This April, I was asked to review the Sigma’s 135mm f/1.8 lens on behalf of The Royal Photographic Society. The review was to be featured in their members’ JOURNAL magazine and below is my write-up on this amazing portrait and bokeh evoking lens.
Aimed at the high-end enthusiast and professional photographer, the Sigma 135 f/1.8 Art lens is a super fast prime lens capable of producing stunningly creamy backgrounds with great low light capabilities.
As a Nikon shooter, I regularly shoot with a range of their trusted f/2.8 lenses. However, Sigma’s lure of a bokeh evoking f/1.8 portrait lens, albeit at a high but competitive price point, was one I couldn’t pass up.
As you’d expect with a full frame f1.8 lens of this type, this is a big piece of glass. At just over 1kg and measuring 174mm in length (inc. lens hood) with an 82mm filter mount, some may find it a little on the large side. However, I personally LOVE its stability and the professional feel such a solid lens brings – not to mention it looks great! Thanks to Sigma’s innovative mounting system, the lens is also available for Nikon, Canon and Sony shooters and is compatible with their USB hub for fine tuning autofocus.
To test the lens’s portrait and speed capabilities, I took shots of my 9-month year old daughter on a swing. Attached to my Nikon D810, the lens fitted perfectly in my hand with a reassuring weight. As I took my first shot, I was immediately impressed with its autofocus – it’s super fast and I had no issues locking focus as my daughter swung back and forth. Although the lens doesn’t feature any built-in image stabilisation, the benefits of shooting wide open meant capturing crystal sharp images at low ISOs was no problem. Switching to manual focus, I took the lens to capture images of crocus flowers in my local botanic gardens. My experience proved just as impressive. The large and silky smooth focus ring was a joy to precisely tune and even when shooting handheld in low light and at f/1.8, I had no problems capturing artistic and sharp images.
This lens truly exceeded my expectations and I was blown away by the creamy smooth backgrounds and amount of ‘pop’ you can create between your subject and background. Its hawk like focusing makes for an addictive and enjoyable shooting experience and the colours and resulting quality are sublime.
Sigma has produced a truly stunning lens here. Considering its image quality and top-class performance, this lens provides good value for money for those looking for a super fast and professional portrait lens that also has the flexibility to be used outside the studio.
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