Hello Brave new world! It’s been a while, don’t think I haven’t noticed. Also I’ve had a few emails about it also, so I know some of you have noticed as well and it makes me feel great. First off let me apologize for the break in the blogging of the adventure. It was not my intention to leave anybody hanging in any way not that my adventures or equipment reviews of sort really should have kept anybody’s lives hanging in the balance but that’s not the point. The reality of why I went away for a bit was on a bit of personal self discovery in regards to the blog. At the time of the writing of my last blog I was feeling that my blog was losing itself and that’s not what I wanted. I needed to take some time to work on a few projects, and NOT blog about things as much as I had gotten into the habit of doing so. That was until the time was right. Well a few weeks ago SIGMA announced their newest offerings to be released which included a 12-24F4 Art lens, a 500mmF4 Sports lens and the lens I myself have been waiting what feels like an eternity for; The Sigma 85F1.4 Art lens. At that point I knew it was time to start blogging again, and here I am. It’s good to be seen.
(Image courtesy of Roberts Camera’s Website)
First off let me say that I am not paid for this review or overview of any Sigma Products. Roberts Camera does not pay me, but they do loan me a Camera to do this for us to publish the findings on here and over on their blog! (Check it out) That said, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got my loaner copy of the NEW Sigma 85F1.4 Art lens. I LOVE my Nikon 85F1.4D lens but it’s seen its fair share of miles the last 1o years or so that I’ve owned it. I never upgraded to Nikon’s newest AF-S 85F1.4 primarily due to cost (which was $2100 when it was released!). That was a bit much for me (even though I do have several lenses more expensive than that). I knew that Sigma had been killing it with their primes and decided to wait and see what happened. Considering it’ snow in my hands, and it’s list price is $1199 to be released soon? My wait was not in vein.
In regards to the lens let me just say THIS THING IS HUGE. My emails with Sigma have confirmed I’m not the only one shocked by it’s size. Most of my lenses have a 77 mm filter on the front (except for the exotic stuff), but this sigma? 86mm. This is the new sigma next to my Trusty Nikon 85F1.4D.
Yea. It’s like that. If that’s not enough, here is a shot of the Sigma 85F1.4 Art with it’s hood attached to a 5D Mark II sitting on my 15″ Macbook Pro. Yowza!
Despite the lenses size it feels just as well built as all the other sigma’s I’ve tested recently. Gone are the days of Sigma lens barrels made of plastic. This lens is high quality metal and it feels like it. The focus ring moves exceptionally smoothly and the lens snaps to focus much faster than I expected, especially on the 5D Mark II that I’ve had it mounted to (which as you recall, is not a camera known for it’s autofocus). The 85F1.4 Has a close focus distance of just inside a meter as well, which is solid. I don’t know off hand what my antique Nikon 85F1.4D lens’s close focus distance is, but it’s a good ways that’s for sure. Now that that data is out of the way, how is it?
(Canon 5D Mark II, NEW Sigma 85F1.4 Art, 1/5000th@F1.6@100ISO. Phottix Indra500 to camera on a 7′ Kupo Click Stand with a 14″x72″ Phottix Strip soft box set to 1/2 power. Indra triggered by Phottix ODIN 1 for Canon on the camera hot shoe).
Bloody marvelous. Fast, and crazy, crazy sharp. This was a 15 minute shoot (and 20 minutes struggling to assemble a soft box) in my friend John’s driveway. John graciously agreed to have his photo taken for this project but I guess he only realized that I was taking his photo and not the other way around moments before I arrived. Sorry If you feel railroaded John. John is also quite the capable photographer, whom I’ve shot with several times as he is the Team photographer for the Indiana Fuel. I also knew John would love a shot to look at Sigma’s new 85F1.4 so this made a great opportunity to catch up before hockey season, and to play around. The lens did not disappoint me one bit in regards to sharpness while wide open. Did I test the lens at a variety of different apertures? Not really. I shot a couple shots at F5.6 and F10, but I don’t buy a F1.4 lens for it’s ability to shoot at F5.6 or F10. I buy them to shoot in the F1.4-F2 range so that’s what I did.
(Canon 5D Mark II, NEW Sigma 85F1.4 Art. 1/4000th@F1.4 at 100ISO. Phottix Indra500 to camera on a 7′ Kupo Click Stand with a 14″x72″ Phottix Strip soft box set to 1/4 power. Indra triggered by Phottix ODIN 1 for Canon on the camera hot shoe).
Here’s another shot of John in his driveway. Even at distance the 5D Mark II was able to keep this new 85F1.4 in focus significantly more than not. This is not something I can say about my old Nikon 85F1.4D even on my Nikon D5. While the accuracy of my old 85F1.4D has improved with the D5, it wasn’t as consistent as Sigma’s NEW 85F1.4 Art. Even in Ambient light, the thing had very few misses.
(Canon 5D Mark II, NEW Sigma 85F1.4 Art. 1/100th@F1.4 at 100ISO.)
That’s Nick. Any of you folks call into Roberts Camera to buy something likely you’ve talked to him before. He was at Roberts when I went to pick up the 5D Mark II, and he couldn’t resist seeing the 85. I don’t blame him, I was excited and the camera locked right onto him for what was 2 snaps to create the image above. While I don’t like the 5D Mark II, I must say I was impressed with how the lens grabbed quickly even under the florescents of Robert’s Cameras mail order department. Even Cheeto was impressed at the sharpness and speed at which the 85 Worked.
(Canon 5D Mark II, NEW Sigma 85F1.4 Art. 1/800th@F1.4 at 250ISO.)
That’s right my first blog back in a while DID in fact have a cat photo in it. “The internet is full of cats and if you can’t beat the internet, you join it”. That’s what my grandma always said… Or was that “Where’s my purse?” or “Are we leaving yet?” or “YOU SHOULD BE SANTA CLAUSE SO WE CAN SIT IN YOUR LAP!!!!”. You’re right it was probably those last three instead of that one about the internet, but that’s ok. I snuck a cat photo in here anyway.
(Canon 5D Mark II, NEW Sigma 85F1.4 Art, 1/125th@F1.4. 50ISO. Phottix Indra500 on a Manfrotto 13′ Stacker stand to camera left up about 9′ with a Phottix Luna Folding beauty dish attached. Indra set to 1/16th power from the Phottix ODIN 1 For Canon on the hot shoe.)
So in a word am I impressed? YES. Is the lens everything I thought it would be? YES. Is it more? I think so. Why just I think so? Because It’s on a 5D Mark II. At one time the 5D2 was a mecca of technology (except for the AF which came directly from the 5D1). I briefly had the lens on a 5D Mark III at one point and it autofocused infinitely faster, but was it anymore accurate? I don’t know. That said, if it’s just as accurate on a 5D3 as it is on the 5D2 (and there is no reason to believe it wouldn’t be) this is a no brainier. I’m not sure when it’s expected to hit stores for Canon or Nikon although I know Nikon is always last). But one thing I can tell you is that I’m going to have Roberts put me on the list for one. The wait is finally over for Sigma’s highly anticipated 85F1.4 Art and she does not disappoint. If you are thinking about getting one, you should pre-order one over at Roberts Camera. They are good peoples and will do you right.
On a side note, thanks for reading once again. I look forward to continuing the blogging tradition once more with a bit more focus this time. (see what I did there?) Keep on the lookout for more soon because tomorrow I drop the Canon 5D Mark II off, but I’m picking up a Canon 1DX. There will be more soon; guaranteed.