Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art Lens Review For L Mount:
It’s no secret that the 35mm focal length is one of the most popular around these days. It’s focal length makes it super versatile. You can shoot anything from landscape to street photography. You can even do environmental portraits with it. For some, the 35mm lens is the only lens they need for most of the time. So, imagine if there was a 35mm out there that had autofocus, and it also came with an f1.2 aperture? Imagine what possibilities it could open up? Well, there is one: the Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art lens, and it’s what I’ll be talking about today.
Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art Lens For L Mount Build Quality:
First thing’s first: let’s talk about the overall build quality, and in the case of the Sigma 35mm f1.2, it’s top notch. This lens feels so solid and dense. I reviewed the Sigma 14-24mm f2.8 a while back (review here), and I thought that was a well-made lens. The 35mm f1.2 feels even better. The 35mm f1.2 is beautifully made, and of course, it is dust and weather sealed as well. The front element even has a water and oil repellent coating on it, so you can definitely take this lens out to harsh environments. The one I tested was for L mount because I’m a Leica SL user but this lens also comes in Sony E mount as well.
↑ The Leica SL with the Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art lens.
In terms of functions, if you choose to manually focus, the focus ring is smooth. As for the aperture ring, you can actually turn off the clicking function with a simple flip of a switch on the side of the lens. I think this is such a cool feature. When it’s off, it makes absolutely no noise, and it’s very smooth, which is great for things like video. If you have the clicking function turned on, the aperture ring clicks distinctly as you rotate it, and will stay in the setting you choose.
↑ You can turn the aperture ring’s clicking function on and off.
Now, let’s talk about the size of this lens. While I’m not a big fan of the 35mm focal length, there are times when I do need one, and for those times, I generally use it like an everyday lens meaning it’s something that is easy to carry around, and doesn’t necessarily get in the way. For instance, if I’m on vacation, I may just bring one lens with me the whole day, and it’s usually a compact 35mm. The 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art lens doesn’t really fit this criteria mainly because it’s not a compact lens. In fact, it’s downright huge. It has an 82mm filter thread, which is the same size as my Summilux-SL 50mm f1.4 ASPH, and it weighs 1090 g. This lens is even a bit longer than my Lux. I knew this lens was going to be big but it definitely looks bigger in person than in the photos :).
↑ The Sigma 35mm f1.2 is actually a bit longer than my Summilux-SL 50mm ASPH (There’s also a filter on my Lux, which adds a little height to it).
But here’s the thing: it should come to no surprise that this lens was going to be big. It’s a 35mm lens that not only has a maximum aperture of f1.2, it’s weather and dust sealed, and the build quality is excellent. It’s also designed to give you incredible, reference level image quality, which I’ll talk more about down below, and it has autofocus. So, if you want all that, the lens isn’t going to be small.
Plus, I feel like this lens is more for specialized purposes rather than used as an everyday lens, so it’s okay that it’s huge. It’s like my Summilux-SL 50mm in this way. There are situations where you’re going to want a lens of this caliber and quality. Don’t get me wrong, you can still definitely use the 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art lens as an everyday lens if you wanted to. The optics are SO good that you might not even care about the size. But like I said before, a 35mm lens for me is something that I’m going to use for everyday life like snapshots, candids, street, etc. It’s something that I’m carrying with me even when I’m not necessarily going out specifically to take pictures. Maybe I’m just hanging out with friends or as I said before, I’m on vacation. So, I would keep around a more compact, smaller maximum aperture 35mm as my go-to everyday lens, and use the 35mm f1.2 for those days when I want to exploit that maximum aperture or when I want the superb image quality that this lens offers.
Now, the 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art lens also comes with a lens hood, which is nice. It’s also useful because I did get a little flare at times, which I’ll talk more about below. However, I didn’t use it much because it just makes the lens feel so much larger.
↑ The lens hood for the Sigma 35mm f1.2.
↑ Here’s another look at the lens hood.
Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art Lens For L Mount Autofocus:
Let’s talk about the autofocus now. The 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art lens has a large Hyper Sonic Motor, which aids in giving you smooth, and quiet autofocus performance. The autofocus is also pretty quick overall. It’s not super fast probably because the big glass inside is so heavy, so it might not be great for action shots (depending on what type of action) but it’s fast enough for street and portraits.
There is one issue though. I read a couple comments from around the web where people were saying that in AF-C mode, the 35mm f1.2 had a problem with focusing. So, I did my own testing, and I came to a similar conclusion. In AF-C mode on my SL, it was hunting, and I couldn’t lock on to my subject. If I have something set wrong on my camera, please don’t hesitate to let me know but even then, I don’t think this is the end of the world because it worked fine in every other mode. Plus, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a firmware out that will fix this issue in the future.
Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art Lens For L Mount Image Quality:
As for image quality, the 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art lens simply blew me away. I couldn’t believe how good the image quality was when I reviewed the first few photos I shot. In my opinion, this is easily one of the best 35mm lenses that you can currently buy.
↑ This was taken at f5.6, 100 ISO.
↑ This was taken at f1.2, 80 ISO.
↑ Here’s another shot taken at f1.2 but this time, using 320 ISO.
For one, the 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art lens is incredibly sharp. At f1.2, nearly the entire frame is sharp. I took several test shots just to double check. I had my camera placed on a tripod, and shot a brick wall several times as well. It’s pretty amazing. As you stop down even to just f2, there’s just a very tiny incremental sharpness increase in the corners, and I say tiny because it’s already so sharp. I don’t even see much of a difference between f1.2 and f5.6 in terms of sharpness. Essentially, this is a lens that you should have no issues with shooting throughout the aperture range. This lens can do things at f1.2 that some lenses can’t even do at f5.6.
↑ This lens is razor sharp even at f1.2. I used 50 ISO here.
↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.
↑ Here’s a shot taken at f8 using 100 ISO.
↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.
↑ The Sigma 35mm f1.2 makes a great street lens. This was taken at f5 using 2500 ISO.
Other features of the 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art lens include great color rendering and contrast. Subjects in images have a very three dimensional feel, and exhibit that “pop” even when shooting at smaller apertures. The lens does vignette at f1.2. Stopping down to just f1.4 reduces the vignetting quite a bit, and by f2.8, it’s essentially gone. Nothing here that is out of the ordinary. I did notice a little flaring here and there but it’s not a lot, and definitely not a deal breaker because overall, the optics of this lens are extraordinary. Yes, it might be heavy, and large but in the end, you’ll get some amazing shots.
↑ Here’s a shot taken at f8 using 50 ISO.
↑ This was taken through a dirty window. I was shooting in really low light with no tripod, so my settings were 1600 ISO at f4. Black and white conversion done in Camera Raw in Photoshop CC.
↑ I did get the occasional flare. This was taken at f1.2.
Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art Lens For L Mount Bokeh:
Now, let’s talk about that f1.2 aperture because I’m betting most of you will purchase the 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art lens for it’s ability to get a very shallow depth of field. I’m here to say that you will not be disappointed. Thanks in part to the 11 blade diaphragm, you will get a very thin depth of field with beautiful, buttery smooth bokeh. It’s a more modern looking bokeh, and I just love how everything simply melts away.
↑ Here’s a shot taken at f1.2. I used 400 ISO.
↑ Here’s another shot taken at f1.2. 50 ISO was used here.
↑ Here’s one more taken at f1.2.
I wish I had more time with this lens because I would’ve set up some portrait shoots with it. I just couldn’t schedule something in time unfortunately but for those who want to use this lens for say environmental portraits or street fashion, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
↑ Here’s another taken at wide open aperture. As you can see, the bokeh is very smooth.
↑ Another one at f1.2.
↑ I really love the look at f1.2 from this lens. Ultra smooth and a bit modern.
Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art Lens For L Mount Pros And Cons:
Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art Lens For L Mount Pros:
- Built extremely well.
- Ability to switch on and off the clicker for the aperture ring
- Weather and dust sealed.
- A 35mm f1.2 with autofocus.
- Reference quality optics: image quality is absolutely superb.
- Beautiful bokeh.
Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art Lens For L Mount Cons:
- For a 35mm, which is something I use as an everyday lens, it is large and heavy.
- I had an issue with autofocus in AF-C mode (which I’m guessing will be fixed with a future firmware update).
- I did experience a little flare here and there.
Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art Lens For L Mount Verdict:
The 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art lens is huge, and it’s definitely not a lightweight but if you’re looking for a reference level 35mm lens that thanks to it’s maximum aperture of f1.2, can also produce some unique imagery for a 35mm, look no further. This lens will deliver the goods in every way imaginable. The build is absolutely superb, and the optics are out of this world good. Yes, there are easier 35mm lenses to live with but you’re going to want to carry this thing around when you see the image quality that it can produce :).
↑ This was taken at f1.2, 50 ISO.
↑ I just loved how the light hit these trees. This was taken early in the morning at f5.6. I used 200 ISO.
The lens isn’t perfect (but pretty darn close in my opinion); I did notice a little flaring, and again, it’s huge in size. Plus there’s that issue with the AF-C mode I had. However, none of these issues would deter me from purchasing it. I can live with a little flare because it’s not like it happens often, and since I’d use this lens for more specialized purposes, I don’t mind the size. Right now, I’m using my Summilux-SL 50mm ASPH most of the time, so in a way, it’s my everyday lens ;). I’m also guessing that the AF-C mode issue will be fixed with firmware sooner or later. Plus, I’d like to add one more thing about the size: If you’re after an autofocus 35mm with reference glass, and pro build that has a maximum aperture of f1.2, you can’t expect the lens to be compact :).
↑ This was taken at f4 using 320 ISO.
↑ I love the patterns the light was producing on these buildings. I thought it would look great in black and white. This was taken at f8 using 200 ISO.
↑ This was taken at f11 using 500 ISO.
I’m sure for some of you Leica fans out there, you’ve thought about the new APO-Summicron-SL 35mm f2 ASPH. Most of you I’m guessing know how much I love Leica lenses, especially the L mount ones. I love the 35mm APO but I think the 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art lens is the one I would buy, if I were in the market for a 35mm, and it comes down to several reasons.
↑ Here’s another shot taken at f11. I used 160 ISO.
↑ This was taken at f5.6.
↑ Here’s another taken at wide open aperture.
First off, as I mentioned earlier, I’m not a huge fan of the 35mm focal length, so if I were to use one, I would use it for specific purposes, and therefore, I’d want some really uniquely cool images. The f1.2 aperture from this lens is just going to give me a unique look that the Cron won’t not because the Summicron is not a great lens but because it’s maximum aperture is only f2. The fact that the Sigma is autofocus makes it even more awesome because all my shots will be in focus at f1.2 :).
↑ This was taken at f8 with 500 ISO. Grain was added because I like the grungy look, and the black and white conversion was done in Camera Raw in Photoshop CC.
↑ This was taken at f1.2 and I used 50 ISO.
↑ Here’s a shot taken at f1.2.
Second, I think the price is pretty decent considering the optics. The list is $1,499, which isn’t cheap but it really isn’t that expensive for the quality that you’re getting here. If you’re a Sony shooter, and you’re thinking about the 35mm f1.8 (which I am currently reviewing and love), yes, that is a great lens as well. It’s also more compact, and the autofocus is quicker. But if you want fast glass, it’s generally going to be more expensive. The 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art lens is built like a tank, and the image quality is FREAKING incredible even at f1.2. It’s well worth the asking price, if you ask me.
Bottom line is if you want a 35mm lens that’ll give you reference level image quality with great build, and offers a unique look thanks to it’s f1.2 aperture, I wouldn’t hesitate to go for this one. Highly, highly recommended.
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