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Gear Reviews

Sigma 28mm 1.4 Art Lens | Hands-On Review

By Jay Henington on February 21st 2019

The Sigma 28 f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens is a new and unique addition to the already impressive lineup of lenses that Sigma has given us over the last few years. This Sigma 28 1.4 Art doesn’t disappoint. It’s sharp wide open, weather sealed, and has tons of character.

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Specs

  • 17 elements in 12 groups
  • 9 rounded diaphragm blades
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • Filter size: 77mm
  • Dimensions: 3.2 × 4.2in.
  • Weight: 30.5oz.
  • Price: $1399 retail

Design

The design of the Sigma 28 1.4 Art is what we’ve come to expect from their other lenses in the Art series; it’s well built, sleek, and beautiful. The 28 1.4 Art sports a metal barrel and the same simple black body of the other lenses in the Art series. While it’s a bit heavy, it feels great to hold and the large focus ring makes manual focusing a breeze.

The only switch on the body is the AF/MF selection button. I’m also pleasantly surprised to report that it features what Sigma calls a “dust and splash-proof seal” at the mount connection to prevent water and dust from getting inside the lens or camera. It also features the fairly common 77mm filter threads, so you probably won’t need to go out and buy a new set of filters.

While Sigma’s Art lens design is elegant and has been well received, it’s probably time for a refresh as it was first introduced in 2012 with the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art.

Image Quality

I’ve shot with many Sigma lenses over the years and regularly use the Sigma 24 and 35. When I heard about the new 28mm 1.4 Art, I wasn’t sure what to think. My first thought was, do we really need a lens between the 24 and 35? But I decided to go into testing it with an open mind. I’ve never quite loved the look of the Sigma 24mm, but used it reluctantly when I needed a wide angle. Alternatively, I love the look of the Sigma 35mm, but sometimes it wasn’t quite wide enough.

Enter the Sigma 28. This lens has the character and look I’ve loved from the 35mm, but is wide enough for almost any shot you’d use the Sigma 24 on.

The Sigma 28 1.4 Art produces excellent images with plenty of sharpness and contrast. It manages distortion better than the Sigma 24mm and while it has some vignetting wide open, it becomes minimal around f/2.0. At f/1.4 it’s very sharp in the center and as one would expect, gets softer towards the edges. There is some color fringing at f/1.4 but it’s easy enough to correct in post. At f/2.0, color fringing is minimal and the center is tack sharp. At f/8.0 the lens is sharp from edge to edge.

Canon EOS R | Sigma 28 1.4 Art | f/1.4 | 1/2000 | ISO 100 | Edited

Canon EOS R | Sigma 28 1.4 Art | f/1.4 | 1/2000 | ISO 100 | 100% Crop

Bokeh

The quality of the bokeh on this wide angle lens is outrageous. Seriously. Out of focus elements are buttery smooth with little to distract from the in focus subject (see the images above).

And, as you can see from the three shots below, the bokeh balls are round and pleasing. There’s really nothing to complain about when a wide angle lens produces bokeh like this.

Focus speed and Accuracy

To this day when I talk about Sigma lenses with other photographers, I often hear complaints about missed shots and front or back focusing with their Sigma lenses. I’ve experienced this as well with other Sigma lenses. When I first got the Sigma 35mm it was back focusing like crazy. I bought the Sigma USB dock and was able to calibrate it to near perfection. Right now, my Sigma 24mm is basically unusable because it misses focus so often. I haven’t figured out if it’s a calibration issue or something amiss with the lens, but it’s frustrating to be sure. When I previously owned the Sigma 50mm, it nailed focus every time.

Out of the gate, the Sigma 28mm 1.4 Art focuses perfectly. It’s smooth, fast, and nails focus pretty much every time. I’ve found no evidence of any front or back focusing issues. I’ll be interested to see whether it maintains focus consistently over time, but I think Sigma is getting better and better at this and I suspect the days of Sigma lenses having inconsistent focusing issues are nearly over.

Cost

At $1399 retail, this lens is no longer that much of a budget option. It’s only $150 less than Canon’s 24mm 1.4 II lens. And it’s far more expensive than either the Sigma 24mm or 35mm. But I’d also say that it’s potentially a better lens than those others, so if this is the right lens for you, it may be worth the additional cost.

Who Should Buy This Lens?

This is a fantastic lens for landscape, wedding, street photographers, or anyone looking for a fast wide angle lens with plenty of sharpness and lots of character. It’s available for Canon EF, Nikon F and Sony E mounts. I’m hoping it comes in a RF mount soon!

Conclusion

The Sigma 28mm 1.4 Art is an incredible lens. It’s sharp, wide, produces beautiful bokeh, and focuses quickly and accurately. With every lens Sigma releases they seem to get better. Time will tell if the autofocus on this lens will hold up, but I see no sign of problems at this point. I recommend this lens for anyone wanting a wide angle lens that offers something different than the typical 24mm or 35mm lenses. Personally, I’m considering consolidating my kit by selling both my 24mm and 35mm and picking this one up instead.

Pros

  • Excellent character
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • A unique angle
  • Sharpness
  • Focus accuracy
  • Some weather sealing

Cons

  • It’s big
  • It’s heavy
  • It doesn’t yet come in a Canon RF or Nikon Z mount
  • Price: $1399

Sample Images

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I’m a Chicago-based photographer and co-owner of Henington Photography. I photograph weddings with my better half, Larissa. When I’m not taking pictures, I’m most likely playing with our two boys, editing, eating chips and salsa, or writing for SLR Lounge.

Website: Henington Photography/Larissa Boudoir
Instagram: @heningtonphotography

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