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Author Topic: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar  (Read 2434 times)

nemophoto

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Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« on: February 04, 2017, 02:26:04 PM »

I had the opportunity to rent the new Sigma 85 a couple weeks ago from Lensrentals.com for a week-long catalog shoot I did in Miami. I have to admit, I was blown away by the results. Over the years, I've owned three copies of the venerable Canon 85/1.8 and for the past four years I've owned the Canon 85/1.2. Of the later, while I've had very good results, I have had some reservations at times. I rarely shoot with the lens wider than f4 or f3.5, it has fairly strong chromatic aberrations wide open, and it could be slow focusing in low light.

With the Sigma, I routinely shot at 2.8 with exceptionally sharp results. (I used both my 1Dx and my 5Ds.) I found no issues with focus speed, focus lock or tracking in servo. Though I had been hopeful about the lens, I was a little wary mainly because, though my Sigma Art 50 is sharp, I have issues with the lens being about a 1/2 stop darker at any given aperture compared to my Canon lenses. (I have sent it in only to have them say there's nothing wrong and it's within specs.)  I had no such issue with the Sigma 85 when switching between that and my Canon 70-200/2.8 or my 135/2.

I hope to sell my 85/1.2 in the near future and buy the Sigma 85. I actually tried buying the copy I had from lensrentals.com, but they wanted list price for it (though previously rented a few times -- not a biggie for me), but the real deal breaker was that it would only have a 90-day warranty versus Sigma's 4-year warranty. That was one sharp lens. I hated to return it, but can only hope any copy I buy is as stellar.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2017, 02:35:15 PM by nemophoto »
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D76

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Re: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2017, 09:27:12 AM »

DxO raved about the Sigma.  A thread in Nikon Rumours touts it as actually sharper than the Zeiss Otus (which is hard to believe).
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nemophoto

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Re: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2017, 12:18:55 PM »

Maybe not so hard to believe. It certainly looked incredibly -- very noticeably -- sharp to me. But then, I've never used that Zeiss lens, preferring to stick with AF.

kers

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Re: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2017, 12:23:28 PM »

Maybe not so hard to believe. It certainly looked incredibly -- very noticeably -- sharp to me. But then, I've never used that Zeiss lens, preferring to stick with AF.

Lenscore clearly shows that the Otus is sharper. They use a dedicated 200MP sensor to test i believe...
But i think the next ten years you will not see much difference in sharpness in real life.
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nemophoto

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Re: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2017, 01:14:42 PM »

Well, to use LenScore's own words:

"The word impressive doesn't do justice to Sigma's latest portrait prime. Easily the best 85mm f/1.4 AF lens currently available..."

To a degree, I question the use of a 200MP sensor -- far from anything available in the real world. But I guess if you are pixel peeping the the Nth degree, I guess you might as well all the way.

hogloff

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Re: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2017, 01:46:33 PM »

Well, to use LenScore's own words:

"The word impressive doesn't do justice to Sigma's latest portrait prime. Easily the best 85mm f/1.4 AF lens currently available..."

To a degree, I question the use of a 200MP sensor -- far from anything available in the real world. But I guess if you are pixel peeping the the Nth degree, I guess you might as well all the way.

Their definition of a good portrait prime is not my definition. I don't want clinically sharp portrait images...which is what Sigma delivers. Who wants to see every pore on the nose to be nice and crisp?
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kers

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Re: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2017, 02:50:49 PM »

Their definition of a good portrait prime is not my definition. I don't want clinically sharp portrait images...which is what Sigma delivers. Who wants to see every pore on the nose to be nice and crisp?
i usually focus on the eyes... ;)
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RobertJ

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Re: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2017, 05:08:31 PM »

Their definition of a good portrait prime is not my definition. I don't want clinically sharp portrait images...which is what Sigma delivers. Who wants to see every pore on the nose to be nice and crisp?

It really depends how you light the image, and I'd rather have all the detail in the world, instead of a soft, dreamy image that looks like it was shot in the 80's with a Mamiya 180mm soft focus lens.  :)
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nemophoto

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Re: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2017, 06:00:19 PM »

Their definition of a good portrait prime is not my definition. I don't want clinically sharp portrait images...which is what Sigma delivers. Who wants to see every pore on the nose to be nice and crisp?
Canon marketed a soft focus 100mm portrait lens. It had dialable soft focus... and it never really took off. Most people want a sharp lens. I've been shooting professionally for 40-years and owned my share of "coke bottle lenses" in the early years. Part of the "see every pore" is a result of the sensors high resolution; the lenses are just catching up. Shooting beauty, everything is less forgiving of less than perfect skin and hence more retouching requested by clients. Give me a sharp lens any day. The effects are seen from 50MP on down. Higher resolving lenses make even lower res cameras better.

As for focusing, I focus on the eyes as well. But the days of critical manual focusing are long past without the microcosm and split images of my film cameras. In lower contrast light, a full figure will be tougher to manually focus.

hogloff

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Re: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2017, 07:05:15 PM »

It really depends how you light the image, and I'd rather have all the detail in the world, instead of a soft, dreamy image that looks like it was shot in the 80's with a Mamiya 180mm soft focus lens.  :)

Yes, but surely you know there are lenses that deliver images between the two extremes. Medium format lenses used for portraits were not as sharp as the Sigma...yet they were the goto lenses for very pleasing portraits.

This endless chase for ultimate sharpness at the expense of truly character qualities of lenses just smells digital to me.
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nemophoto

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Re: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2017, 09:51:56 PM »

This endless chase for ultimate sharpness at the expense of truly character qualities of lenses just smells digital to me.

There really is no "digital" about it. This is the whole reason Canon, for instance, introduced L-series lenses, long before digital was even a gleam in a lens designer's eyes. It was to achieve the maximum resolution possible shooting the film emulsions of the time. I have a 30-year 300/2.8. Only now is it beginning to show the "dated" design. For many years it was one of the sharpest lenses I owned -- I I bought it at the time of purchase my first autofocus EOS 1. However, it is digital that has stressed the older design, and it's resolution far beyond 35mm film, that has now placed an even greater emphasis on sharpness and resolution. With my 5Ds, I can easily see the difference in lenses, and that's because of the ability to resolve finer detail

hogloff

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Re: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2017, 09:17:34 AM »

There really is no "digital" about it. This is the whole reason Canon, for instance, introduced L-series lenses, long before digital was even a gleam in a lens designer's eyes. It was to achieve the maximum resolution possible shooting the film emulsions of the time. I have a 30-year 300/2.8. Only now is it beginning to show the "dated" design. For many years it was one of the sharpest lenses I owned -- I I bought it at the time of purchase my first autofocus EOS 1. However, it is digital that has stressed the older design, and it's resolution far beyond 35mm film, that has now placed an even greater emphasis on sharpness and resolution. With my 5Ds, I can easily see the difference in lenses, and that's because of the ability to resolve finer detail

That's fine if you want the detail to show in the feathers of that bird you shot...but the reason Canon created the 85 1.2 which is not extremely sharp was for portraits where subjects do not look their best when every pore is visible in the image.

If people use the Sigma for portraits, I would think a bunch of post processing to remove details will be needed.
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nemophoto

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Re: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2017, 10:32:32 AM »

That's fine if you want the detail to show in the feathers of that bird you shot...but the reason Canon created the 85 1.2 which is not extremely sharp was for portraits where subjects do not look their best when every pore is visible in the image.

If people use the Sigma for portraits, I would think a bunch of post processing to remove details will be needed.

I beg to differ. The Canon 85/1.2 was designed for low light speed, not soft portraits. Though it is still a relatively sharp lens when shooting at f4 or 5.6, the performance hasn't kept pace with Canon's latest cameras, hence they are in the process of designing a new 85. The "soft lens" was the old 135 variable soft focus. Otherwise, the goal has always been to make the sharpest optics. It has nothing to do with shoot "feathers on a bird". I never shoot birds or wildlife. It has to do with giving clients maximum detail of their garments, especially when many of the images become in-store posters. That said, is the 85/1.2 "sharp enough"? In most cases, yes. In some cases, because of lack of focus speed and other issues (CA at nearly wide open apertures, sharpness across the field), no.

andreart

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Re: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2017, 09:33:33 AM »

in my case with some bodys all sigma art lenses have ~40% missed focus on 1.4 :(

kers

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Re: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2017, 11:00:15 AM »

in my case with some bodys all sigma art lenses have ~40% missed focus on 1.4 :(

what bodies do you use?
...
and did you use the usb dock that Sigma sells to improve the accuracy?
I am on a d810 and used that dock and it works fine with 50 and 85mm...
I read the 20mm is less straightforward.
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andreart

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Re: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2017, 01:37:39 PM »

what bodies do you use?
...
and did you use the usb dock that Sigma sells to improve the accuracy?
I am on a d810 and used that dock and it works fine with 50 and 85mm...
I read the 20mm is less straightforward.

I have Nikon DF, d800e,d750, d4s, d3...
and Sigma art 20mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm  all lenses work bad in low light situation, are slower then the same nikon lenses and have bigger out of focus image count 2-3 times more bad photos on f1.4.

kers

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Re: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2017, 03:43:27 PM »

I have non of these problems and i also find the 50 and 85 mm sigma's faster than the nikon counterparts.
Funny
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2017, 01:28:11 PM »

Hi,

Autofocus is mostly optimised for f/2.8 or even f/5.6. Most cameras have AF sensor optimised for medium apertures, like f/5.6 but some AF points would probably support f/2.8 on a 'pro' camera. With f/1.4 you are essentially out of the aperture range that PDAF (Phase Detection AF) can handle accurately.

Best regards
Erik


in my case with some bodys all sigma art lenses have ~40% missed focus on 1.4 :(

scooby70

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Re: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2017, 07:40:47 PM »

With f/1.4 you are essentially out of the aperture range that PDAF (Phase Detection AF) can handle accurately.

Best regards
Erik

I remember once reading something on Canon's web site along the lines of... if you take three pictures you should expect to see focus differences between them and this is perfectly normal... and I'd expect that to be even more the case at wider apertures as smaller ones may mask slight focus errors in the deeper DoF. If this was or maybe still is the case for Canon I'd assume it's also the case for other makes of camera that work the same.

Back when I had DSLR's and Sigma lenses (I had the old non Art 85mm f1.4 and I thought it was excellent) I had no complaints about focus accuracy but even so I think it's best to assume that sometimes the kit just isn't capable of nailing it every single time and that's without the photographer mucking it up so whenever I'm taking a picture that I think is pushing the envelope of what the kit or me is capable of I try and take more than one picture.
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nemophoto

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Re: Sigma 85/1.4 - stellar
« Reply #19 on: February 27, 2017, 09:37:14 PM »

Autofocus is mostly optimized for f/2.8 or even f/5.6. Most cameras have AF sensor optimized for medium apertures, like f/5.6 but some AF points would probably support f/2.8 on a 'pro' camera. With f/1.4 you are essentially out of the aperture range that PDAF (Phase Detection AF) can handle accurately.

This is generally not true, though that's also the reason I prefer a DSLR over EVF cameras. All cameras focus at maximum aperture, which if you have a modestly fast lens, is usually f2, f1.8 and f1.4. I was just calibrating two lenses (my Sigma 50 and my Canon 135) with my 1Dx and 5Ds using the excellent FoCal software from Reikan. (Really worth the money. I already owned LensAlign and Datacolor's LensCal and found them almost unusable and at best, educated guesswork.) Both lenses, shooting at 1.4 and 2 respectively, had 99.6% hit rates over the course of 10 or more frames shot from fully racked out to 40x - 50x the focal length. So, I can safely say these cameras are not optimized for 2.8.
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