So many names and words are thrown at you in the photography world- L lenses, Prime lenses, and… ART? ART as a term in photography equipment has become so big that most don’t even know the brand that produced the legendary ART: Sigma. Sigma’s ART lens line is a high-end, exquisite quality optic product that is very sought after by professional photographers.
So what makes the ART lens have such a life of its own in the industry? Well, a mix between brilliant performance, excellent engineering, and an attractive price tag all lend a hand at the lens line’s brilliant reputation.
Characteristics of the ART Lens Line
For starters, every lens company has a high-end line and more consumer-friendly line. The ART series is the high end, luxury line for camera and lens brand Sigma Corporation of America. Originally started in Japan, Sigma has gained exceptional notoriety for the quality of their ART line.
Sigma’s ART line is divided into the following expected categories: Wide-angle lenses, large-aperture fixed lenses, telephoto lenses, standard lenses, macro lenses, ultra-wide angle lenses, and fish-eye lenses. Something for everyone.
The ART line is engineered specifically for sharpness and optic performance. They are lenses created for images that give the sharpest details a photographer can possibly aim for. Even with the widest openings, Sigma ART lenses exhibit exceptional focal plane sharpness. This is because the focusing mechanism is quite unique to the brand itself, and cannot be found in other models.
The ART line also tends to have wider apertures, from f/1.2 to f/2.8. The bokeh blades create a more natural and creamy shallow depth of field than most lenses, and are nicely designed to avoid chromatic aberration at wide apertures. For those unfamiliar, chromatic aberration is a common optical problem that causes a purple or green outline to appear around your subject.
ART lenses also characteristically produce more vibrant and poppy colors. Although a lot of color has to do with the camera body itself, the lens does play a role nowadays (especially in mirrorless systems).
Finally, ART lenses are created in all notable mounts, such as Canon, Nikon, Sony, and even Leica. Sigma ART lenses are even able to have their mounts converted through the conversion service offered by the company.
Pros of the ART Lens Line
If the above hasn’t already struck your fancy, the pros of the ART line probably will.
Firstly, the sharpness is really something to drool over. In comparison tests with comparable lenses, Sigma ARTs tend to come out with the sharpest details.
Secondly, the ART series lenses act like native lenses on the camera body you mount them to. This is especially noticeable when pairing with the Sony Alpha series of cameras (or Sony E-Mount). The lens communicates with the camera body as if it was made by Sony itself, retaining all native features such as animal eye tracking and face detection.
Third, the ART series comes with a USB dock that allows you to update the firmware at home on the lens to ensure it is working as well as possible.
Cons of the ART Lens Line
As with everything, there are always downsides. The most noticeable one is the size and weight of the lenses- in comparison to competitive brands such as natives Canon, Sony, and Nikon, or direct competitor Tamron- there are times in which the Sigma version of optics is heavier and larger. With the ART lenses being made of such a durable material (metal), significant weight is added on to accommodate this material. It is also found to be larger and longer in size (for example, Sigma has one of the largest 50mm lenses).
The second is, of course, the cost. Although Sigma’s ART lenses are less expensive than native brands, luxury equipment always comes at a price- often a four digit one.
If you’re looking for professional quality at a slightly lower cost than native brand name lenses, the Sigma ART line is an excellent choice.