The Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art series lens is easily their most ambitious release to date. The Sigma 105mm f/1.4 “Bokeh Master” promises to be the king of the buttery smooth, blurred out backgrounds that so many people love. It’s supposed to be the dream lens for portrait and wedding photographers, but does it deliver the goods? We got to shoot with the Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM at a couple of events and a portrait session to find out.
Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM for Sony E-Mount Specs (via Sigma)
- Lens Construction 17 elements in 12 groups
- Angle of View (35mm) 23.3°
- Number of Diaphragm Blades 9 (Rounded diaphragm)
- Minimum Aperture F16
- Minimum Focusing Distance 100cm / 39.4 in.
- Filter Size (mm) 105
- Maximum Magnifications 1: 8.3
- Dimensions (Diameter x Length) ø115.9mm x 131.5mm/ 4.6in. x 5.2in.
- Weight 1645g/58.0oz.
Design & Ergonomics
Let’s get the obvious out of the way, this is a large heavy lens. In order to get the creamiest of bokeh from a telephoto lens that’s without having much barrel length (respectively), Sigma had to construct a lens with very large glass elements (17 of them) and pair them up with 9 rounded diaphragm blades. Its metal construction is both dust and splash resistant, allowing you to take this lens with you even when the weather is less than welcoming. During our test period we didn’t encounter much wet weather (just lots of bitter cold), but if it’s anything like the 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM that we got to use for our SD Quattro H review, we’re pretty confident that this lens will more than hold its own when the weather gets downright nasty.
Sigma’s fully well aware of the size and weight of this lens, the 105mm Bokeh Master includes a detachable Arca-Swiss tripod socket that’s a must if you’re planning on attaching this lens to a tripod. We didn’t do much shooting with a tripod with this lens, but it’s a nice touch if that’s how you shoot.
The rubberized focusing ring felt substantial without feeling the need to force focus. In our testing, we were able to pull the focus easily whenever our Sony a7RII’s back-button focus didn’t quite land where we wanted it to. In short, it’s everything you’d expect from the Art series lenses.
Shooting with the “Bokeh Master” and Image Quality
Have we mentioned that this is a heavy lens yet? In case you didn’t get it, we really mean this is a heavy lens. On some of our initial testing (read: we were super excited to have it in for testing we ran out into the streets of New York with only our camera and a shoulder strap – ouch), we found ourselves really wishing we hadn’t forgotten our bag to help keep the strain from our necks. But make no mistake, once we got to see the final shots – the pain was worth it!
Does this lens produce some of the creamiest, most delicious bokeh we’ve seen? Hell. Yes!
The Sigma 105mm f/1.4 has a level of image quality that we just haven’t seen in other medium telephoto prime lenses. The colors are bright and accurate with no visible chromatic aberration or fringing. Vignetting isn’t an issue – in fact, we found the images we took to be sharp throughout the frame. From center to corner we found this lens to consistently produce beautiful images with highly accurate colors.
So, is this a lens for you? That depends on two main factors: Are you looking for an amazingly sharp, bokeh producing monster of a lens? And, secondly, are you willing to carry the weight to achieve this? Make no mistake, this lens isn’t without its faults – it’s very heavy, it’s quite large, and there’s no image stabilization. But if you’re willing to skip a few trips to the bar and replace them with trips to the gym, you’ll find the images this lens produces to be worth the sacrifice.
You can pick up the Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM for $1599.