Sigma’s 35mm f1.4 is certainly quite a sharp lens. To experience the absolute sharpness that this lens is capable of though, you may want to micro adjust (or AF Fine Tune if you’re a Nikon and Sony user) the lens to your camera body. Wide open, the lens is really quite amazingly sharp. Unlike Zeiss, the lens doesn’t include any micro-contrast to boost perceived sharpness. The lens reaches its pinnacle of sharpness around f5.6–where the lens becomes one of the best primes we’ve seen for the Canon lineup in a while.
While we certainly purchase fast aperture lenses because we wants to shoot with them wide open, consider the fact that this lens vignettes a bit more than Canon and Nikon’s lenses wide open. If you’re shooting RAW and are a user of Lightroom, this shouldn’t be a problem for you. Vignetting is very easily corrected in post-production. Depending on the camera you’re using, the firmware could even correct for it.
While designing the lens, Sigma managed to keep down distortion quite heavily; and they need to be praised for this. In fact, we would have no problems or hesitations at all using this lens for portraits of around four feet away from the subject.
If you’re purchasing a lens of this type, Bokeh will also be extremely important to you. Sigma’s bokeh is creamier than Canon’s, Nikon’s, Rokinon’s, and Sony’s–but can’t beat Zeiss. The bokeh is so smooth that we can only liken it to something like Gelato; it really is that nice. In real life use, it will complement Sigma’s 85mm f1.4 very well if you happen to be covering an event with two bodies and two lenses.
Ease of Use
The Sigma 35mm f1.4 is a lens designed for autofocusing. For some odd reason or another, Sigma bothered to put a small depth of field scale on the lens around the focusing distance scale. In all honestly, it’s quite useless. However, if your lens is properly calibrated to your camera body (or if you’re using Sony’s peaking function) this won’t be an issue at all due to just how responsive and quick this lens really is as well.
If you really have to use manual focus though (and many videographers may want to do so) the focusing barrel is easy to turn and well grooved for a follow focus. More experienced users, though, may wish that it were a tad bit smoother.
Comparison to Alternative lenses
During this review period, we had Canon’s 35mm f1.4 USM L to test as well. As you can see in the photos below, Canon’s 35mm f1.4 is blown away by the modern design of the Sigma. Sigma’s 35mm f1.4 beats Canon’s in sharpness, bokeh quality, and focuses just as fast.
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Canon 35mm f/1.4