Monday, March 11, 2013

Sigma 35 1.4 Preview

I was let down with the autofocus of the Nikon 28 1.8G (see this post) but I found its combination of shallow depth of field and wide-ish focal length useful.  In search of an alternative to the 28 1.8G, I ordered the Sigma 35 1.4, which made headlines with its class-leading sharpness.  I got it late last week and I thought I would be able to test it in real world conditions at Disneyland or California Adventure but when we got there on Sunday, it was packed.  I had never seen lines like this in the last 5 years!

Sigma 35 1.4 @ f/2.0.
This was the line just for the security checkup -- the lines to get in the gate of both parks were much longer.
We figured even if we got in the park, the lines for any of the attractions would be too long, so we decided to go home.  I guess my review for the Sigma 35 1.4 will have to wait.  In the meantime, here are a few shots that I got from it.




BTW these were at f/1.4.

10 comments:

  1. Now my old Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 is not looking so good. Thanks for the field tests.

    /RussellInCincinnati

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    1. Sigh I have fond memories shooting with Pentax except that I had difficulty focusing on fast-moving subjects or in low light.

      Best regards,
      Mic

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  2. Just how many days do you spend in Disneyland?
    The Sigma looks good on children pics. :)

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    1. Hi Valentin. We often go to Disneyland or California Adventure because we have an annual pass that allows us to go almost any time. The pass is not cheap so we feel compelled to go often to make it worth the price :). I'll try to get more variety of subjects though the truth is my life is not very exciting and we dont often get to travel. Lol

      Best regards,
      Mic

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  3. HomoSapiensWannaBeMarch 12, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    Mic,
    I received this lens today. I chose it over the 28/1.8G as I plan to later add a 24mm prime, hopefully another release soon in the Sigma Art series. This would give me a 24(?)/35(1.4)/85(1.8) set. So far, I like what I see shooting at dusk and indoor available light. I've been so used to having VR on the 24-85 that I discovered just how bad my hand holding technique is at 1/40th sec without VR. Lots of blurred images due to camera shake and/or subject movement (my wife and cat.) I'll have to work on that. I usually shoot Aperature Priority, so I switched to Shutter Priority at 1/80 to 1/100th and images were much sharper. Then, I began to see what this lens can do. The rendering and contrast are wonderful! It seems like B&W images have more tonality than I'm used to seeing with either the 85/1.8G or 24-85VR. I'll have to take more photos to confirm.

    I like the perspective and the close focus capability. It appears the autofocus is accurate and won't require any fine tuning (D600).

    My only quibble so far is the dang thing is twice as heavy as the 85/1.8G!

    My favorite shot above is your daughter on the swing. Your son is growing up fast!

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    1. Hi HomoSapiensWannaBe. Wow you got one too huh. Until recently it seemed very difficult to find it for Nikon at least at MSRP. I know what you mean about VR. My first camera was a Pentax K100D, which has image stabilization for all lenses and it worked very well. I got used to shooting at slow speeds. When I switched to Nikon that's one thing I had to re-learn. But I also found that increasing my shutter speed also increased the probability of sharp shots. Since then I have tried to shoot at high shutter speeds when possible.

      With the D600's spectacular high ISO performance and its auto ISO, I usually set the Auto ISO to 2x the focal length. So with the 35 1.4 I shoot at aperture priority and it selects an ISO that will get me 1/160. Alternatively I shoot in manual mode but activate Auto ISO, then I choose 1/200 shutter speed and whatever aperture I want, then Auto ISO adjusts.

      Glad to hear your AF is accurate. Mine is usually accurate but to be honest I don't find the AF accuracy to be as good as the 24-70 (but then again that was at 2.8). Occasionally mine will front focus badly (whereas the copy of the 28 1.8G I had backfocused).

      Thanks for the feedback on the shots. I'm working on getting more samples for the actual review.

      Thanks again!

      Best regards,
      Mic

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  4. Thanks for the preview. I can't help but comment that your life seems very exciting from over the pond! Having a once-in-a-lifetime (if that) holiday destination that you can go to so often is amazing, not to mention the great blog!
    I also love the shot of your daughter on the swing - I am a bit obsessed with getting these shots right!

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    1. Thanks! Hmm never really thought about it that way :). Meanwhile, I've always wanted to visit Europe and the UK and see the different sights and sounds but have not yet been able to do so! lol

      About the swing shot, to be honest I have not found it easy to get this kind of shot (or action shots) with this lens (or the 28 1.8). That's one of the things that I'm trying to pin down.

      Best regards,
      Mic

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  5. HomoSapiensWannaBeMarch 14, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    Mic,
    I just realized the focus turn direction for the Sigma 35/1.4 is reversed compared to traditional Nikon. They didn't bother to reverse the helicoid moving the lens elements for the Nikon version.

    This also means that when looking at the viewfinder confirmation for manual focus, the arrows to either side of the in-focus dot point in the (relative) wrong direction for which way to rotate the focus ring for the Sigma.

    So, when mixing Nikon and Sigma lenses, you will have to remember which direction to focus!! This kind of ergonomic difference is generally not a good thing, and could be a big deal for some!

    This is my 2nd time to use a Nikon system since I began photography in 1978. Nikon has always felt backward to me. I prefer the focus and lens mount direction for Leica, Canon, Minolta/Sony, Olympus (can't remember for sure). Intuitively, when I focus from infinity to closer, which makes the lens get longer (even if internally), I think of how a normally threaded screw would turn when looked at from the front of the camera. That is, counterclockwise to make it back out, or get longer, and clockwise toward infinity to screw in, or shorten the lens. Same for mounting the lens. Clockwise ought to tighten, or latch, the lens to the mount, but Nikon does is backward. Oh well...

    I am really digging this lens. I did some shooting in bright clear midday sun and it performed beautifully at all aperatures from f2.8 to 16. I can't use f1.4 in full bright light at ISO 100, so I am going to get either a variable ND, or a couple of fixed ND filters, probably at 3 and 5 stops. I perceive an advantage with variable ND filters for video, but I have read that fixed ND perform better for still images when you need to remove more than a few stops. What are your thoughts and experience with ND filters? (Sorry to ask if you have already written an article in the past.)

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    1. Hi HomoSapiens! Thanks for that observation - I didn't even notice that (I don't usually use manual focus).

      Great to know that the lens is performing well for you! Let me know if you'd like to share some of your shots! I haven't shot with 35mm much (usually I shoot at 24mm) and would definitely like to see more shots at 35mm.

      About the ND filter, funny I was thinking exactly that. I'm leaning toward variable ND but honestly I don't have a lot of experience using filters. I did have a clone of the cokin P, but I haven't used it much for a couple of years now, and in any case, I would say that was only consumer-grade (definitely noticeable tint). Too bad I don't think there is a variable ND for cokin (it has only one holder for a circular polarizer so I can't combine those either).

      Best regards,
      Mic

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