Sigma AF 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM (EOS) - Review / Lab Test
Lens Reviews -
Canon EOS (Full Format)
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Review by Klaus Schroiff, published March 2011
We had to wait quite a while for a fast 85mm prime lens made by Sigma. Prime lenses may be niche products these days anyway but within this group the 85mm variations are certainly among the most popular especially for those interested in portrait photographers. It was bit surprising that the world's biggest SLR lens manufacturer didn't offer a solution for decades. In early 2011 they finally released the full format Sigma AF 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM. They're entering a market segment which has been traditionally dominated by the genuine manufacturers. In Canon land we are talking about the mighty Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 USM L II. Only recently Canon got some competition by the Zeiss Planar T* ZE 85mm f/1.4 and the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 - both manual focus lenses and as such not everybody's darling. The Sigma is obviously a tad slower than the Canon but consequently also significantly more affordable at roughly half the price.
The build quality of the Sigma lens is excellent. It is a member of Sigma's professional grade "EX" (excellence) lineup. However, unlike previous EX lenses it does no longer feature a crinkle finish but a smooth rubber coating on top of a metal body. The new finish seems to be a better approach in our opinion - it doesn't collect as much dust for instance. The rubberized focus ring operates smoothly. It has a constant physical length regardless of the focus setting. Sigma provides a petal shaped lens hood. Interestingly APS-C users can mount an extra extension barrel for even more efficient light shading.
The Sigma has a rear focus group so its length remains constant regardless of the focus setting and the front element does not rotate. Using a polarizer is therefore no problem.
The HSM ("Hyper-Sonic-Motor") AF is very fast and virtually silent. The tested sample was spot-on in terms of accuracy. Full-time manual focusing in one-shot AF mode is supported. Manual focusing is a bit on the delicate side because the focus path is rather short (which is, on the other hand, also a reason for the fast AF).
|Optical construction||11 elements in 8 groups inc. 1x aspherical and 1x SLD elements|
|Number of aperture blades||9 (circular)|
|min. focus distance||0.85 m (max. magnification ratio 1:8.6)|
|Dimensions||86 x 88 mm|
|Filter size||77 mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||petal-shaped, bayonet mount, supplied|