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Sigma 40 mm art review Gear & Apps

Sigma 40mm 1.4 Art | Hands-on Review

By Jay Henington on March 26th 2019

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to test the Sigma 40mm 1.4 Art lens. After capturing a full wedding and thousands of shots, I have some thoughts on this unique—albeit strange—lens. It’s a sharp lens that produces interesting, beautiful images, but it’s also very large and extremely heavy for a prime lens, and the autofocus is not entirely dependable.

Specs

  • Aperture: f/1.4-f/16
  • Design: 16 Elements in 12 Groups
  • Diaphragm Blades: 9 rounded
  • Filter size: 82mm
  • Dimensions: 3.46 x 5.16″
  • Weight: 2.6 lb
  • Price: $1,399

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Design

The Sigma 40mm 1.4 Art looks and feels like every other lens in the Art line. It is a beautiful jet black with a cold metallic feel. The design is minimalistic and elegant. The focus ring is large and smooth and the barrell sports only one switch, the AF/MF toggle. My only complaint about the design is the size. It’s larger than any other prime lens I’ve ever used. It feels more like a small 70-200 than a prime lens. Additionally, it was so heavy that, despite wanting to use it during the dancing at the wedding reception I shot, I had to take it off. My back and wrist just couldn’t take the weight anymore. I’m used to heavy lenses, but this one became unusable after a while and that is disappointing, because I loved the images it was producing.

Image Quality

The lens takes excellent photos that are sharp, beautiful, and interesting. At f/1.4 the lens is tack sharp. There’s a cinematic quality to the photos it produces that’s hard to describe with words. Simply stated, they have dimension and character. Color fringing and chromatic aberration  were very minimal, even at f/1.4. Also, because this is a 40mm lens, it has very little distortion. The 40mm is a very unique focal length that produces a look that will leave viewers both bewildered and intrigued.

Bokeh

Is there an f/1.4 lens these days that doesn’t produce gorgeous bokeh? I don’t know for sure, but the 40mm 1.4 Art doesn’t disappoint. It produces images with creamy out of focus elements and round bokeh balls. What more could  a person want?

Sigma 40 mm review

Focusing

The focusing on the Sigma 40 1.4 Art is where I had some concerns. When using the 40mm Art during a wedding ceremony, there were moments where it would hunt for focus for far too long. This happened quite a few times until eventually I kept experiencing moments where it wouldn’t even hunt for focus. It just wouldn’t focus at all. I decided I needed to take the lens off my camera and opted for a different lens to cover the rest of the ceremony, lest I miss an important moment. This is not an experience I’ve ever had with a lens before, much less a Sigma lens. Since the wedding, I’ve continued to experience somewhat slow focusing and just plain sticking a few times. I’m not sure if there is something wrong with the copy I’m testing, but it was certainly an issue that would prevent me from using it during a high-pressure moment again.

Who is this lens for?

The Sigma 40mm Art lens, I am told by the folks at Sigma, was designed with cinematographers in mind. Since I know less about cinema than I do about quantum physics, I’ll take their word for it. For photographers, this lens is a unique focal length. It’s not quite wide enough for most landscape or street photographers, and it’s not quite close enough for portraits. I think this is a good lens for wedding photographers or anyone looking for a unique focal length, great sharpness, and beautiful bokeh. But due to its slow and perhaps glitchy auto-focus, I wouldn’t recommend it for sports photographers, or anyone taking must-capture photos.

Conclusion

The Sigma 1.4 Art lens is a bit of an anomaly. It’s a lens that I really enjoyed for its optics, but in terms of focus speed and reliability, it didn’t measure up. It’s also a focal length that I found myself wondering if I needed. With a 24, a 35, and a 50mm in my bag, I just couldn’t figure out what I’d do with a 40mm that is also very big and heavy. In the end, it’s a unique lens that is optically excellent and it deserves a try if you’re looking for something different.

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

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Steven Feinsmith

    Kudos to Sigma for ART lenses. Impressed their skill to make the lenses sharpness over Canon. The only thing that I discouraged the lenses’ aperture up to f/1.4 instead of f/1.2 or f/1.0 for night photography. I still consider having the ART lenses sometimes next year.

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