I had the opportunity to photograph with Sigma’s brand new 85mm 1.4 DG HSM Art lens a few days ago and I must say OMG!!!! What an amazing lens. I started my session inside my studio with strobes and styled my image for high key, (all white) to see how the lens would respond to the level of detail I was looking for. As you can see from this image, it totally blew me out of the water with a quality of sharpness that was almost unbelievable. The separation and detail in the whites in the pants, the top and the background were perfection.
I downloaded this image into Photoshop and magnified it to 600% and could not believe the detail in the eyes, in the highlights and in the overall sharpness throughout my image. My aperture was set at f 11.0 s 1/125 and ISO at 125 as well. Hand holding my camera, a 5D Mark III, I was able to move around and allow Ashley, my subject to dance and feel free to be herself. My focal point was on her eyes and I was about 10-12 feet from her.
Moving closer to her, still focusing on the eyes and with the same settings, the detail just gets better because now you can see a closer version of all that beauty, hard to believe that anything can be that sharp.
This next image of Ashley was photographed outside and at f 1.4 to see how well the lens handled natural light and to better understand it’s sphere of sharpness. Photographing with a wide-open aperture is one of my favorite style choices. The Bokeh effect, “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light” is simply incredible. Ashley’s eyes are beautifully in focus while the rest of her face has a very natural fall off of sharpness due to the 1.4 aperture and my distance to my subject, about 4-7 feet. This can be used for portraits where you don’t want total sharpness throughout the image. I use it to soften skin tones and to draw attention to my subject’s eye’s, the sharpest part of the image.
Changing the aperture to f 2.8 and stepping back from my subject, I once again focused on her eyes. The size of the Bokeh changed. Moving away from her, the Bokeh gets smaller and the sharpness spreads across her body. When shooting with an open aperture beware of your distance to your subject. It will have an effect on how wide spread your sphere of sharpness is.
This last image of Ashley demonstrates the amazing capacity of this lens to showcase your subject in perfect sharpness while shooting with an open aperture. By stepping back even farther, now about 13-15 feet from my subject, from her toes to her finger tips, my image is tack sharp and I’m still able to get a nice Bokeh effect in the background. For a portrait photographer who prefers to photograph in natural light it really doesn’t get any better than this.