In my tests the Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art left an excellent impression: It is very sharp across the full-frame sensor, has a nice Bokeh, extremely low coma, almost no field curvature, and can be shot confidently under adverse contra-light situations. In addition it has a de-clickable aperture ring, a multi-function focus hold button, and its mount can be swapped in service (at a cost). Only its size and weight is quite a burden (literally) as is the price of 1500 EUR/USD. And I wish it had a better control of color aberrations.
Let’s put this into perspective and have a closer look at how the Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art compares to some alternatives.
Compared to Sony FE 35mm f1.4 ZA
Competition is a good thing – but it makes life hard for Sony’s FE 35mm f1.4 ZA: The Sigma offers better image quality at a comparable price. And although the Sony FE 35mm f1.4 ZA is lighter and smaller than the Sigma it is still clearly larger and heavier than the newer Sony FE 35mm f1.8. The f1.4 Sony offers a pretty soft Bokeh but the new Sigma is even better. And although the Sigma is not devoid of color aberrations it is clearly better than the Sony FE 35mm f1.4 ZA in this respect. The Sigma is also sharper than the Sony across the full-frame sensor. Both lenses offer a de-clickable aperture-ring for continuous and noise-free operation but the Sigma has a linear gearing for focus albeit with an extremely long throw plus a focus lock button. The FE 35mm f1.4 ZA has non-linear gearing. In the end it comes down to this: If you want the optically best 35mm lens for Sony E-mount with 1/2 stop more light gathering power and the best Bokeh, get the Sigma. If you want to save your back and neck 400g of weight and can do with the second best Bokeh, stronger CAs and softer corners, the Sony FE 35mm f1.4 ZA may be your choice.
For more details see my Sony FE 35mm f1.4 ZA review where it earned a Recommended.
Compared to Samyang AF 35mm f1.4 FE
The Samyang AF 35mm f1.4 FE (not available for L-mount) is the cheapest alternative in this comparison although it still has an f1.4 focal ratio which is only 1/2 stop slower than the Sigma. Its size and weight is comparable to the Sony FE 35mm f1.4 ZA. The Samyang is a little softer than the Sigma but sharper than the f1.4 Sony but costs only one third of either. But Bokeh is not as soft as from the new Sigma or the f1.4 Sony. And I had issues with focusing: AF performance was less reliable than with the other lenses in this test and manual focus was erratic. That may be individual problems with my copy of the lens but still it left a bad taste. So the Samyang AF 35mm f1.4 FE may be an interesting alternative delivering similar performance at a much lower price. But make sure your copy’s focus performance is up to scratch.
Check back soon for my complete Samyang AF 35mm f1.4 FE review.
Compared to Sony FE 35mm f1.8
The Sony FE 35mm f1.8 is a very good addition to Sony’s 35mm full-frame lenses: It surpasses both its 35mm ZA siblings in optical performance but stays small and light, and has a reasonable price tag. But it has over one stop less light gathering power than the Sigma, its Bokeh is no match for the Sigma’s and I wish it would have less field-curvature around the APS-C-corner. But the nice magnification with very usable quality in close-up shooting and the multi-function focus hold button add up to an attractive package which is also 800g (28 oz.) lighter than the Sigma at half the price. So if you want to travel light and not make many compromises in optical performance I can fully recommend the Sony FE 35mm f1.8.
Check out my complete Sony FE 35mm f1.8 review.
Compared to Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art
The Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art is available for Sony E-mount since 2018 and should also be available for L-mount soon. But it’s still a DSLR design from 2012 – and its age shows. In size and weight it’s similar to the Sony FE 35mm f1.4 ZA or Samyang and its price of around 700 EUR/USD together with its focal ratio of f1.4 makes it look attractive. The lens produces a sharp center and quite a good FF-corner. But the APS-C-corner is soft and color aberrations are high. Personally I’d rather prefer the new Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art (or the Sony FE 35mm f1.8) over the Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art.
For more details see my Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art review.
Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art final verdict
Sigma’s 35mm f1.2 Art has the largest focal ratio of any autofocus full-frame 35mm lens available. That bodes well for a nice Bokeh – and the lens certainly delivered the goods in my tests: its Bokeh is probably as good as it gets on a 35mm lens. Add to that the light gathering power that is a half stop ahead of lenses with a focal ratio of f1.4 and an optical performance that is always a bit better and you have the best 35mm I’ve tested so far. Add in thorough weather sealing with fluorine coating on the front lens, a de-clickable aperture ring, the focus hold button, and a well padded lens case plus strap and you get a well-rounded package that should leave little open to wishes. Unfortunately it’s also the largest and heaviest 35mm lens of the models I compared it against. But if you want the best 35mm lens for your full-frame Sony or L-mount mirrorless camera, the Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art is it. This also justifies its price and earns a Highly Recommended! Sadly it’s not available for other lens-mounts too.
- Very good resolution.
- Excellent resistance against flare, glare, and ghosting.
- Very nice Bokeh.
- Weather sealing plus coating of front lens against moist and dirt.
- De-clickable aperture ring.
- Focus hold button.
- Can swap mounts (at a cost) between Sony E and Leica L-mount.
- Color aberrations could be better controlled.
- Very large and heavy.
Check prices on the Sigma 35mm f1.2 Art at B&H, Amazon, Adorama, WEX or Calumet.de. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!