So how good is the Sigma Art 135mm f1.8 portrait lens? The short answer is Amazing!!
As you have seen by the website I shoot Weddings as well as Entertainment and Landscape. I have a variety of lenses that I have purchased for different reasons. I found that the 70-200 f2.8 Nikon VR lens while amazing was a little lacking is punch at around the 100-150mm end. The portraits while sharp lacked the separation from the background I really wanted, especially for full length portraits. I knew that Nikon had released the 105mm f1.4 lens and having played with one a couple of times I was impressed but the $$$ did put me off a little. The Sigma 85mm f1.4 was amazing and when I read about the 135mm f1.8 i wanted to give it a try. I tested one at John Ralph Camera House and found that it looked felt and appeared to be what I was looking for. The price was also acceptable so just prior to a destination wedding at Townsville I purchased one.
Firstly the build is amazing, solid metal barrel and bayonet filling the lens is heavy but in that good way showing quality. The black finish that Sigma give the Art series is a work of art in itself. The Lens comes packaged with a nice solid case for the protection and the Lens hood is included. The manual focus switch is placed for easy access and has a good positive feel. I do find the fitting of the hood to be a bit tight, making it difficult to do in a hurry. The front element is impressive so when the lens is looking at you it may appear a bit imposing if too close. I have used the lens wide open at f1.8 for full length portraits and found it to be extremely sharp, the degree of background blur is perfect to give the separation between the background and the subject. I find the mild compression really brings up the background in the image as well. While I found the 105 Nikon to give an almost "cut-out" look to the subject the 135mm f1.8 appears perfect. The lens is quite heavy and when attached to my Nikon D5 I do notice when it's on. The Lens is still a joy to use and the look of the images speak for themselves. This is my favourite portrait lens to use for the Bride at the moment, I find I reach more for the 135mm than I do for the 85mm. I have even tested the lens for Astro imaging both as a Nightscape lens with foreground and as a deep sky lens. In both cases I have used the lens wide open as well as closed down to f4. The f1.8 aperture is sharp with very little coma or vignette. The aperture makes it an idea lens for shooting small areas of the sky, like the Orion belt and nebula rising with trees on a distant hilltop.
I highly recommend the 135mm as a fantastic portrait lens where you really want to give the model a good separation to the background. It will be sharp even wide open and will be perfect for low light due to its wide aperture.
See some of the attached images to see the look of both head and shoulder portraits as well as full length shots. I have even included an Astro image to show how well the lens is corrected.
I hope you find this quick rundown of the lens helpful.
Till next time have fun a Clear Skies.