Oct 22, 2013

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM "Art"

Introduction

In late 2012, Sigma re-structured its lens lineup and announced that its future lenses would each be part of one of three new product lines: "Contemporary" for affordable consumer lenses, "Sport" for fast telephoto lenses, or "Art" for high-performance primes and zooms.  The Sigma 35mm F1.4 is the first member the "Art" series, and it is available for Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sigma, and Sony cameras (every DSLR mount supported by Sigma).  In this review, we'll be taking a look at the Pentax K-mount version of this exciting lens. 

The Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM "Art" is primarily targeted at full-frame camera users who desire a fast wide-angle lens.  Its low price of $899 makes a strong competitor to the Canon 35mm F1.4 L and Nikon 35mm F1.4G lenses, which cost nearly twice as much.  The lens can of course also be used on Pentax APS-C cameras, though it will behave slightly differently due to the 1.5x crop factor that's associated with using a smaller format.  On Pentax cameras, 35mm can be considered a "normal" focal length, which means that the image reproduction ratio from such a lens corresponds roughly to what your eyes would see.  Like 50mm on full-frame, 35mm on APS-C is certainly a desirable focal length.

Sigma 35mmThe Sigma 35mm F1.4 "Art" Mounted on a Pentax K-5 with Battery Grip

Pentax has always prioritized compactness over speed when designing lenses.  Currently, the only F1.4 lenses in the genuine Pentax lineup are the FA 50mm F1.4 and DA* 55mm F1.4, both of which act as short-telephotos on APS-C.  Thus, the 35mm F1.4 really has no true direct competitor from Pentax, though the FA 31mm F1.8 Limited does come close.  If you're willing to forgo autofocus, you may also wish to look at the Rokinon/Vivitar/Samyang 35mm F1.4.  Finally, if you don't mind having a maximum aperture of F2.4 (about 1.7 stops slower), you may also want to consider the Pentax DA 35mm F2.4 alongside the Sigma, especially if you're on a budget.

So, how does a fast, premium-quality 35mm lens feel and perform on Pentax cameras?  Is this a lens you should consider as an APS-C shooter?  Read on to find out!

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