As soon as Sigma announced the new 135mm f/1.8, it immediately made it onto my GAS list. Then I saw the price and it came straight back off my list again. After speaking with photographer Keydrin Franklin, though, and seeing some sample photographs (they’re down below), I think it may be going back on.
Keydrin’s used to shooting long fast glass for location portraits. His go-to lenses are the Nikon 200mm f/2 and Nikon 105mm f/1.4. So the Sigma 135mm f/1.8 is a good fit with his shooting style. He’s had the Sigma 135mm f/1.8 on loan for the last couple of weeks to give his thoughts on this lens. So far, those thoughts all seem very positive.
Keydrin’s video shows the lens actually in use under the same conditions in which Keydrin normally shoots. When he’s shooting with his 200mm, that usually means lying on his belly from half a mile away. With the 135mm, the only thing that’s really changed is that he’s able to do it much closer to his subject.
It’s not really much of a surprise that this lens seems rather spectacular, given Sigma’s recent history. Sigma’s Art lenses have a pretty solid repuation. The 85mm f/1.4 Art lens easily holds up to the competition, and even beats it, receiving DxOMark’s highest lens score ever. So now they have a standard to keep which users will expect them to follow, especially at this price point.
Like most lenses over a certain focal length, the Sigma 135mm f/1.8 contains a focus limiter. This speeds up autofocus by limiting the range of travel of the autofocus system. In the case of this lens, you can limit the lens to only focusing between its minimum focus distances of 0.875m to 1.5m, or between 1.5m to infinity. As for what 0.875m looks like at 135mm, well, it’s a bit like this.
That way, if you’re consistently shooting something close, it’s not constantly hunting near infinity, and vice versa if you go long. It’s a valuable workflow feature.
The filter thread on the 135mm f/1.8 is 82mm, slghtly smaller than the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art’s 86mm. But it weighs exactly the same. Both lenses come in at 1,130g. So, if you’re used to handling the 85mm f/1.4 all day but wanted something a little longer, this should be easy to adapt to.
Whether photographing the subjects close up or at a fairly decent range, the shallow depth of field is very nice. The out of focus areas fall off quite nicely. Although, bokeh is a very subjective thing.
The Sigma 135mm f/1.8 is available to preorder now for Nikon, Canon, Sony and Sigma cameras. It costs $1,399, except for Sony which costs $1,648 (because it’s the Canon version plus the Sigma MC-11 adapter). Shipping is expected to begin on April 25th. The sigma MC-11 EF to Sony E converter costs $249.99 and is available now.