Reviews |Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art Review

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art
Review

Price when reviewed

£749.99

$899
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Our Verdict

Sigma’s lenses have a good reputation and none more so than the Art line, its collection of lenses have really impressed over recent years. The Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art is a worthy addition to the range, delivering excellent sharpness, attractive bokeh and minimal flaws. Fingers crossed that Sigma introduces it in Nikon Z and Canon RF mounts in the not too distant future!

For

  • Excellent sharpness
  • Declickable aperture ring
  • Weather-sealed

Against

  • Only available in Sony E-mount and the L-mount
  • No depth of field or distance scale
  • Unstabilised

What is the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art?

In September 2012, Sigma announced that it was restructuring its lens line-up into the three categories we see today, Contemporary, Sports and Art. The Art line incorporates fast lenses that produce the highest image quality and that are intended for creative photography across a range of genres including landscape, portrait, still-life and macro. The widely acclaimed Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art was the first lens to be introduced in the Art line and it was built with DSLRs in mind.

Now the company has introduced the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art, a completely redesigned full-frame lens that’s for mirrorless cameras. At the moment, however, the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art is only available with the L-mount or the Sony E mount.

You can find the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art for Sony E-mount at Amazon USA

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art review

Specification

  • Lens type: Full-frame wideangle prime
  • Announced: 27th April 2021
  • Available mounts: L-mount, Sony E-mount (FE)
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • Construction: 15 elements in 11 groups, with 1 FLD, 1 ELD, 2 SLD and 2 aspherical elements
  • Coatings: Super Multi Layer, water and oil repellant (front element)
  • Number of aperture blades: 11
  • Angle of view: 63.4°
  • Focus mechanism: Stepping motor
  • Closest focusing distance: 30cm /11.8-inches
  • Maximum magnification ratio: 1:5.4
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.4
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • Filter size: 67mm
  • Supplied accessory: Petal lens hood
  • Dimensions (diameter x length): L-mount: 75.5 x 109.5mm, Sony E-mount: 75.5 x 111.5mm
  • Weight: L-mount: 645g, Sony E-mount: 640g
Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art review

Features

While the 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art is constructed from 13 elements in 11 groups, the new Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art has 15 elements arranged in 11 groups. Amongst these elements there are  two Special Low Dispersion (SLD) elements, an Extraordinary Low Dispersion (ELD) element, an ‘F’ Low Dispersion (FLD) element and two aspherical elements.

The FLD element is made from glass that has an optical performance close to that of fluorite at a fraction of the cost and weight.  It, plus the SLD and ELD elements, reduces chromatic aberrations. Meanwhile the two aspherical elements reduce distortion and maintain image quality across the image frame.

There’s also an 11-blade iris which is rounded to help deliver smooth, circular bokeh. This is adjusted using an aperture ring which can be used with or without clicks at the flick of a switch.

In addition, Sigma’s anti-ghosting and anti-flare coating technology is utilised to boost performance when subjects are backlit, and there are water and oil repellant coatings on the front element to make it easier to clean.

Further good news is that the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art is weather-sealed.

Autofocusing is handled by a stepping motor which drives a single, lightweight element, helping to make the autofocusing fast and quiet. The closest focusing distance is 30cm / 11.8-inches from the sensor, at which the maximum magnification ratio of 1:5.4 is achieved.

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art

Build and handling

There are full-frame 35mm lenses available in a wide range of sizes and the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art is one of the larger examples, but by current standards it doesn’t seem excessive. In fact, with a diameter of 75.5mm / 3-inches it’s actually a little slimmer than the original 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art.  It’s also a little shorter than the original lens. The Sony E-mount version is 111.5mm /4.4-inches in length and the L-mount version is 109.5mm / 4.3-inches whereas the older lens is 120mm/ 4.7-inches in  length in E-mount and 118mm / 4.6-inches with the L-mount.

Also, at 645g / 22.8oz for the L-mount lens and 640g / 22.6oz for the Sony E-mount version, the new lens is actually a little lighter than the old DSLR optic which weighs 755-665g / 23.5-26.6oz.

I used the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art on the Sony A7R IV and it seems well-balanced.

Where the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art really scores, however, is with the way it feels in your hand. It’s every bit a premium lens. The focus ring has a very smooth movement and it can be adjusted with pressure from just your index finger or thumb.

This ring has a non-linear response, which means that the focus throw varies depending upon the speed with which you rotate it. Rotating quickly, it takes just under a 360° turn to move from the closest to the furthest focus point, however, if you make very slow movements, it requires much greater rotation. This is good news when you want to make very precise adjustments to the focusing, but it’s not so good if you want to repeatedly shift the focus from one point to another.

As you may have gathered, the focus is by wire and there are no physical end points to the focus movement but the screen and viewfinder of the Sony A7R IV that I used for testing show a distance scale as soon as the ring is moved.  If the option is selected via the menu, the image is also magnified to make focusing easier.

Helpfully, the focusing is internal so the lens doesn’t extend in length nor does the front element rotate during focusing. That’s good news for using graduated and polarising filters as a change in focus won’t disrupt the filter.

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art review
The focus mode can be changed with a flick of the AF/MF switch at about the 10 o’clock point on the lens barrel. Just below this, there’s an AFL button that can be customised via the camera’s menu. I like to use this to magnify the area under the focus point to check the focusing.

 

When the aperture ring is ‘declicked’ using the switch at the 7 o’clock point on the lens barrel, it rotates very smoothly, requiring slightly less effort than the focus ring. Flicking the switch to the ‘click’ setting gives haptic and audible feedback at every 1/3EV adjustment in the aperture.

While videographers tend to prefer to have aperture rings declicked in case they want to adjust the setting while shooting, most photographers prefer the clicked movements because it keeps you more in touch with the degree of adjustment.

Sigma has also given the aperture ring an ‘A’ setting. When this is selected, the aperture is adjusted using a command dial on the camera.

There’s a switch at the 3 o’clock point on the lens barrel that can be used to lock the aperture ring to either the A setting or to the manual adjustment area of the ring. It means that you can’t accidentally swap from setting the aperture using a command dial to setting it via the ring or vice-versa. However, it doesn’t matter what point the aperture ring is set to in program or shutter priority mode, the Sony A7R IV overrides it and sets the aperture value it calculates is appropriate.

One issue I have with the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art is that while fingerprints and water droplets wipe away easily from the front element, dust seems a different matter. I’ve chased dust around the elements with a good lens cloth on several occasions.

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art review

Performance

When the aperture is wide-open, the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art captures a high level of sharp detail, but closing down to f/2 takes it up a notch. The difference is clear when you view the Sony A7R IV‘s 61Mp images at 100% on screen, and although it’s less obvious, it’s also apparent when images are set to fill a 27-inch computer monitor. At the opposite end of the aperture range, the impact of diffraction is evident in images captured at f/16, but not to the extent that I’d avoid using it if I needed the depth of field.

Stepping from f/1.4 to f/2 also sharpens up the corners of the frame. They’re not bad at f/1.4, and in most real-world shooting situations you probably won’t notice any drop-off, but if you need the best corner to corner sharpness, close down to f/5.6.

As usual, Sigma provides correction profiles for the 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art which can be applied in-camera or to raw files during the processing in Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom. This deals with the slight corner shading that’s evident at the widest apertures and straightens out the mild barrel distortion. Even if you photograph a subject with straight lines, you may only realise that there is barrel distortion if you switch the correction profile on and off.

Scrutinising the backlit edges in images captured with the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art revealed a few fairly minor examples of chromatic aberration which I was able to deal with quickly using Adobe Camera Raw’s ‘Defringe’ dropper tool.

Also, even when shooting into the sun, the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art manages to keep flare under control very well.

The Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art is compatible with Sony’s Eye AF and while it’s not the fastest-focusing lens, it’s far from slow and is quick enough for most situations it’s likely to encounter. It also focuses smoothly in continuous AF mode.

For the most part the focusing system is silent but it makes the occasional sound. If you’re shooting video outside, the chances are that the usual ambient noise will mask the odd sound from the focus system.

One issue for videographers, however, is that if you adjust the focus from infinity to close-to, you will spot the focus breathing which reduces the field of view.

Out of focus areas captured with the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art  look great. They’re nice and smooth while small highlights are round with no texture within and no obvious aberrations. The ‘bokeh balls’ only become a bit oval in the far corners of the frame.

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art sample images

Follow the link to browse and download full-resolution images from the Sony A7R IV with the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art. Please remember that we hold the copyright of these images.

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art image gallery

You can find the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art for Sony E-mount at Amazon USA

Verdict

Combined with a wide aperture, a focal length of 35mm opens up a wealth of creative shooting opportunities, it’s suitable for landscape, street, documentary and environmental portraiture. Consequently, 35mm lenses are a staple of a photographer’s kit bag.

The Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art makes a great choice for anyone with a Sony full-frame mirrorless camera or a Panasonic or Sigma full-frame L-mount camera. It’s good at f/1.4, but close to f/2 and the level of sharpness across the frame is superb and out of focus areas look great. In addition, chromatic aberration is minimal while distortion, flare and vignetting are all controlled extremely well.

Hopefully, Sigma will introduce the lens in a wider range of mount so that Canon RF and Nikon Z photographers can get in on the act.

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Mark Bohrer
10 months ago

A couple niggles –

Hepatic = relating to the liver. I’m sure you didn’t mean this, but rather haptic = relating to sense of touch when you state, “…gives hepatic and audible feedback…”

And limited dust on the front element should have no effect on lens performance. I’ve used a blower bulb to remove most dust on lenses, usually only an issue in dusty conditions like some pro mountain bike race courses. In fact, Roger Cicala at lensrentals ran a test of the effects on sharpness of a fly corpse inside a EF 70-200/2.8L IS II, and discovered it had less of an effect than expected. That’s an extreme none of us would encounter, but it shows that quite a lot of the lens glass would have to be obscured for any effect on pictures. See the lensrentals blog post at https://tinyurl.com/3d8t3phh.

Finally, a comparison between Sigma’s 35/1.2 DG DN Art, 35/2 DG DN Contemporary, and the 35/1.4 DG DN Art you review here would be interesting. What do the extra cost, size and weight get you in terms of optical performance? Are there major differences in handling and camera balance? In weathersealing?