Sigma 35mm f1.4 DG HSM Nikon Mount review: the definitive high-speed 35mm wide-angle lens for DSLRs?

By Kevin Carter - Monday, March 18, 2013

Lens Review
Introduction | Sigma 35mm f1.4 DG HSM Nikon lens performance | Sigma 35mm f1.4 DG HSM Nikon versus competition | Conclusion
01

With a lofty overall DxOMark score of 39 when measured on a Nikon D800, the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM is currently the highest scoring 35mm single focal length lens in our database.

02

The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DC HSM is the highest scoring lens of this focal length in our data-base. It’s also one of the more accessible priced 35mms available.

With a 23P-Mpix score, the Sigma is one of the sharpest 35mm lenses you can buy for the 36-Mpix Nikon D800. The sharpness score depends on the sensor resolution but the lens comfortably out-performs new high-speed lenses from both Nikon and Carl Zeiss when they’re fitted to the Nikon D800.

03

The Sigma is one the sharpest lenses of this focal length we’ve tested, and the sharpest currently available for the Nikon D800.

The older film-era Nikon AF Nikkor 35mm f/2D scores just 16P-MPix an average score for this type, while the Sony 35mm f/1.4G (mounted on a 24-Mpix Sony Alpha A900) scores a lowly 10P-Mpix, the lowest in our database.

Canon don’t have a camera with a sensor to match that found in the 36MPix D800 yet a while but, if you look at the results when mounted on a Canon EOS 5D Mk II, the Sigma mount version is still a little sharper than the excellent Canon 35mm f/2 IS USM.

Despite the fact that the resolution is very high in the centre of the frame and remains at an acceptably high level into the corners of the frame, what really stands out is that the Sigma is very sharp at the maximum aperture, and not just in the centre. That’s usually a weakness in a ‘fast or bright’ lens like this and really helps to justify the extra bucks over ‘slower’ less costly lenses.

Detractors could cite the slightly less impressive transmission score, measured at 1.7Tstops (on the Nikon D800) but it’s in fact lower (at 1.5Tstops) when measured on the less pixel dense Canon EOS 5D Mk II (see our earlier review of the Canon mount version). Be that as it may, on the D800 corner shading at maximum aperture is -2/3 (-0.67) Ev measured at 50% across the field and -1 .8 Ev in the corners.

There’s also some slight barrel distortion not that that’s particularly troublesome. Chromatic aberration is usually more problematic and in a lens like this but it is very well controlled and has very low levels.