Sigma Art 135mm - Bokeh Pano King

December 11, 2017

A couple of weeks ago I bought the Sigma 135mm Art lens. Primarily and perhaps mentally for shooting bokeh panos. Here it is, next to the previous 135mm lens I used for shooting bokeh panos - the Canon FD 135mm f/2 (Note: Both have adapters attached. The Sigma is longer on its own than the Canon lens is including the adapter):

The Sigma lens is longer on it's own than the Canon lens is with the adapter. It's also almost double the weight, which is no small issue since the Canon is no feather weight either. Let's not even mention cost! So is the Sigma really worth all that extra size, weight and money? This is subjective of course, but for me - OMG it totally is! The sharpness across the frame is insane. Actually the Canon isn't bad here, at all, but where the Sigma really pulls ahead is the lack of aberrations. CAs and ghosting are so well controlled that you can shoot at night with no issue at all and that is a huge advantage for me because I do love shooting at night!

This next one of the Jaguar is actually getting some ghosting above the Christmas lights at the top of the image, but fear not, this is not the lenses fault. I was testing the camera here on the full spectrum converted Sony A7, so I had to use an external hot mirror filter to be able to shoot colour and this is why the lens is ghosting. Otherwise, this lens just doesn't do it.

This next shot was from the normal A7II (no filters) and thus no ghosting. The bloom in the top left corner is from a direct light source, pointing into the camera, which I cropped out in post.

The dynamic range in this next shot was so high because I wanted to capture a bit of the outside, so I rather over-exposed it on purpose. I expected this to have some issues with that, nut nope. 

I love the colour rendition of this camera / lens combo for vibrant night shots too.

This scene with the tram was super dark! I mostly like the slightly faster aperture for the extra bokeh effect, but it helps a little for these night shots too. It's nowhere near as easy to use as the 85/1.2 was, but it's still capable.

This scene was even darker than the last. The lights in the background are from a fairly subdued library and the car was brightened up to about 10,000 iso. I do love the sheer resolution of bokeh panos to cut through these high iso figures and retain so much detail!

 I have stated previously (somewhere) that I thought the best lens for shooting bokeh panos should be the Nikon 105mm f/1.4. My reason for stating this is that it has a massive 75mm front element and the 105mm focal length perhaps represents a sweet spot for the technique. Why is this? Well, I find 85mm has a bit too much distortion (when stitching a wider than 28mm result) and 135mm takes a few too many images to get to that result. The down sides are that its stupendously expensive and Nikon AF lenses don't adapt well to the Sony FE mount.

 

So, ever since it was announced I have lusted after the Sigma 135mm f/1.8 Art lens. Although it's not quite the sweet spot that I'd hoped for it does share the massive 75mm front element, it's not as expensive as the Nikon, is available in Canon EF mount (adapts well to Sony FE) and perhaps more critically it is rated as one of the absolute sharpest lenses ever created. 

 

To sum up, I have not been disappointed by this lens. It's not the lightest thing in the world. It's very front heavy on the Sonys of course, but feels ok on the mkII bodies at least. it doesn't feel safe on mk MkI, but that's OK, because I don't want to ruin this lenses IQ with filters anyway.  If I shoot some models with this lens in the spring I might try some IR with it wide open an see how it fares. The IR test so far suggests that it will be terrible for IR at any aperture, but we will see...

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