Sigma 85mm f/1.4 HSM DG ART ( Canon ) - Review / Test
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (Full Format)

published February 2017


Ever since Zeiss announced their Otus lens lineup, a race of catching up is on by the other vendors. The game started with the 50mm class and it moved on to 85mm lenses. This time we’ll have a look at the latest contender here - the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 HSM DG Art. Unlike its (manual focus) Zeiss counterpart, it is a relatively affordable lens at around 1200-1300 US$/EUR … which sort of raises the question whether it’s up to the task? Anyway, a more realistic target is the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 USM L II which is obviously a bit faster and not all that more expensive actually. The bottom feeder in terms of pricing is the new Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 VC which we'll test at a later stage. These 85mm lenses are all pretty versatile. Portrait photography is certainly a popular application but they have friends among street photographers and they are even interesting for landscapes.

The first thing you notice when unboxing the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 HSM DG Art is the weight and size. It is not for the weak faint-hearted really. It is substantially bigger than its Canon counterpart and also the old Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX HSM DG. The build quality is superb and easily capable of handling professional requirements. The lens body is made of a combination of Sigma’s Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material combined with metal parts. The construction is also weather-sealed. The very broad focus ring operates smoothly. A deep petal-shaped lens hood is also part of the package. It's worth mentioning that the Sigma requires expensive 86mm (!) filters.

Sigma claims to have increased the AF speed by 30% over its predecessor and we can certainly confirm that it’s fast and silent. AF accuracy could be a little better though (more on this later). Full time manual focusing is possible in single-shot AF mode. The AF is live-view mode is decent (by DSLR standards).

Optical construction14 elements in 12 groups including 2xSLD and 1x aspherical elements
Number of aperture blades9 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.85m (max. magnification ratio 1:8.5)
Filter size86mm
Hoodpetal-shaped (bayonet mount, supplied)
Other featuresweather sealing