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02-12-2019, 11:45 AM   #1
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Sigma 35 1.4 Art, Sigma 17-50 for portraiture

I ordered and rec'd this Sigma lens yesterday, presented as the Pentax version. It was not so going back today. Now I'm having some second thought about it anyway.

My original idea was using it rather than my Sigma 17-50 for in-studio (K70). I've been pretty happy with the zoom lens, at least for the most part but would like a bit faster lens, at least have the option of shallower shots like the Bower 85 offers. After a whole lotta reading I decided on the Sigma Art. Now I'm not as certain that it's going to be that much more useful in practice with a couple days to reconsider. Comments about the sometimes unreliable focus of the Art lens gives me pause, but it may be relatively rare problem anyway that affects only a very few copies of it..

Anyone here with any studio experience with both lenses? Is there something I should be looking at rather than the Sigma 35 Art?

I have a Bower 85 1.4 I use in studio, and as of a couple days ago the FA77 (sometimes AF would be nice) as well so that end is covered. Any advice would be appreciated. I'm trying to be a bit more responsible on my lens selections, in fact will be culling the herd in a few days.


Last edited by BigMackCam; 02-12-2019 at 12:39 PM. Reason: Corrected title
02-12-2019, 12:54 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by gatorguy Quote
I ordered and rec'd this Sigma lens yesterday, presented as the Pentax version. It was not so going back today. Now I'm having some second thought about it anyway.

My original idea was using it rather than my Sigma 17-50 for in-studio (K70). I've been pretty happy with the zoom lens, at least for the most part but would like a bit faster lens, at least have the option of shallower shots like the Bower 85 offers. After a whole lotta reading I decided on the Sigma Art. Now I'm not as certain that it's going to be that much more useful in practice with a couple days to reconsider. Comments about the sometimes unreliable focus of the Art lens gives me pause, but it may be relatively rare problem anyway that affects only a very few copies of it..

Anyone here with any studio experience with both lenses? Is there something I should be looking at rather than the Sigma 35 Art?

I have a Bower 85 1.4 I use in studio, and as of a couple days ago the FA77 (sometimes AF would be nice) as well so that end is covered. Any advice would be appreciated. I'm trying to be a bit more responsible on my lens selections, in fact will be culling the herd in a few days.
Are you managing OK with manual focus on the Bower 85/1.4?

If your methods allow you to get consistently accurate focusing, and if you're certain that a 35mm lens will give you the field of view you want, perhaps the Samyang / Bower 35mm f/1.4 might be worth considering? I recently acquired one to use with my Sony A-mount and E-mount full frame cameras, and it's an absolute cracker of a lens... significantly better than I had expected, given the price. Although not "tack sharp" at f/1.4 - 2, it's perfectly decent and the out of focus rendering is lovely. Certainly good enough for portraiture on full frame, and even better on APS-C, IMHO. From f/2.8 onwards, it really takes off and is great across the frame, peaking (unsurprisingly) around f/4 - 5.6.

If you like the 85/1.4, I'm certain you'd like the 35mm f/1.4 too. It's excellent - and inexpensive if you look for deals...
02-12-2019, 01:28 PM   #3
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Thanks BigMack. Yes I'm keeping the Bower 35 as a possible option, love the depth and look from the 85, but would prefer autofocus all things considered. I don't have any big issue with manual other than certain situations where my subject is moving quicker than I am between poses and expressions.
02-12-2019, 02:06 PM - 1 Like   #4
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I have the Sigma 35 Art for quite some time and I have been using it for portraits. I don't have the Sigma 17-50, but I don't think it can hold its own against the 35mm Art, which is optically superb (later edit: only at 35mm, the 17-50 probably wins when it comes to other focal lengths).

I did use it on the K5IIs, now I have the K-1 but before using it on the K-1 I will send it to Sigma for mount replacement, in order not to scratch the mount of the K-1.

Regarding the unreliable focus: I think for my copy it is present, but I'm not really sure. About 10% or less of the shots are affected, but I never made any serious tests, it could be the AF of K5IIs which is not GREAT by any means or my poor technique, using focus and reframe at f1.4 and stuff like that. I would say it's a little bit weird. The vast majority of low light shots are ok, but sometimes it misses focus in clear daylight.

If you're shooting in studio, can't you use contrast AF in liveview? that should resolve any focusing issues. Also, there is a deck available for calibrating the lens. Or you can just test your copy and return it if you see any problems.

Some portraits below with Sigma 35 Art on the K5IIs, feel free to click to images to go to full res version on Flickr.













I also have some studio shots with the 35 Art but those are NSFW so I cannot post them here.

Other options: well, first thing that comes to mind is FA 31mm, which is also a bit wider.


Last edited by Hattifnatt; 02-12-2019 at 02:33 PM.
02-12-2019, 02:14 PM   #5
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Sigma 17-50/2.8 is optically the best large aperture zoom with this range available for K mount. Other options are Tamron 17-50/2.8 which is not as good and has mechanical problems with stuck zoom (broken helicoid or inner tube over time) and Pentax SMC DA*16-50/2.8 SDM, which has a lot of CA, weak frame edges and sudden death motor. Quite overpriced thing.

Since I bought that Sig17-50, my FA*24/1, FA35/2 and FA50/1.4 are rarely used.
Sig35/1.4 is best resolving 35mm lens available for K mount to date.
Decisions on these are pretty easy. Especialy if you check customer-friendly price of that 17-50/2.8.

And as we can see, you already have them both


+ you can add Sigma 18-35/1.8 in list too, but try more samples to test AF alignment with your camera. Some need to be send to Sigma service for AF correction for your camera. Also be avare, that Pentax AF pretty often struggles with lenses faster than F2.8
02-12-2019, 02:39 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by gatorguy Quote
Thanks BigMack. Yes I'm keeping the Bower 35 as a possible option, love the depth and look from the 85, but would prefer autofocus all things considered. I don't have any big issue with manual other than certain situations where my subject is moving quicker than I am between poses and expressions.
Frankly, I'm not great with manual focusing lenses on my K-3 at fast apertures through the optical viewfinder. I'm not bad at it, but I can't guarantee consistently accurate focus unless I use Live View, and I'm not keen on using that for hand-held photography... so I generally stick to AF lenses on my Pentax gear.

Is 30mm too wide for you? The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Art is often criticised for its AF accuracy, but I believe that's only an issue in certain situations when using AF points away from the centre. I bought one last year, and I mainly use the centre AF point. It focuses reasonably quickly and accurately. Resolution at the centre of the frame is outstanding. The borders always lag significantly behind, but for portraiture that should be less of an issue. The rendering is, to my eyes, beautiful - like a modern realisation of a quirky (in a good way) film era lens. It has some serious limitations depending on use case, but for yours it might work very well. It's one of my favourite K-mount lenses, and although I change my mind from time-to-time, it's currently my favourite K-mount prime due to the overall rendering.

Alternatively, you might consider the older FA35/2 or newer HD version. From everything I've seen, it's usable at f/2 albeit with the same limitations common to any film-era lens of this focal length - yet I've read that it compares very favourably with Canikon's offerings. From f/2.8, it seems to be very good indeed, though - like the Sigma 30/1.4 Art - always with the borders lagging considerably behind the centre. Yet, once more, this shouldn't be a big issue for your use case.

One challenge you might find hard to overcome is to improve upon the Sigma 17-50 f/2.8's performance at wider apertures. I think you're going to have a tough time even matching resolution performance with any other AF lens of the same or similar focal length in K-mount... except, that is, with the Sigma 35mm f/1.4...
02-12-2019, 04:29 PM - 1 Like   #7
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@BigMack and everyone else who's chimed in with good advice: I'm not hearing a compelling reason to spend several hundred on something "better" than the 17-50 I already have. Barring someone adding more to the discussion I think the wise choice is to sit pat. I appreciate everyone's input.
02-12-2019, 05:14 PM   #8
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The 17-50 is a good to great “all around” lens that is usually plenty fast enough. I rarely hear anyone really complain about that lens.

I’ve passed on the Art lenses because of the focus issues. That and I have the FA31, which is a stellar lens in its focal length. If you’re looking to spend money, any of those 30ish primes will please you. Otherwise, the 17-50 is more than adequate.

02-12-2019, 05:30 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by gatorguy Quote
Anyone here with any studio experience with both lenses? Is there something I should be looking at rather than the Sigma 35 Art?
I have both, Gatorguy, and in a studio the 17-50 is just fine you're shooting at f8 or f11 anyway.
02-12-2019, 06:06 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
I have both, Gatorguy, and in a studio the 17-50 is just fine … you're shooting at f8 or f11 anyway.
I was hoping you might wander by. Thanks Clackers. Reinforces my thinking now.
(Actually closer to 2.8-3.5 but who's checking. I tend to go kinda shallow DoF.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/12-post-your-photos/382607-abstract-people-tracy.html

Last edited by gatorguy; 02-12-2019 at 06:13 PM.
02-12-2019, 07:57 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by gatorguy Quote
I was hoping you might wander by. Thanks Clackers. Reinforces my thinking now.
(Actually closer to 2.8-3.5 but who's checking. I tend to go kinda shallow DoF.
People - Tracy - PentaxForums.com
Studio work's normally done stopped down (which is why HSS isn't required) and that wall's so close to them its details are pretty clear even wide open, but this is now aesthetics, not facts.

Love your pics, though, GG, and Tracy's clearly a character, and you made that come through, somebody else might have been too regimented about the session.
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