For years, Sigma had been considered a company that is not taken seriously by the pros. Then, very recently, they released their 50mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.4 combined with some quality control regulation boosts; the company stole the hearts of many with the pure optical quality. Sigma has completed the trinity with the 35mm f1.4 EX HSM; the company's latest addition to their lineup which they are branding under their "Art" line of lenses. These lenses are all known to have fast apertures and to be traditional focal lengths. Initially, the lens was released for Canon EF mount with Nikon next in line; but all DSLRs with the exception of Pentax and Four Thirds will soon be supported.
This lens is priced far below the options that Nikon, Canon and Zeiss offer for DSLR cameras--costing consumers $899 (compared to $1200-$1800). However, that doesn't mean that the quality is subpar. When holding the lens, one can immediately tell that it was built up to a very high quality standard. It will find itself in the bag of street photographers, photojournalists, wedding photographers, landscape shooters, and more. Indeed, these are the very things it was designed for. For years, photojournalists and documentary shooters mated 35mm lenses to their cameras; and some may even argue that the field of view is closer to the human perspective than a 50mm lens.
But does this lens really have what it takes to win the hearts of modern photographers who demand only the best from their equipment?
Build and Design
The Sigma 35mm f1.4 has a finish and build quality that is very much unlike any other Sigma lens that has come before it. Something about it makes one think of Zeiss or Hasselblad. It could be the smooth finish, svette black exterior, the large manual focusing ring, or the overall size and feel. The Sigma 35mm f1.4 EX feels as if it is made out of all metal, but it isn't. Instead, it is a hard plastic that still feels elegant to the touch. Despite the elegant feel of Sigma's first Art lens, it also feels very cutting edge and future-forward in its design. The company has created something that feels as if it will last you through one wedding after another.
With all of this said, it's important to note that the lens isn't waterproof or dustproof. So you may not want to take it out into the pouring rain. Even if you use this lens with a weather sealed camera, it won't protect the camera totally; and the lens may also not be totally protected. In our tests though, this lens survived a light drizzle with no problems.
Sigma has also taken a new philosophy when it comes to updating and servicing their lenses. The 35mm f1.4 is one of the first lenses that can be updated via their new USB dock; which connects to your computer and the lens to update any firmware or aid with calibration if needed. Sigma is the first company to do so and it is also an excellent way of thinking about support for the products. Running firmware through a camera is not always the most efficient way of updating a lens unless you're using a first party lens. But when you're a third party lens, you've got some problems that may occur.
The Sigma USB Dock does not have a set price yet.
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