Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens Review
After the grand success of 85mm series, sigma introduces the next level portrait lens, the 135mm prime. It is a long-time favorite of portrait photographers & wedding photographers combining the compression of a telephoto lens with the thin depth-of-field of a fast aperture, resulting in really blurred-out backgrounds. Sigma's release of the 135mm ƒ/1.8 DG HSM Art is a timely and smartly-planned lens. Current offerings by Canon and Nikon in this focal length are running bit older versions.
Since it’s in the middle of summer and an extremely hot climate (nearly 55-60 degrees) most of my models were on vacation. So I decided to test this new wonder lens with my beautiful Amelia for an indoor shoot. I did a small studio set up using a 150mm octagonal soft box and beauty dish to give a litted scene in the living room. I did few shots, close up and wide. I instantly fell in love with the sharpness and depth of field creating beautiful outcomes.
This is one of the sharpest lens I have tested so far. I had tried using the widest opening at ƒ/1.8, on my 5d mk3 and the lens has produced virtually no corner softness. With a lens at this level of quality, the only reason you want to step down is to direct how much depth-of-field you want in your image.
In the narrow aperture like f16, the image has slight softness, but nothing to worry because, the lens made for using in the widest aperture, like f1.8 , f2.6 and no distortion at all. In addition, because of the construction and arrangement of the glasses inside the lens, the lens did not show any chromatic abbreviation at all. When we use the lens at the widest aperture, it will show a slight vignette at the corners, but a single click in lightroom can correct it.
There are two switches on the lens barrel located in the common button position. The first one is for auto focus and manual focus of the lens. The second is a focus limiter, which has three positions: 0.875m to 1.5m (a typical portrait distance: 3 to 5 feet), 1.5m to infinity, or FULL, where there is no focus limitation. A distance scale is provided with ranges indicated in feet and meters: there is no depth-of-field scale, nor is there an infrared index marker. Because of the electronic hyper sonic motor, the focusing is ultimately faster and smooth. The 135mm ƒ/1.8 offers 0.2x magnification, with a minimum close-focusing distance of just under three feet.
The wide focus ring will help manual focus override lovers. The ring has soft stops that will let you know when you have reached the end of the focusing spectrum. The auto focus results can be overridden by just turning the ring at any time.
I tried to bring out some food & products with the lens and it also worked well. I am amazed with the sharpness, colors and details of the products. Along with great depth of field, I can say that the food photo session is successful. The lens doesn't have stabilizer, however I still managed to shoot handheld and gave me great output.
No matter what, if you are looking for one step beyond from the 85mm focal range, this is the best choice for you.
The lens barrel is constructed out of sigma global visions Thermally Stable Composite material, matte black finish and thickly gripped zoom and focus rings. The special materials allows for much tighter manufacturing precision compared to standard polycarbonate plastics. The lens, therefore, feels great in the hand. The build quality is excellent and feels very solid. Also it is bit heavier than nikon and canon 135mm lenses, but the weight is worth for the performance. The lens features nine curved diaphragm blades to make up its aperture, which produce buttery-smooth results for bokeh.
The next day I invited one of my models to the seashore to do some outdoor shots. It was a horrible idea, as it was too hot as early as 7am and we all got dehydrated fast. However, I still got some opportunity to shoot with natural light plus one speed light fired from opposite.
The lens itself is relatively simple in design: 13 elements in 10 groups with two big FLD ("Fluorite Low Dispersion") elements and two big SLD ("Special Low Dispersion") elements. (details from sigma global) The lens comes to suit Nikon, Canon and Sigma cameras. Using a mount converter MC11, it can also be used with Sony e mount cameras. it has 82mm filter thread and includes a round lens hood, just like all the sigma global series lenses. The lens is also comes with a USB dock for fine tuning and firmware update so the users can keep the lens with its full power all the time.
Watch the Unboxing video here,