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Reader Question on Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN: Sharpness and Distortion, Which 85mm Lens?

re: Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art: Hideous Pincushion Distortion and Its Effects on Micro Contrast

Subscriber and reader Eric B writes:

I bought the Sony 85mm f/1.8 FE years ago when I bought my A7RIII (now use Sony A7R IV).

When the Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN came out I thought it would be better enough than my Sony to justify replacing it. I’ve read your review a million times and can’t quite figure out your real opinion.

I rented the Sigma from Lens Rentals and played with it, even did a brick wall and saw the pincushion distortion. Optical Limits tested the Sony FE and found minimal distortion.

However, later in your review, you comment on “awful focus shift.” (page 6), but say that it’s impressively sharp, "As for sharpness, it is world-class in the central 2/3 or so of the frame, but even at f/5.6, the edges never approach the sharpness of the center.” I looked at the three lens shootout and see what you are saying.

I realize you’ve not tested the Sony 85 f/1.8 but would love to hear your thoughts if you’re able to compare it to the Sigma, even theoretically. I realize there may not be a clean answer to my question since lenses like this are complex on a good day.

DIGLLOYD: it’s ridiculous that Sony and Fujifilm and Nikon and Canon don’t even include optical distortion in their specifications, not even for the top-line lenses.

The Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 has significant pincushion distortion; I found some raw samples to inspect. I’d favor the Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art over it.

Perspective

I’ve added a conclusions page with my thoughts on the Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art, and alternatives:

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art: Conclusions

My concern about pincushion distortion and the Sigma FE 85/1.4 DG DN in particular, is self-evident, below.

f1.4 @ 1/100 sec handheld, ISO 800; 2020-09-11 08:15:38
Sony A7R IV + Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art
RAW: +40 Whites, +15 Clarity, USM {15,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

 


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