Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art Review: The Best Lens for Portrait Photography

Here is an overview and a complete review of the brand-new lens for Sony mount: The Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art. A perfect lens for portrait, whether with a Sony A7 III or the Sony A7R IV and its particularly demanding sensor. For several weeks, I was able to put this lens to the review: optical quality on an A7 III and A7R IV, auto-focus, optical defects, video mode… I reviewed everything. Is it the worthy successor to the Sigma 85 1.4 Art for reflex? The answer in this review article about Sigma 85 1.4 ART.

85mm Focal Length: Ideal for Portrait

If you are looking for a lens to do portrait, an 85 mm is a must have. This Sigma also features an F 1.4 aperture that allows you to play on the depth of field in order to get a deep bokeh. There is nothing better to isolate its subject. Until now, you had the choice between 4 85 mm lenses in Sony mount. In this comparison of the 85 mm at Sony, I had only one regret: not having found an ideal solution without any compromise. But it was not counting the launch of the 85 1.4 ART that is worthy of a real GM (the very high-end at Sony). This is finally the lens I’ve been waiting for.

Overview and Characteristics of Sigma 85 1.4 ART

Sigma 85 f 1.4 DG DN
Sigma 85 f 1.4 DG DN

Impeccable Manufacturing Quality

Upon receiving the parcel, I was first amazed by the small size of the latter. But I took a second slap as soon as I took a closer look at the manufacturing quality and design of the lens. There is nothing to say, everything is present. As with a GM lens produced by Sony, you’ll find everything you need: all-metal design, perfectly calibrated focus ring, opening ring with auto position, customizable button, AF/MF button, lock button and another to make the opening ring click-less (useful for making less noise in video).

In addition, this Sigma 85 1.4 ART is obviously tropicalized. It is weatherproof and dustproof, a real plus to be able to take it anywhere with you. You also receive it with a sun visor and carrying bag. It’s really hard to make it more complete.

Quality Design

This lens is composed of 15 lenses divided into 11 groups, including 5 SLD (Super Low Dispersion) glasses as well as a circular diaphragm of 11 slats to ensure a beautiful bokeh. The focus is made from 85 cm and the lens is compatible with filters 77 mm in diameter. In short, Sigma has put the package in order to succeed worthily to the lens for reflex. Want to buy the Sigma 85 1.4? According to official information, the price announced is $1,099 and the goal to be available at the end of August, 2019.

You may also like to read: Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Art Lens Review: Best for Quality Photos in Everyday Life.

Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art Ground Test

To see what it had in its features, I used this Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art every day: studio, outdoor, family photos, shooting with professional dancers… it accompanied me everywhere. That’s what allowed me to put its AF to the test to see if I could really count on that.

Know that all the photos you will see in this review are raw files, without any processing. They are simply interpreted by Capture One, the software recommended by Sony.

Photo by Sigma 85mm F 1.4 Art
Photo By: Sigma 85mm F 1.4 Art

A Pique of Excellent Quality

Let’s start with a classic shot, with the A7R IV and its very demanding sensor of 61 Mpx.

In the center and at the edges, the level of Pique is very high, even from f 1.4. Contrast and color rendering are also perfect. From f 1.4 to f 11, I don’t have much to blame, it’s just sublime. It is only from f 16, its minimal aperture, that the Pique and contrast degrade slightly. I spare you all the photos of mire, but rest assured, you will be able to judge for yourself with the photos that will follow.

Photo by Sigma 85mm F 1.4
Photo By: Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art

Very Well Managed Optical Defects

This Sigma 85mm F 1.4 ART produces a little vignetting at full opening. In my opinion, it’s not really awkward. I don’t even fix it in post-processing since it’s the kind of sweet vignetting, I like to add when it’s not present. However, be aware that it disappears at f 5.6.

Regarding chromatic aberrations, distortion and flare, everything is perfectly mastered. I did not notice anything special during my field tests.

A Fast Auto-focus System

Photo by Sigma 85mm F1.4
Photo By: Sigma 85mm F1.4

Armed with a Sony A9 (the one that takes advantage of the fastest AF), I wanted to see if the Sigma could keep up. Note that with an 85 mm f/1.4, you only have 1 cm of depth of field if you are 1 meter from your subject. In these circumstances, the focus is better to be precise. To properly analyze the sting, we will zoom to 100 or even 200% on a photo sequence. Whatever photo I stop on, the Pique is excellent.

I did the same tests with my dog, which is even faster. Even when it hit me, the AF didn’t let go (you can hardly do better to test its reactivity). And again, the sting is still as impressive. The auto-focus has not lost its target, there are plenty of details, the focus is successful… a real treat! Everything works like in Sony native mount.

Whether it is the detection of faces and eyes on human or animals, as well as live tracking, it is as effective as on a Sony lens. Out of 2,000 photos, I only had 4 missed photos. A largely reasonable waste rate.

You may also like to read: Sigma 45mm F/2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Expert Review

The Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art in Photo Studio

Photo by Sigma 85 F1.4
Photo By: Sigma 85 F1.4

I also tested this lens with studio flashes. The photos are not retouched, but I let you observe the results obtained.

The quality is impeccable, even if you zoom in. Besides, we were in low light and it was the flash that did most of the work. It’s just sublime: the detail on the eyelashes, lips, nose, hair… that’s all I expect with this type of lens.

A Test Run with Professional Dancers

My field test does not end there, I wanted to go even further with a shooting. I could not dream better: professional dancers, moving subjects, night scenes… this is really the perfect setting to push this goal into its entrenched.

In these conditions, auto focus should not hesitate. It has to do its job, and that’s what it did hand in hand.

You may also like to read: Sigma 35mm F/1.2 DG DN Art: A Lens as Bulky as It is Excellent.

A Perfect Bokeh For Portrait

Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art Bokeh

Bokeh’s balls are perfectly round, there is nothing to blame for it. By zooming a lot, you can observe a slight onion-ring, but you really have to look in detail.

A Powerful Video Lens

With this Sigma 85 mm f/1.4 Art, you can of course make video. In addition, it has a click-less opening ring that it would be a pity to deprive yourself of. Auto-focus remains responsive and silent on video, even on a subject that arrives at full speed. It is not always perfect, especially when the subject is too close (the minimum focus distance being 85 cm, the subject will necessarily be blurred if it is too close). But rest assured, you will just have a little hesitation until it regains focus, nothing very bad.

Sigma 85 f 1.4 DG DN Art
Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art

See the Latest Price & Get It on Amazon

3 Points to Remember About The Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art

You understand, this Sigma completely convinced me. This is what I was able to review the best in 85 mm mount at Sony. If you haven’t followed everything, just remember these 3 things:

  • The Pique is sublime from the full opening, regardless of the resolution of your sensor;
  • Auto-focus is effective, even in complex situations;
  • The only negative is the lack of stabilization, but it is the compromise to take advantage of a compact and lightweight lens.

To make it simple, Sigma delivers an excellent lens, capable of doing as well (or even better) as Sony lenses. This Sigma 85mm f/1.4 will quickly become the new benchmark on the market.

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