About this time last year, the Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art series lens was released and I went ahead and decided to pull the trigger and invest in the new glass. I had heard great things about other entries in the art lineup and understandably Sigma’s new 85mm focal length was getting a solid amount of hype. For the past year, I have been shooting exclusively with Sigma’s 85mm. It’s been the only lens in my camera bag and the only lens I’ve used for a straight year. What follows are my impressions after a solid year of use; what I like about the lens and what I don’t like.
Let’s start out with some of the things that I love about this lens. After a year of continuous use, I can say that there is no question that the Sigma 85mm 1.4 is a great piece of glass. I am first and foremost a portrait photographer so the focal length itself is a no-brainer for me. As a short/medium telephoto lens, the 85mm gives me a gorgeous level of background compression, beautiful bokeh, and I don’t need to be overly concerned with facial distortion if I come in for a closeup shot. It’s been said before and will be said again that the 85mm focal length is pretty much perfect for portraits.
As I currently live in Colorado and have generally have access to gorgeous sunsets for most of the year I have developed a love for shooting backlit images. If you’ve ever shot backlit before, you know that depending on the angle and position of the sunlight, as well as your own preferences regarding lens flare, some lenses can be finicky about nailing focus. This is understandable as you’re basically asking your camera to nail focus while either direct or angled light is coming right into the lens. I can say with confidence that the Sigma 85mm handles backlighting scenarios like a boss. This is one of the first things that I noticed about this lens; even in less than ideal backlit situations, the lens is wildly successful at getting great focus right where you want it.