Aizu Magic

One Saturday morning back in the early 1980’s, I strode into Willoughby’s in Manhattan looking for an 80-200mm zoom lens for my Yashica FX-3. I can’t remember what the prices were back then, but I remember that Sigma’s zoom, slower than Yashica’s, was the one I could afford.

I shot with it regularly for a few years until autofocus became affordable, enjoying it, but always aware that people shooting first-party lenses seemed to get slightly sharper images. Over the years since then, I’ve given in to Sigma’s budget-priced lure a few more times, coming to the conclusion that their products almost always have a “but…”

Until a few years ago.

That was when I picked up a compact, ergonomically-built 100-400mm lens for Nikon, later one for Sony, and discovered that the latter was almost as good as the comparable first-party lens; and the former was in fact substantially better than the Nikon 80-400mm 2nd version.

Not just that. In addition to generally better optics, improved build quality, and much better quality control, Sigma has obviously paid attention to design aesthetics, leaving a couple of first-party makers in the dust. The only remaining niggle was that they might have had limited access to proprietary information for the various cameras for which they make lenses.

Then came the L-mount alliance. Below is a shot I made this morning with the 85mm f/1.4 DG DN lens on my SL2. The same subject matter is depicted in my earlier Mandler entry, which was shot with the immortal 80mm Summilux-R. If autofocus were the only advantage the Sigma lens had over the venerable 80mm, I’d probably continue happily with the R lens. But it isn’t.

Maybe it’s a matter of individual taste, but Sigma has produced a technically superb lens that also has **ahem** character! Now let’s see what surprises that upcoming FP-L will have!

SL2/Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG DN