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Cheap vs Good 35mm f/1.4 Lens? Samyang vs Sigma

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I am a great fan of Sigma lenses recently, especially for the Sony E mount system. Since their ART series launching, Sigma has consistently surprised the world with great performance lenses at reasonable price.

Recently I have a customer purchasing a Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 Lens, and after just a week, decided to trade in the lens and go for the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 G Master version. There is a HUGE price difference between the two, RM2690 vs RM5899.

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE Lens for Sony FE Full Frame Camera (Samyang Malaysia) @ RM2690
Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM G Master Lens (Sony Malaysia) @ RM5899

I haven’t gotten the chance to try our the Sony FE 35mm GM lens, so not sure the quality or performance of the lens. However, online review seems to be praising on it, and having tried several Sony G Master primes, I have no doubt that it should be good.

What about those that do not have the budget of RM5899 for a 35mm prime? Sigma has recently came out with a new 35mm 1.4 prime (not the old rebadged Nikon/Canon version), which is a design model for mirrorless camera. Light, small, compact and said to be stunning in quality.

Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Lens for Sony FE Full Frame (Sigma Malaysia) @ RM3599

This lens is priced at RM3599, between the cheaper Samyang and more expensive GM. But, is it better than the Samyang or just as lame?

Size comparison of the two

Sorry that I have to use the word lame for the Samyang lens. I tested the Samyang lens recently, and seriously I DON’T like it. The feeling is like back to the Nikon DSLR time where you can mount the best 35mm 1.4 or 85mm 1.4 prime lens from Nikon but still get the softness when shoot wide open. The largest aperture is only look good on paper, but lack of sharpness when in real life usage.

Sigma has changed the game with their ART series lenses, and Sony has MATCHED the game with their G MASTER Primes, and even UP the game with their newly designed GM 24mm f/1.4, 35mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.2, and 135mm f/1.8, not only they are extremely sharp wide open, smooth bokeh, and the size is extremely small and light for such a big aperture lens (except the 135mm, which is still quite heavy).

To match with the Sony G Master game, Sigma has redesigned their 35mm ART lens in Sony mount with a new size and dimension. Can it still retained the previous ART series quality from Nikon and Canon mount?

Since I have both the Samyang lens and the Sigma lens with me, so I did a quick and simple comparison of the two at f/1.4 aperture on my Sony A7R IV camera body.

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4 aperture
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG DN @ f/1.4 aperture
Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4 aperture
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG DN @ f/1.4 aperture
Side by side comparison. Samyang on the left, Sigma on the right.

From the above shots, it is very obvious that the Sigma is much sharper than the Samyang lens at f/1.4 aperture. I then good a selfie with the Sigma to confirm my doubt.

Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG DN @ f/1.4 aperture, 1/80s, ISO 200, +0.3 step, Sony A7R IV.
100% crop
100% crop

Look at the details, sharpness, and best of all…the perfect focus on the eyes. Sigma lenses are matching perfectly with Sony eye focus tracking system! This is another lame part in Samyang AF lenses, which is noisy and hunting during AFC in Sony camera. Sigma is silent and fast in AF. I couldn’t even feel or knew if the focus has started or stopped in Sigma lenses!

Conclusion, if you can stretch your budget…go for the Sigma or Sony GM 35mm f/1.4 lens. If you want to use the Samyang, try stop down to f/2.8 and you will still get very sharp images. Frankly, f/1.4 is only for single person portrait shot. You won’t want to use f/1.4 when there are two person in the frame, as one will surely be out of focus and this create problem.