Oops. I took the plunge. I bought a new lens. While I love my 50 and 85, I have been eyeing the 35mm Art by Sigma for a while because of the flexibility of the focal length. I have a tendency to favor close-ups and head shots to capture emotion, but I've really been working hard to get out of my comfort zone!
Quality and Sharpness
Sigma is well known for their quality and this lens (unsurprisingly) holds up to that statement. The outer metal shell is very durable and looks like it could withstand a drop or two without any degradation. While its a tad on the heavy side, the 35 makes up for weight in sharpness. I've had the 50mm 1.4 Art from sigma for almost a year, and the first time I saw the 100% detail of the photo my mind melted. The sharpness was absolutely unreal. The same is true for the 35 Art.
I'm gonna make a bold statement.
There is NO COMPETITION in the sharpness department for anywhere near this price range. Sure, you could drop 5k on a Zeiss lens and get slightly better quality, but wouldn't you take the Sigma for less than $900?
Let's also talk bokeh. I shoot at f/1.4 pretty much all the time, so having smooth, blurry backgrounds are a must. The colors meld together beautifully with this lens. Whether its against a staircase or a colorful tree, the blur looks smooth and brings the viewer's eye straight to the focus of the image.
Focal Length and Distortion
The 35mm is an interesting animal because I NEVER shoot with anything so wide. I tend to favor the more compressed, longer focal lengths but the more I look at images with the 35, I start to love the style. There's a candidness to the images almost like an upgraded cell phone photo. The wideness allows me fit more into the frame and really create the scene in an image.
Distortion, unfortunately, is prevalent. That is not a flaw in the manufacturer, but just part of the length itself. Around 50mm and below, you start to see some distortion especially in close-up portraits. I decided to shoot the same headshot with three different lenses to give you an idea. You'll see that the 85mm looks the most natural while the 35mm is almost an exaggerated version.
Differences in distortion between a headshot with the 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm lenses with the same exact settings.
I would *not* use this lens for my portrait work as the field of view is simply too wide for my taste. I tend to get really close-up and unfortunately the distortion is just too noticeable for me to use this lens with me for high-paying jobs. For couples, fashion, self-portraits, and everyday use this lens is a dream. If I were hanging out with friends or needing to get a wide view of the scene, without question I would reach for the 35mm.
Sigma does it once again. I literally cannot work with any other brand because the quality is just so dang good. The focal length is so satisfying because rather than having to stand far back to get a big scene, I can generally stand where I would for a cell phone photo. Without a doubt, this is the best 35mm lens on the market. While this won't be my go-to (the 50 will always be my bae), I know I'll grow to love this lens.
Price wise, you can get the Sigma at B&H for $899. For the Nikon and Canon equivalents, they are $1700 and $1099 respectively. I think the choice is obvious.