Sigma 35mm f1.4 EX HSM Lens Review (Part 1)

5/11/2013 11:18:01 AM

We have completed our first impression on the Sigma 35mm f1.4 EX, and the lens moved me so much that I now have turned to the Sigma. We spent much more time than other reviewers for a suitable reason. First of all, we had to send the lens to Sigma to ensure it was well modified. The results that we received were excellent, but there might have been some magic here that we totally were not able to see. The lens turned back in two days: it showed that everything was excellent and worked just well.

But afterwards, we tried a few different things: we put the lens on a film camera and tried it with the Fuji Pro 400H.

So, it works like that?

The Sigma 35mm f1.4 EX HSM

The Sigma 35mm f1.4 EX HSM

For this review, we used the Sigma 35mm f1.4 EX with the Canon 5D Mk II.


The Sigma 35mm f1.4 EX is a pretty big lens, but it is still a match with the size of the Canon 35mm f1.4 LUSM. The lens hood does not make the package smaller at all.

Sigma’s 35mm F1.4 is characterized by a lot of minimalist spaces except the focusing ring, focusing switch, and the depth-of-field scale/focusing-distance scale. Part of this minimalist is emphasized by the overall elegant design for which we will go into more detail later.

There is no cap, the lens becomes smaller, fairly small. The lens also feels easier to control in your hands to remove the lens hood. However, we encourage all users to attach the shutter to protect the lens.

The Sigma 35mm f1.4 EX is a pretty big lens

The Sigma 35mm f1.4 EX is a pretty big lens

Sigma sets a depth scale on the lens, though I really do not understand why. The depth scale is almost useless for zone focusing. It would be a better approach if there were an efficient and working scale. However, this lens was designed for completely automatic focus, and it did a good job on this aspect.

Build Quality

The 35mm f1.4 gives a feel that the outer is made of metal, but the reality is not so. It is hard plastic that feels like Zeiss and Hasselblad. The Germans have to worry about and fear the launch of this lens.

This lens survived through common tumbling and messes in my camera bag, my movement on the NYC subway system and throughout New York. It even traveled with me to Vegas for CES 2013 and there was no problem with the TSA’s rudimentary shelter.

Unfortunately, it would have been better if it is the weather barrier.


Put this lens on the Canon 5D Mk II and it will focus as fast as Canon’s 35mm f1.4 L USM. And how about Canon’s DSLR series why? We have experienced with such performance. The autofocusing capability of this lens is very fast, and it does not matter physically for a 35mm f1.4 quality to focus faster.

Of course, there are faster autofocus lenses are being produced out there.

When we checked on the Canon EOS Elan 7, the lens still autofocused extremely fast.

Ease of Use

Sigma's 35mm f1.4 EX was designed to autofocus. With that statement, all you need to do is point and shoot. You want autofocus for this lens? For that, you will need a camera with a bright 100% viewfinder (like the 5D Mk III) or turn to Live View mode. If you are filming, we are sure that you will choose the latter.

The other option: A new focusing screen designed for manual focus for the lens. But to get the best performance we suggest using a newer camera body or stopping providing that you are using an older camera.

Image Quality

This lens gets many details when shooting wide, but as other Zeiss lenses, it adds to the look. Files have an almost medium format quality which is positively jaw-dropping.

The almost medium format quality

The almost medium format quality

At around f3.5, you will almost never see any signs of blurring. When compared with Canon's 35mm f1.4, the lens vignettes more, but there are some main points supporting it in other areas. Several times in this review, we felt that the lens hood made it worse.

Of course, we should point out that vignette can easily be removed in Adobe Lightroom 4, so please make a copy and stop complaining!

The quality of bokeh from the lens is actually quite soft. Again, there's something about it that almost reminds me of Maymiya’s or Bronica’s lenses, which had some beautiful bokehs. Due to the fact that there is no micro-contrast in this lens, you will not see your object standing out from bokeh as much as you would see in a Zeiss or Leica lens.

Wedding photographers, photojournalists and event photographers are those who will work better with this lens along with many other street photographers out there obviously. 35mm is a classic focal length and I personally believe it can simulate my vision better than 50mm.

If you are planning on buying this lens, we recommend refining / AF-Fine tuning in case of need. Although Sigma’s quality control has improved sharply, it won’t hurt to do this with any given lens. That way, you can see how sharp your lens will become in actual uses.

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