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Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM review

May 2014 | By Andy Westlake
Buy on Amazon.com From $949.00

The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art is a fast 'normal' lens designed for full frame SLRs, and one of the most hotly-anticipated lenses of 2014. Sigma shook up the moribund 'fast 50' sector back in March 2008 when it announced the 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, which we considered to be 'Highly Recommended' for its impressive optics, especially at larger apertures. This marked the start of string of excellent fast primes from the Japanese lens maker, including last year's stellar 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art (another winner of our top award).

The latest 50mm is unusually large and expensive for its type; indeed its $950 / £850 / €1000 price tag suggests Sigma is aiming at users who might otherwise choose the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 58mm F1.4G, Canon EF 50mm F1.2L USM, or Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM. It bears a distinct family resemblance to the company's 35mm F1.4, but if anything is slightly larger, with a 100mm / 4" long barrel and 77mm filter thread. Its complex optical formula of 13 elements in 8 groups isn't based on a conventional double-Gauss design, like most 50mm primes are, but instead is of the retrofocal type.

This set of characteristics, along with Sigma's recent track record of making impressive optics, means that the 50mm F1.4 Art has inevitably invited comparison to the astounding Zeiss Otus 1.4/55 - quite possibly the sharpest lens we've yet seen. However, given that lens's $4000 price tag, it seems a little optimistic to expect quite the same qualities. But the Sigma offers autofocus via a ring-type ultrasonic motor (with full-time manual override), which means it wins out on practicality. The new lens's premium price point also means that it doesn't directly replace the older model, which we understand will continue to be sold for some time yet.

Headline features

  • 50mm focal length
  • Fast F1.4 maximum aperture
  • Ring-type ultrasonic autofocus motor with full-time manual override
  • Internal focus design
  • Will be available in Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony Alpha, and Sigma SA mounts

Angle of view

The pictures below illustrate the 50mm F1.4 Art's angle of view on full frame and APS-C, taken from our standard position. As is Sigma's way, the lens is just slightly 'wide' for a 50mm prime (its measured focal length is 48mm), bringing it closer to a classic 'normal' view on full frame. On APS-C cameras it behaves like a short telephoto lens.

Full frame 1.6x APS-C (~80mm equivalent)

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art specifications

 Price  • $950 (US)
 • £850 (UK)
 • €1000 (EU)
 Date introduced  January 2014
 Maximum format size  35mm full frame
 Focal length  50mm
 35mm equivalent focal length
 • 75mm (1.5x APS-C / DX)
 • 80mm (1.6x Canon APS-C)
 Diagonal Angle of view  • 47º (full frame)
 • 31º (APS-C)
 Maximum aperture  F1.4
 Minimum aperture  F16
 Lens Construction  • 13 elements / 8 groups
 • 3 SLD glass elements
 • 1 aspherical element
 Number of diaphragm blades  9, rounded
 Minimum focus  0.4m
 Maximum magnification  0.18x
 AF motor type  • Ring-type Hypersonic Motor
 • Full-time manual focus
 Focus method  Internal
 Image stabilization  No
 Filter thread  • 77mm
 • Does not rotate on focus
 Supplied accessories*  • Front and rear caps
 • Petal-type Hood
 • Soft lens case
 Weight  815 g (28.7 oz)
 Dimensions  85 mm diameter x 100 mm length
 (3.4 x 3.9 in)
 Lens Mount  Canon EF, Nikon F, Sigma SA, Sony Alpha

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area


This lens review uses DxOMark data thanks to a partnership between dpreview.com and DxO Labs (read more about DxOMark and our partnership with DxO Labs). DxOMark is the trusted industry standard for independent image quality measurements and ratings. DxOMark has established this reputation with its rigorous hardware testing, industry-grade laboratory tools, and database of thousands of camera, lens and mobile test results. Full test results for this lens can be found at www.dxomark.com.

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2014 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

Total comments: 566
1234
Hedley7d

This Lens is exceptionnal, the bokeh are so soft and dreamy wow!

0 upvotes
Segaman

I had it for a few days, very ordinary, i prefer my 50 mm 1.4 by Canon.
Maybe i got a bad one....

0 upvotes
kobiluba

I want it

0 upvotes
armandino

ok, now I want to see a 24/1.4.....

1 upvote
donmcmahan

Sigma's long standing problem has been quality control and consistency, they could design good lenses but go on to build a rather significant proportion of them that were not quite right.......I hope they have cracked it.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

That problem may have been true some years ago.

But it's not an issue people have reported lately, say after the year 2010. (Excepting of course that all manufactures will have issues.)

1 upvote
armandino

I love my 2 brand new sigma lenses. I love the image out of them, the feel, and the look. Both needed to be sent out for repair just a few months old. I own Canon glass by buckets, mostly purchased used. Some 10-15 years old. Never had to repair a single lens. Good that Sigma offers a 7 year warranty, otherwise I would not buy even if I love the product.

0 upvotes
Bitpimps

I agree with the QC/QA problem but they do seem to have fixed it. I own a 35mm Art lense, my impressions so far for the last 4 months of ownership has been they have done a very good job on making sure it was a well designed product. I plan to own more sigma glass in the future because of this. (50mm Art, and a 135mm if they ever make a high end version of that)
http://flic.kr/p/pzS1Qo
Recent landscape shot taken w/35mm Art lense. I have been using it for a walking around lense while making children's portraits at family events as well.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Marksphoto

Is anybody using a 50mm lens?

0 upvotes
am stram gram

Is anybody *never* using a 50mm lens?

4 upvotes
armandino

actually I do not use it, my most used lenses when not shooting sports:
1) 70-200/2.8
2) 35/1.4
3) 85/1.2
on FF cameras

Comment edited 17 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Marksphoto

I don't do photography as a hobby, when I photograph weddings I use 24-70 and 70-200 on different camera bodies.

Changing lenses on a wedding is not something I would risk doing - by the time you change the lens the moment is gone...

Using a 50mm lens for a hobbyist is justifiable cuz you can carry 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm lenses in your camera bag and take them out when you need them - good for nature on the picnic photography :)

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
SteveGeePhotographee

Have to disagree on that point. As a professional photographer of 25 years.. A good 50mm like this lens is a must! ...Just not for weddings... I do commercial, industrial and investigative photography as well as in the studio 50mm are vital to have in your arsenal.. Especially one as good as the Art lens!

2 upvotes
Bitpimps

I know of at least one reputable pro photographer who uses the 50mm on a crop body for fashion and beauty portraits with excellent results.

0 upvotes
Clint009

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 vs Sigma 50mm f/1.4

Read more at http://www.whatdigitalcamera.com/roundups/lens/542551/1/zeiss-otus-55mm-f-1-4-vs-sigma-50mm-f-1-4.html

1 upvote
JSJQ

My Sigma 50mm Art arrived last week. I had been told by Brisbane Australia camera shops that I could not get one until late in 2014. BUT Leederville Cameras in Perth Australia has them and their service is very good.

Am I happy with the lens on a Canon 6D? After all the hype I am a touch disappointed. The lens set at "0" microfocus was alarmingly back focused. Reikan Focal suggested +12 to overcome the problem. This seems a lot to me but the images while sharper are not as I expected. They are nothing like a Zeiss 21 - perhaps not a fair comparison - not quite as good as a well set up Fuji X100s 50mm and, dare I say it, not even as sharp as my Canon 24-105 at 50mm.

I will continue to work at the micro adjustments in the hope of getting something better out of the lens.

So far I am underwhelmed. Good luck to all those who are happy with their purchase. Unless it gets better I think I will stay with Canon and Zeiss lenses.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
JSJQ

Time to eat humble pie. I spent some time adjusting the lens again. The results are amazing on my Canon 6d. Wonderful bright colour that certainly did credit to Sydney Harbour on a sunny Sunday. Sharp corner to corner at f 5.6. I processed images using DXO but the program made minimal difference to the original RAW photos.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
4 upvotes
DougVann

I am also using this lens on a Canon 6D. It is the second one I have had. The first one was returned under warranty. A couple of times the camera operation froze with this lens installed. This had never happened with any other lens I have. Returned it and the store gave me a replacement. The 2nd one has been perfect. No issues and the photos have been razor sharp. Just amazing. I have done 2 weddings and a retirement dinner shoot and couldn't be happier with the lens performance. I have previously owned the Canon 50mm f1.8, Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM and Canon f1.2 L lenses and this one is sharper then all of them.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
jaadwa

I am using the Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art on a Canon 5d III... had a job at a kids summer camp photographing IDs on a three dimensional backdrop ... the picture were the sharpest I have ever taken with outstanding contrast.... well done Sigma (and Canon) .

1 upvote
Dougbm_2

OMG not even one decent image with the best lens you have ever reviewed (well maybe there was but I gave up) . Look guys I like the site but come on how about some guest photographers or something! Pretty please. : )

0 upvotes
DarrynM

Thanks for the info - will definitely add this my list of gear to buy for wedding photography :)

0 upvotes
arie

I did my own tests comparing the Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm f/2 and the Sigma, and head to head it was pretty much identical in terms of stellar resolving power with very little CA. I'd have to give the edge to the Sigma, but both were very impressive. The ONLY thing I really miss and wish the Sigma had was a focus hold button. Really miss that. But the Sigma IS all it's cracked up to be, stellar! It's heavy too!

1 upvote
Kabe Luna

No surprise the Sigma outperforms virtually all other 50/1.4s and even the Canon EF 50mm f1.2L (which isn't awfully sharp wide open and has unattractively nervous bokeh)–my Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art, after a year of continual use, still impresses the hell out of me with its spectacular build quality, sharpness (especially wide open) and superb contrasts. Sigma is on a mission, it seems, and I'm along for the ride.

6 upvotes
milesmute

I have the Sigma 35mm and as of a few days ago the 50mm, love them both. I've also had a Sigma 20mm f/1.8 for years now and although it's a fun lens to use (incredible flares whether you want them or not!) you can see how far Sigma have come. It's as much a tank as the Art lenses (82mm filter thread!) but it's a clown-car in comparison to the Art build quality.

Comment edited 34 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
pierre1

Blown away by these recent samples! Of course the best ones would have been taken with the D4s.
https://www.flickr.com/groups/2662280@N23/

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
seoga

i like

Comment edited 57 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Franz Kerschbaum

I did now a short astrophotography test and I am very happy! http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53811756

1 upvote
munro harrap

I do not see anything in the samples to make me buy one, and my old Nikkor will just have to do. It's great to know they can be made, but outside of controlled studio conditions,with no IS either to get that resolution, as there is no weatherproofing at all, the risk that electronically it may die, or be ruined by damp and/or dust tells me that Sigma do not care about buyers.Like most makers these days...

You would need to stop taking pictures if it rained, and now ALL of the modern fast primes we compare it to are useless outside in normal weather conditions. This from a country with a climate like our own and subject to tsunami and volcanic eruptions makes no sense at all.

Weighs three times a Nikon 50mm f1.4 does too

Comment edited 47 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

When, by most reports, this lens optically outperforms anything but a Zeiss Otus, and you don't see anything special about one particular set of samples, I suggest you look for other samples and/or use a better monitor.

As to weather sealing, well that would be nice, but SLR lenses worked before weather sealing.

If the Nikon 50mm 1.4 has the optical performance you seek, use that Nikon.

6 upvotes
Poss

I’ve been out in the rain with unsealed lens more than once. The truth is you’ll be seeking shelter long before the lens will crap out. I had my unsealed Sigma 35mm gone thru the occasional beer dousing at wedding receptions with no ill effects...

0 upvotes
starwolfy

Nothing beats a leica summilux f1.4 asph.
Cheaper than an Otus, way smaller and way lighter than both Otus and this Sigma lens. The only thing this Sigma has for it is better value per dollar and autofocus. Its a very good lens but I still cannot accept weight a size compromises you have to make to enter dslr world. The biggest joke is when u compare an Othus to the Leica Lux...it looks like a serious joke from size.

1 upvote
simpleshot

The Sigma trumps the Leica in every category, except size/weight.
The Sigma is way sharper across the entire frame at any aperture, has way less distortion and less vignetting.
For a lot less quality on the Leica, you have to pay more and lose AF.

http://slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1503/cat/107/date/1336701679

http://slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1677/cat/30

At least with the Otus, it is sharper than the Sigma on the corners. Perhaps that is worth the additional $3000 (but I myself am not willing to pay that much dollars for the difference in corner sharpness).

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
8 upvotes
starwolfy

You reply to me with two charts? Just me laugh.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

starwolfy:

That Leica 50mm f/1.4 costs more, not a lot, than the Zeiss Otus.

Then the lens that beats the Leica 50/1.4? The Leica 50/2.0--costs a bit more than the Otus though.

0 upvotes
starwolfy

Since you love test charts I will prove you with test charts that you are wrong :)

Better sharpness across the entire frame ? LoL
Far less distortion ? LoL
Vigneting ? LoL

Oh and wait...3 times lighter, E46, wayyyy smaller.

Thanks.

http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2014/06/comparing-rangefinder-and-slr-50mm-lenses-version-0-7

4 upvotes
Under The Sun

Indeed for that price we should expect no less. Makes us all wish that all full frame cameras had lenses the size of Leica glass. Still Sigma is still the more practical purchase for the rest of us.

0 upvotes
solomonshv

summilux and otus are pretty much a full on hobby lenses. while they do edge out the 50mm art in sharpness, the difference is so marginal that you will not notice it if you don't spend an hour examining a picture at 100% crop.

in our day and age i see no reason to even consider a manual focus lens unless you are on a ridiculously tight budget or you prefer to do things the hard way.

if your photography is 100% portrait work, i can see a reason to possibly consider a super sharp manual lens, but otherwise, good luck focusing manually on fast moving subjects...

Comment edited 45 seconds after posting
1 upvote
HowaboutRAW

solomonshv:

I've not used this Sigma 50, so can't be sure. But good Leica and Zeiss lenses, besides being sharp, do subtle colour real well.

And that's something that's pretty easy to see with a decent print or raw file and a good display.

So this Sigma looks real promising, but thinking that resolution is the only reason to use say a Leica M is misleading.

0 upvotes
JDThomas

"but otherwise, good luck focusing manually on fast moving subjects..."

I always laugh when i read things like this. I shoot fast moving musicians using a manual focus Summilux all the time. I've also shot sports such as boxing and even sport bike racing (200+mph) using a manual focus lens.

Sorry to break this to you, but it's not luck, it's skill.

1 upvote
solomonshv

@JDThomas

Sorry to break this to you, but it doesn't take much skill to focus on a motorcycle going at even 250 mph because you are sitting in the stands that are 50+ meters away. from that vantage point you have plenty of time to track them as they go past you. for the most part they are moving in a straight line and taking occasional turns. but they are following a track so there aren't any surprises as to where they are going to be when you hit the shutter button.

want to test your "skills"? try to focus on your subject when you have to take 50+ degree turns at any unpredictable moment in a matter of 3 seconds. like photographing a basketball player maneuvering around the defenders from near the court side. see how well that works out for you. even "cat like" reflexes won't help you much.

1 upvote
JDThomas

How about professional boxers from ringside about a meter away? You think those guys are predictable? Less than 3 seconds my man. DONE IT. How about BMX and skateboarding? Done that too.

Also just to clarify, I don't sit in the stands when I shoot MotoGP. I'm 15-20 feet away on the infield track.

Seriously dude. Maybe YOU can't hack it, but some of us can.

1 upvote
Under The Sun

@JDThomas If what you claim is true then you are indeed very skilled. However the point still stands, modern autofocus especially with a high end cameras like the 1DX or the D4s with the Sigma will still outperform your manually focused Summilux regardless how skilled you are.

0 upvotes
JDThomas

I can show you the photos if you want. I'm not just saying it for the hell of it.

The real truth of it is that zone focus will beat AF always, but leaving that out, I'd rather manually focus and get one exceptional image than have my camera autofocus and get 30 mediocre images.

And even if the AF captured a great moment, the satisfaction of catching a great moment against the odds by manual focusing is more fulfilling. I mean don't get me wrong, I use AF when I have to get the shot for the money, but I always love the photos that I work for best.

0 upvotes
Under The Sun

@JDThomas Although I have mingled with a few sports photographers I have yet to meet someone who shoots fast sports action on manual focus though I don't deny that photographers of the past shot iconic sports photography on full manual. So, yes please send me a link, I'm genuinely curious.

However, I remain skeptical that zone focus will beat the modern AF of a camera like the 1DX or D4s - at least if one's criteria is reliability and output. Quality, well, in my opinion having a reliable tracking autofocus means one less thing to worry about for the photographer which mean he/she can focus more on things like composition. However if it is the visceral satisfaction you get from shooting fast action with a manual lens than you are correct.

As you said not everyone can cut it or even want to cut it if given the choice.

0 upvotes
Dougbm_2

This is the highest score I remember seeing on this site. Well done Sigma.

7 upvotes
BigGJ

My only complaint about this lens is that it is not readily available.

2 upvotes
solomonshv

i went to B&H to pick one up locally. they had a substantial shipment on release but they were all pre ordered and there were even pre orders that could not be fulfilled.

0 upvotes
Corwess

How in the World can the price be in "CON"???
This glass is CHEAP compared to all PRO Lenses... beats the Canon 1.2L Lens and its like 500$ cheaper.

Zeiss costs 4000 Bucks.. and you dont have AF.. Quality is slightly better but most of you wont notice it anyway. and did i mention the Price of the Sigma?

ONLY!!!! 949$...! get your head straight guys!

11 upvotes
BigGJ

Yes, I agree. People complain about the silliest things. This lens is a bargain. With Zeiss-like quality at one quarter the price, this is a great deal and I'm getting one. I was going to buy the Otus, but decided this is a much better deal with negligible image quality differences.

0 upvotes
Chris Yates

My new SIgma has exceeded all expectations. Build quality and optical quality is amazing, significantly (hands down) better than both my Canon 50mm f1.2L and my Zeiss f1.4 ZE planar, both of which are on sale on craigslist. Sigma has surpassed Canon as a lens builder. Possibly even Zeiss. And this is coming from a Sigma hater!!! To reiterate, the Sigma is sharper wide open than either of those stopped down to any level. It even humiliates my Canon 100mm macro IS L. I find myself in disbelief

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
11 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

How does the colour, in your estimation, compare to that from the Zeiss 50 f/1.4?

I realize the Sigma is sharper.

Which Canon DSLR are you using the Sigma on? Do you shoot raw at ISO 3200 and above?

0 upvotes
Chris Yates

The colors are much richer, contrast and micro-contrast is superior and sharpness is otherworldly. The Sigma simply outclasses the other 50s. no small feat.
FYI, I use a Canon 5D series body and a T4i. With the 5D the shallo DOF is spectacular, on the t4i it becomes a supern 80mm portrait lens. unbeatable. I do not use the lens past 800ISO.

2 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

Chris Y:

Thanks.

I'd be interested to see what you think of higher ISO shooting (raw) above ISO 3200, but if that's not what you shoot, I understand why you'd skip that.

0 upvotes
Chris Yates

For one, the 5d doesn't go past 1600 ISO, and I rarely use the t4i past that.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

CY:

I guess I didn't realize you were using the 5D MarkI. I'd forgotten it doesn't go above ISO 3200.

0 upvotes
Chris Yates

Yeah, I'm still using the old 1st Generation 5D and cranking out beautiful photographs. The t4i is also a fun camera to use. It just depends on my mood really. I'd love to get a Canon Mirrorless, but it has to have a viewfinder.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW

Chris Yates:

It's a nice body, I just have these higher ISO--low light needs.

I think there are better mirrorless than Canon's mirrorless, and if you're comfortable with manually focusing you can use those Canon lenses, and the Sigma, on various mirrorless bodies. Fuji+Sony+Samsung all have adapters and all have bodies with electronic VFs.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Petka

Just shot my first assignment with Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art on Nikon D4: totally amazingly sharp full open. Accurate and fast AF also. It is a keeper! Next I have to play with D800e...

4 upvotes
Franz Kerschbaum

I have it now since a week and tested it a lot on my 5DIII. To make it short: my EF 50/1.2 is on ebay now. To make it a bit longer: great sharpnes and contrast already wide open (for what I want to use it). Focus quite reliable (-2MA at close distances, 0 at infinity, will be corrected via USB dock). Nice handling and it mixes nicely with my EF 85/1.2II from its color rendering... Interesting finding: dpp allows for a DLO correction! Nevertheless I do it with DXO anyway.

1 upvote
Robin Ducker

Horses for courses as usual. The Sigma is obviously a very fine lens: no question.
However a point of order here: Most DSLR lenses from Canon and Nikon have very low contrast.
I am lucky enough to own a Nikkor 135 F2 DC: to my mind this has THE best bokeh of any 35mm lens. However, it has, in comparison to my MFT lenses, and particularly the 75 1.8 frighteningly low contrast. This is not a small difference: it is massive and its a key reason that Nikon and Canon DSLR's are so lax at CD. CD relies on contrast. So, my point is when are the "big 2" going to get real and start producing lenses that make crap PD systems obsolete?
Anyway well done Sigma.

0 upvotes
Dougbm_2

What?!! Most lenses ???? Doesn't apply to any of my Canon L lenses.

0 upvotes
simpleshot

See:
http://willchaophotography.com/sigma-50mm-f1-4-art-review/

In this review, there is a good comparison with Canon's 50L with regards to bokeh on identical situations.
It looks like the Sigma easily beats the more expensive 50L.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
Vignes

In the past Sigma Lens seldom get mentioned by Pro's etc but today it's brand that's not only getting recognised but getting good review rank. This Japanese company come a long way. Very patient, great achievement. Only thing is, the price of their fine achievements are going upwards to.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
gLOWx

You love primes ?
One word : PENTAX
And another word : Limited

After that, you can speak about overpriced Zeiss, Sony, Sigma Tamron, Canon, Nikon, whatever lenses.

0 upvotes
ambercool

You've already done a comparison? Nice. Send the link please.

10 upvotes
digilux

http://nikonrumors.com/2013/03/13/dxomark-best-lenses-for-the-nikon-d800-camera.aspx/

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake

That link isn't terribly relevant here, as it predates the Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art.

2 upvotes
yoms

Hi!
Can someone explain me something about the 3 shots of the distant clock to point out focus inaccuracy?

As the clock is really distant, I guess focus is set on infinity, right ? Moreover, focusing and exposure is always measured the aperture fully open, that is 1.4. So why is there misfocusing? Infinity is infinity, no ? There's no infinity + a little front focus or back focus.

Thanks for explaining.

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake

The focus *should* be at infinity, but the camera's autofocus system didn't actually set it correctly (it front-focused slightly instead). That's really all there is to it.

2 upvotes
yoms

Thank you Andy. I understand that. I must have expressed myself badly...
What I meant is that it seems the clock is so far away that it's way beyond the hyperfocal distance (93.1m @50mm f/1.4 on APS-C). So what I don't get is : if the camera front-focused a little, it should still be within the "sharp focus range". No ? Unless the camera front-focused a lot.

Sorry for bothering...

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake

So there are two points here. Firstly, it really doesn't take very much movement of the focus ring to blur the image by the amount seen in those shots. If you look at the [distance scale](http://www.dpreview.com/lensreviews/sigma-50mm-f1-4-dg-hsm/images/scale.jpg), there's a very small angle between infinity and the first marked distance, which is just 3m.

Secondly, depth of field calculations use a concept of 'acceptable sharpness' that's defined by the diameter of the 'circle of confusion'. For APS-C this is normally about 0.02mm, which is a blur circle covering 4 pixels. By these standards all three of those images would be considered to be 'in focus'. This reflects the fact that DOF calculations aren't about looking at 100% crops, but instead viewing prints.

2 upvotes
yoms

Thanks again ! This really helps.

I wrongly thought that if there was so small an angle between infinity and the 3m marked distance, it was because there was almost no room for change when travelling from 3m to infinity. I understood something like : "Beyond 3m or so, it's (almost) the same. So why bother having a long distance scale in that range, it won't help/improve things".

So I understand that there's obviously a design choice by Sigma to optimize the focus ring travel distance from 1.7 to 3m. Should be the range they expect people to use the lens most and/or where the slightest change has the biggest impact. So it's the range where there's the most part of the focus distance...

Put that way, it makes sense. Ideally the mechanical travel distance should be infinite too as there is but one 100% perfect focus plan...

Thanks again!

0 upvotes
Boss of Sony

I don't understand. The Sony FE 55mm f1.8 is sharper than this and has more pleasing bokeh.

1 upvote
SimonWilder

I've both the Zeiss 55 ZA and the Sigma 50 Art, the Sigma is IMO just a touch sharper, with regards to the out focus rendering I think it all depends on the elements being thrown out of focus, I've not found either the Zeiss or Sigma to be better than the other in every situation so far, I do prefer the rendering from the Zeiss though, seems to give a bit more of a 3D look.

5 upvotes
beavertown

The sharpest lenses manufacturers from now on are Carl Z and Sigma.

Nikon will come after Canon.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

Have you used the new Leica 50mm f/2.0?

For APSC mirrorless, Fuji and Samsung both make sharp lenses.

Not every Zeiss is particularly sharp.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
RichRMA

OTUS!!!

2 upvotes
sirharold

Come on Sigma put a 4/3 mount on a few of them. I'm sure you have some left over from the old 50mm F1.4. I still us for portrait work.

0 upvotes
Andy Crowe

Not much point really is there? The original 4/3 mount is pretty dead these days and adapting a DSLR lens to mirrorless doesn't make sense (it's a waste of space behind the rear element). Really they should start fleshing out their mirrorless lens range.

4 upvotes
Bill T.

This new lens can almost compete with a 35 year old 55mm f2.8 AIS Nikkor for sharpness and CA! I think I'll keep the 55 and buy a tripod to cover those rare f1.4 moments.

0 upvotes
simpleshot

The Sigma is sharper than the Nikkor, even if the Sigma is at 1.4 and the Nikkor is at 2.8. When you put the Sigma at 2.8, it trumps the Nkkor big time.

http://slrgear.com/reviews/zproducts/sigma50f14a/ff/tloader.htm
http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/zproducts/nikon55f28ais/ff/tloader.htm

4 upvotes
ageha

The Nikkor isn't very sharp for an f/2.8 prime to begin with.

4 upvotes
Krich13

Yes, Nikkor 55/2.8 is an extremely sharp lens. I compared it to Sony FE 55/1.8 on Sony A7 -- they are about equal optically at normal shooting distances. Both at f/2.8 -- FE 55 is a tiny bit sharper in the center has lower lateral CA and nicer bokeh, but the Nikkor has significantly lower longitudinal CA (much harder to get rid of in post). At close focusing distances, the Nikkor (being a macro lens) obviously just spanks the FE Zeiss.
As for the SLRgear report -- this is not the only strange result in their site. Micro Nikkor 55/2.8 is one of the sharpest lenses ever made (and I used Canon 100/2.8 IS, Sigma 70/2.8 macro), its sharpness is "beyond outstanding" for macro applications: http://coinimaging.com/nikon_55microais.html

Having said that, Sigma 50 is not a bad value at all (if you are willing to handle the bulk and weight): after all, it is full two stops faster! Every stop at least doubles the price. Plus it has AF which the Nikkor does not.

0 upvotes
oheckyeah

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not quite sure the comparison of the center to corner image quality (on the Westminster photo) at wider apertures on the "Image Quality" chapter is fair. At f1.4, the focal plane is so shallow that the "lack of image quality" in the corner may be due to the fact that it's not in the same plane and DOF is causing the blurring.

0 upvotes
Andy Crowe

I'm pretty sure they're far enough away that the whole thing is in the same focal plane.

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake

At that point the Thames is about 250m wide (that's the span of Westminster Bridge, according to Wikipedia). The lens was critically manually focused using 10x live view, so that should be a very close estimate of the focus distance. If you plug the numbers into a depth of field calculator you'll find that the far limit of acceptable focus is about 1500m, even if you use an extremely critical circle of confusion that's equal to the 6D's pixel pitch (~0.006mm). So while the Elizabeth Tower isn't in exactly the same plane as the centre crop, it's not going to be out of focus either.

The take home message from that comparison should actually be just how implausibly sharp the Sigma is at F1.4, even in the extreme corners.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
oheckyeah

Thanks for the explanation. As an engineer, I feel like I should have been able to figure this out...

0 upvotes
realmadeira

It is just as heavy and big as Canon 24-70/2.8 II. I would consider having 5DIII+Sigma 50/1.4 combo. Having Sigma as the only lens would be a good discipline. I already have Sigma 35/1.4, which I find a bit short for the photography I do, so only 50/1.4 would be perfect (alternatively EF 24-70/2.8II or combo Sigma 35/1.4 and upcoming 84/1.4)

0 upvotes
Frank Dernie

I remember reading an interview with Leica's then chief designer aeons ago, probably pre-internet. When asked what he would need to produce still sharper designs he said no size or weight constraints.
He said it was much easier to get good performance from a big heavy lens.
The biggest challenge with Leica M lenses, and I suppose why they are so expensive, was to get such good quality from small relatively light lenses.
FWIW

8 upvotes
M Lammerse

I can imagine this from Leica Leica wants to reach the top in both optical/image quality and mechanical quality.

Sigma wants to reach the top in image quality for an affordable 'consumer' orientated price. So compromises have to be made.

2 upvotes
Krich13

If it was said in pre-internet era, you can just forget it.
What was true back then (before relatively cheap aspheric lenses were available) is no longer relevant.
Short answer, to produce still sharper designs, you must up the number of aspheric surfaces. Even a single AS would allow the sharpest possible (diffraction limited) performance in the center ... at one subject distance. More elements/surfaces would help reduce off-axis aberrations.
Actually this is why modern triplet-based ("Sonnar") designs started to compete with a more powerful (sharpness wise)design form -- the Double Gauss: Triplets have good bokeh, and aspheric elements bring about the sharpness.

1 upvote
Bill T.

That's why cinema lenses from those all-spherical days were so big. Or at least the good ones were.

The downside of aspherical is, you have much more difficult tolerances in manufacturing that will inevitably lead to an even bigger sample-to-sample variation than we have seen with easy-to-make, all-spherical lenses.

1 upvote
Miron09

well the lenses I like most are both heavy and were supposedly designed by Leitz: Panaleica 25mm and Nocticron

https://plus.google.com/photos/110955796927925538104/albums/6018823849151460369?banner=pwa

0 upvotes
MarshallG

I know it's a lot of work, but I sure wish you'd taken some of those test images side-by-side with the Canon 50mm f/1.4. It would make it far easier to decide whether this expensive lens is worth it.

As it is... I have a lot of respect for all of the work (you did an excellent job), but the result are a lot of "take my word for it" accolades, and it's hard to see for myself if the praise is justified, because there's no baseline.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
ageha

I don't think it's worth it. The EF 50mm f/1.4 just isn't sharp enough especially in the corners. Why even bothering doing a comparison if they're worlds apart?

3 upvotes
DonSantos

Highest rating lens ever on dpreview?

0 upvotes
simpleshot

The next highest rated on dpreview is another Sigma - the 35mm Art.

1 upvote
forpetessake

There are good questions as to why the lens is so big and heavy, weighing as much as Sony FE 55/1.8 with the camera. I haven't seen good answers though.
It's not because of the flange distance, it's a normal lens for Pete's sake! There are plenty of normal lenses, sigma included, which are a lot smaller and lighter. And it's not because this lens is much brighter -- it's practically the same as Sony, i.e. measured T/1.7 for Sigma and T/1.8 for Sony.
It's because the lens has a retrofocal design, c.1950. It's a well known fact that retrofocus lenses require more and larger glass elements with bigger light loss. Therefore manufacturers avoid retrofocal designs unless necessary (wide angle lenses). The moment Sigma decided to make a ormal lens retrofocus it had a FAIL written all over it.

1 upvote
joelR42

Actually it IS the flange distance—well related to it. The Otus and the ART designers (and probably the FE55mm) realized the traditional fast 50mm design was reaching a point of diminishing returns. All three lenses use non-traditional designs for a "normal" prime. The FE55 has the advantage of a short flange distance so it can use tele-centric (Sonnar) design without the need for retrofocal corrections. Because of the mirror box the Otus and ART require a lot more corrections & glass and therefore size & weight.

I believe it would be impossible to use the FE55 design on a camera with a longer flange distance (unless the focal length of the lens exceeds the flange distance by a good margin AKA the SAL85f2.8 which uses a similar Sonnar design).

5 upvotes
pwmoree

So 1000 euro equals 1390 usdollar. Why is this lens 39 percent more expensive here in Europe? The 390 $ difference almost buys you a plane ticket to the USA to go and get one and have a weekend in NY included..

2 upvotes
forpetessake

The price of socialism (actually only small part of it).

3 upvotes
Jahled

We LOVE PAYING TAXES over here in Europe. I wake up and feel wonderful

10 upvotes
forpetessake

Only those who pay little or no taxes love high tax rate paying by all who work hard to achieve their prosperity. Another word for socialism is parasitism.

3 upvotes
compay

the americans print their dollars like crazy...they have the highest debt in the world, growing every second...there is absolutely no economic rule that say print valueless money when you have great debts....but they do...and the europeans are paying their debts...thats american capitalism in combination of power

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
6 upvotes
Shamael

be patient, Ukip will change all that, hahahaha

0 upvotes
JJ1983

I gladly pay taxes through the nose if it's the price for being European.

2 upvotes
ageha

In Singapore the lens is actually only US$800 in stores and that includes the 7% sales tax. :)

1 upvote
thebustos

The US price is 950 USD (about 700 Euros) so it's about $440 more in europe...

0 upvotes
ageha

In the end it doesn't matter, demand will be higher than stock. Prices are just arbitrary numbers, they aren't related to the product value in any way. Sigma is simply trying to get the highest possible price out of your pocket like any other manufacturer. :)

0 upvotes
HDF2

You are not comparing like-for-like. The US price is before sales tax while the European price includes VAT.

US Sales tax is going to run you from 0 to 8+% and VAT in Europe is going to be somewhere in the 18-23% range, depending on country. When you take that into consideration the prices become much closer. Europe is still more expensive, but not by as great a margin as you present.

1 upvote
ageha

Fortunately the VAT standard rate isn't allowed to be lower than 15% under EU law in any EU state. :)

1 upvote
candido dessanti

i bought in italy at 720€ with 3 Years of warranty from the local importer

0 upvotes
forpetessake

You can avoid paying US sales tax by ordering out of state(except if you live in People's Republic of New York). I usually buy from B&H tax free, plus perks. I'd like to see how people can avoid confiscatory taxation in EU/UK.

0 upvotes
pwmoree

Hey forepetesake, do not worry to much. Europeans like sex and are afraid of war, Americans like war and are afraid of sex. So guess where I want to live ;-)

0 upvotes
AlephNull

The US price is before sales tax. The European price is post sales tax. UK sales tax is 20%, so there's a big chunk of the difference already.

0 upvotes
forpetessake

@pwmoree: we had those here too, marching under "make love, not war" slogans. As Reagan quipped, "Those guys look like they can't make either of both"

1 upvote
Lu64

If you buy in the US (as an European), you need to pay sales tax and customs dues at the arrival. And please keep your receipts ... as there may be problems afterwards.

0 upvotes
ageha

Nobody pays customs.

0 upvotes
Lu64

I can assure you, when you pass customs and don't have the proof of payements, YOU will pay them!

0 upvotes
JJ1983

There is an easy omission. Send home the box and receipt via ups, take the lens with you in your camera bag.

0 upvotes
Lu64

Proof of payment IS required! not that easy! If they let you pass, you are a lucky guy!

0 upvotes
Paul Guba

Well if do consider buying one it will have nothing to do what is reviewed here. When your links are called campaign then you moved beyond editorial content into the realm of advertising and selling. I can't even read the review because I feel its an advitorial.

1 upvote
samhain

Well then perhaps you'd like to pay their salaries & operating expenses Paul?
I'm sure if you cover their costs you'd be welcome to set up the site any way you want. But you don't, do you?
So stop b*tching about a website that's free, or go somewhere else.

7 upvotes
Andy Westlake

It isn't an advertorial, regardless of what you feel.

4 upvotes
chadley_chad
0 upvotes
Paul Guba

ad·ver·to·ri·al
ˌadvərˈtôrēəl/
noun
a newspaper or magazine advertisement giving information about a product in the style of an editorial or objective journalistic article.

Definition of 'Marketing Campaign'

Specific activities designed to promote a product, service or business. A marketing campaign is a coordinated series of steps that can include promotion of a product through different mediums (television, radio, print, online) using a variety of different types of advertisements. The campaign doesn't have to rely solely on advertising, and can also include demonstrations, word of mouth and other interactive techniques.

I didn't call it a campaign the site did.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Andy Westlake

Oh, I now realise you're confused by the use of the word 'campaign' in the 'utm_campaign' section of the URL. This is simply Google Analytics code that allows us to track better how users progress through our site. It has nothing to do with advertising or product promotions at all.

(For example, you might see something like 'utm_ campaign=internal-link&utm_ source=mainmenu&utm_ medium=text&ref=mainmenu'. This simply tells us that the user arrived at the page from an internal link, using the main site menu. It's nothing more than that.)

Thanks for randomly providing a definition of the word 'advertorial', but it's completely irrelevant here - this review is not paid for by any external party.

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Jahled

I've never bought a Sigma because some people say there is no guarantee they will work with future models of the camera brands they are reverse engineered to work with. I've also heard to many people bemoan the 'Sigma lottery,' of getting a nice copy of a lens. I expect a 'nice copy' of a lens on my first purchace from Canon, and bar one in 2007, have always got one.

Is this me missing out on some lovely glass though?

0 upvotes
ageha

If it stops working with a future camera body, simply update the lens firmware. That's possible for decades.

4 upvotes
Mike Griffin

If you check out the lensrental site you will see that not every Canon lens is a good copy, far from it.

0 upvotes
AlephNull

Sigma's USB dock lets you update the firmware in the lens - it can be updated to handle new cameras.

0 upvotes
Ralf B

This lens definitely needs controlled backgrounds for its bokeh character
https://s3.amazonaws.com/masters.galleries.dpreview.com/2897503.jpg?X-Amz-Expires=3600&X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-Amz-Credential=AKIAJ7ICBHXPIPPMTNCQ/20140529/us-east-1/s3/aws4_request&X-Amz-Date=20140529T115209Z&X-Amz-SignedHeaders=host&X-Amz-Signature=a835a6936ab75fd16bb32e0232442f2daeee86d8a132a904c164540ac3e80dc5
The Sony FE 55/1.8 appears as having much smoother bokeh.
I prefer the CZ 135/1.8 for my Sony Alpha A mount FF for its combination of sharpness matching this lens a n d silky smooth bokeh. It appears as much more forgiving if you cannot avoid a busy fore/background.
http://kurtmunger.com/sony_135mm_f_1_8_carl_zeissid266.html

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
dynaxx

I agree with your comments on the Sony ZA 135mm ( yes, the one DXO has never tested ).

It is the best lens I have seen for the A mount and superb for portraiture.

2 upvotes
Higuel

The Zeiss 135mm looks like maybe the best 135f1.8 untill now, but we are talking about 50mm here, otherwise, you could also speak about the canon 135L or even better: the 200mm f2.0L!!! And that one most likely completely puts the Zeiss to chame in Bokeh!!! ;D

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 39 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
sgoldswo

If anything it has smoother bokeh than the Sony Zeiss 55mm with subjects up to 1.5m away, between 1.5-3m distance the bokeh flips to be busier

0 upvotes
samhain

What does the zeiss 135mm have to do with this sigma review?
I owned the 135mm, it's one of the best af portrait lenses ever made.
But... Comparing it to a 50mm is Apple's to oranges. Might as well compare the Nikon 24mm g to the Canon 85mm 1.2 while you're at it.
Way off topic.

Comment edited 55 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
ageha

Yup, throwing the CZ 135/1.8 in here is pointless. If I'm looking for a 50mm I don't care about 135mm.

2 upvotes
solomonshv

why would you compare a 135mm lens to a 50mm?

3 upvotes
Ralf B

I brought the 135mm in for what I wrote: There is the possibility to combine sharpness and pleasing bokeh, and if you look for that, the Sigma ART 50/1.4 fails at that.
I hope that clarifies the "pointless" point.

0 upvotes
ageha

Nope but who cares...

0 upvotes
Under The Sun

Yep different focal lengths for different applications.

0 upvotes
Reilly Diefenbach

I guess I just don't get the point of an expensive, heavy, bulky 1.4 lens if the bokeh is as hideous as what I'm seeing on these DPR sample shots. The chap with the bridge behind him is a truly ugly, discombobulated looking shot, to single out one.

7 upvotes
ageha

Would be nice if people would post examples how it should look like. :)

8 upvotes
0MitchAG

http://g4.img-dpreview.com/B771FDB3A5C14612B4F9E59DDC4BD5F1.jpg

I have to agree with Reilly.

3 upvotes
badi

The bokeh is just a matter a taste after all, but most of the people agree that smooth color transition in out of focus areas is what makes a "nice bokeh".
This lens doesn't do it "so nice" but the otus doesn't either.
Anyway, depending on background (it's colors, it's "business", it's distance relative to the subject, etc) all lenses make both "nice" and "bad" bokeh.

Just some lenses are generally better for bokeh (nikon 58/1.4, canon 50/1.2) others are better for sharpness the sigma, the otus. It's hard to have everything on one lens.

3 upvotes
Higuel

Yes indeed Badi! Zeiss even mentioned already LOOOONG time ago that one of it's 50mm was NOT as Sharp wide open PRECISELY to get a better rendering of the out of focus áreas!
It is information available on the net for those who prefer to find it instead of looking for some bad photos! But i have already understood what is the reality of 60% of all the coments in here :/

0 upvotes
jadmaister2

kudos for 'discombobulated'...top word.
kick in the pants for your point however since, not everyone wants or needs pretty, de-focussed areas, and if you read the whole article, you can find Sigma hinting about future releases with different design motivations (the bit about the date imprint under the lens). Maybe the 15 or 16 will have the pretty blurs you need?

0 upvotes
sgoldswo

The bokeh is busy at longer focus distances, but it's very nice at shorter focus distances.

1 upvote
The Lotus Eater

"Just some lenses are generally better for bokeh (nikon 58/1.4, canon 50/1.2)".

I don't get the Canon 50/1.2. It isn't sharp and its bokeh is pretty ugly in many situations - especially that nasty swirly stuff.

2 upvotes
mujana

This lens looks perfect! Too bad it isn't available for m4/3rds. I guess I have to stick to the 75mm/1.8 and the 45mm/1.8 Zuiko for portraiture...(not a real problem by the way)

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Jonathan F/2

Why would you want it for m43? The lens is made for FF and it'd be a waste of glass to use it on that sensor size. You'd be better off with the Panasonic Nocticron 42.5mm 1.2 lens or the 25mm 1.4 lens if you wanted the 50mm FOV.

Though it'd be nice if Sigma made fast glass for mirrorless.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
9 upvotes
mujana

That's what I mean...." it would be nice if Sigma made fast glas for mirrorles" ....high quality fast glass.

Comment edited 43 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
quangzizi

The 25 1.4 is really good or you can get the 25 0.95, 25 1.8. In any case, I don't think it makes sense for them to enter that focal length anymore.

1 upvote
BarnET

like those above said i don't see an weakness in m43 within these focal lengths. many overlapping options at various price points.

most of them are also very high regarded.

I think sigma should make a m43 lens though.
what about an 12-50 f2.8-4 for 400$:D that would make my day!

0 upvotes
Paul Ennis

Thank god we have Sigma providing completion to the big boys. I have the 35mm Art, and I love it. Great to have a company who appear to be on the photographers side.

8 upvotes
Albert Ang

Andy Westlake / Admin,
In page 1 you mentioned the weight is 665 g but on second page it's 815g. Which one is correct? Thanks

3 upvotes
Andy Westlake

815g is correct. I've corrected page 1, sorry for the confusion. (I've corrected the other error in that spec table, too.)

3 upvotes
Zeisschen

815g seriously? How can Sony pull the same performance out of the 280g FE 55 1.8?

Year I know it's half a stop slower, but damn impressive for the small weight. And the Zeiss bokeh is much better...

4 upvotes
Andy Westlake

The FE 55mm F1.8 benefits from two things: 1) the short back focus of the E mount, and 2) being 2/3 stop slower. This means that it needs to use much less glass (it's a 7 element / 5 group design vs the Sigma's 13 element / 8 group), so can be substantially lighter.

A better Sony comparison would be with the [Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm F1.4 SSM](http://www.dpreview.com/products/sony/lenses/sony_50_1p4_za_ssm), which also has to fit on SLRs, and weighs 518g for an 8 element / 5 group design.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
6 upvotes
joelR42

But it's not really 2/3 stops slower. Your review states T1.7 vs T1.8.

2 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter

Your bokeh test is useless - background well separated from the foreground or closeups. The problems usually are in the transition area. Some lenses, like the S35 are particularly bad there.

You could have included this shot: http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/reviewsamples/photos/2897503/f1-4_01img_5736?inalbum=sigma-50mm-f1-4-dg-hsm-art-canon-preview-samples
in the bokeh section, and compared it to the Nikon and the Canon.

I have the feeling that you know more than you say but you do not want to be more critical. You mention AF problems with cheap bodies and off center AF points and then dismiss it - who really used that lens on cheap bodies? How about off center focusing with the 5D3 and the D800?

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
9 upvotes
ageha

Yeah, the hokey could be better. Well, at least the lens is sharp even wide open.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 566
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