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Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art Lens Review and Sample Photos

posted in Photo Gear

Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art Lens Review and Sample Photos

I ordered the Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art Lens without even seeing one in person! I also ordered a Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art Lens (more on this later…). I put my faith in Sigma based on my experience of the Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art lens for the last 4 years. I was hoping Sigma would nail it again. I am pleased to let you know that new Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art Lens does not disappoint. Cost Price in India: 104,500Rs although it could be had for less. I ordered my lens through Anish George and he delivered it to Kuzhur, Kerala, India.

It is a big lens!

How big?

Have a look at the image below (shot on the iPhone 6, apologies). Yes – that is the Nikon 14-24mm lens on the top!

sigma-85mm-f1-4-art-compared-to-nikon-14-24mm-f2-8

To summarise the size:

The front element is as wide as the Nikon 14-24mm, the lens is as tall as the Nikon 24-70mm F2.8 and it weighs almost as much as my Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VRii.

Location Details:

I live and work out of Bangkok and my folks live in a village called Kuzhur (have fun trying to pronounce this). Every year in Dec the main temple in Kuzhur organises an amazing festival in honour of the resident deity -Lord Sri Subrahmanya. It features a procession of 15 Elephants, each adorned with golden caparisons, sacred bells to name a few, along with a series of ceremonial Flag hoistings along with the traditional umbrellas (in different colours) synchronised to the tune. Adding to this procession are over 200 artists with their local instruments of Drums and Trumpets beating a tune which puts a fair number of folks at the venue into a trance. If this was not enough – there is a fantastic fireworks display to top it all.

Photography Details:

All photos were taken using the following:

  • Camera: Nikon D4s
  • Aperture: All photos taken at F1.4
  • ISO: Auto ISO, exact values will be mentioned alongside each image
  • Shooting Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Focusing: Continuous
  • Shooting Speed: Burst mode, 6fps
  • Editing: All photos edited to my taste in Lightroom CC 15.8 (includes the Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art lens profile)

Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art Lens Bokeh: Late Evening Shot

Everyone wants to know what the bokeh looks like on the new Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art lens and it is often the first question! So I figured let’s start with this … Thanks, to my Dad (can you believe he is approaching his 70th?? ) for volunteering for this shot.

This was a late evening shot in my village temple grounds and the bokeh you see is the decoration on one of the trees on the temple premises. I would say the tree was approx 20-30 feet behind my dad.

  • Lens Compression: Very Good
  • Lens Bokeh: Not perfectly circular, more like a ‘lemon’.
  • Colour Fringing: Very minute (almost negligible) amount of ‘Green Fringe’ noticeable on the white coloured bokeh’s
  • Distortion: None noticed
  • Shots Fired: 3
  • Focus Missed: 1
  • Sharpness: Very good
  • ISO: 400

sigma-85mm-f1-4-art-lens-bokeh-sample-photo


Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art Lens Bokeh: Daytime Shot

This is a shot of the flower decor on the walls of sanctum sanctorum.

  • Lens Bokeh: Nice and buttery
  • Colour Fringing: None noticed
  • Distortion: None noticed
  • Shots Fired: 2
  • Focus Missed: 1
  • Sharpness: Very good
  • ISO: 100

sigma-85mm-f1-4-art-lens-bokeh-daylight-sample-photo-002


Event Photos:

Now that Bokehs are done, lets move forward to the event photos.

1. Here we have the organisers assembling and transporting the ceremonial umbrellas

  • Colour Fringing: Very minute (almost negligible) amount of green and purple on the metallic rings of the umbrella posts
  • Distortion: None noticed
  • Shots Fired: 4
  • Focus Missed: 0
  • Sharpness: Very good
  • ISO: 100

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2. The different umbrellas stacked together.

  • Colour Fringing: Very minute (almost negligible) amount of green and purple on the metallic rings of the umbrella posts
  • Distortion: None noticed
  • Shots Fired: 4
  • Focus Missed: 0
  • Sharpness: Very good
  • ISO: 100

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3. The temple name is written in the local language i.e. Malayalam which translates to “Kuzhur Sri Subrahmanya Swamy Temple”.

  • Colour Fringing: None!
  • Distortion: None noticed
  • Shots Fired: 2
  • Focus Missed: 0
  • Sharpness: Very good
  • ISO: 560

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4. The temple priest lighting the evening lamps

  • Colour Fringing: Ever so minute amount of green fringing on the bokeh behind the lamp.
  • Distortion: None noticed
  • Shots Fired: 3
  • Focus Missed: 1
  • Sharpness: Very good
  • ISO: 400

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5. The Eye of the Elephant

  • Colour Fringing: None
  • Distortion: None
  • Shots Fired: 3
  • Focus Missed: 1
  • Sharpness: Very good
  • ISO: 3200

sigma-85mm-f1-4-art-lens-sample-photo-006


6. Ceremonial Elephant lets his mahout know that something is bothering him.

  • Colour Fringing: Green around the eyes which were the most I have seen with this lens. It could be because of the differently coloured light being used at the venue as well – I’m not really sure. Also, I used Live-View to frame and take this photo.
  • Distortion: None
  • Shots Fired: 2
  • Focus Missed: 1
  • Sharpness: Very good
  • ISO: 3200

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7. The Eye II

Shooting in portrait mode was more challenging. I’m not sure if it was because of the lack of contrast between his eye and the surrounding (being too grey!) or the fact that his eyebrows came in the way –  In any case, there were a lot of shots with missed focus.

  • Colour Fringing: None
  • Distortion: None
  • Shots Fired: 7
  • Focus Missed: 6
  • Sharpness: Very good
  • ISO: 100

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8.  B&W

Here again, there were many missed focus shots in ‘portrait’ mode. I then reverted to ‘landscape’ and nailed the focus in one shot. Not sure if anyone else has faced such issues – do leave a comment if you have.

  • Colour Fringing: None
  • Distortion: None
  • Shots Fired: 1
  • Focus Missed: 0
  • Sharpness: Very good
  • ISO: 100

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9. The Tusk

  • Colour Fringing: Tiny amount of green on his tusks
  • Distortion: None
  • Shots Fired: 7
  • Focus Missed: 6
  • Sharpness: Very good
  • ISO: 100

sigma-85mm-f1-4-art-lens-sample-photo-010


10. Long shot

Again shot at F1.4, with the target moving away, there were couple of missed shots.

  • Colour Fringing: Lots of greens on the out of focus coconut trees. I’m not surprised though as this is bright scene and the leave of the tree are green!
  • Distortion: None
  • Shots Fired: 4
  • Focus Missed: 2
  • Sharpness: Very good
  • ISO: 100

sigma-85mm-f1-4-art-lens-sample-photo-011


11. Trunk

  • Colour Fringing: Tiny amount of green on his tusks
  • Distortion: None
  • Shots Fired: 2
  • Focus Missed: 0
  • Sharpness: Very good
  • ISO: 100

 

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11. All that Glitters…

Even my nikon 70-200 VRii misses focus on gold ornaments sometimes. No problems here though.

  • Colour Fringing: Extremely tiny amount of green on his tusks
  • Distortion: None
  • Shots Fired: 3
  • Focus Missed: 1
  • Sharpness: Very good
  • ISO: 100

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12. All that Glitters… II

Sooper Sharp Eyes~

  • Colour Fringing: Tiny amount of green on his tusks
  • Distortion: None
  • Shots Fired: 2
  • Focus Missed: 0
  • Sharpness: Very good
  • ISO: 100

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13. What’s in a name…

All the elephants have a name. This one is called ‘Vasudevan’.

  • Colour Fringing: None
  • Distortion: None
  • Shots Fired: 1
  • Focus Missed: 0
  • Sharpness: Very good
  • ISO: 100

sigma-85mm-f1-4-art-lens-sample-photo-015


14. Panorama

A Panorama of 7 images, shot in portrait mode – all at F1.4

  • Colour Fringing: Negligible
  • Distortion: None
  • Shots Fired: 3 -4 approx for each position
  • Focus Missed: 1 -2 for each position
  • Sharpness: Very good
  • ISO: 1600

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14. Late evening Lamps

Amazing to see no colour fringing at all. My Nikon 50mm F1.4 would have thrown out lots of greens and purples for a shot like this. Although there is a bit of ‘Flare’  on the right side of the lamp.

  • Colour Fringing: Negligible
  • Distortion: None
  • Shots Fired: 2
  • Focus Missed: 0
  • Sharpness: Very good
  • ISO: 400

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15. Missed Focus on the Gold Accoutrement aka ‘Chamayam’.

Tried it a few times, however, the camera failed to lock on to the deity as you can see. Not that sharp.

  • Colour Fringing: Negligible
  • Distortion: None
  • Shots Fired: 4 approx for each position
  • Focus Missed: 3 for each position
  • Sharpness: Soft
  • ISO: 1250

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16. Bubble

  • Colour Fringing: Green
  • Distortion: None
  • Shots Fired: 1
  • Focus Missed: 0
  • Sharpness: Sharp
  • ISO: 400

sigma-85mm-f1-4-art-lens-sample-photo-020


17. Party!

The men and kids grooving to the beats. The ladies are at a ‘safe’ distance away.

  • Colour Fringing: None
  • Distortion: None
  • Shots Fired: 2
  • Focus Missed: 0
  • Sharpness: Sharp
  • ISO: 560

sigma-85mm-f1-4-art-lens-sample-photo-021


18. Done!

The last of the participant heads for the exit. There were a couple of missed shots as the subject was moving towards me. Notive the ‘bokeh’ in the background – they are more circular here.

  • Colour Fringing: None
  • Distortion: None
  • Shots Fired: 2
  • Focus Missed: 0
  • Sharpness: Sharp
  • ISO: 500

sigma-85mm-f1-4-art-lens-sample-photo-023

Summary:

BIG Lens, Expensive, Very Very Sharp (as expected), Reasonably Fast Focusing, Gorgeous Bokeh (Lemon shaped), Minimal Colour Fringing, Focuses better in Landscape than in Portrait (I’m not entirely convinced on this one – could it be that my camera is at fault here?)

 


Thank you for your time and please do let me know your opinions in the comment section.

Contact Me for more information on availability. I’d love to know more about you and walk you through the photography, shooting styles and other services.

10 comments

    • Thanks Amol. My 2nd shooter has the Canon 85 1.2. From what I see of his work (I process the images) the Canon is also on the softer side like the nikons with visible colour fringing (Green and purple). Hope this helps 🙂

      • Thanks Anoop 🙂 So with your experience what would you suggest – Faster focusing of sigma but 1.4 or Canon with 1.2. No specific requirement as such but “1.2” creates magic 🙂

        • Hi Amol,
          Apologies for the delay. I lost my passport and its all gone pete-tong now, sigh! Not much difference b/w the 1.2 and 1.4 from a Bokeh perspective to be honest. Canon lens is great too. But you will notice the faster focusing and sharper images 🙂

  1. Got the Sigma 85 ART on my Canon 5DS R (6days now) and my Canon 85L on the
    Canon 5Dmk4 for 2 months now

    Sigma focuses almost instantly .. not a single moment of ‘hunting’
    Colours more saturated .. like the 33inch Minimum Focus Distance
    But is 50% longer than the Canon 85L .. 10% heavier .. uses an
    Incredibly expensive 86mm filter (2x the cost of the 72mm on 85L)
    Of course that’s mitigated by its cost being 55% of the 85L

    Not had chance to shoot enough so just preliminary observations
    and comparison ,. Hope it helps make a choice

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