The NEW Sigma 35F1.2 for E Mount…

In the last review, I mentioned that I would be reviewing this lens next, and here we are.  This is a very exciting lens for many including myself despite the fact that it is for E and L mounts only.  For the last several years Sigma has been working to fill the gap in the lenses offered for E mount by offering almost all of their Art line lenses as a native E mount.  This is great, but inherently all of those lenses started as something else and were converted to E Mount.  E Mount shooters were always on the lookout for truly native lenses for their cameras and Sony really had the best offering in that category.  Until now.  Sigma surprised everybody when they announced three NEW E Mount lenses recently.  They included the 45F2.8 and a 14-24F2.8 ZOOM and the lens in question here today; the NEW Sigma 35F1.2 Art Native for ONLY E and L Mount.

(Photo Courtesy of Roberts Camera Website)

To be clear, as usual, I am NOT being paid for this review.  Not by Sigma, nor by Roberts Camera who has helped with the arrangements.  A few years ago I wrote a blog post about WANTS and NEEDS. You can read it here if you like.  I’ll wait.  Why do I bring this up?  Because for some time now I have been borrowing camera bodies for these reviews from anywhere and anybody.  Robert’s is ALWAYS the best as it comes to loaning me a body, however, they don’t always have them available.  When that happens I turn to the folks I know that shoot Sony to loan me a body and it was only a matter of time until I struck out.  Planning for this, I had the good folks over at UsedPhotoPro.com keeping their eyes open for me for a reasonably good shape Sony E mount body, which I bought with my own cash monies.  The body in question is a Sony A7R2.  Was this a perfect solution? No.  Was it a good solution?  Also no.  More on that in the next blog though as I shot the entire most of this  35F1.2 review with the Sony A7R2. That said,  I’m still a Nikon shooter first and foremost, however as I mentioned in the blog above; if you rent or borrow something enough times it becomes a NEED and not a Want.  And here we are.  Let’s talk about Sigma’s NEW 35F1.2!

First thing you’ll notice about Sigma’s NEW 35F1.2 Art lens is that it is MASSIVE.  The thing is almost the same size as my Nikon F Mount Sigma 85F1.4.  I am a sure-fire believer that I don’t care if a lens is large if it provides the best image quality, which is why I love my 85.  The 35F1.2 boasts the largest aperture Art Lens that Sigma has ever made, and they made it specifically for those Sony and L Mount shooters out there.  A lot of time and effort went into this lens, so let’s be real; this thing needs to be perfect in a number of ways, and that’s what makes it the most interesting in my opinion.

(Sony A7R2, 400ISO, NEW Sigma 35F1.2 Art, 1/160th@F1.2)

The lens comes standard with Sigma’s new style lens hood (which I love).  It also has an aperture ring around it, which will appease the video shooters.  Now what’s interesting about the aperture ring is that it is dual-stage meaning that if you want it to click between apertures it will.  OR if you are the video shooter out of the group and you want the ring to be a smooth control of your exposure using your aperture? You flip a switch and it no longer clicks between. It’s nice and smooth controlling the iris inside the lens making absolutely zero noise while you do it.  Brilliant.  This also lies my only complaint. (Other than that this lens is not available for my Z7 of course).  That complaint is that the click between the manual control of your apertures with the aperture ring, and the automatic function is nowhere near sturdy enough. (it says A, but really it just means you are controlling it with the camera dials and not the ring.) This means that mid shooting I found myself picking my camera up and that it was NOT set to the aperture I wanted because I had bumped the ring; and when you put it back into A, it defaults to F4 instead of F1.2.  Kind of a bummer if you ask me, but as long as your are conscious of the problem (which I quickly became) it wasn’t a big issue.  This lens also has an AFL button on the side, which can be programmed for an alternate function in some cameras.  Some cameras? Yes apparently you can program the button with some cameras, but I was unable to determine which ones exactly.  I’m guessing this will have more functionality soon but I’m not totally sure.

(Sony A7R2, 50ISO, NEW Sigma 35F1.2 Art, 1/6400th@F1.2.  Elinchrom ELB500 in a 2′ octa to above camera right, triggered by an Elinchrom Skyport Pro for Sony.)

In the field, the lens is just as big as you think it will be.  I already said it was big, but on the sony body without a grip, it feels VERY big.  One nice thing about the lens though is that it extends far enough away from the mount on the body that hand holding the body isn’t an issue.  With Sony’s 24-105 the grip on the body is a little shallow thanks to the mouth of the lens being so short.  It’s really hard to get your fingers in there, but with the Sigma 35F1.2 you can and you have no worries about losing your grip on the camera.  It’s a nice design touch if you ask me, regardless as to if it was an intentional spacing, or if the E and L mount necessitated the extra space.  I took the lens and body on location to shoot some portraits of my good friend Tom Klubens who literally the day of these portraits moved back to Indianapolis from Virginia.  I photographed Tom the day he left, and now the day he returned but that’s a story for another day.  I photographed Tom at the house he is renting in Martinsville Indiana.  It was a simple shot, done with my Elinchrom ELB500 and the 2′ Octabox that I keep in the kit for just such an occasion.  The lens and the body performed flawlessly.  The focus on the A7R2 was very accurate (since Tom wasn’t moving), and sharpness was everything I was hoping it would be (which was spectacular since Sigma has set such a high bar for themselves).  The camera/lens did not miss focus except for an occasion where I was shooting through something and the camera wanted to focus on a spider web between us that neither of us had even seen before the camera snapped to it.  I don’t see this as a problem if the camera and or lens can see such fine details.  I do however see a big advantage in the fact that this 35F1.2 can close focus to less than 12 inches.  (That’s right, less than a foot to close focus. WHAAAAAAT)

(Sony A7R2, 50ISO, NEW Sigma 35F1.2 Art, 1/3200@F1.2.  Elinchrom ELB500 to above camera right with a 2′ Elinchrom Octabank, triggered by an Elinchrom Skyport Pro on the camera). 

The lens itself performed fantastically through all aperture ranges as well.  Even all the way to F16 where diffraction wasn’t even evident.  I had zero issues with the image quality from F1.2 all the way to F16 on this lens and that’s something to write home about.  Generally, I don’t buy a F1.2 lens to shoot at F16, but 35mm is generally accepted as the equivalent to human vision; and I wanted to shoot the Widest variety of things as I could with it.

(Sony A7R2, 250ISO, NEW Sigma 35F1.2 Art, 1/160th@F16.  Elinchrom ELB500 with a 50x130cm Rotalux Strip box set to Full Power triggered by an Elinchrom Skyport Pro for Sony on the camera)

This review has taken fantastically longer to write than I had anticipated, but mostly because I had the opportunity to use the lens some more after shooting most of these things with it.  It’s such a great lens, I couldn’t say no and so I made sure to shoot with it some at the Roberts Camera, Sigma and Benro Astrophotography workshop that I was teaching recently.  (I was paid for the workshop as an instructor but by Roberts not Sigma or Benro).  35mm is almost too narrow for Astrophotography but I made the shot below, which will be the new workshop advertising photo going forward.   The shot is not photoshopped except for a little dehaze and color.  I’m very pleased.

(Sony A7R3, 1600ISO, NEW Sigma 35F1.2 Art.  30 seconds @F4.  Camera supported by a Benro TAD18AHD1A Adventure Tripod) 

 

Overall, I was really really impressed with Sigma’s NEW 35F1.2.  SO much so that I am trying to figure out why I need one.  Since I now own a Sony A7R3 maybe this is the lens I need to go on it, although that’s an expensive buy-in for a camera that is mostly destined to sit on a shelf next to my all my Nikon bodies when they aren’t being used.  Either way, I am fantastically jealous that this lens is only available for E and L mount currently.  Sigma.  Please make this a native lens for my Z7.  Please, please, please! Until then though if you are an E or L mount shooter you’ve got an incredible native lens that nobody else can get.  If you want to see one, Roberts Camera in Indianapolis has one in their display case to play with, or they can get you one.  You won’t be disappointed.  More Soon.