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Reader Comments: Size/Weight of Sigma DG HSM Art Lenses

Get Sigma DG HSM Art at B&H Photo.

See also The Irrational Aim of f/1.4 Lenses.

Readers respond to my comments about the size/weight of Sigma DG HSM Art lenses. I wrote:

I’ll express the one significant criticism I have of Sigma DG HSM Art lenses: size and weight are a serious drawback for my usage, with minimal upside for still shooters. While I am a big fan of an f/1.4 aperture when shooting, it’s mostly a liability out in the field where bulk reduces the number of lenses I can carry, and weight is literally a pain in the back. My guess is that Sigma hs developed the DG HSM Art series with videographers in mind as well, and with videography, f/1.4 (T/1.5 or so) is highly desirable.

Ironically, the push for f/1.4 lenses on the 35mm format now means that medium format systems are now smaller and lighter than 35mm DSLR systems, at least if one wants the highest performing optics. Namely, the Fujifilm GFX system and the Hasselblad X1D system.

For example, Hasselblad has wisely given up about 2/3 stop of lens speed with the Hasselblad XCD lenses in exchange for world-class performance, the best sample quality I have ever seen from any vendor (every lens I’ve used has been perfect), and an impressively useful size/weight equation. Fujifilm runs along the same lines, but with poor quality control for lenses.

Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

Walter B writes:

I really appreciate the comments but find it difficult to actually get the feeling of just how big the lenses and cameras are. Perhaps there would be a method whereby comparisons could be made?

I have the Sony A7R II but find its compact size a bit frustrating (I am 6’ 4” with big hands) but an asset if the lenses were similar to the Leica M lenses (I have the Leica M6 with several lenses).

DIGLLOYD: if used to an M system and desiring to shoot the Sony A7R II / Sony A7R III, the Zeiss Loxia lenses are the only lenses that as a group will mimic the Leica M form factor. The Sigma DG HSM Art lenses are supersized by comparison.

I appreciate that reading words about size/weight isn’t satisfying. As I don’t have these lenses in my possession any more, I cannot make a quick video, but perhaps in the future. But see John A’s comments next.

The Sigma DG HSM Art lenses approach Zeiss Otus lenses in size and weight. I own all the Zeiss Otus lenses in Nikon mount, but they are just too much of a burden to carry out in the field, so I don’t use them much. I don‘t shoot the Otus lenses much any more because of the physical drawbacks of size and weight. The Sigma DG HSM Art lenses are in the same category.

John A writes:

Following your testing and the results that you achieved with the new Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art I purchased a copy. The results were astonishingly good and I was very pleased. I was aware that it was going to be heavy but thought that the IQ was worth some sacrifice in comfort and convenience. After a week using it I returned it reluctantly to the store. Fortunately they have a no questions policy for returns so long as the item is as purchased.

Now I am not a young man but four of the assistants - all in their 20’s and 30’s (I would estimate) all tried it and agreed that THEY would not find it easy to use for an half days shooting.

I am very disappointed to have to give up such a well performing lens but I share your reservations about the size and weight of several of the recent - otherwise excellent - Sigma Art lenses. I accept that some penalty must be expected for high speed and extraordinary quality but to optimize potential sales and use they really should make greater efforts to reduce size and weight. The direct Nikon competitor to this particular lens manages a better compromise but its electronic management does of course restrict its use on other platforms.

Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

DIGLLOYD: I lugged the Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art up about 800 vertical feet back into the Hall Natural Area of the Mt Conness drainage in the Hoover Wilderness, including up a class 3 slope, where I had to stow it all in my backpack. This was a chore, especially carrying the Zeiss Milvus 100mm f/2M and Nikon 105mm f/2 DC and other lenses along for comparison. I could hike with it only by fully supporting the lens with one arm and the camera against my body with the strap snugged over my should and under my arm—not possible to forget what one is carrying. My back hurt when I returned that night after my 10 hour hike.

Would I make a habit of carrying the Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art? Absolutely not, which makes it a poor buy for me even though its optical performance is top of the heap.

Sigma has made optical peformance the #1 priority, particularly with the Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art and the new Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art. So while the lenses are clearly very well engineered to be as light as possible, large elements are heavy and there cannot be any significant savings without compromising physical build quality.

Salim M writes:

The Art lenses are just too heavy and bulky! I have the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art that I use with my Nikon D810. I do a lot of high resolution panoramas with the 50/1.4. It's a great sharp lens.

At the same time, I hike or snowshoe for long stretch at a time and when carrying a few more primes, the thought of carrying the Sigma 50/1.4 becomes dreadful.

This was one of the reasons why I invested in the Sony A7R III, the Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 is so small and light by comparison with great resolution and quality for my needs.

I really love the original Sigma 19mm f/2.8 on my Sony A6000. It's small light and sharp for its purpose.

So I really wish, Sigma would create a line of lenses for landscape photographers. Something with high optical quality but compromise lens speed for lens size and weight. I love my Voigtlander 90m f/3.5 for its size and speed compromise. Hope someone out there is listening.

DIGLLOYD: see The Irrational Aim of f/1.4 Lenses.

At only 815 grams, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is not particularly large or heavy as other lenses in the Sigma DG HSM Art lineup, so if that is too large/heavy, the rest of the line is not going to please. The Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art weighs in at a whopping 1,200g / 42.3 ounces, which is only ~230 grams / 0.5 lb less than the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR zoom (1430 grams).

While Sigma has not created a lightweight high performance lens line, at least on Sony mirrorless the Zeiss Loxia line gets the job done nicely (fill in gaps with Zeiss Batis).

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