Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens Review

Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

The Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens is another addition to the growing lineup of Sigma Art series lenses. This lens is being used by many of my wedding photographer friends, and they are in love with this piece of lens. So I finally got my hands on the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 and I thought of sharing my experience with you all.

I have been exploring the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 lens for the past 3 weeks, so I thought of sharing my experience with all you photographers who are planning to buy this lens. I went out to click some monuments with the Sigma 20mm Art lens mounted on a full-frame camera to show the actual focal length of this lens.

Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

Image Courtesy: Alka Sharma

Before we get into the details, let’s have a look at some of the key features of Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens:

  • Large aperture wide-angle lens
  • Built-in HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) for fast and quiet autofocusing
  • A rounded 9 blade diaphragm
  • Performance similar to 35mm f/1.4 Art & 50mm f/1.4 Art lenses
  • FLD and SLD glass elements to reduce distortion and chromatic aberration

Build Quality and Handling

The Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens weighs 950g which is on a heavier side when compared to the AF-S NIKKOR 20mm F/1.8G ED lens (355g) and the Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM Lens (405g). The lens looks strong and sturdy as the body is made up of metal, which completely justifies the weight of this lens.

Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

The rubberized grip on the focus ring is just perfect as it moves smoothly when you focus manually and is wide enough to easily make the adjustments. The lens features the AF/MF switch which lets you set the focus of the lens to automatic or manual. This lens comes with a non-detachable petal lens hood to get away with the lens flare. Due to the bulb-like shape of the front element, you can not mount a filter on this lens.

Unlike the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art lens, the closest focusing distance is not that great, which is 0.27m. The competitors are offering 0.25m (Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM Lens) and 0.20m (AF-S NIKKOR 20mm F/1.8G ED lens) respectively.

Focusing

The Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens features Hyper Sonic Motor which makes the focusing on this lens faster and silent. As i was testing the lens, I was really impressed by the focusing speed as it swiftly focused on subjects located nearby as well as at longer distance. The lens didn’t hunt for the focus and was spot-on, accurately focusing 9.5/10 times.

If you like shallow depth of field with the subject in focus, then simply aim this lens and within a fraction of seconds your focus will be set on the subject. The auto-focus motor is really quiet that you can hardly hear it move within the lens. This results in minor noise in video recordings.

Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

Image Courtesy: Alka Sharma

Sharpness

Sigma ART series is a breed of lenses which provide excellent sharpness, be it 50mm, 35mm, 24mm or this beauty 20mm. This lens will never let you down in terms of sharpness, giving you fine details of your subject. The images clicked at aperture ranging between f/1.4 and f/4 are decently sharp in the center, but a bit softer at the edges, which is expected from a wide angle lens, but is comparatively better than some of its competitors. Using this lens between f/5.6 and f/11 is pure bliss, center to edge sharpness is great, but somehow I noticed slight softness at the extreme edges.

Why buy this lens when you can get the canon and Nikon variant for much less price? The answer is sharpness in the final output.

Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

Low-light Performance

This wide angle lens with the ability to shoot at f/1.4 is surely the king of low-light photography. I simply love the fact that i can easily shoot sunsets and building while the available light is low, that too without the support of a tripod. Using the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art handheld at f/1.4 lets you click the images without increasing the ISO, which results in less grains.

Talking about the focusing of this lens in low-light conditions, I did face minor issues as the focus was getting missed while focusing on distant subjects.

Where you can easily get the Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM Lens for less than INR 40,000 and the AF-S NIKKOR 20mm F/1.8G ED lens for approx. INR 60,000, why would you buy the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens for approx. INR 60,000? Canon will only be able to open till f/2.8 and the Nikon till f/1.8, whereas the Sigma will get you open up the aperture till f/1.4 to let in more light.

Vignetting

As you can see in the image comparison below, the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art creates some serious vignetting around the image at f/1.4. This is usually common among f/1.4 lenses because the aperture is wide open at this aperture value. Vignetting reduces gradually as you start increasing the aperture value. At f/4 you will see very minimal vignetting which is not that noticeable and anything at f/4 or above aperture value will give you images without any vignetting.

As per my experience with this lens, the vignetting is unnoticeable at f/4 and above, and that is the reason majority of my test shots were clicked between f/4 and f/8.

Conclusion

The Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is ideal for travel, landscape, cityscape and wedding photography as it provides superior quality of sharpness and the ability to use the aperture as wide as f/1.4 in low light conditions. Using this lens on a crop-sensor camera body you can shoot street photos with great depth of field. If you like shooting wide angles in low-light conditions, this is the lens you should go for. This Sigma lens can also be used for astro photography, providing your camera the ability to capture stars using f/1.4.

One thing I experienced is that the sharpness between f/1.4 and f/4 is not that great at the center, but once you shoot between f/4 and f/11 you will get amazing center-to-edge sharpness. I also faced minor focusing issues in low light conditions, that too on distant subjects. If you are a travel photographer and prefer mounting filters on the lens, this lens would not allow you to do so because of the bulb-like shape of the front element.

The lens is available in stores and online and comes with a price tag of INR 72,999, though it can be bought for INR 60,000 easily.

Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

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About Author

Kunal Malhotra
Kunal Malhotra, a photography enthusiast whose passion for photography started 6 years back during his college days. Kunal is also a photography blogger, based out of Delhi. He loves sharing his knowledge about photography with fellow aspiring photographers by writing regular posts on his blog: The Photography Blogger. Some of his favourite genres of photography are Product, Street, Fitness and Architecture.