A couple of weeks ago I got my hands on the Sigma 28mm f1.4 Art DG HSM for Canon (also available for Nikon, and Sony) and got to play with it for a couple of weeks. Let me tell you; it was a tough one to give back. This lens is quite amazing in terms of build, weight, and, most importantly, performance.
Ergonomics and build
The Sigma 28mm f1.4 Art DG HSM is a very standard Sigma lens when it comes to the ergonomics. Many of their primes more or less follow the same formula when it comes to the exterior design. In this case, and with pretty much most cases, there is a large rubber ring that makes up the focusing ring. This rubber ring helps greatly when it comes to the grip and overall ergonomic feel of the lens. The front of the lens has a 77mm filter thread and comes with a lens hood. The side of the Sigma 28mm f1.4 Art DG HSM has a switch for autofocus control.
The Sigma 28mm f1.4 Art DG HSM has weather sealing built into the lens. I was able to test this when I took it out in the snow. We have had an unusual cold spell here in Chicago, and when I was walking around downtown with this lens, the temperatures dipped, and it started to snow. I was a bit apprehensive taking out my gear in the snow, but I am glad I did because this lens performed beautifully with my weather resistant Canon 5D MkIII. Photographers who regularly operate in the outdoors with rain and snow will find this beneficial.
When you hold the Sigma 28mm f1.4 Art DG HSM, you feel a solid lens. My primary everyday lens is a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8. This lens has been in my bag for the past 9 years, and I like the feel of the solid form and am comfortable with the weight. The Sigma 28mm is a bit smaller, and a little lighter than I am used to, so switching to it was a non-issue for me.
Technical Specifications (from Sigma)
- Best-in-class performance
- Dust- and splash-proof structure
- Designed to minimize flare and ghosting
- Designed to meet all shooting conditions
- Compatible with Canon Lens Aberration Correction
- Nikon electromagnetic diaphragm mechanism included
- Manual Override (MO) capable of switching two full-time manual modes
- Lens angle is 75.4deg
- Filter size is 77mm
- Minimal aperture is f16
- Minimal focusing distance is 28cm/11in
I gauged the performance of this lens in three different areas:
- Low light performance
- Color output
- Wide angle
Low light performance
The Sigma 28mm features a very fast lens design at f/1.4. This makes it an ideal low light photography lens. Moreover, the mechanics of the lens also delivers incredible sharpness even at its widest aperture. I love photographing at wide apertures and am generally at f/2.8 or f/4.0. So the f/1.4 was attractive to me, especially in low light. I tested the low light performance at a couple of places in Chicago and was very happy with the results. The lens was also quite fast at focusing in these low light situations.
Sigma’s Art series is known for its superb color rendition, and the 28mm Art lens did not disappoint in this area. I tested the lens in a variety of lighting conditions, both indoors and outdoors, as well as on bright sunny days and overcast days. In each scenario, the lens output was beautiful.
The Sigma 28mm f/1.4 is a fixed zoom lens. Unlike my Canon 24-70mm zoom which gives me more flexibility and freedom in the range of focal lengths, the fixed zoom does take a little bit getting used to. But if you were to use this as a walking-around-everyday-travel lens, which is what I use my 24-70mm, the fixed zoom is not an issue. The wide angle does take a little getting used to, but all the other features like fast focusing, low light, and superb color output make up for the wide-angle fixed zoom.
Additionally, I found minimal to no chromatic aberration around the edges of the frame that is predominant in most wide-angle lenses.
Overall, I was very pleased with this lens. It is a good solid lens from the Sigma Art series and well worth the investment, making it an ideal lens for street photography and wide-angle photography.