Fstoppers Reviews the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art for Sony E

Fstoppers Reviews the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art for Sony E

Continuing on my reviews of the Sigma Art line which is becoming slowly available for native Sony E mount, today I'm going over my thoughts on the 20mm f/1.4 Art in that native E mount.

As with every Sigma Art lens I've ever put my hands on, the image quality of this lens is stellar; very sharp with minimal optical flaws.

As a primary fashion and people photographer, I don't actually use a really wide lens that much, so I tested it in various situations while accompanied by a photographer friend who brought along a D5 and the Nikon version of the 20mm f/1.4 Art.

AF Thoughts

As with the entire line of Art lenses I have used, the AF is quick and quiet. In this era of technology, I sort of expect this as the HSM in the Global Vision lenses from Sigma has proven itself to me and is very suitable for my purposes at least. I am not sure how they would perform for genres outside what I shoot such as really fast moving subjects.

The focus works very well on my a7R III and works really well even with eye autofocus at a fair distance from the subject. I wouldn't regularly shoot a 20mm for this particular scene due to distortion of the subject, although it's nice to be able to work in tighter quarters. The lens had no issue grabbing focus on the eye.

I was moderately concerned that due to the wide angle nature, it would be harder to identify things like an eye based on the relative size in the frame but the lens performed well just like the rest of the Art line.

Eye AF on the Sony a7R III with the 20mm f/1.4 art in fairly dim conditions. (LED modeling light that isn't terribly bright)

Sharpness and DOF

There is not a lot to say regarding the sharpness; the lens is very sharp, and good at rendering detail. I don't think anyone out there has been unaware of Sigma's reputation for this since the Art line was released.

The DOF is actually quite nice for a 20mm, as you can see in the portrait above, then scarf on the bed in the lower left corner is already quite far out of focus which is a nice look bfor a very wide lens.

Sony E Mount Compared to Nikon Mount

While our session wasn't exactly a scientific side by side test between the two mounts — with slightly different camera angles and all — since we were both shooting the 20mm f/1.4 Art, we looked at the optical qualities. As I had suspected, I cannot identify any differences that are in the lens. Any difference in the images would be the body's ISO capability and such. Sharpness, lack of fringing, and so on were all identical to me. This doesn't come as a surprise as the optics should in theory be the same between the mounts, even with there being some AF modifications when they ported over to the E mount options.

What I Liked

  • Sharpness
  • Weight is just the right feel in hand, some will say big and heavy but I like it
  • Color rendering as all the Global Vision lenses have performed for me

What I Didn't Like

  • No easy way to add regular filters

I realize not everyone uses filters but for what I do, the wide angles I keep are for my automotive shooting.

I had made an attempt at shooting a rig shot of my black car and I found the lens to be unusable for this as there was no easy way to use filters due to the protruding front element. A CPL is very helpful for most car sessions. 

Obviously, I cannot fault Sigma for that and say it's a flaw because it isn't. It just means it's not really the right tool for that specific job.

Using the 20mm Art lens in native Sony E mount with my car rig on my own car for testing purposes.

As you can see here, the lack of a CPL makes this far more difficult to retouch than I am willing to do. So this session was quickly scrapped.

Results From Second Shoot

Fielding and I decided to step outside my comfort zone for a session to show off some of the capabilities of this lens rather that trying to use it for something it's not suited for. It seemed to me that a optically excellent lens with a wide aperture such as this would be good to try and get some stars in a frame.

Never really having shot astrophotography I have much to learn, but we decided to take another of my vehicles into the hills outside town and use it as a foreground element to make the shot interesting since the moon was a little too bright to get any milky way shots.

BTS of me lightpainting the Jeep by Fielding Photography. I may or may nor have liquified my belly on this one once I saw how I looked. Yikes!

Our setup with the Sigma 20mm 1.4 Art in native Sony E mount, and a Nikon mount.

My final image from the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art in native Sony E mount on a7R III. I went for a nighttime blue color grade to make the shot make sense.

Summary

Overall this is an excellent lens. As with anything, it's not a one size fits all so depending on your needs this is a really good lens. I do believe that a good astrophotographer would produce stunning results with this lens, considering the lack of CA and optical quality, wide aperture and overall sharpness.

I processed all my images with Capture One as I feel it delivers the best details and colors.

Big thanks to Fielding Photography for coming out and doing this session with me. 

The 20mm f/1.4 Art is only $899 which I find to be exceptionally fair considering the quality and you can get yours here.

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