Another Worthy Winner | Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

 

The Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is another excellent lens to join the company’s Art series. Tanvi Dhulia puts it on the BP test bench.

Reportedly ideal for street and landscape photography, Sigma’s latest lens has an uncommon combination of a 28mm focal length and a maximum aperture of f/1.4. One might wonder why Sigma chose to release this lens when they already have a 24mm f/1.4 and a 35mm f/1.4 in its existing range. Well, there is a fair amount of difference between the two focal lengths, and the 28mm hits the sweet spot right in between. For 35mm purists, the 28mm allows a slightly wider view with a greater depth of field, and for 24mm shooters, it offers a slightly longer working distance, and more pronounced blurs, at the same apertures.

Features
The 75.4° angle-of-view lens has a rather complex layout, with 17 elements in 12 groups, in a Distagon-styled design, promising low distortion and uniform sharpness. Three Special Low Dispersion and two “F” Low Dispersion (an optical glass that has a performance equal to fluorite glass) elements serves to reduce chromatic aberrations. Additionally, three aspherical lenses correct spherical aberrations to increase sharpness uniformly across the sensor, and minimise saggital coma issues. It has 9 rounded diaphragm blades, and a minimum focusing distance of 11 inches. Except for the MF ring and the AF/MF switch on the side of the lens, there are no other external controls. The lens is weather sealed but not stabilised. The filter thread of 77mm is common enough to find plenty of filters for. It comes bundled with a petal-shaped hood, which has a button on the side to secure it in place.

Handling
Although the wide-angle lens is heavy (it weighs 865g), it balances well and feels comfortable on a mid-level full frame DSLR. As is the case with Sigma Art lenses, it is well-designed and sturdy, built of magnesium alloy and thermally stable plastic composites. The textured, broad, rubberised focus ring has just the right level of resistance to be useful for precise MF in both stills and video, but the degree of rotation is barely 45o. Consequently, the distance scale accompanied by the DOF indicator are not very detailed.

The front lens element has water and oil repellent coating, which makes it easier to clean and maintain the device. The splash and dust-proof construction, according to Sigma, allows the lens to be used in light rain.

The lens provides a pleasant blur to subjects not in focus. Exposure: 1/250 sec at f/1.4 (ISO 100) Photograph/Tanvi Dhulia

Performance
The Sigma 28mm f/1.4 has an AF motor that is quiet and quick to focus. Areas that are out of focus in images appear gentle, smooth and extremely aesthetic. On the other hand, bokeh from specular highlights reveal a hard edge and some granularity. This is quite common to see with wide angle lenses, though, and acceptable, but one tends to expect a little more from an Art series lens. The lens is not prone to flare and ghosting.

The magic of the 28mm is in the level of fantastic sharpness across the frame, even at f/1.4. At f/16 too, diffraction affects sharpness minimally. In this, it is one of the best performing 28mm lenses we have seen. Distortions are slight, uncomplex and easily correctable, and fringing is barely visible, even at 100%.

Conclusion
The incredible level of sharpness across the frame, across the aperture range, and its very well controlled aberrations make the Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art an example of excellent optical engineering and design. The only two 28mm f/1.4 lenses from any manufacturer to compete with the Sigma Art 28mm come from Zeiss and Nikon. In the case of the former, it is the Otus 28mm f/1.4 ZE, which is a particularly heavy manual focus only lens, weighing 1390g, and lacking weather sealing. If these factors don’t deter you, its price tag of Rs. 3,29,950 might. Although it is a viable option for Nikon users, the AF-S Nikkor 28MM f/1.4E ED, priced at Rs. 1,58,950 is still fairly expensive compared to the Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art (Rs. 1,15,000). Additionally, the latter is available for Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E and the newest Panasonic L mounts. All things considered, the new Art lens is an excellent option for those who are looking for exceptional sharpness in a 28mm, at f/1.4.

This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of Better Photography.

FINAL RATINGS
Features
A wide-angle lens with weather-sealing, and swift autofocus
18/20
Performance
Excellent centre-to-edge sharpness, good control over flare, very minimal distortion
33/35
Build Quality
Sturdy barrel with weather-sealing
24/25
Ergonomics
Option of using filters is available
13/15
Warranty & Support
Two-year warranty with service centres in major metropolitan cities
3/5
MRP Rs. 1,15,000
OVERALL 91%
VALUE FOR MONEY 4/5
Who should buy it? Street and landscape photographers who fancy the focal length and aperture combination.
Why? The lens performs consistently and allows for a certain degree of versatility in one’s pictures.
Tags: Sigma, Sigma 28mm, Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art