Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Review – by C.S. Muncy

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C.S. MuncyC.S. Muncy is a freelance photojournalist based out of New York City with a client list that includes The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, The New York Daily News and The Village Voice. As a freelancer, he’s covered such subjects as the BP Oil Spill, the fight for same-sex civil rights, the takeover of the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin and Occupy Wall Street. A graduate of the Defense Information School, he enlisted in the United States Air Force in 2002 and is currently a photographer with the New York Air National Guard.

Last year Sigma announced at Photokina an ambitious new line of high quality, professional lenses under their “Art” line-up. The concept was that Sigma would begin moving past its reputation as a mid-level third party company into a serious contender for professional photographer’s business. If their new 35mm 1.4 is any indication, they’ve wildly succeeded.

Sigma 35mm f/1.4

One of things you notice upon opening the box is the lens’ build quality. Unlike older Sigma lenses, which had a paint scheme that often flaked and peeled after heavy use, the burnished metal is solid and easy to hold while. It’s got enough texture to maintain a solid grip, which is a big thing when you’re shooting on the move, and the dark-grey color is muted enough not to draw unwanted attention. The only noticeable “bling” is the small chrome “A” (for Art) on the side, but even that’s pretty small. Even the glass is relatively small, with a filter-thread size of only 67mm. The hood is removable, and made of a solid dark plastic that locks easily and firmly into place.

Sigma 35mm f/1.4

Sigma 35mm f/1.4

After connecting it to various cameras, it quickly became apparent that this lens was going to get a lot of use in my kit. The autofocus is nearly silent, smooth, responsive and extremely fast. This proved important while covering some stories where I was literally running and shooting at the same time. The lens does do some searching in low light/contrast environments, but not so much that it caused me any serious problems.

Sigma 35mm f/1.4

The great thing about shooting wide open is that you can isolate your subjects from the rest of the background. Recently I was assigned to cover the “May Day” protests for the Village Voice. In previous years, I would shoot much wider and try to capture as many of the signs as possible. After several discussions with editors and other photographers I know and trust, I decided that this year I would try to avoid the signs. Good protest photos are all about emotions; this time I would try to capture faces and actions, and the lens worked perfectly for just that. It was wide enough that I could give the viewer a sense of where the person was and what was happening, but shooting at 1.4 allowed me to concentrate on specific points of interest. I’ve also included several other photos from recent stories and events I’ve covered with this lens below.

At almost a third less than Nikon or Canon’s the Sigma 35mm 1.4 is a great option for professional photographers. I really can’t recommend it enough.

C.S. Muncy

FS GABRESKI ANG, NY – Security Forces members and augmentees with the 106th Rescue Wing’s Security Forces Squadron, along with support from student flight, conducts crowd control training at FS Gabreski ANG on May 5th, 2013. Photo by C.S. Muncy — Click to enlarge.

C.S. Muncy

Photo by C.S. Muncy — Click to enlarge.

C.S. Muncy

Photo by C.S. Muncy — Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge - NEW YORK, NY - Students and faculty upset with the planned tuition increase at Cooper Union stage an occupation of the school president's office in the East Village on May 9th, 2013. Photo by C.S. Muncy.

NEW YORK, NY – Students and faculty upset with the planned tuition increase at Cooper Union stage an occupation of the school president’s office in the East Village on May 9th, 2013. Photo by C.S. Muncy. — Click to enlarge

Cooper Union Student Occupation

NEW YORK, NY – Students and faculty upset with the planned tuition increase at Cooper Union stage an occupation of the school president’s office in the East Village on May 9th, 2013. Photo by C.S. Muncy. — Click to enlarge

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