This week, the Sigma 135mm 1.8 ART lens shipped out to the people who pre-ordered it. Knowing the stellar reputation of the rest of the Sigma ART line, I did something I’ve never done before.. I pre-ordered it. I bought it with the intent to replace my Canon 135L which I love and use almost exclusively for my portrait work. I also use a Sigma 85mm 1.4 non-art, and the Sigma 50mm 2.0 Macro.
So when it arrived, I was excited to take it out for a spin side-by-side the Canon to see what, if any, differences I could see. All of these images are screen shots from Lightroom so you can see the full information. I am not affiliated with Sigma or Canon in any way, nor do I get paid for my views. I did not include any information on lens construction or shots in a general way. I wanted to focus only on how well it works for portraits when shooting on wide open apertures and how it compared to my current workhorse lens that I already know is brilliant.
So, cautiously impressed but not seeing a HUGE difference, I took it out with a test model since I’ll be using it for portrait work.
Pros and cons of both lenses: Overall, I found the Sigma to be more of what I wanted, and I’ll sell the Canon. There’s not a giant difference, but that’s what I’d expect, given how great Canon’s reputation for amazing glass is. The Canon 135L weighs less than the Sigma 135mm 1.8 ART. This could be an advantage or disadvantage to you, depending on how you shoot or carry in your bag. I’d also consider the Sigma a bit touchier in focus than the Canon, which could be an issue if you wiggle a lot like I do. You can see that in the last image above, I actually missed focus on her eyes and got her hair instead. I found that the Sigma was more forgiving in blown highlights than the Canon is, which is a big big deal to me because I tend to shoot backlit very very often. I also found the Sigma to be slightly sharper than the Canon. Sigma offers a USB dock that allows you to further customize how sharp it is (I just just call Fred at Sigma headquarters to confirm that this lens is dock-compatible). Lastly, I did feel like the Sigma focuses more quickly. When shooting kids that move, this is a huge point in it’s favor as well. The 1.8 vs 2.0 aperture will give me an extra advantage in low light, which I also tend to do at the end of a session.
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