Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art Series: A truly Brilliant Optic!

All the images were shot wide open at f1.4

Before we go further I’m simply aching to say that this Art Series lens is absolutely brilliant, it captures pin sharp beautifully contrasty images with very creamy bokeh, I’ve had it less than a week, but so far can’t fault it, I have only shot it wide open at 1.4, where in my view the creativity lies. It’s quite remarkable actually just how good the images are at this wide aperture, in fact I’ve seldom seen a lens perform so well at it’s maximum, but this was deliberate in the design, that it should deliver at the most exciting end of the aperture spectrum, something the competition can’t quite hit!

Sigma for years have manufactured lenses which certainly compete admirably with the Big Boys pro-sumer offerings (Canon, Nikon, Sony), some even jostling with the pro series glass whilst being notably cheaper. Couple of years ago Sigma unveiled their 50mm f1.4 that really was a rung above any other prime they’d made to date. It was designed to perform wide open, i.e. at f1.4, to give very shallow depth of field, arguably performing better than Canon & Nikons equivalents, possibly better than even Canon’s L series f1.2  (and at less than half it’s price).

 I love fast prime lenses, their quality, simplicity and discipline… a good zoom has it’s place, like shooting an event where the subjects are various and random, in changing spaces, but when we have more time to consider composition zooms make us lazy, i.e. we stand still & use the zoom to alter the respective distance of the subject to camera, bad because the perspective most notably alters drastically taking away an element of continuity between images, as composition isn’t simply arranging what we capture in the frame, but also every components perceived distance from each other.

The perspective that personally appeals to me is that which emulates that of the human eye which strictly speaking is around 42mm, it doesn’t have the angle of view of the eye, simply it’s perspective… most of the images shot on the last Thai trip were captured through Canon’s 40mm f2.8 pancake.

The 35mm focal length however gives the photographer that extra angle of view, and with the Sigma the super fast 1.4 aperture, not to mention it’s faultless image quality.

What I love about images captured at wide apertures is the very narrow plane of focus, making the subject ‘pop’ out of the frame whilst surrounding it in creamy soft focus (bokeh), the closer the subject the more apparent this becomes.. a hidden advantage is that allowing so much light into the camera means that in low light one can continue shooting at low ISO film speeds thus retaining maximum quality, veritably two birds with one stone.

A friend and pro photographer has just bought the Canon pro ‘L’ series  35mm f1.4. Over the coming weeks we’ll pitch them off against each other… however at this early stage we ‘think’ that the Sigma may be more contrasty, whilst possibly sharper. Maybe…!

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