This beast of a prime boasts the longest focal length in Sigma’s Art f/1.4 series, but is it a portrait photographer’s dream lens? Michael Topham finds out
Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM review: Build & Handling
Remove the large pinch-style lens cap at the front and you’re presented by a huge front element that has a filter thread size the same as its focal length. Unlike some large lenses that feature a rear filter slot or dedicated slip-in filter holder, this lens has neither. To use this lens with filters you’ll either need to buy a suitably sized adapter ring or purchase screw-in filters of the 105mm variety, which are neither as easy or as cheap to come by as 77mm, 82mm or 86mm examples.
In terms of the design, it gradually increases in diameter from the metal lens mount at the rear towards the large manual focus ring at the front. There’s a rubber seal at the mount connection to prevent dust and moisture creeping between camera and lens, and the tripod collar that’s designed to be compatible with Arca-swiss platforms and clamps, can be detached to make it fractionally lighter.
Ahead of the tripod collar there’s a focus distance window and offset to the side of this is the unmistakeable Art badge and AF/MF switch. It’s well placed and easy to locate with your thumb when the tripod collar is inversed and the barrel is resting in your left hand.
Though you do notice its heaviness as soon as you pick it up, the fact it’s not as long as many telephoto zooms means it’s not as unwieldy. Pair it up with a full-frame camera with a large-sized grip and you’ll find it handles rather well. Offer support beneath the barrel or at the front of the hood with your left hand and it feels surprisingly well balanced.
The overall build quality is exemplary, just as we’ve come to expect from Sigma lenses that embellish the letter A in a silver circle on the barrel. The manual focus ring is rubberised to ensure you get a good grip of it when it’s wet and offers a satisfying feel when it’s rotated with just the right level of resistance. It functions across its focusing range in just under half a turn.
The carbon fibre reinforced plastic lens hood also has a rubberised tip, allowing users to rest the camera nose down on the floor much like a large telephoto zoom. The hood does a great job of protecting the front element from glare, flare and any accidental scratches and can be reversed to make it easier to transport. Just be sure not to misplace it – a replacement will set you back £100.