"This is probably the best Art lens they've ever made." That's what Kai Wong said after testing the Sigma Art 40mm. Read on to see why.
In this review, Kai Wong takes to the streets of London, and in his dry, laconic style, shoots a bunch of merry and perhaps inebriated Santas. The first thing you notice and the first thing Kai talks about is the gigantic size of the lens. He describes it as fat, long, and heavy, and shown in his hands, it is an absolute whopper on the end of his Sony a7 III. Granted, he's using a Sony adapter as the lens has a Canon mount, but still, it's almighty big. He says it feels front heavy and is quick to point out it's one thing he doesn't like about the lens.
For many, a 40mm lens is an odd focal length for street photography, but as Kai rather humorously says, it's not too wide like a 35mm and it's not too narrow like a 50mm. I have to agree with that, as I often find myself taking my little pancake Canon 40mm around with me when I'm shooting my daughter downtown here in Japan. It seems to fit snuggly between the wide(ish) 35mm and the 50mm, which I often find doesn't get enough of the frame I want.
He says the details are as sharp as a knife edge and crisper than reality, especially when opened up on a big screen. Its bokeh is outstanding, which is always high on the checklist if a lens wants Kai's approval. After he's done shooting Santas and being pelted with brussel sprouts, he goes back to the studio and compares the Sigma Art 40mm with a Canon 50mm f/1.2L and a Canon 35mm f/1.4L II. Against the 35mm lens, the Sigma is sharper, has more pop throughout, and doesn't soften towards the corners like the 35mm does. And against the Canon 50mm f/1.2L, the difference is astounding when both are shot wide open. The Canon looks horribly soft in comparison and doesn't even get close when stopped down.
One thing I do have to strongly disagree with is his indifference to Sigma's USB lens calibration dock (sold separately). In his review of the Sigma 50mm Art lens he made similar remarks about the lens calibration dock, which I chuckled along with at the time. However, when I went out and bought the 50mm Art lens, I wasn't chuckling in the slightest after I found that the AF was quite hit and miss at different distances, sometimes quite significantly. Against my better judgment and despite my cynicism, I went out and bought the USB dock and went through the time-consuming process of calibrating my lens. The dock works perfectly. Why the lens settings were considerably off coming out of the factory is anyone's guess, but it seems a consistent problem with the Art lens series. Be that as it may, the USB dock and the calibration options really do work, and I have gone from about a 60 percent keeper rate with the 50mm to about a 95 percent keeper rate without doing anything differently. Thus, you may chuckle along with Kai but the calibration dock really does work.
Priced at around $1,400, the 40mm Art lens seems an absolute bargain, especially when Kai says he thinks it would even give the Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus Distagon a run for its money (at $2,600 cheaper, thank you very much). How do you feel about this Sigma 40mm lens? Are you tempted by it despite its massive size? And what have your experiences been with other Sigma Art lenses? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.