Fstoppers Reviews the Sigma E-Mount 85mm f/1.4 ART

Fstoppers Reviews the Sigma E-Mount 85mm f/1.4 ART

Over the past few weeks, I had the opportunity to try out the all-new Sigma Art 85mm f/1.4. Priced lower than a majority of Sony lenses out there, this seems to be a good solution for anyone looking into new glass for their Sony body.

First Thoughts

When I got the lens, the first thing I realized was how big and heavy it was. Now mind you, I have not used any other 85mm lenses for the Sony; however, this was close to the same size and weight as the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8. Disregarding its size and weight, I was really excited to put it to the test to see how it held up in a few real-world situations, knowing that I could get down to f/1.4 at such an awesome focal length. 

Size and Weight

Stacked up against the Sony 85mm f/1.4 (820 grams or 1.8 pounds), the Sigma ART 85mm f/1.4 (1,130 grams or 2.49 pounds) is far larger than its rival. I recently went to check out Sony's version of this lens, and it is a lot more compact than the Sigma. I think that this will play a big role for some people who look to have a lighter weight and smaller setup on the go. I found it annoying to throw this lens in a bag because of the weight, and after some time, it just begins to feel really heavy. Though I expected that from an 85mm lens, it would be nice if Sigma could have made the lens just a little bit smaller and lighter. This isn't really the biggest deal ever, but it certainly is something to consider if you are planning to use this lens a lot. 

Sigma 85mm 1.4

Sigma 85mm f/1.4

Sony 85mm 1.4

Sony 85mm f/1.4

Quality and Performance

Owning a few Sony G-Master lenses, I can say that the Sigma lens is very comparable in quality and performance. Autofocus seemed to work relatively well in good light, but struggled a bit in lower light conditions. The best way to solve this problem for me was to switch to manual focus mode so that I could make sure my subject was in focus before getting the shot. Overall, focus did not affect me too much; the sharpness and depth of field was enough for me to keep using the lens anywhere I could. 

Shot Sony a7R III with Sigma 85mm 1.4

Shot with Sony a7R III with Sigma 85mm f/1.4

Model: Allison Calvaruso

Shot Sony a7R III with Sigma 85mm 1.4

Shot with Sony a7R III with Sigma 85mm f/1.4

Shot Sony a7R III with Sigma 85mm 1.4

Shot with Sony a7R III with Sigma 85mm f/1.4

The build quality on the Sigma does feel better than the Sony lens, but at the same time, I think the size and weight almost just make me feel that way. The focusing ring is super smooth and easy to spin, while the switches for autofocus and manual focus are in the same spots, making it easy to switch between the Sony lens and Sigma lens. Below, you will find one image shot on the Sony a7R III and Sigma 85mm f/1.4. Below, the left side is cropped into 100 percent and the image on the right is at 200 percent.

Video

The main reason I would want an 85mm lens would be for video work. I still love photography, but a lot of the work I do with real estate could be shot on a lens like this so I could have that medium telephoto focal length and depth of field that creates a nice, soft bokeh. All of the detail shots you see in the videos below were shot handheld on the Sigma 85mm and Sony a7R III. I think this is where I really realized how amazing the lens was, and I have to say that I am really happy with the quality this lens was able to give me. I do feel like the Sony 85mm would be the better choice when it comes to video, because it has an additional aperture ring on it that you can use to control certain shots.

What I Liked

  • Build quality and feel
  • Sharpness and clarity
  • Switches in same spot as Sony lenses

What I Didn't Like

  • Size and weight
  • No aperture control ring

Conclusion

Being the type of person that loves tighter lenses, the Sigma 85mm was right up my alley. However, for somebody like me, size and weight is something that matters, because I want to be able to mount these lenses to gimbals in order to get the most out of them for video. That being said, this is going to be a close call for me between Sigma's 85mm and Sony's 85mm. At $1,200, this lens falls $600 short of the Sony lens at $1,800. This is definitely a good, affordable lens for many people out there. 

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4 Comments

Usman Dawood's picture

Does the "proper" manual focus ring come in handy at all?

Ty Poland's picture

I would say so. I tend to use autofocus a lot now and it worked good with this lens but there were certain situations where using that manual focus ring really came in handy and confirmed the focus on the subject for me.

Tony Northrup's picture

Thanks for the review. That's discouraging about the focusing! Manny Ortiz tried adapting the Sigma 105 f/1.4 to Sony and found the AF to be pretty unusable. I don't know how you managed to manually focus that lens reliably for portrait work. I'd also love to see how it handled heavy backlighting.

Ty Poland's picture

No problem Tony! Manual focus takes a little bit longer but with the viewfinder on the Sony's, they make it quite easy. I wish I was able to compare it to the Sony 85mm 1.4 but I haven't had a chance to mess around with that lens just yet.