Why I Don’t Have Much Faith in the SIGMA 35mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens

Sigma makes good quality optics, but it pretty much stops there.

There are loads of reports right now on the new Sigma 35mm f1.4 DG DN Art Lens. It’s easy to get tempted. If you’re experienced with their lenses, though, you’ll understand that they’re the McRib of lenses. When the McRib drops every year, there’s tons of hype about how wonderful it is. But it always just ends up being mediocre. Yet every year, folks swarm to McDonald’s to experience the shame and regret. That’s how I’ve felt buying Sigma lenses over the years. And I predict that the Sigma 35mm f1.4 DG DN Art Lens is probably going to be the same.

Sony Alpha Rumors cites these specs from Nokishita

● Lens construction: 15 elements in 11 groups, with 1 FLD, 1 ELD, 2 SLD, and 2 aspherical elements
● Internal focusing
● Compatible with high-speed autofocus
● Stepping motor
● Compatible with lens-based optical correction
* Function available on supported cameras only. Available corrections may vary depending on the camera model.
● Super Multi-Layer Coating
● Water and oil-repellent coating (front element)
● Aperture Ring
● Aperture Ring Click Switch
● Aperture Ring Lock Switch
*When turned ON at the position A, the aperture ring is locked at A. When turned ON at a position other than A, it is locked within the range between the maximum to minimum apertures and will not engage at the position A.
● AFL button
● Focus Mode Switch
● Support DMF, AF+MF
● Dust and splash proof structure
● Petal type hood with lock
● Compatible with SIGMA USB DOCK UD-11 (sold separately / for L-Mount only)
● Designed to minimise flare and ghosting
● Every single lens undergoes SIGMA’s proprietary MTF measuring system “A1”
● 11-blade rounded diaphragm
● High-precision, durable brass bayonet mount
● ‘Made in Japan’ craftsmanship

Our Predictions for the SIGMA 35mm f1.4 DG DN Art

Over the past five years, we’ve reviewed almost every lens Sigma has made. In fact, we’ve reviewed every single prime lens of Sigma’s for the last decade. Our Sigma prime lens guide is the most complete, independent, non-sponsored guide on the web. A few years ago, I fell for the Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art. I reviewed it on the L mount. And there, it was a bit more balanced. I messed up though, and bought it in E-mount. Here’s a quote from our review:

“With durability usually comes a price though, and the weight perhaps adds to the already pricey lens. On Sony cameras, it is a bit heavy. On Panasonic cameras, it makes me feel as if I’m shooting with an old Canon 5D Mk II. I thought I left those days long behind. But with the Panasonic S1R, I feel it all over again with the sloth-like autofocus and the heaviness.”

To summarize a tweet we were mentioned in regarding Sigma lenses, “Why do I feel like I’m working out…” Indeed, the Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art is bound to be big and heavy. Overall, Sigma just tends to do this. The Art series gives you weather sealing, nice bokeh, and a heavy lens. The Contemporary series is where they purposely butcher their products. They eliminate almost all weather sealing. And the sports lineup is one that we barely hear anything about. 

So here’s my big point. I’m going to reiterate what I said a long time ago. Why buy a lens you’re never going to use? Why would you buy a lens that’s bound to be too heavy for your camera? Sony’s philosophy is all about making cameras smaller and lighter. The Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art bound to be massive on almost any Sony body except for the Sony a1. 

Sigma, however, is part of the L mount alliance. So it might go well on my Leica SL2s. But even there is where I sometimes question what will happen. For years, we’ve talked about how Sigma’s autofocus fails compared to other brands. Sigma has always told us to blame the other brands, but last year, when we tested the Sigma fp, the autofocus was awful. What’s more, we tested Sigma lenses on it. So overall, we’ve just concluded that Sigma’s autofocus isn’t all that great. In fact, there are differences between the entire L mount. Leica’s new 28mm f2 is one of the fastest we’ve seen. And Panasonic lenses are often the fastest focusing on the L mount. 

Enough of a Rant

But I’ve ranted enough. Why would you buy the Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art? Well, it’s guaranteed to be incredibly affordable. This is to convince folks to buy it, knowing well that it’s not perfect. Even though it’s most likely going to be heavy, it will be well built. The optics will also be beautiful. Sigma’s most beautiful lens so far has been their 40mm f1.4 Art. But the Sigma 35mm f1.4 DG DN Art might be a bit too sharp. Again, we’re not sure. And I’m just making unbiased predictions based on what we’ve found over the years.

Either way, I don’t have the highest amount of faith in the Sigma 35mm f1.4 DG DN Art. But, I’d love to be proven wrong. If you’re offended by what I’m saying and think that I’m bashing Sigma, think in a different way. Maybe Sigma should just make a better product. 

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.