The first Sigma 135mm f/1.8 review and sample photos are in and they look pretty stunning

Apr 4, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

The first Sigma 135mm f/1.8 review and sample photos are in and they look pretty stunning

Apr 4, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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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.

YouTube video

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.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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11 responses to “The first Sigma 135mm f/1.8 review and sample photos are in and they look pretty stunning”

  1. Brian Menin Avatar
    Brian Menin

    I think I’d rather read about focus speed/accuracy and lab test sharpness than just view some awkward photos.

    1. Toby_W Avatar
      Toby_W

      Yeah, I hate when they review lenses by showing real world photos instead of lab tests, too

      1. Brian Menin Avatar
        Brian Menin

        Multiple bad images of the same girl in mostly the same outfit, but different awkward poses, are not really helpful to me. If the article included something other than high contrast blue and green, it might be more insightful. I sometimes take photos that include red and orange, as well as a diversity of skin tones. And while the camera and post processing certainly makes a difference, it would be nice to see how the lens renders them. I own two Sigma lenses, and their color rendition is markedly different than my Canon L series lenses. So yeah, without addressing the technical qualities of the lens, this article was a total waste of
        a read for me.

        1. Michael Leonard Avatar
          Michael Leonard

          Multiple bad images? Please tell me you’re joking.

          The photos were part of the review video which the photographer tested the lens, and he had a model pose for him, so yes, it was the same girl. Watch the video at the top of the article.

          1. Antonio Mare Lampart Avatar
            Antonio Mare Lampart

            why the original photos (in raw files) are not shown? why pictures was manipulate in photoshop? why background was extra blurred by software? I already tested the 135mm lens and I know what I am talking about.

          2. Michael Leonard Avatar
            Michael Leonard

            Shooting portraits at f/1.8 yields a blurred background. Maybe you’ve shot a 135 before, but have you shot this 135? Did you use the same settings? We see photos, and you’re assuming things were done with absolutely no proof because your experience was different. I have experience with fast lenses too, and they do blur like that in the right circumstances.

  2. Yasser Sultan Avatar
    Yasser Sultan

    Great images…. Thanks a lot for sharing them!

  3. Jason R Perryman Avatar
    Jason R Perryman

    Sheesh Snarky photographers everywhere lol.. Very excited about this glass

  4. Antonio Mare Lampart Avatar
    Antonio Mare Lampart

    it is look like fake news or advertise . I just compared in real life 85mm 1.4 art, 135mm 1.8 and 300mm 2.8. 135mm don’t give bokeh like on those pictures.

    1. Michael Leonard Avatar
      Michael Leonard

      Actually the bokeh on this lens is great. I tested it out last year and was blown away by the quality.

    2. Kim Gary Avatar
      Kim Gary

      This is the Work of a Professional Grahic Post Processing Expert and its not the lens as the Art Lens I owned almosty more than 10 of them and None have this kind of Bokeh at all ..This is total Rubbish Bullshit advertisement and Fake News ……………….Sighhhhhhhhhhhhh…….I just Dump it away in the Rubbish chute as It Sucks Big Time if anyone ever Open up and seee what you are paying ……….Its all Doubled sided Tape on those Electromics parts and very Cheap Coating Lenses …….The marketing make it as Thought its a very High End lens ….Do Not be Fool as those dealers make super huge profits fromn this Art Lenses … Let guese 60 to 70% profits ………Blesssed