When I first was asked to try out the Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens, I was intrigued. I had long been envious of the 40mm focal length. It’s still somewhat rare to see, but it’s becoming more used especially in video work.
While I’m not a videographer, I have been craving that cinematic look recently. And while using it to capture a few documentary shots around town, I quickly realized how valuable this lens truly was.
- Gorgeous image quality
- Fast autofocus
- Stunning background separation
- Weather sealed
- Big and heavy, as it’s a DSLR adapted lens for E mount cameras
- No image stabilization
Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art — Technical specifications
All technical specifications for (product name) have been taken from B&H Photo:
- Aperture range: f/1.4–16
- Angle of view: 56.8°
- Minimum focus distance: 1.31′ / 40 cm
- Maximum magnification: 0.15x
- Optical design: 16 elements in 12 groups
- Diaphragm blades: 9, rounded
- Image stabilization: No
- Weight: 2.6 lb / 1.2 kg
- Dimensions: 3.5 x 5.2 inches
Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art — Ergonomics and build quality
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. This isn’t a lens that you’ll carry around lightly. It’s a beast of a lens, coming in at 2.6 pounds. It’s 3.5 inches wide, and comes out 5.2 inches from your camera. This is a lens that’s been adapted from its DSLR counterparts, so it didn’t surprise me. But compared to my other E mount lenses, it certainly was quite large.
But all that said, the 40mm is built like a tank, in a good way. With weather sealing, brass mount construction and a smooth focus ring, rest assured that this will do great in the elements. And despite its weight, it feels great in the hands.
It has one switch on it, to change between auto and manual focusing modes.
The lens hood is quite large, which shouldn’t be surprising given the lens size and what Sigma packs in with its other Art series lenses.
Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art — In the field
If you’ve ever used one of Sigma’s art lenses, you know that they scream character. The 40mm is no different, offering a pleasing image quality that’s accompanied by fast, accurate autofocus.
Despite its weight, the lens feels very well balanced on my Sony a7 IV with battery grip. On a smaller body though, it might feel a bit awkward.
One thing to note here is that the 40mm does not have image stabilization, instead relying on your camera body to perform when it’s needed. This surprised me slightly, mainly because of its size.
While the 40mm is a nontraditional focal length, I found it a joy to use. While I mainly used it for documentary photography, it also performed well with some environmental headshots. The 40mm — like most of Sigma’s Art lenses — has a very pleasing depth of field. This lens really is more versatile than I imagined, and it stuck on my camera for the majority of my three weeks with it.
Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art — Autofocus performance
As I mentioned earlier, autofocus on the Sigma 40mm is just what you’d expect out of a pro-quality lens. It’s fast to lock focus, and incredibly accurate. With a minimum focus distance of 40 cm (approx. 16 inches), the 40mm was able to capture both up-close and from afar.
The lens worked well with Sony’s Eye AF, even when dealing with shadows on faces and masks worn. I had no problems capturing any of may subjects, which ranged from city workers cleaning flower beds and streets, an art installer, a couple walking dogs, fishermen and Earth Day volunteers picking up trash.
Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art — Image quality
It should be no surprise that the Sigma 40mm excels when it comes to image quality. Distortions, chromatic aberrations and fringing are of no worry here. It’s a quality lens without really any flaws that I could find.
Distortion control and vignetting
While the lens does give off a slight vignette, it’s more than manageable and easy to correct in post-processing. Distortion was nearly nonexistent, making for a lens that is really built well optically.
Ghosting, flaring and chromatic aberrations
Sunny days are hard to come by in the spring in West Michigan, however when I was able to experience one, there were no noticeable issues with ghosting, flaring or chromatic aberrations.
This thing is sharp! Like other Sigma Art lenses, the sharpness combined with the shallow depth of field really can make a subject pop. Even with small details like eyes, tree bark and fabric, I was amazed at how well this lens performed in terms of its sharpness.
Excuse the trash photo, but it’s a great example of this lens’ shallow depth of field when wide-open. The bokeh rendered pretty soft in my tests, but it’s still noticeable and circular.
Colors with the Sigma 40mm were pretty natural, leaning just a bit on the warm side. I didn’t find myself making many adjustments in terms of white balance because of the natural warmth the lens rendered.
Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art — Character in a versatile prime
If you’re looking for a great lens with some character, the Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is hard to beat. With a gorgeous depth of field and ultimate sharpness, this lens performed admirably. It’s great no matter what you’re photographing — landscapes, nature, environmental portraits, street photography … you name it.
While its size and weight is a bit to overcome, this lens is hard to beat optically. And if you’ve been looking for a Sigma Art lens on a bargain, the 40mm is easily one of the best options available.
Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Sony E
Designed within the rigorous tolerances of a cine lens, the Sony E-mount Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lensis a wide normal-length lens characterized by a bright design and sophisticated optical layout. The fast f/1.4 maximum aperture helps to achieve shallow depth of field and selective focus effects, and also suits working in difficult lighting conditions.