In the Field: Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens


Having written reviews of several of Sigma’s Art and Sports-series lenses, I welcomed an opportunity to review Sigma’s newest Global Vision lens: the Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens.

Photographs © Allan Weitz 2019

Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens.

Available for Canon EOS, Nikon F, Leica L, Sigma SA, and Sony E-mount cameras, Sigma’s new Art-series lens is interesting for a couple of reasons. For starters, the focal length of the lens captures a diagonal angle-of-view comparable to the AoV captured by the human eye, which by most estimates is comparable to a 43mm lens. In a nutshell, a 40mm lens, when used on a full-frame DSLR or mirrorless camera, renders perspective and spatial relationships between people and objects within the frame similar to the way our eyes perceive these perspectives and spatial relationships.

The viewing angle, combined with a fast maximum aperture, make Sigma’s 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens a fine choice for night shooting.

The lens is also interesting because, when shooting at maximum aperture, it renders depth of field comparable to the narrow range of focus our eyes focus upon, especially when shooting at closer camera-to-subject distances.

When shooting at maximum aperture at the lens’s closest focusing distance (1.31'), depth of field becomes as narrow as onion skin.

Size- and weight-wise, the Sigma 40mm f/1.4 Art lens is the antithesis of a pancake lens. It measures 3.46 x 5.16" and weighs 2.6 lb, which is about 5x the size and about 7x the weight of the only other 40mm f/1.4 lens sold at B&H, the Voigtländer Nokton Classic 40mm f/1.4 MC. Granted, Voigtländer’s 40mm f/1.4 is an M-mount, manual focus, rangefinder lens, but still and all, Sigma’s 40mm f/1.4 Art lens is a bear no matter how you frame it.

The Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens displays little, if any, optical distortions and delivers edge-to-edge sharpness across the aperture range.

My test camera was an equally new Canon EOS R mirrorless camera, which in terms of size, ergonomics, and weight, was a nice match for the Sigma 40mm f/1.4. My test lens had an EF mount, which required the use of a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS-R. In use, I failed to detect any sluggishness in terms of autofocus response times or focus accuracy—the lens/adapter combination performed as advertised.

I didn’t have an opportunity to use this lens on a larger Canon EOS DSLR, but I would imagine the lens is notably more manageable in terms of weight and balance than when used on a Canon EOS R-series mirrorless camera.

Combined with its normal perspective, the wide range of apertures on Sigma’s 40mm f/1.4 makes it an interesting lens with which to experiment.

When reviewing a lens, the main course is always image quality, and this is where Sigma’s 40mm f/1.4 Art lens rises to the occasion. The lens is quite sharp, and this is most noticeable when eyeballing photos captured at wider apertures. The in-focus areas are well detailed, and they feather off smoothly fore and aft of the in-focus portions of the image with soft, well-rounded fields of bokeh.

couple of daytime / nighttime window displays captured with Sigma’s new 40mm f/1.4 Art lens

The lens barrel on Sigma’s 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens is weather sealed, and protective coatings protect the front lens element against moisture and smudges. Inside Sigma’s 40mm Art lens are 16 Super Multi Layered elements in 12 groups, including 3 FLD elements, 3 SLD elements, and a single aspheric lens element; together they produce sharp, low-aberration image files.

Other features of the lens include compatibility with Sigma USB Docks for firmware updates, a Hyper Sonic AF motor with manual override, and a 9-bladed diaphragm for the kind of out-of-focus specular highlights we lovingly refer to as “visually pleasing bokeh.”

Shooting close-ups at wide apertures can result in very ethereal imagery.

Though partial to wide-angle lenses, I nonetheless always feel comfortable shooting with 40mm focal length optics and Sigma’s new 40mm Art lens is no exception.

Do you have any experience with 40mm lenses? If so, how does Sigma’s newest Art lens suit your wants and needs? Let us know in the Comments field, below.


I got the Sigma Art 40mm and it is nothing short of insanity for sharpness and perfection across the frame . I love it for the live music and events I shoot . I also got the Sigma Art 28mm . I read reviews claiming their test had it no so sharp . Well it may be a ever so slightly soft at f/1.4 but I think I got an exceptional copy because it really is right there with my 40mil art . Except it has a strong vignette. That gives it some kind of a special look . I love the images from the 28 they have character where the 40 is clinical and perfect. At events the 40 shines I mean it SHINES . Dead nuts rocks and if you love shooting people on the street it’s perfect. 

Hi Troy,

I'm surprised to hear a bad rap against the resolving power of the Sigma 28mm ART lens. They're all mighty impressive when it comes to image sharpness. As for the 40mm, I  like both the lens and the 40mm focal length - it fills the bill when going out for he day with one lens, at least in my book it does. 

Enjoy both of your Sigma ART lenses!


I know I’m posting 3months after this was put out buuut ! I wanted to talk about the 40mm fov. I have the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens . I’ve found so many times when shooting indoors that the 50 was just a hair to tight . Saying to myself if I just had a 40. I enjoy and heavily use the 27-28mm focal lenght. I shoot a Nikon d500 with the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 Art glued to it 95 percent of the time . I shoot live music photography and videography. The 18mm end of the Sigma Art is what I mostly use . I love that lens . The 35mm end of it which is 50mm fov  equivalent is not used much . And again I have the 50Art and it’s just a touch tight most of the time . 

Then Sigma comes out with the 28mm f/1.4 Art and the 40 Art . Wow ! And they are two of their best lenses to date. At this moment I cannot afford either and so wish I could . I did buy the Nikon 28mm f/1.8 for my d850 and d810. Got it at a good deal used , $350 used in phenomenal condition on eBay. I like it’s foc speed and color rendition but the dang thing has too much distortion. It pull heads upwards and elongates them when shot in the center of the frame . I’m not liking this lens too much. I knew it had distortion but too the chance . Anyone needing a Sigma Art 50mm and Nikon 28 f/1.8 ? Lol . 

Sigma to me is getting better all the time and not stopping. Their image quality is pushing everyone else to build better lenses. Their build quality is second to none . I have the $2800.00 Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 e fl vr . Great image quality, focus accuracy is so so and at f/2.8 the  vignette is horrendous. It’s way too noticeable for a 2018 lens . And as for focus speed my Sigma 18-35 is faster. This is something Sigma art lenses are not known for . Oops Nikon what’s up with that . 

Well it appears I have written a small story here so best of photos to y’all and good day . 

So Sigma now makes a 35mm f1.4 Art lens and a 40mm f1.4 Art lens. I have the 35mm example for Nikon. I have a Nikon 50mm f1.2. I use both a fair amount. Never have I thought "Gee I want something in-between". 

If not in between, would you settle for over and above?