These Are The Best Sigma Art Lenses (Mirrorless And DSLR)
Sigma’s Global Vision lenses, first announced in 2012, included three categories: Sports, Contemporary, and Art. The Sports lenses are big telephoto lenses, obviously for sports and wildlife photography. Contemporary lenses are general-use lenses that appeal to beginners and serious hobbyists. The Sigma Art series, however, includes all sorts of lenses; some wide-angle and telephoto, prime or zoom, that offer exotic, impeccable image results.
Over the years, many Sigma Art lenses have been made, including quite a few impressive f/2.8 zooms, f/1.4 primes, and more. There have even been ultra-fast f/2 zooms and f/1.2 primes! All of them have been rather impressive, but a few have stood out above the rest.
In this article, we are going to tell you which are the best Sigma Art lenses. Our choices aren’t just based on how these lenses perform “on paper”, we’re also including factors such as their practical use, (portability, ergonomics) as well as their value for your budget. Also, we are considering which lenses are truly useful for the widest variety of subjects for both photographers and videographers. So, let’s dive in!
Why You Should Consider Any Sigma Art Lens
There are two big reasons why you should consider a Sigma Art lens: Your budget, and your standards for image quality. First and foremost, indeed, there is no denying that even the best Sigma Art lenses are more affordable than their name-brand counterparts, sometimes by many hundreds or even a thousand dollars. Simply put, if you’re on a budget of any kind, the value is incredible.
Of course, value alone can’t make any of these the best Sigma Art lenses. They have to actually perform at a professional level, offering image results that match, or in some cases even surpass the name-brand options.
Sigma Art Lenses Are Some Of The Sharpest!
One of the main things that Sigma Art lenses are known for is their sharpness. In fact, the sharpest Sigma Art lenses are indeed some of the sharpest lenses on the market! From wide-angle to telephoto lenses, and including both zoom lenses and prime lenses, Sigma Art lenses are some of the sharpest.
Of course, the other, more subtle aspects of image quality are also important to photographers, and Sigma has been increasingly good at designing optics that deliver “character”, not just clinical levels of sharp detail.
Sigma Art Lens Professional Build Quality
One of the other main reasons why we recommend Sigma Art lenses, and use them ourselves for lots of different types of work, is that they’re also well-made. Their physical design is sturdy, with metal parts in all the right places, and some high-grade plastic where it might be helpful for absorbing bumps and dings.
Also, Sigma Art lenses include extensive weather sealing, making them useful for pros who work in truly harsh environments.
The Best Sigma Art Lenses For Mirrorless
Mirrorless cameras have offered a whole new realm of possibilities when it comes to optical design, and Sigma has really been taking advantage of this. Thanks to the shorter flange distance on mirrorless cameras, Sigma Art lenses have generally gotten lighter, smaller, and yet in some cases, offer even better image quality! That is why, first and foremost, we are going to recommend mirrorless lenses.
Honestly, if DSLR lenses were truly better, we’d recommend them. (And we’ll get to some recommendations for DSLRs, later!) However, if you’re using a mirrorless camera, then you absolutely want to marry it with mirrorless lenses for the best possible images. (The portability is a huge advantage, too!) With that being said, let’s get to the specific recommendations…
If you’re a serious landscape or nightscape photographer, then this is the ultimate lens. It offers superb image quality, in fact, it’s equal to or better than the name brands. And yet, it is also lighter and more compact than its predecessors as well as most full-frame mirrorless competitors!
You’ll see Sigma’s high standards for sharpness in this lens, even in the extreme corners of the 14mm frame at f/2.8. Because of how good it is, this is one lens we would still recommend even if you have an unlimited budget. (However, speaking of a budget, anyone looking for an even more affordable and portable option should check out our highly recommended Sigma 16-28mm f/2.8 DG DN C, as well.)
A 24mm f/1.4 prime lens is a unique offering, and it is admittedly not perfect for everyone. However, for many types of low-light photography, from candid journalism and portraiture to serious nightscape photography, a good 24mm f/1.4 is a must-have. And, simply put, this Sigma Art lens is again the best 24mm f/1.4 available. It doesn’t matter if you have an unlimited budget; if you want the best, you should consider this lens equally against name-brand options.
For most photographers, a 35mm prime is a lot more practical and versatile than a 24mm, so this is quite possibly our highest recommendation of any Sigma Art lens. Simply put, 35mm is an incredibly useful focal length, and f/1.4 makes for some gorgeous photos. Also, this Sigma optic is again one of the best available. It’s roughly on par with the flagship options, such as the Sony GMaster, yet the price tag is significantly lower. For this reason, we recommend it to both serious hobbyists and even working pros who are on a budget.
This is definitely a subjective preference, but a lot of photographers will fall into one of two categories when it comes to prime lenses: Either they love a combination of the 35mm and 85mm primes, or they love just the 50mm prime. And while we think that the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG DN Art is an excellent mirrorless lens, we just love 35mm and 85mm!
With that being said, this Sigma 85mm f/1.4 prime is impressive not only because of its beautiful images, but also in how decently lightweight and portable it is for such a professional flagship lens. Coming in at just over $1K, and 1.39 lbs (630g), it’s one of the lightest and most affordable 85mm f/1.4 primes on the market, yet offers stunning image quality that rivals the most expensive options.
In keeping with our theme, this Sigma zoom lens for mirrorless is smaller, lighter, and better than its DSLR predecessor. (We’ll talk about the best Sigma Art lenses for DSLR cameras next, by the way.)
All in all, Sigma really perfected its formula with this zoom lens. The DSLR version was oversized, overweight, and had rather sluggish autofocus. All it offered was sharpness, in a burly package.
This Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8, the “DN” mirrorless version, is lightweight, compact, and competitive with name brands in every respect, including image quality and autofocus reliability.
The Best Sigma Art Lenses For DSLRs
Indeed, each of the above lenses is a full-frame mirrorless lens, and each followed in the footsteps of a DSLR counterpart. For the most part, these lenses also offered impressive image quality and durable build quality. However, the results were a bit more hit-or-miss, and some DSLR-era Sigma Art lenses just don’t earn our recommendation. Many of them were incredibly big and heavy, and yet some of them didn’t even offer professional-grade image quality except for the center of the frame. With that being said, these five (prime) lenses are legendary because they did indeed stand the test of time…
NOTE: A lot of these DSLR-made lenses are also available with a modified mount to fit the Sony E-mount. Don’t confuse these “DG HSM” Art lenses with the “DG DN” Art lenses, they are very optically different! “DN” denotes that the lens is specifically designed for mirrorless, and takes advantage
This is the oldest Sigma Art lens that we know of, and it truly is a legendary optic. Initially prone to back focus or front focus issues on some DSLRs, it only shows its age when trying to focus on active subjects in extremely low light, and when using DSLRs that don’t have the absolute latest autofocus technology. Aside from that, the image quality is truly stunning, making it an excellent alternative to a name-brand 35mm f/1.4, for an affordable price.
This 85mm prime lens is significantly larger and heavier than its mirrorless counterpart, but the image quality is just as stunning or even better. With both gorgeous bokeh and stunning sharpness, this Sigma 85mm f/1.4 may feel like a bit overkill compared to an 85mm f/1.4. However, it offers an exciting alternative to any portrait photographers who have previously been using a name-brand 85mm f/1.4 or even 85mm f/1.2.
Simply put, this is one of the most exotic lenses ever made. When you see it and hold it, you know that is not an exaggeration! It is so large and heavy, in fact, that it is one of the only prime lenses wider than 300mm to require/include a tripod collar. The filter threads match its focal length, 105mm, making the front element look like you’ve just bought a telescope instead of a full-frame portrait lens. And, indeed, the results speak for themselves.
Even with the aperture wide-open, image quality is superb. This is often cited as one of the sharpest lenses in existence when stopped down. It’s not the sharpness that impresses us the most, though. It’s the incredible bokeh or shallow depth of field, that is possible, even with head-to-toe portraits. This lens is truly the champion of telephoto portrait photography.
The Best Sigma Art Lenses For Crop Sensors
You may have noticed that so far, this list has only included full-frame lenses, whether for mirrorless or DSLR cameras. Why didn’t we include any APSC lenses, since Sigma makes a lot of excellent ones? Well, for whatever reason, Sigma has chosen to give all those (mirrorless) lenses a “C”, instead of an “A”. That is, they’re Sigma Contemporary lenses, not Sigma Art lenses.
Honestly, though? We sincerely believe that most of these lenses are every bit as good as the Art series. Their image quality is on par, their build quality is roughly the same, and the spirit of the Art series is carried on in these lenses:
Equivalent to 24mm, This is an excellent wide-angle prime lens for a crop-sensor Sony, Fuji, or Nikon Z mirrorless camera. The image quality is stunning, and yet it accomplishes its results for under $400 and under 1 lb. (~405g) As with the Sigma Art series, this lens offers a fair amount of metal in its build quality and includes weather sealing too.
Sigma 23mm f/1.4 DG DN C ($549, B&H | Amazon)
This Sigma prime lens is equivalent to a ~35mm full-frame prime, which is one of our favorite focal lengths as part of the two-prime combo we mentioned earlier. Again, even with the fast aperture set to f/1.4, the image quality is impressive, and everything else about this lens is on par with its Art-series full-frame equivalent. And yet, again, the price tag is relatively modest at $549, compared to the ~$800-900 of the full-frame version. Note that the Sigma 23mm is currently only available for Sony E and the Sigma/Panasonic/Leica L mount, but not (yet) the Fuji or Nikon mirrorless mounts.
Here is your APSC equivalent to ~85mm, making this the ultimate portrait lens for crop-sensor shooters. Once again available for Sony, Fuji, and Nikon DX (APSC) users, this is an excellent lens. The images it produces will make many photographs realize, they may not really need a full-frame camera at all!
In the spirit of the 28-70mm full-frame focal range, the Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 DG DN C is once again an Art-level performer. (Heck, even the full-frame 28-70mm f/2.8 D is a “C” badged lens, but it is every bit as sharp as its 24-70mm f/2.8 Art bigger sibling!)
Incredibly compact; no full-frame lens (even f/4 zooms, if you want the equivalent aperture) currently match what this tiny lens offers for just $499. In short, this diminutive little wonder holds its own against the best Sigma Art lenses, indeed.
Hey, look, it’s an APSC Art series lens! This one is a DSLR lens, from a decade ago when Sigma made some of their first Global Vision lenses. Despite its age, to this day the Sigma 18-35mm is a legendary optic, thanks to its unique offering as one of the only f/1.8 zoom lenses in existence. The aesthetic of image results is just beautiful, from sharp detail to soft background blur, and we highly recommend it whether you are a DSLR user or a mirrorless photographer/videographer who is willing to use an adapter.
Conclusion | Best Sigma Art Lenses
For those who are looking for professional performance on a budget, the Sigma Art series should be at the top of your shopping list. At the very least, you should give them all strong consideration. Their image quality is just as good, and in some cases even better, than their name-brand competitors. The lenses’ build quality is also very professional, including lots of metal construction, weather sealing, plus additional features that can make them an even more attractive option.
In fact, even if you’re not on a budget, even if money is no object whatsoever, you may still prefer a Sigma Art lens for various other reasons! In some cases, a Sigma Art prime or zoom may be a little bit lighter than its name-brand competitor. In other cases, it may truly be the sharpest optic available! A lot of serious and professional photographers, from portrait & wedding photographers to landscape and nightscape photographers, have at least one Sigma art lens in their camera bag.
You may have your reservations about anything that isn’t name-brand, which is an understandable and healthy concern. However, in our 10+ years of experience with virtually every Sigma Art lens on the market, we strongly recommend them as not just an alternative, but a primary consideration for your photography and videography needs.