Review Sigma 28mm f/1.4 Art @ Canon 5DsR: best 28mm of the moment

The Sigma 28 mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is a new, bright wide angle in the Sigma Art series. The Art series is becoming synonymous with optical perfection. The new Sigma 28 mm f/1.4 is again something special. Top-class image quality, not only when you stop down two stops, but directly from full aperture.
​Click on the product for specifications, prices and test results.

SUBLIME, BRIGHT WIDE ANGLE: Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM

Sigma 28mm f/1.4ART TEST RESULTS:

PROS

  • High build quality
  • Dust- and splashwater-tight
  • Exceptionally high image quality: the best 28 mm at the moment
  • Extremely high brightness
  • Cheap for a bright wide angle

CONS

  • More than 1000 euros
  • Big (11 cm long) and heavy (865 grams)

Many brands mainly release bright 24 mm and 35 mm lenses for documentary photography. Sigma is gradually making the Art series very complete, and that also includes a 28 mm. A 35 mm is pretty close to the standard lenses; a 24 mm is really serious wide angle. A 28 mm fits nicely in between. It is a wide-angle lens but not a very extreme one. Really a nice lens for subtle wide-angle photography. In combination with high brightness, you should even be able to use this 28 mm to get selective sharpness in your photos. This makes it an ideal lens for many applications: head and shoulder portraits if you don’t get too close, architecture and interiors, landscape and documentary. Because coma and chromatic aberrations are kept to a minimum, it is also a good choice for night photography. The Sigma 28 mm f/1.4 DG HSM is available in various versions. The Nikon version comes with electro-magnetic diaphragm, and the Canon version can use the lens corrections in the camera. Furthermore, the lens is also available in Sigma mount and Sony mount, and the Canon version with the MC-11 adapter can also be used on Sony cameras with an E mount. And if you switch systems, you can have this lens converted to a different mount with Sigma’s Mount Conversion. There is also an optional USB Dock for uploading new firmware to the lens and adjusting the auto focus.

STURDY YOUNGSTER WITH HIGH QUALITY

SIGMA 28 14 a019 01The Sigma 28 mm f/1.4 DG HSM is not a light or compact lens. That is perhaps the only thing you can criticize about it. It is nearly 108 mm long and just under 83 mm in diameter. The filter size is 77 mm. This lens will not immediately be a first choice for travel and documentary photography, unless you want to use the high brightness and to get the highest image quality at every aperture. The lens is built to be used under all circumstances and is extensively equipped with gaskets against dust and moisture. The front lens has a special coating that repels grease and dirt so that dirt cannot easily stick to the glass.

The optical design consists of 17 elements in 12 groups. The rear element is aspherical, and various lens elements are made of special glass types. Not unique, but great that the front and rear lens groups can move relative to each other, in order to keep the image quality high at even the shortest setting distance. The shortest setting distance is 28 cm, which ensures a maximum magnification of 0.18x.

SIGMA Konstruktion 28mm F14 DG HSM Art

If we look at the MTF cards on the manufacturer’s site (taking diffraction into account) for the 28 mm, we see a promise of high sharpness. You will be able to see vignetting clearly at full aperture. But that is not necessarily a downside. Many documentary and portrait photographers also often use it as a style tool. In addition, vignetting is easy to correct afterwards. The optical design (17 elements in 12 groups, including two “F” low-dispersion (FLD) glass elements, three special low-dispersion (SLD) glass elements and three aspherical lens elements for correction of chromatic aberration) must ensure high image quality, a beautiful bokeh and low distortion of less than 1.5%. Axial chromatic aberration and coma should be virtually absent. 

SIGMA EffektiveVerzeichnung 28mm F14 DG HSM Art

Autofocus speed: from infinity to 1.5 meters in 0.3 sec

The HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) should ensure reasonably fast autofocus. The diaphragm consists of 9 blades. Together with the optical design, which gives high contrast in the focal plane but also a nice gradient to a soft blur, this should ensure a beautiful bokeh.

IMAGE QUALITY

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We can be brief about image quality: the Sigma 28 mm f/1.4 Art is, without lens correction, the best-performing 28 mm of more than 100 lenses that we have tested at a 28 mm field of view. That says everything about the lens design: that is of exceptional quality. If we look at the test results from corrected jpg files, then a number of other lenses, including the Sigma 24-35 mm f/2 DG HSM Art, perform more or less equivalent to the Sigma 28 mm f/1.4 Art. But those other 28 mm lenses are still defeated by the Sigma 28 mm f/1.4 Art when it comes to brightness and bokeh. 

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Not surprisingly, the Sigma 28 mm f/1.4 Art scores somewhat better than the Sigma 24 mm f/1.4 Art when it comes to vignetting. The vignetting is visibly present at full aperture at f/1.4, with more than 2 stops. The vignetting decreases with 30% with each stop stopping down. 

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Sigma 28mm Art vs Sigma 24mm Art

In comparison with the Sigma 24 mm f/1.4 Art, the Sigma 28 mm f/1.4 Art scores 10% better for sharpness than the 24 mm. After stopping down two stops, the roles are reversed. In both cases, the difference is so small that you will not notice it in practice. At full aperture, the 28 mm is visibly sharper in the extreme corners, but after two stops stopping down, they are evenly matched. In short, you will have to make a choice between 24 mm and 28 mm Art on the basis of the field of view, not image quality. 

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Both with and without lens corrections, we measure a distortion of 0.5%. That is nice for a wide-angle lens. 

Visit our gallery with sample images from the Sigma 28 mm f/1.8 Art, where you can download the shots in full resolution:

Tip: also view the Sigma 28 mm f/1.4 Art sample images on Sigma’s Global site, which, just like our practice shots, can be downloaded in full resolution.

Conclusion: Sigma 28mm f/1.4 Art @ Canon 5DsR

The Sigma 28 mm f/1.4 Art has a complex lens design without compromises, which pays off in exceptionally high image quality.

28 mm lenses used to be much more popular than 24 mm lenses, partly due to the higher price-to-quality ratio. There are virtually no 28 mm lenses with an f/1.4 brightness. And that is not without reason, because image errors increase quadratically with increasing brightness. By not cutting corners on the length or weight in the design of the lens, Sigma has succeeded in making a wide-angle lens with exceptionally high image quality, using a complex lens design of 16 lens elements with various high-quality glass types. The choice for f/1.4 pays off in an incomparably beautiful combination of sharpness and blur.  

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