Now that the three lens lines of the Sigma Global Vision have grown in numbers, it is becoming both easier and harder to write these first look blog postings.
Realize this: In the past four years, Sigma has introduced twenty-two lenses in the Art, Sport, and Contemporary lines for full-frame, crop sensor and mirrorless systems. And this isn’t even mentioning the quattro generation cameras, the USB Dock, the MC-11 Mount Converter, the world’s first Ceramic glass protector filters, redesigned polarizer filters and new teleconverters!
It is easy because photographers now understand completely what it means when a lens wears the Art, Sports, and Contemporary badges, so much so that photographers ‘round the world were waiting (im)patiently for the 85mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art to be announced. The Sigma Global Vision delivers exceptional optics with industry-leading features at very competitive prices—this fact is established.
(It is a challenge because every one of the new lenses are exceptional examples for their class; so how do you keep the writing fresh? That’s my struggle!)
With the help of some shots and commentary from Sigma Pros and Tech Reps, we’re going to take a quick look at the 500mm F4 DG OS HSM | Sport, 12-24mm F4 DG HSM | Art and 85mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art lenses before these lenses go on display for the first time in the US at PhotoPlus Expo!
This is the first prime lens in the Sports line, and it is a fast-aperture monster. With full weather-sealing, a dedicated front button on the barrel near the front element, and Sigma’s Exclusive Lens Customization features via the USB Dock and Sigma Optimization Pro, this long-reach pro super tele offers a tripod collar with two mounting thread diameters (and can be swapped for the optional speed rail) and a click or no click option as the lens and camera is rotated in 90º increments.
At over seven pounds, and fifteen inches long (the lightweight carbon fiber hood adds another seven inches), this is a lens that most photographers will use paired with a monopod or tripod in most situations. To that end, there is two mode Optical Stabilizer, with OS 1 designed for hand held use and OS 2 for panning shots.
The full-time manual focus ring is big and grippy, and responds with a good amount of dampening when Manual focus is employed. Like the 120-300mm F2.8 Sport lens and the 150-600mm F5-6.3 Sport lenses, all the buttons and switches feel solid and click easily from one setting to the next. Three zone Focus limiter speeds AF response time, which is handy when a subject is a known distance from the lens. And the AF recall setting for the front of the lens button is very useful for photographers who can set a “known home” spot during a photo session, whether it is a bird’s nest or home plate. Activating this setting instructs the lens to refocus exactly where you anticipate the action, a very handy feature.
The view through the lens is bright and crisp and sharp. Offering a 5º field of view on a full-frame camera, on crop sensor cameras such as the sd Quattro, it offers a 750mm equivalence for even longer reach.
And at just under $6K US street price, this new lens offers all-star performance for a very nice price.
This is the first Ultrawide full-frame zoom lens to wear the Art badge, and like the 500mm F4, was a surprise to most Sigma fans. Following up on the success of the wildly popular second generation variable aperture 12-24mm zoom, this lens offers great edge to edge sharpness paired with exceptional distortion control throughout the 2x zoom range. As an Art lens, the emphasis in first and foremost on optical performance, and as such, it is a big lens, with a large front element. And interestingly, the front element group glides back and forth inside the integrated tulip hood as the focal distance is adjusted. It is a natural go-to lens for landscape artists, architecture and photojournalisms.
Vignetting is very well controlled. For a short lens, is is quite hefty, due in part to the 80mm diameter aspherical front lens element. Zoom is swift for recomposing, as is AF; thanks to a new hypersonic motor that delivers 1.3x torque compared to previous generation. It is very nimble in nailing focus. And it close-focuses to mere inches in front of the lens, allowing both for heroing in on a subject as well as offering background separation and off-focal plane blur.
This lens is designed for full-frame DSLRs, and does not accept front-threaded filters. The tradeoff, though, is fantastic edge to edge performance while taking in sweeping fields of view.
Shortly after photokina 2012, when the first Art lens, the 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art was announced, photographers have been asking for the 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM to be redesigned to the Art lens standards.
Mind you, the original 85mm F1.4 is a fantastic optic; so the new Art lens 85mm F1.4 has a strong pedigree to uphold. Now, the 85mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art is here. It is real, and it is spectacular.
It is a big chunky lens, with an 86mm front element riding ahead of a wide MF grip ring. It is razor-sharp on the focal plane, even wide open, and of course it has nine rounded aperture blades for lovely bokeh.
It, too, has a newly designed Hypersonic Motor with 1.3x torque of the previous generation, and it is very obvious. AF is zippy, locking on the the subject quickly, anywhere in the focal zone even indoors in fair to fading light.
Wedding specialists, journalists and studio photographers looking for a sharp, short tele with a fast aperture, plus speedy, accurate autofocus and outstanding optical characteristics are going to love this lens. If you haven’t already preordered, you’re going to want to do so now—demand is really high.
Which of these three new lenses are you most excited about? Let us know below!