is truly outstanding. It was a massive surprise to be honest. Since it has more glass to shift we thought it would be slower than the EX version, We were wrong! (The below image is not a size comparison).
Image quality / AF speed
Many people don’t see the difference and after seeing poor wedding quality images online we often wonder why pro wedding photographers (including us) invest in expensive equipment. Well the answer in our case is simple – our clients come first, and we only use tools that get the job done well. Ever since we started photographing weddings we were always willing to pay extra for fast 85 primes that will perform well in all aspects. We always wanted the speed of the Nikon Holy Trinity (14-24, 24-70, 70-200) in an 85mm lens. The AF of the three is out of this world and we wish to have speedy primes too (I hope Nikon & Sigma reads this). Anyway, the new 85 Art is the fastest of all the 85 primes we have tested and we already can say that it will be on our camera body all day and for the action shots. We tried the 85 EX at F1.4 and it was way too soft for our liking especially under poor lighting conditions such as in churches, ceremony (barns) rooms etc. where use of flash is forbidden. We would always shoot at higher F stop. You probably heard it in the past – the fact that you have a F1.4 lens doesn’t mean you should have to shoot at F1.4 We totally agree however that we want to be able to take awesome and sharp pictures at F1.4 too – that glass is there for a reason, the new Sigma 85mm F1.4 finally gives you that freedom and the images look spectacular. Below are a few examples from a recent wedding we photographed. The F number varies from 1.4 to 2.5 in the below examples.
Nothing to worry about we would say! You don’t get every single shot in focus as you would get with 70-200 VRII for example but the 85 definitely creates art! Below we include some movement / action shots for you to look at.
Thanks to three types of exclusive low-dispersion glass the chromatic aberration seems to be reduced to the minimum. (Still visible, however much better than the EX lens – the middle image – shirt / collar and mobile phones – bottom image).
The out-of-focus parts of an image produced by Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art are very aesthetic. In our personal opinion the way the lens renders the light is very pleasant to an eye.
We absolutely love the new Sigma 85 Art and we would recommend it to anyone. However, this lens is not for everyone. In our case, instead of stripping down the equipment we will probably need to attend more gym / cross fit classes to carry the lens every Saturday on our shoulders ? As we mentioned above we put the speed and quality over weight of the equipment we use and we are going to keep it for the next few years. If you’re happy with your 85mm whether it is Nikon or Sigma and it produces great results for you then my advice would be don’t buy the new Art. For us the technology jump from the old EX is significant and we are over the moon with the new glass.
Keep an eye on this blog post, we will soon update it with AF speed video of the above lenses and will also include more images and a link to a full wedding story for you to look at. Stay tuned!
A Few more Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art sample images below:
Have you seen our ‘From DSLR to Mirrorless Review’?
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