I now have the Sigma FE 14mm f/1.4 DG DN Art in hand and will be shooting it in the mountains this coming week. I doubt I will publish much during the short 8 day hiking trip, but upon return I’ll have a thorough evaluation against with the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 and Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM and maybe the Sigma FE 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art.
Is this new lens a big step up?
With 19 elements in 15 groups, it is a very highly corrected lens. Its 14/1.8 sibling has 16 elements in 11 groups, the Sony 14/1.8 has 14 elements in 11 groups.
Given the 2/3 stop faster lens speed, those extra elements might not mean much other than dealing with the wider aperture, but we shall see. Presumably solid effort has gone into a flat field (low field curvature), since it is promoted as an astrophotography lens.
While I’ll get some stars if nighttime conditions allow, my interest is piqued by daytime photography at wide apertures eg f/1.4 and f/2, including close-ups with steep perspective.
Size and weight
The 14/1.4 is 1170 grams, heavier than the 12-24/2.8 GM at 847 grams. It hefts fine in the hand however, so it may be better on hikes than its weight suggest.
The front lens cap is outstanding, sturday and confidence inspiring.
Huge optical value + extra practical value
I have to hand it to Sigma for doing it better than any other company out there. Not only does Sigma offer outstanding value for optics (high quality at low prices), here:
- Built in removable tripod-collar with built-in dovetail for mounting... vs the useless flat plate of every other vendor out there, which incurs extra cost and weight.
- There is even a protective rubber band if the tripod collar has been removed.
- The best lens protection of any vendor; a high quality zippered Cordura-style case with high quality foam padding. These case are so good that I sometimes repurpose them. A bit too bulky (rectangular) for daypack use, but highly protective of the lens.
- Really outstanding sturdy front lens cap.
It’s amazing to me that Fujifilm/Sony/Nikon/Canon continue to ignore these value-adds, making no effort to raise their game, instead shipping their stuff in shitty useles cardboard boxes with thin bags as the only protection, even for large and heavy lenses like the Sony 12-24/2.8 GM. The contrast is striking.
Sigma FE 14mm f/1.4 DG DN Art
You always wanted a lens with a built-in lens heater retainer, right? I’m not even sure what that is, maybe it works with a Tesla or something.
Kudos to Sigma for a first-of-a-kind lens long lusted-after by astrophotography afficionados: f/1.4 speed at 14mm, 2/3 of a stop faster than f/1.8. And if used at f/1.8, a lot brighter than an f/1.8 lens (reduced vignetting).
- f/1.4 to f/16
- Designed for Astrophotography
- HLA Autofocus Motor
- TS-141 Tripod Socket
- Rounded 11-Blade Diaphragm
- Dust and Splashproof Design
- 19 elements in 15 groups including 3 FLD, 1 SLD, and 4 aspherical
I’m excited about this lens. I’ll be testing it mid-summer. I like ultra wides for mountain/canyon use particularly at dusk/dawn. And it does not replicate any other offering (assuming the performance claims hold up). I’m willing to lug it around for its unique capabilities (same idea as a Zeiss Otus), and I appreciate the fact that it has a tripod mount with built-in dovetail, a very useful practicality that keep weight down and convenience up.
If the 14/1.4 performs at f/1.4 as claimed and as I hope, then it offers a unique opportunity for wide aperture landscapes that no other lens can offer, including handheld shooting that is otherwise feasible—I am thinking about dawn and dusk scenarios.
The “proofs” of lens performance on the Sigma web site look outstanding, but they are posted at 4-megapixel size (2500 pixels wide), thus lacking persuasive power. The 60MP capture of a Sony A7R V is 9504 pixels wide; a 3.8X linear dowsample can make just about any lens look good. Why not post raw files and let people see reality, instead of 1/3 of an iPhone image resolution?
Lenses like the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM and Nikon NIKKOR Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S are excellent all-arounders, but are stops slower and not optimized for astrophotography in any way. F/1.4 should be outstanding on the Sigma, but perhaps even more useful: at f/2 and f/2.8, the illumination across the frame with the Sigma will be much more even—critical for night shooting and keeping noise down in outer areas. I could see f/2 and f/2.8 being particularly useful when the brightness of f/1.4 is not necessary.
Getting to f/1.4 in a 14mm lens is impressive. It was only ~11 years ago that the Zeiss ZF.2 15mm f/2.8 Distagon impressed with its high performance and high speed... two stops slower!
That’s assuming that the quality is as good or better than other offerings, which it really has to be for its claimed design purpose—blurry stars are no good. Sigma put a lot of effort into the optical design.
This world-first performance was achieved by applying the best of SIGMA’s optical technologies, from the design to the lens manufacturing process. 19 elements in 15 groups, including 1 SLD glass element, 3 FLD glass elements, and 4 aspherical lens elements, make up a luxurious lens configuration.
This allows for advanced aberration correction and a high degree of precision in the lens construction. This allows both advanced aberration correction and F1.4 brightness.
In particular, sagittal coma flare, which distorts the shape of stars, has been carefully corrected, and even at the widest aperture, the lens delivers high image reproducibility right to the periphery of the image.
Ghosting and flare are also thoroughly addressed through both optical design and coatings. This allows for clear, crisp shooting of starry sky and night scenes. Optimized for starscapes, which require extremely high performance, this lens delivers images that exceed expectations in any scene, including landscapes, architecture snapshots, portraits, and indoor photography.
The 14mm F1.4 DG DN | Art is equipped with a wealth of features to support starscape photography. This fully backs up the fun of starscape photography.
Includes a detachable tripod socket compatible with Arca-Swiss type. As the 14mm F1.4 DG DN | Art is heavier on the front side, attaching the tripod socket helps it mount on a tripod in a more stable way. The shape is designed to prevent interference even when using the lens heater.
In addition to functions specifically designed for shooting starscapes, the lens is equipped with various functions to assist in shooting, including an AFL button to which any function can be assigned and an aperture ring.
The body is dust and splash resistant, and the frontmost surface of the lens is coated with a water and oil repellent coating, so you can shoot outdoors in harsh environments with peace of mind.
The HLA (High-response Linear Actuator) enables high-speed, quiet, and highly accurate autofocusing. In order to maintain performance while supporting a lens with a large aperture, the lens has a robust internal structure and uses lightweight materials such as polycarbonate TSC (Thermally Stable Composite), which has a thermal shrinkage rate equivalent to that of aluminum, and magnesium in appropriate locations to reduce weight while ensuring robustness. The lens body is built with the high build quality of the Art line specifications, allowing the user to fully enjoy the unique performance of the lens in any environment, including shooting starscapes.