35mm f/1.4 DG ull frame 35mm wideangle le

HSM £699

Sigma’s new 35mm f/1. If that sounds a little vague then let’s cut straight to the bottom line: this is simply one of the very best lenses currently available.

Unzipping the padded case reveals a broad manual-focusing ring filling the front half of the barrel with a focused-distance window and a focus-mode switch in the rear half. The lens feels a little weighty but very solidly built.

A really nice little touch is the white panel that is unveiled when the lens is switched to AF mode, saving the user from having to remember the switch positions or having to peer at small printing that might be difficult to read under poor lighting.

Internally there are six conventional elements and seven special elements; two have aspherical profiles, one uses F-type (fluorite-equivalent) low dispersion glass and four are made of super-low dispersion glass. The only thing missing is optical image stabilisation but there is a good case for saying that it is unnecessary here given the fast maximum aperture provided.

Technical testing confirmed the effectiveness of Sigma’s design. The MTF curve exhibits the classic aerofoil profile and remains comfortably above 0.25 cycles-per-pixel threshold at all aperture settings: in fact it surpasses 0.3 cycles-per-pixel when the lens is closed-down just one F-stop and remains above that level thereafter. Sigma has very sensibly restricted the minimum aperture to f/16 so that users are not let down by their cameras selecting f/22, by which point the MTF figures would certainly have fallen to their lowest value. There is no sign of chromatic aberration.

Handling is excellent. The manual-focusing ring is perfectly placed but was never needed during field testing thanks to the speed, quietness and accuracy of the AF system.

In short, there is a lot to admire and absolutely nothing to dislike about this lens. Some people may want it even more cheaply than its current bargain price, but the truth is that it offers the perfect combination of quality and usability. I am literally in awe of this lens and simply wish I could shake the hands of the team that has designed such a fabulous piece of optical engineering.


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