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3-Way Shootout: Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art vs Zeiss Milvus 85/1.4 vs Nikon 85/1.4G (Lundy Beaver Ponds, Nikon D810)

Get Sigma DG HSM Art and Zeiss Milvus at B&H Photo.

Update 21 Nov: I fixed a presentation bug in which only the Sigma 85/1.4 was showing in the crop series.

This 3-way shootout compares the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art to the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G and Zeiss Milvus 85mm f/1.4 on a scene with exceptional levels of fine detail.

Although the scene is quite distant, there is enough difference between near and far that lens behaviors are sure to pop out. Indeed, there is a big surprise in store with regards to the Sigma 85/1.4 DG HSM Art, its behavior quite at odds with its MTF chart.

Shootout: Zeiss Loxia 85/2.4 vs Batis 85/1.8: Lundy Canyon Beaver Ponds

Includes images up to 28 megapixels and large crops, from f/1.4 through f/11 for all 3 lenses.

See also the Snowy Spur of Mt Conness series.

Update 21 Nov:

Is this a bad sample of the Sigma 85/1.4 DG HSM Art? If so, what of Sigma’s claimed MTF testing? I don’t have that answer but performance is symmetric and that tends to rule out “bad sample” lenses:

  • Sensor cover glass thickness comes to mind, what with the “lab tests” at web sites claiming Otus-grade performance all using Canon versions of the lens (as this was written, I had no access to a Canon sample).
  • One user reports: “I shot with mine and the store demo and found the same behavior. I clearly found inconsistent results around 1.4. At close distance.”. So this suggests that near or far there are at least some problem samples of the lens (which does not exclude all samples being the case).
  • 18 Nov 2016 11:30 AM: I put in a call to Sigma marketing requesting a Canon version and noting the issues I have found.
Zeiss Milvus 85/1.4, Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, Nikon 85/1.4G

The first hard freeze of the year (14°F or colder for sure) left the beaver pond area frosty. The beaver has not repaired the breached dams seen below, but I see fresh beaver cuttings so maybe the job will get done—90% of the trout here have died due to the breaches (based on my own YOY surveys down there).

Lundy Canyon Beaver Ponds
f4 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 64; 2016-11-17 09:20:52
NIKON D810 + Zeiss Milvus 85mm f/1.4

[low-res image for bot]


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