Half the price of the Nikon equivalent, but this optic proves that it can still hold its own
Being an f/1.4 lens, Sigma’s 85mm is decidedly chunky and heavy. That said, it is also well-balanced and very comfortable to hold. The manual-focusing ring is wide and nicely placed at the front of the lens, but its weight is a shade on the stiff side.
The AF system is quick, albeit not blisteringly so, and uses internal focusing so there are no grip restrictions when holding the lens. When it is needed, fully manual focusing can be selected by sliding the AF/MF switch backwards through a deft movement of the left thumb.
Reversing the standard (full-frame) hood onto the lens for storage covers almost the entire length of the barrel, blocking the focusing ring and obscuring the focused-distance window. Clearly this is not ideal, but Sigma could legitimately claim that any quality-conscious user would want to fit the lens hood so its covering of the barrel when stowed is largely irrelevant. More unfortunate is
the fact that the extended form cannot be reversed over the lens for storage at all.
Technical testing reveals that this lens has been highly optimised for use between f/2.8 and f/8, where its resolution figures comfortably exceed 0.3 cycles-per-pixel. The critical 0.25 cycles-per-pixel level is maintained for another f-stop to each side of the optimum range, but there is a slight decline when the lens is set wide-open and even more so when it is fully closed-down to f/16. Very slight traces of chromatic aberrations were seen when the lens was wide-open but were not present using any other aperture settings.
Overall this is a very nice lens that offers a bright viewfinder and excellent image quality, with a clever added extra in the form of its dual-format lens hood.