Sigma Art Lenses may be what you’re looking for if you are having trouble finding the right lens for your creative or artistic fish photography. I’ve been looking at them for fishing and documenting some of the fish species in the Florida Gulf and Atlantic Ocean.
For many years, Sigma created affordable lenses for Nikon, Canon, and Sony cameras. Recently they’ve created an Art Product line that has enjoyed great success in the photographic lens industry.
Today some Art Lenses are comparable in price with some of the top offerings from these same companies, and are even better in many respects.
Have a look at the information below and see what you think!
What Is a Sigma Art Lens?
A Sigma Art lens is a highly accurate tool for anyone who treats their photography as art. With ultra-high resolution and color accuracy, Art lenses allow creators to shoot billboard or stamp-size images in a small and convenient format.
Sigma’s Art product line is one of three available to photographers with vastly different needs, allowing them to get the types of images they need with the least effort and most satisfaction. Both wide-angle and large-aperture lenses comprise the Art line.
Three Product Lines of Sigma Lenses
Sigma is clarifying the distinction between its three product lines of digital interchangeable lenses – Art, Contemporary, and Sports, to make it easier for photographers to choose lenses that will help them get the job done.
- Large-aperture prime lenses
- Wide & ultra-wide angle lenses
- Macro lenses
- Fisheye lenses
Art lenses are ultra-sharp instruments with perfect color accuracy. Wide-angle Art lenses allow crisp and detailed landscape images. Large aperture Art lenses create that almost magical bokeh that advertising photographers, artists, and macro photographers appreciate.
Sigma’s line of Art lenses is particularly great for HDR photographers who are looking for less chromatic aberration and flare. Artists who draw fish for identification purposes and as art portraits for anglers who caught the fish can use these lenses to document accurate colors and contrast, something typically very hard to do.
- Standard zoom
- Telephoto zoom
- High-magnification zoom
Sigma’s Contemporary lenses are smaller, lightweight, and have the same high performance that all general Sigma lenses have had since the beginning. This line serves the needs of most photographers at least until they need some of the specific functionality of Art or Sports lenses.
These are good for a basic fishing camera that you’re not afraid to get dirty the occasional splash. Most of these are not weather sealed, but with caution you can maintain them for years of outdoor use.
- Telephoto lenses
- Telephoto zoom lenses
- Super telephoto lenses
- Super telephoto zoom lenses
Not limited to sports, the Sport lens line can handle a wide variety of shooting assignments like F-1 racing, Tour De France bicycle racing, indoor volleyball, and birds and animals on a wildlife safari in South America.
We’d use them for fish jumping shots which can be very hard to get without the right telephoto and fast and accurate auto-focus system like the HSM.
Sports lenses are fast telephoto lenses you can rely on when you need to get the shot, supported by customizable software settings that will compliment your style of shooting.
What Is the Difference Between SIgma’s Art and Contemporary Lenses for Fish Photography?
Sigma’s Art lenses lend themselves to more professional and artistic uses than lenses in their Contemporary product line. When exact focus, clarity, or artistic effect is needed, Art lenses can be the perfect tool for fish photographers to create what they have in mind.
Art lenses allow a crisper image and have the advantage of wider apertures for low-light shooting and stunning bokeh highlights.
The Contemporary lenses are built with criteria like size, weight, and consumer price and value in mind. Contemporary lenses are great for general purpose use that fits the needs of most photographers.
The Best Sigma Art Lenses for Fishing, Portraits, and Seascapes
Let’s get an overall feel for the best Sigma Art Lenses in the product line without getting into too much detail. All of the following lenses are compatible with Canon, Nikon, Leica L-mount, or Sony full-frame cameras.
One really nice feature of purchasing Sigma lenses is that you can ask at a Sigma Service Center for the Mount Conversion Service to swap the mounts to whatever brand camera you are shooting.
This is a really convenient service for art professionals or anyone who doesn’t want to be bothered with purchasing new mounts.
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens is a full-frame (DG) camera lens that is sturdy, strong, mostly metal, and well-built except for the lack of weather sealing. This is a large lens that you will feel on your mirrorless camera body more than a standard full-frame camera.
As an Art lens, we must talk about the bokeh, and it does not disappoint. I wouldn’t say it is as nice as the 50mm lens reviewed above, but I certainly would buy the lens just for the bokeh and landscape possibilities alone.
The lens has the HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) that is quiet and fast enough for any landscape photography you may be shooting. The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens is a more reasonably priced lens and competes favorably with the other 35mm f/1.4 lenses in its class by Canon, Nikon, and Sony.
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art Lens
Rather than a full-blown review of each Art lens on this list, let’s cover the strong points and weak points of the lenses and give you enough information to help you decide if the lens is one you want to look deeper into.
This Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens has stunning bokeh. I’ve been a bokeh appreciator since I first started shooting in New York City with Ektachrome slide film and my Canon F-1 setup. Nice bokeh is art itself in my mind, and worth almost whatever the cost.
I looked at two intensive reviews of this lens and I much preferred the bokeh samples for this lens over the other five competitors. The competitors were Zeiss. Leica. Sony. Nikon. Canon. If creamy bokeh is required, definitely look further into this lens and the Art line of lenses.
The cost of this lens is by no means cheap, but it is in the middle of the lenses it is often compared with. At something like $1,000 USD, you could buy a couple of Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lenses but only a fraction of a comparable Zeiss or Leica lens.
One thing that shocked me is that Sigma didn’t add weather sealing to this lens. At this price, I would have thought it was assured.
This lens has very high optical accuracy and performance on most criteria. It is certainly worth your money if bokeh and sharp focus are essential to the digital imagery you produce.
Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens
This is an older lens that has the distinction of being the first f/1.8 wide-angle zoom in history. It has tack-sharp images and a decent bokeh.
This is a DX/APS-C lens and doesn’t work with full-frame cameras. Still, the lens is large and heavy and gives the appearance of great build quality and durability. It’s rather high-priced for a cropped sensor lens at around $800 USD.
The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM lens is very well built and has a nice feel. The zoom is dampened and it’s super smooth. It is, however, not as smooth as the bokeh which gets my highest seal of approval.
Probably the most useful lens of all the Art lenses for fishing as the wide angle and amazing bokeh will give you artistic photos on another level!
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens
The Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens is a considerably smaller lens than its Nikon equivalent and in direct comparison, it comes out slightly on top. The Sigma lens has better bokeh, less vignetting, and is much more reasonably priced.
The major drawback of this lens is that the sharpness in the 24mm range just isn’t what it should be for an Art lens. An f-stop of f/8.0 is needed for sharpness across the image for the lower focal lengths. In the Florida sun, that’s quite OK, but in the morning or evening it will be difficult to get perfect results.
A minor negative is that the weather sealing is only on the lens mount and not elsewhere in the lens.
If it wasn’t for its size and weight, you could say it would be the ultimate traveling companion to replace a couple of fixed focal length lenses. But what is your alternative for the price? The longer and heavier Nikon?
I need to stress the point that the bokeh on this 24-70mm lens is fantastic!
Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
I’ve used and loved 85mm f/1.4 lenses for years. My brand of choice is Nikon, so this will be an interesting comparison for me.
This lens is using 2010 technology and it’s starting to show its age. It does have a rubber seal on the lens mount, which is a small plus. But there is no full weather sealing on this lens, just like the other Art lenses.
The most obvious drawback of this lens is the weight. At 39.2 oz. (1,111g) it’s very nearly twice as heavy as the 21 oz. (595g) AF-S Nikkor 85mm f1.4G ED lens it competes with.
The lens is very sharp all the way to the corners once you get the focusing ironed out with the USB dock (available separately). The most obvious positive feature of this lens is the insane bokeh you get shooting lights, candles, daylight flowers, or raindrops on leaves. I’ve always loved large aperture 85mm lenses for this reason.
In announcing these three distinct product lines Sigma is seeking to reorganize their lenses into easy-to-recognize categories that assist consumers in making the right lens choices that will affect their photography for years.
Specialization of the Art Line of lenses is a smart idea because it simplifies the offerings which can overwhelm consumers with choices and lead to buying paralysis.
Sigma offers excellent lenses in their Art product line. If razor-sharp images and creamy bokeh are something you require for your fish photography, or any photography, this is probably the right line of lenses for you.
© Vern Lovic