Sigma 35mm f/1.2 Review
As Sony continues to advance the tech in their camera bodies, many third party lens companies like Sigma continue to up the ante with products like the Sigma 35mm f/1.2.
This is the fastest auto focus Sony E-Mount lens currently available and it has the bokeh to prove it. After shooting with it for several weeks now, I’m amazed at how well it performs and the unparalleled bokeh it can create.
I am not usually a fan of big heavy lenses but this one opened my eyes to the joy of shooting at f/1.2. It was incredible to see how easily you can isolate your subject by blurring the background, and how great it is to never have to worry about how dark a room is.
When combined with the high ISO performance of the Sony a7III, this makes a deadly combo when it comes to shooting in low light. I never felt like I had to push the ISO to capture an image.
Although this is a bit of a boutique lens, I think it is an eye opening experience to shoot with. It will serve anyone who wants the best in low light performance or the best bokeh in a wider lens.
Sigma 35mm f/1.2 Specs
- dreamy bokeh
- low light performance
- incredibly sharp
- nearly instant autofocus
- Focal Length: 35mm
- Maximum Aperture: f/1.2
- Minimum Aperture: f/16
- Number of blades: 11
- Optics: 17 Elements in 12 Groups
- Minimum focus: 11.81″ / 30 cm
- Weight: 38.45 oz / 1090 g
- Dimensions (ø x L): 3.46 x 5.36″ / 87.8 x 136.2 mm
- Filter thread: 82mm
Build & Ergonomics
When you first pick up the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 the first thing you notice is its weight. Obviously, with a maximum aperture of f/1.2, the lens is going to be big. What I didn’t realize was how cool the features were that offset the downside of big/heavy. This lens is extremely sharp and the bokeh is incredible.
One of the other features that I really enjoy on this lens is the manual aperture. It is an enjoyable tactile experience to rotate a dial to control camera aperture – it also makes changing it a snap.
Video shooters will enjoy the de-click feature that allows you to change aperture with a smooth/silent rotation of the ring. The de-click switch is located right next to the autofocus / manual focus switch.
My only complaint with the manual aperture ring is that it could use a firmer click into the automatic position. I occasionally bump the ring and it slipped into manual aperture control causing me to briefly get confused about why I couldn’t adjust my aperture from my camera dial.
Sigma also added the handy feature of a focus hold button. This allows you to create another customizable button that can be set to a variety of features. Many people like to use it for eye auto focus.
The Sigma 35mm f/1.2 felt well built and very sturdy for its size. The design included a metal body and a firm build that seems like it will last a long time.
Although a bit on the heavy side, it feels great in your hands. All the controls were easily accessible and it felt as nice as any of the Sony G-Master lenses.
The Sigma 35mm f/1.2 is incredibly fast to focus! It felt faster than many of my native Sony lenses. This may be attributed to the f/1.2 aperture, but I think it is also a sign that Sigma is producing top quality products.
Focusing felt instant in all but the darkest scenes. It tracked subjects incredibly well, all while being completely silent.
Having such superb auto focus performance on the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 is so helpful, because it allows you to completely focus on composition and not have to worry about whether your image will be sharp.
The manual focus ring is a focus by wire system, but it felt smooth when racking focus. It always takes some practice with this type of system because it isn’t as tactile as an analog focus ring. Sigma did a good job making it feel as naturally responsive as possible.
Bottom line, the focus works extremely well. Enough said!
When it comes to image quality, the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 is top notch! It delivers extremely sharp images, even at f/1.2.
I was very impressed with how sharp this lens rendered images and I felt that it was designed for future increases in resolution (even beyond the 61 megapixel Sony a7R IV).
It felt like the sharpness of the images was limited by the resolution of my Sony a7III camera more than this lens. Even when zooming in to 300%, the images were almost perfectly sharp edge to edge, even when shooting at f/1.2.
Croma and distortion were well controlled and completely eliminated when the lens profile is added in Lightroom.
It seems that this lens in not only the fastest auto focus lens for Sony, but also the best optical performer out of the 35mm offerings for Sony E-Mount.
Most notable about the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 is the ability to create incredible bokeh. At f/1.2, this lens throws the background into a beautiful blur which really helps to isolate the subject.
I loved shooting shallow depth of field images even with this somewhat wide lens. Typically I enjoy bokeh when shooting on an 85mm telephoto lens, but this lens opens up new opportunities to play with bokeh.
Overall, this lens is very impressive when it comes to image quality. Although this should be expected when you factor in its size/weight.
Value for Money
Being the fastest auto focus lens available for Sony, this lens is good value! If you seek top of the line performance, this lens delivers.
At around $1,500, this lens is similarly priced to the native Sony 35mm f/1.4 but delivers a faster aperture and better image quality.
The Sony 35mm f/1.4 is known to have some variation in manufacturing (some copies are excellent, some are a bit soft). However, I would expect this lens to be consistently excellent based on Sigma’s standards and reputation.
The only downside I found with this lens is increased size/weight. At over 1,000 grams, it’s not something you want to carry around all day long.
There are other less expensive 35mm options available for Sony but the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 far outperforms them in terms of bokeh and low light performance.
Some might consider this to be a bit of a boutique lens, but I was very impressed with how well it performs. If size/weight aren’t a huge factor for you, this is likely the best performing 35mm lens available for Sony.
Sigma 35mm f/1.2 Review | Conclusion
At first I was unsure about this lens because of its bulk, but after using it for several weeks on a variety of subjects, I was convinced it has a place in the market.
It is always fun to use with the highest quality gear available, and the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 was no exception. I loved the look of shooting at f/1.2, something previously unavailable with auto focus E-Mount lenses.
This lens also delivered such fast and accurate auto focus that I could put my mind at ease when it came to getting sharp images. This really allowed me to improve my images by focusing on composition instead of being hindered by technology.
Because it is so large, I found myself hesitating to bring it on longer excursions, unless I knew I would be shooting in very low light, or wanted very shallow depth of field.
If you’re looking for the best 35mm lens for Sony E-Mount, I strongly encourage you to look at the Sigma 35mm f/1.2. It will not disappoint!
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.