Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG DN Art review – preview –
The Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG DN Art is a mild telephoto lens designed for full-frame mirrorless cameras with E-mount and L-mount. Announced in August 2020, it’s only the second large aperture prime lens after the 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art in Sigma’s ART line which was specifically designed for mirrorless cameras (denoted by the “DN” moniker). These primes are complemented by two zoom lenses: the 14-24mm f2.8 DG DN Art and 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art.
As optical designs for mirrorless cameras with their shorter flange distance have to cope with fewer restrictions it is interesting to see what lens manufacturers make of this new freedom. In case of their 85mm f1.4 design Sigma obviously opted for small and light which is good as the old DSLR design from 2016, the 85mm f1.4 DG HSM Art, was a huge beast of a lens at 152mm (6.0 in.) length and 1.25kg (2.8lb.) weight (for Sony E-mount). The new DG DN is only 96mm (3.8 in.) long and weighs 625g (1.4lb.) – a huge difference! This makes the new lens even 11mm shorter and 200g lighter than the Sony FE 85mm f1.4 GM. Sigma also added a de-clickable aperture ring with a dedicated lock switch to prevent accidental shifting of the aperture setting. And the lens has an additional button which can be assigned AF-lock or other functions.
The Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG DN Art is listed at 1099 EUR (incl. 16% VAT) / 1199 USD / 999 GBP and should become available end of August. Ahead of my full review I’ve compared the new lens with its DSLR sibling and the Sony FE 85mm f1.4 GM based on the information so far available from Sigma. PS – if you’re interested in the other Sigma DN Art lenses mentioned above check out our in-depth reviews: Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art review, Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art review. There’s also lots of sample images in the Sigma 12-24mm f2.8 DG DN Art review-so-far.
Facts from the catalog
Let’s compare the Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG DN Art to the Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG HSM Art (“Sigma HSM” for short) and the Sony FE 85mm f1.4 GM (“Sony”). As usual I’ve rated the features with a [+] (or [++]), when it’s better than average or even state of the art, a  if it’s standard or just average, and [-] if there’s a disadvantage.
Size (diameter x length): 83 x 96mm (3.3 x 3.8in.) plus an estimated 45mm for the lens hood. The Sony is 90 x 108mm (3.5 x 4.3in.) + 42mm lens hood. The Sigma HSM is much longer at 95 x 152mm + 53mm lens hood. Have a look at the differences in size below where both Sigma lenses are displayed at an identical scale. [+]
Weight: 625g (22 oz.) plus an estimated 45g for the lens hood. The Sony is 820g (28.9 oz.) + 55g lens hood. The Sigma HSM is much heavier at 1245g (43.9 oz.) + 51g lens hood. [+]
Optics: The Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG DN Art is a pretty complex design with 15 elements in 11 groups including 5 special dispersion elements and 1 aspherical element. This is similar to the Sigma HSM. The Sony is less complex with 11 elements (including 3 special dispersion elements and one aspherical element) in 8 groups. [+]
The new optical construction has lifted resolution and contrast of the Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG DN Art compared to its DSLR sibling. It also should be sharper than the Sony. How clearly this shows in real life shooting will be interesting to see once I have a chance to test the new lens.
Closest focus distance is 0.85m (2.8ft.) with a magnification of 1:8.4 which is quite meagre. This results in a working distance of 0.74m. The Sony and the Sigma HSM achieve similar magnifications. 
Filter-thread: 77mm, the professional standard. Same with the Sony. The Sigma HSM needs more expensive 86mm filters. [+]
Image stabilization: No optical stabilization of the lens. The Sony A7 bodies provide built-in sensor-shift stabilization. Same with the other two lenses. 
Auto focus: Built-in AF drive with stepping motor. Manual-focus override is by simply turning the focus ring. If the Sigma 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art is an indication the focus ring probably has a linear gearing with a very long throw. There’s a customizable focus-lock button AFL on the barrel but no distance markings. The Sony has a focus ring with variable gearing and also sports a focus-lock button. Focus on the Sigma HSM works differently as is usual for lenses designed for DSLRs: It has a direct linear coupling between the focus ring and the focus action and offers a display for focus distance and depth of field but no focus-lock button. [+]
Covers full frame or smaller. Same with the other two lenses. [+]
Price: 1099 EUR (incl. 16% VAT) / 1199 USD / 999 GBP. The Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG HSM Art currently goes for 1070 EUR / 1100 USD / 930 GBP and the Sony FE 85mm f1.4 GM is at 1600 EUR / 1800 USD / 1500 GBP. [+]
The Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG DN Art comes with a nice padded lens case plus strap, the lens hood is included, reversible for transport, and has a lock to prevent it from accidentally falling off. The Sony also comes with a pouch and a lockable lens hood. The front-end of Sony’s lens hood is rubberized which prevents dinks from setting the lens down on the hood and also provides more grip on smooth surfaces. Same with the Sigma HSM except the lens hood has no lock and no rubber font-end. [+]
Sigma’s service can change the mount of the lens between Sony’s E-mount and L-mount (at a cost). This is a unique feature that no other manufacturer offers. [++]
Aperture ring: yes with 1/3 stop clicks. The lens has a switch to turn the clicks of so that the aperture can be operated continuously, smoothly, and noise-free. It also comes with a dedicated lock switch to prevent accidental shifting of the aperture setting. Same with the Sony except for the aperture lock. The Sigma HSM has no aperture ring. [+]
Sealing: yes, a rubber grommet at the lens-mount plus further special weather-sealing throughout the construction, just like the Sony and Sigma HSM. [+]
The score of 0[-]/2/12[+] shows that the Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG DN Art is very well-featured with its small size and weight and the unique option to get the lens-mount swapped. There’s hardly anything to complain about – on paper. From what I can see so far the new lens should be a worthy successor to Sigma’s older DSLR design and could also beat the venerable Sony FE 85mm f1.4 GM. If they managed to do that – kudos to Sigma!
Keep your eyes peeled for my first tests of the optical qualities of Sigma’s 85mm f1.4 DG DN Art once I can get my hands on a copy.
Check prices on the Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG DN Art at B&H, Adorama or WEX! Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!