An Artist at Work: Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM | Art

JAnArtist2Sigma has been steadily taking on the giants in imaging with its latest series of Art, Sport and Contemporary-labelled lenses. The Art lenses in itself has established as the signature of quality in optics, build quality and mechanical precision. The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens is its answer to competitors in the heavily contested fast portrait lens sphere.

Design and Build Quality
The 85mm Art lens is constructed sturdily with a dust and splash-proof design. The outer shell is made of metal and oozes quality, similar to other Art series lenses. At over a kilogram, the lens is not light at all, and being a fast lens, it is quite bulky. The lens mount has a rubber sealing to keep dust and water off the mount. The mount is constructed with brass. Sigma has supplied a sturdy petal shaped lens hood with the lens. The lens has one AF/MF switch and a focus distance window with a depth of field scale.

Key Features
The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is a professional quality portrait lens and provides a very high resolving power to match the ultra high resolution cameras currently in market. On designing this portrait lens, Sigma has taken pains to keep chromatic aberration to the minimum and producing pleasing bokehs. The lens incorporates 14 elements in 12 groups including two SLD (Special Low Dispersion) and one aspherical element with a high rate of anomalous partial dispersion and a high refractive index. With this, Sigma believes that the lens can deliver clear image throughout the plane. The lens features a newly designed Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) and electromagnetic aperture control in case of Nikon mount lenses. The new HSM offers 1.3 times the torque than its predecessor, which results in fast autofocus. The lens offers full-time manual focus override even during continuous AF mode. The 85mm lens is compatible with Sigma’s MC-11 mount converter, allowing the SA/EOS mount lenses to be used with a Sony E-mount camera body. It is also compatible with Sigma USB Dock, making it easier to upgrade the lens firmware and fine-tune focus.

The 85mm Art lens uses a nine-blade rounded diaphragm that creates an attractive blur in the out-of-focus areas of the image. Aperture ranges from f/1.4 to 16. It accepts 85mm filters. The lens weighs 1,130g and has dimensions of 94.7mm (φ) × 126.2mm.

As mentioned before, the lens is quite heavy and bulky. However, the focus ring is broad and has a textured rubber lining for better grip. The ring is perfectly damped—not too loose, not too tight. The focus switch is easily operable. The focus distance in metres is legibly marked in white, while the feet markings are in grey, making it a little hard to read in low light. The front element does not rotate.