Previous page Next page

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.

Previous page Next page
117
I own it
294
I want it
13
I had it
Discuss in the forums

Comments

Total comments: 567
1234
ProfHankD

Nikon and Sony have higher-resolution sensors (36MP). I think that's more appropriate for testing this type of lens than a 22MP Canon, which it basically outresolves. There are quite a few lenses that do really well at 24MP FF, but this SIgma is one of the few that seems to be ready for 36MP FF and beyond.

Incidentally, undercorrected SA is the standard way to get nice bokeh; it's good to see Sigma getting nice bokeh without the SA most fast 50s deliberately have....

9 upvotes
Stu 5

Have you not been reading the threads? The Nikon version was not available when they did the test report. They will look at that one when it becomes available on a D800e.

2 upvotes
ProfHankD

If the product isn't yet available even as a pre-release to the press, what's the rush to review it? There are lots of worthy bits of equipment that are on the market for 6+ months before DPReview takes a first look. If DPReview didn't want to wait, they could simply have added a quick test of the Canon-mount lens on a Sony A7R (which is a combo plenty of people will care about).

2 upvotes
Stu 5

Why on earth would they want to do that. How many people are going to buy an adapted Sigma 50mm f1.4 instead of a Sony 55mm f1.8 to put onto a A7r. More people will buy this lens to use on a Canon full frame than a Sony A7r. The difference in user base size is huge. Lots of people will buy this lens to use on Canon cameras so it was only fair to review it on a Canon camera.

3 upvotes
ProfHankD

DPReview basically says they can't tell how good the lens is using current Canons because it's sensor limited -- it probably will not be on future Canons, or on a Sony A7R right now. It would be a better test even if nobody would use it on an A7R.

The Sony native lens may well be better than this Sigma. Your argument is essentially that there are enough Canon users suffering Canon's inferior optics so that testing this lens just for them is top priority. That is not an argument I've heard a Canon user give before.... ;-)

1 upvote
Stu 5

What are you going on about. The lens came out first for Canon. There are lots of Canon users. Sigma know this. DPR know this. Therefore it gets tested on a Canon camera. It's that simple.

DPR have said they will test it on a Nikon D800E when it becomes available. If your in to DXO reviews and think they are the best thing in the world, you will know the sensor tested higher than the A7r so it makes to test it on the D800E with it's native mount. On the A7r you would have to use an adaptor which could effect the optical quality slightly compared to the D800E where no adaptor will be involved. The Nikon D800E also does not use compressed Raw files.

But you want it tested on a camera hardly anyone is likely to use with the lens as a first priority before it gets tested on native mount cameras it was designed for. Really?

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
ShootMeAlready

Hmmm you imply that a 36MP is better to test than a 22MP. The 36MP is better if you need a bigger picture. Resolution of a 22MP camera can beat a 36MP. You are talking as if all 36MP are even used??? I have to be a bit brutal here - Wake up ! The 36MP is tech hype, its not fully used and only sampled. Algorithms pick and choose what data is used. Resolution is tied to the IQ of the glass, and characteristics of the sensor & camera peformance.

In short test on either a 22MP or 36MP, it makes no difference to evaluate the IQ of the glass.

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

The Otus is not for you. Even understanding it is not for you.

But it is for him:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=90228.0

Comment edited 24 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
cgarrard

Gotta say I like how Sigma is turning the corner for the better. It's refreshing to see a company change for the better when so many turn for the worse ;).

I just bought the new 18-250mm DC HSM and love it, didn't think I'd say that about a Sigma lens again in my life.

8 upvotes
nathantw

There's always one person who will say the sample pictures look soft. I'm waiting for that person to post.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
cgarrard

The sample pictures look soft.

Just kidding.

4 upvotes
beavertown

It is almost half price of the Nikon 58mm f1.4 and a lot cheaper than the Carl Zeiss 50mm.

It's a pro, not a con for its price.

This lens is not in the same class of the Nikon 50mm f1.4, it is a much more superior lens.

4 upvotes
ageha

Really? Who would have thought...

0 upvotes
beavertown
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

beavertown:

Except the Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 is about 725usd.

You mean the 55mm Otus, I'd guess.

There's also a Zeiss Macro 50mm f/2.0, but not twice the price of this Sigma.

0 upvotes
EvokeEmotion

"We've already published lab test data showing that its optically excellent"

It's, as in 'it is', not its.

Hiring proofreader? I'm in Seattle.

13 upvotes
Andy Westlake

Thanks for pointing that out, I've corrected it. (No need to hire a proofreader when you're so keen to offer your services for free...)

Comment edited 37 seconds after posting
13 upvotes
RStyga

Sigma has done it again. A magnificent lens, it seems to be. The proclamation by the reviewer reminded me of the same proclamation by Popular Photography & Imaging about the tiny and feather-weight (albeit much darker) Voigtlander Heliar 50/3.5.

2 upvotes
thejohnnerparty

I am surprised that more people aren't talking about the pics. To me they look great. I used to shoot a lot with a 50 mm and never got the kind of image quality that I've seen in the samples. For my taste, it looks like a winner.
;-)

2 upvotes
eyeswideshut

I really don't know what to admire more. Someone who - one hundred years ago - achieved roughly similar performance with four lenses in three groups at F/2.8 or a corporation which - a century later - achieves marginally better performance corner to corner with the aid of cad/cam and thirteen lenses in four groups at a whopping 800g and a thousand dollars.

Comment edited 35 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Henderson May

So? even if you are correct about the "roughly similar performance" can you really compare a f1.4 lens with a f2.8 lens?
BTW canon 18-55 is better then 24-105 at f8 as well accroding to DRTV :-)

3 upvotes
ageha

Which lens are you talking about?

0 upvotes
zxaar

@ Henderson May , if he has to be correct, that would mean that in last 100 years there was no-one whom it occurred that that design is the best we could do so far. All this development so far basically just did not happen.

0 upvotes
eyeswideshut

@ageha
The Tessar.

0 upvotes
simpleshot

Good job by Sigma.
Aside from the size and weight, there is very little fault to find in this lens.
If you like, you can pay 4 times more for the Otus. With that additional money, you also get a bigger lens, more weight, more vignetting, more distortion, and less contrast. Hmmn, something is not right.

0 upvotes
Robert Newman

50mm is a focal length that most professional photographers seldom use. Regardless of its optical merits, it is just not something I would ever consider buying especially at the price point at which it is being introduced.

7 upvotes
Enshong

Depends on which professional photographer you're asking.

6 upvotes
AlexClickButan

That's the dumbest thing I have ever heard.

21 upvotes
ageha

Exactly, 50mm is neither here nor there. Anyway, it's a great lens but I would prefer the lighter 58mm F1.4 Nikon.

0 upvotes
dpmily

I'm looking forward to a future 85mm 1.4 ART. 50mm is a focal a rarely use. I love the 35mm ART but I will just stick with my manual focus Nikkor AI-S 50mm 1.4

1 upvote
The Name is Bond

hmmm, I hate to say it but the bokeh isn't good enough. It's really not smooth at all, despite the review's claim that it's good enough. Even closed down (which usually deals with bokeh issues).

Maybe it's good enough for closer pics, but we have here the usual bokeh-clueless pics from dpreview. Easy bokeh backgrounds (flowers and vegetation) with just a couple of pics that demonstrate the rough bokeh. They need to get themselves someone long versed in bokeh analysis. .....Like me!!! :)

Get that lens in to a bike shop, dpreview.

Anyway, I actually feel a bit sad. I was totally over excited at the review. ...until I saw the pics (and some pics on the blogs mentioned in the comments).

Comment edited 43 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Michel F

Same thing here. It's definitely sharper than the old version at the expense of bokeh smoothness.

3 upvotes
DStudio

You don't hate to say it, and it's not hard to see for someone who looks for it. That's the sad part.

0 upvotes
ulfie

Size-wise, it's a dang blunderbuss! Kind of negates its low-light, f1.4 shooting abilities if camera shake adds blur due to its size/length, no?

0 upvotes
The Name is Bond

Unless you're very weak, the weight should negate camera-shake, in theory.

I love the idea of weight due to excessively fine correction and the best glass. And I love dense cameras also. But I can imagine the two together may not be so practical for 16 hours of wedding photography.

1 upvote
ulfie

Weight alone doesn't negate hand-held camera shake. On a tripod, of course. It is LONG, 100mm/4 inches. Add the body size too and hand-holding steadily at low shutter speeds is dicey for sure.

0 upvotes
KentG

It is actually easier to hold a heavier item steady than a lighter one when you need to point it at something. Just ask any professional shooter. Lighter weight is better when you need to move something you are pointing, like when panning.

2 upvotes
ulfie

It's not just weight but length of the lens too. Even a little movement is multiplied by its longer length.

0 upvotes
Rod McD

Now we need Sigma to build some wide-angle lenses to the same standard. Zeiss need some competition for the 21mm 2.8.

0 upvotes
Henderson May

look forward to see the 24/1.4 ART

0 upvotes
ondrejbobek

Fantastic piece of glass! I have already 35/f1,4 Art and after this good review will wait for 85/1,4 Art with lot of enthusiasm. Sigma has changed the game.

1 upvote
ondrejbobek

In Slovakia is this lens for 750€ = £610, this price is extrem low compared to Zeiss Otus, Canon 50/1,2L, Nikon 58/1,4 or Sony 55/1,8

1 upvote
nguyentungstyle

this sigma 50mm art lens is only 870usd in Vietnam, full support form brand, not black market ;)

0 upvotes
Scorpius1

The fact we even compare Sigma to Zeiss now shows how far Sigma have come!!Well done Sigma,

23 upvotes
futile32

Loving these Art series lenses. Awesome work Sigma, seeing rumours of the 24mm and 85mm on the horizon. What a collection that will be. Hope they release a limited edition box set. Awesome!

0 upvotes
ageha

Oh no, please no limited editions ever!

2 upvotes
imsabbel

Maybe a rosewood grip would make those lenses even more desirable...

4 upvotes
ageha

I'm more looking forward to a lighter and more fall proof polyvinyl carbonate version at 2/3 the price. :)

1 upvote
Mike Griffin

Agree. Original equipment manufacturers, Canon, Nikon etc should be challenged to match or improve on Sigma's lead to benefit us all.

0 upvotes
km25

Weather seal would make it prefect. Hay this lens is made in Japan? Canon and Nikon better wake up. Simga will be their lens maker. This lens for real world use has few piers.

0 upvotes
richshep

This may or may not be the sharpest 50mm lens but here's the killer: It doesn't matter because 99.9% viewers of the pix taken with it won't even notice and you could have just bought a 50mm 1.8 instead.

2 upvotes
sgoldswo

Rather than posting this half-heartedly in a reply... If people are interested I put together some thoughts about this lens mounted on a D800E on my blog: http://wp.me/p2wMAg-Bf

8 upvotes
Coliban

@sgoldswo

thank you for the review. BTW, nice site, i bookmarked it.

regards

1 upvote
sgoldswo

@Coliban, thank you and glad you liked the website

0 upvotes
Joel Benford

Thanks, excellent commentary. I used to take street candids around there back in my film SLR days. I like your shots.
The three dimensionality on the pic of the Millenium Bridge is remarkable. I don't think I've seen anything like that.

1 upvote
mike earussi

I commend Sigma for completely changing their design philosophy. Once known as one of the worse lens manufactures only a few years ago (to the point where Lens Rentals quit carrying their lenses due to so much mechanical failure) they now are producing some of the best lenses around. Only time will tell how durable they are, but hopefully they will prove to be as good mechanically as they are optically.

10 upvotes
PorscheDoc

I agree and plan to buy my first Sigma lenses in almost 20 years. My first Sigma zoom lens purchased in the early 1990's fell apart: the lens elements fell out into my hand because they were held in place by double-sided metallic sticky tape!!! This fiasco was also noted in several websites at the time, most notably IIRC, it also happened to the founder of photo.net.

0 upvotes
Niala2

Zeiss Macro 50mm f2 is systematically forgotten on the web..
(makes me crazy lol. Same with the Sigma 70 makro)
I don't care about the macro.
If You can accept its absence of AF,
and will use f2 until f11 really full-frame without missing wider aperture,
then this lens is the only one (next to Otus and indeed the Art 50) worth mentioning. (Alll the other 50mm are a shame -except Leitz and the Sony's 7's 50 - including the TS-E 45, canon 50mm f 1.2, ...)

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
sgoldswo

The problem with using the Makro planar for general photography is the long focus throw and extension of the lens. Get past that and it produces lovely pictures. For most manual focus uses though I prefer the Nikkor F1.2 AiS 50mm. It's lower contrast which can result in washed out landscapes in bright sun, but on people or close subjects its great from about F2 onwards.

1 upvote
mlewan

I'm also surprised that the Zeiss 50mm f2 is mentioned so rarely. It is the lens I use most. But "the only one (next to Otus and indeed the Art 50) worth mentioning"... Without sources, I take that as just your own opinion. And do you limit the statement to Canon? And only 50mm?

1 upvote
stevo23

Go Sigma!

1 upvote
Dr_Jon

My one concern about this lens is too many people are complaining about AF issues. Is it possible to test it on as many Canon bodies as possible and report what you see? (Canon bodies as you have a Canon version.)

As someone else said, it doesn't matter how sharp it is if it misses focus...

E.g. http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Sigma-50mm-f-1.4-DG-HSM-Art-Lens.aspx
"The bottom line is that, the longer I focus tested this lens, the less sure I was about its focus accuracy.
... (a bit removed as I was over the character limit for a post) ...
What I learned from the many hours (actually extended into days) spent shooting and analyzing thousands of images is that the 50 Art lens' AF cannot be completely counted on. Sometimes, most images are properly focused and when my shots counted, this lens delivered. But sometimes, more images are out of focus than I am comfortable with."

I trust Brian to have an objective opinion BTW.

0 upvotes
Dr_Jon

I don't however trust me to spell Bryan correctly :-(

0 upvotes
mike earussi

That's what the USB Dock is for, to fine tune AF to your specific camera body. The tester may not have done this.

1 upvote
Andy Westlake

I've nothing more really to add than I wrote in the review. I was very confident with the lens's focus accuracy using centre point in the EOS 6D. I wasn't remotely confident it would hit focus perfectly on the 100D. The 70D was somewhere in between. Off-centre AF points seemed less reliable than centre AF points, which tends to be the case with SLRs.

Both of Canon's Live View AF methods, in contrast, were absolutely reliable as always. However the 100D's Hybrid AF isn't really fast enough to be generally useful with non-STM lenses. The 70D's Dual Pixel AF gives decent speed and accuracy, but has other operational flaws.

1 upvote
Lassoni

@mike you see, that kind is the issue. Why would you want to add a USB fine tuning dock, unless it is to release products which go thru less QC? They don't do these decisions out of good will.

0 upvotes
Dr_Jon

Mike - I don't think so, as he says he gets sharp photos a lot of the time, so I can't see it's a fine-tuning issue as if it was wrong in a way fine-tuning could fix it would be wrong more consistently.

Andy - okay, that will do for me as an answer, although 5DmkII/III results would have been great. Oh, except were there any 70D issues that are specific to this lens?

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Andy Westlake

@Lassoni: I'd suggest reading up on what the USB Dock offers before drawing conclusions about 'less QC'. It allows both more detailed AF Fine Tune than any camera, and the ability to update the lens's firmware.

Like it or not, SLR PDAF systems normally require some AF fine tuning to match a fast lens to a camera. This isn't about QC, but about the aggregation of tolerances, and the fact that SLR focus sensors aren't directly measuring correct focus at all - just determining a more-or-less accurate proxy for it. It's also worth considering that while high-end SLRs tend to have quite sophisticated AF tuning built-in, entry-level SLRs don't. This doesn't imply that the cheaper cameras have better QC.

4 upvotes
sgoldswo

The AF issues I had resulted from differing levels of front focus at different focal lengths. Thankfully with the USB Dock you can adjust focus selectively to address this. In practice that resulted in some shots in focus, some out, some hunting for focus. However, it's now resolved.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
mike earussi

No AF system is perfect. Each camera body is unique since there is always a certain amount of tolerance in its construction (see Lens Rental's series of articles if you're not familiar with this topic--http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2012/07/autofocus-reality-part-1-center-point-single-shot-accuracy).

That's why Sigma's AF Dock is so useful, it enables these variables to be corrected for on a body by body basis. An interesting test would be to compare Canon's 50 f1.4 to Sigma's for AF accuracy after the Sigma has been calibrated using the Dock.

1 upvote
Andy Westlake

@Dr_Jon: I didn't see any 70D-specific issues, but then again I only shot a couple of hundred images on the 70D.

The variation between reports simply reflects that different reviewers test different copies of the lenses on different camera bodies with different shooting habits. I used two copies of the lens (one in Seattle, another in London), and both were excellent. But a fractionally decentered or tilted lens wouldn't work as well.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
The Name is Bond

With modern high MP cameras, AF tuning is pretty much a must. The USB dock reflects the reality of up-to-date DSLR AF. If high MP DSLR is what you want, then the USB dock is the logical tool. It shouldn't really be considered optional (or a kludge fix).

This isn't an issue for CDAF (ie, mirrorless) since the AF is not subject to tolerances like PDAF. But until CDAF beats PDAF for performance, that's the way it is with such high MP cameras.

0 upvotes
Rooru S

Will wait until they test the 50mm Art on the D800E and then make a comparison against the Zeiss Otus 55 and Sony Zeiss 55 FE.

1 upvote
Ben Ramsey

Or just get the lens you like for the system you have and use it.

4 upvotes
sgoldswo

It's very, very sharp with extremely impressive local/micro contrast on the D800E. It reminds me of something like a Leica summicron or Zeiss planar 50mm.

I posted some thoughts on the Sigma mounted on the D800E on my blog, www.sgoldswoblog.com

2 upvotes
MX2010

What is really desirable is the low light AF performance. Is there any info on that? I Am very tempted replace my nikon 50/1.4G.

0 upvotes
Absolutic

so Andy you are concluding it is the best AF 50mm lens currently on the market. Are you saying it is better than Sony Zeiss 55 FE lens for E mount, that is half the weight, and the price is the same? You mention the 55FE but does not talk about it in your conclusion. I know it is comparing F/1.8 to F/1.4 which is half-stop in difference but nevertheless, which one is better? DXO said at the time that 55FE is the best AF lens they have ever tested.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
viking79

Comparing the results of the FE 55mm f/1.8 and the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 is notably better in the corners through f/5.6 or so and can't say about the center since the Canon is too low resolution. Need to see the Sigma tested on the D800E to compare with A7R, but it is clear corners are better on this Sigma than on the FE 55mm (not that they are bad on the FE 55mm).

The best just got better? It is something that happens all the time in this field.

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

The DXOmark measurements show that Sony FE 55/1.8 is slightly ahead. And even the transmission on both lenses is almost the same, Sony is T/1.8 lens and Sigma is T/1.7 (only 12% brighter). But Sigma is 3 times heavier -- FAIL.

3 upvotes
Andy Westlake

I'd say that the FE 55/1.8 and the Sigma 50/1.4 are so close that it's impossible to call one 'better' than the other. In practice, you choose between them based on which fits your camera; if you own an SLR, the Sigma will fit and the Sony won't. If you own an Alpha 7, you buy the Sony, as it'll fit directly and focus better. Given this I don't really understand why one should be declared the 'winner'; just accept they're both stunning lenses and be happy they're available for photographers to buy. (Unless of course you're more interested in petty point-scoring than actual photography.)

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

I own both lenses which I use on a D800E and a A7r. Both are very sharp, but the Sigma has exceptional sharpness stopped down, of the sort I've only really seen from rangefinder lenses like the Zeiss Planar 50mm. It's more consistently sharp across the frame at wider apertures too. The Sigma's weaknesses are AF performance (mine needed to be corrected via the USB Dock for front focus) and bokeh at distances greater that 1.5 to 3m, which can be quite busy/nervous. The zeiss has nicer bokeh and is a lot smaller.

Optically, I wouldn't be surprised if the Sigma rates comparably or better than the Otus, but I certainly wouldn't be surprised if it rates higher than the Zeiss FE. All three are great lenses, but the world moves on.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 9 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Higuel

EXTREMELY well said Andy Westlake! :)

1 upvote
Absolutic

Thanks Andy for your reply. Also sgoldswo your opinion is important because you own a Nikon version of Sigma and 55FE on A7r.

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake

@Absolutic: Sorry if my response came across as a bit harsh - sometimes it's difficult to separate genuine questions from those simply designed to establish some sort of brand superiority. If you're shooting with an A7R, then I accept it's entirely legitimate to ask which of these has better optics, as you could conceivably use either. But personally I'd choose the Sony FE for practicality.

2 upvotes
Higuel

Andy, my respect for you just got bigger!

Sincerely.

Henrique

0 upvotes
Absolutic

Actually Andy I shoot several brands of cameras (which I think many people on these boards also do) including Sony, Nikon (sometimes Canon) and Fuji. Sony A7/A7r is often a second camera for many as a mirrorless 'light and small' choice when they don't want to carry their DSLR equipment. In fact many Sony A7 owners own other gear from other mfrs judging from their signatures on this forum and others. The question of whether to pick a 55FE for Sony A7r, or to pick a Sigma 50/1.4 for Nikon/Canon (price being practically the same for the two) is a legitimate one for someone who shoots both DSLRs and mirrorless, and wants the best autofocus 50 possible.

0 upvotes
nikon power

Carl Zeiss to Sigma is Mercedes to Volkswagen. I'd go for the name, Mercedes, if I got the money.

Comment edited 21 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
pako

well, your VW is priced 949$ and the Mercedes only 998$

4 upvotes
RonGreer
1 upvote
Klarth

Thanks, Captain Obvious

0 upvotes
LarryK

The car doesn't do the driving.

2 upvotes
Lassoni

not yet atleast

1 upvote
pako

I believe the Sony Zeiss FE 55 f1.8 is the best 50mm...
http://www.dxomark.com/Lenses/Compare/Side-by-side/Sigma-50mm-F14-DG-HSM-A-Canon-on-Canon-EOS-5D-Mark-III-versus-Zeiss-Carl-Zeiss-Distagon-T-STAR-Otus-55mm-F14-ZE-Canon-on-Canon-EOS-5D-Mark-III-versus-Sony-FE-Carl-Zeiss-Sonnar-T-STAR-55mm-F18___1306_795_1241_795_1252_0

2 upvotes
Mr Blah

That was a comparison on completely different cameras, though. Compare the Sony FE 55f1.8 on the A7R with the Zeiss Otus on the Nikon D800E (they have the same sensor) and you'll see that the Zeiss out resolves (and has less distortion, etc.) the Sony.

0 upvotes
pako

nothing to blush about (specially if you take in account the price tag of the Otus)
http://www.dxomark.com/Lenses/Compare/Side-by-side/Sony-FE-Carl-Zeiss-Sonnar-T-STAR-55mm-F18-on-Sony-A7R-versus-Zeiss-Carl-Zeiss-Distagon-T-STAR-Otus-55mm-F14-ZF2-Nikon-versus-50mm-F1.4-EX-DG-HSM-Nikon-on-Nikon-D800E___1252_917_1242_0_202_814

0 upvotes
Emacs23

You chose D800 instead of D800E for Otus. And used old sigma 50 instead of new 50 art.

0 upvotes
pako

You right. there is no test available for the A lens on Nikon mount. There is no real way to compare this 3 lenses. Probably the Sigma and FE Zeiss on the A7R -but DXO won't do that. Anyways, the otus is 3000+ $ and the FE a little less than 1000 $; and the otus doesn't perform 3 times better...

0 upvotes
marc petzold

As other reviews already stated, this new 50/1.4 Art Sigma comes very close to the Zeiss Otus, but for only 1/4 of the price. Superb work for Sigma, since the 35/1.8, Sigma is really on fire with their latest Art lens creations - which is a way good thing, competition leads to much better products, the Art 18-35/1.8 is also outstanding in optical quality terms. I expect no less from Sigma with their 24/1.4 when it'll be released this fall, and the 85/1.4 which is rumored for 2015 must be very good then, too.

Go Sigma, go! Hopefully Canikon would improve their upcoming lens iterations, too.

I've got the 30/1.4 Art for my D90/D7000, and being happy with that prime lens.

5 upvotes
Marksphoto

If sigma is going to start making better lenses than brand names will, will have to risk incompatibility issues in the future as Canon likes to play the incompatibility games as I have already learned first hand.

Sure buy this lens for today, but no guarantees it will work on the 5d mk4 or 5.

I'll stick to Brand name lenses myself, the 50mm 1.8 is light weight, tack sharp and cheap, If I need more light I will bump ISO up marginally - not that I ever use 50mm lenses - just thinking outloud...

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
1 upvote
SushiEater

Hence USB dock. It already happened with Nikon version of 35mm and FW fixed it. I am not worried at all.

11 upvotes
wetsleet

re: the incompatibility games
The Brands (as you refer to them, but I guess Sigma is a brand too?) will find their reputation in tatters if their lenses are seen to rely less on their outright quality and more on "incompatibility" protectionism to earn their keep.
Maybe even (long shot) the EU or similar will weigh in and force the camera brands to publish their interfaces, a bit like Windows (I think?) is obliged to, so that all parties can play in the park.

Comment edited 42 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Bhima78

There is literally no comparison between the canon 50mm 1.8 and this lens except for that they are both 50mm and have similar f-stop numbers. The IQ of this Sigma is magnitudes better than the Canon 1.8. The Canon is great for its price and is light weight but it is not a stellar performer in IQ if you are looking for a higher level of IQ and are willing to pay for it.

2 upvotes
skanter

Maybe, but this lens will not make a bad photographer good or a good photographer any better. It's only 100% crop pixel-peeping that make these expensive lenses relevant for enthusiasts. For pros, every tiny bit of quality that can be eeked out might give them an edge, so they should consider lenses like this.

0 upvotes
SushiEater

@wetsleet
There is a big difference between MS Windows and camera Brands. MS wants all the software to run well on Windows. Otherwise they will go out of business. Camera makers only want their lenses and accessories to run well. They simply don't care about third parties. That is why Sigma made revolutionary step towards compatibility with the ability to upgrade FW without sending lens in for re-chipping and in the process gave us ability to adjust focusing at different FLs.

1 upvote
viking79

This lens shows a perfect example of design trade-offs in lenses. Want a nice sharp wide open 50mm with large aperture and minimal distortion? It will cost you in size, weight, and price.

The old(er) Sigma 50mm f/1.4 is half the price, but also not as good. I imagine plenty good for most, but if you want max wide open performance this new Sigma looks great.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
JF69

It will cost you in size, weight, price……& bokeh. Since it's corrected for Spherical Aberration, bokeh will be "ugly" by design. Like all lenses it's a tradeoff, a design choice.
Kudos to Sigma for producing such fine lenses in its "Art" range.

2 upvotes
viking79

I find spherical aberrations make bokeh worse (bright rings on specular highlights), which is why most f/1.4 lenses look a lot better at f/2 because the spherical aberration has started to clear up. Here is a sample, not bad: http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/reviewsamples/photos/2897523/?inAlbum=sigma-50mm-f1-4-dg-hsm-art-canon-preview-samples

1 upvote
Just another Canon shooter

The bright rings on lenses with uncorrected spherical aberrations appear in objects in the foreground, not in the background. Since we usually care more about the background, then the bokeh is smoother because of the spherical aberrations. Corrected or overcorrected lenses make the background bokeh harsh, like this one:

http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/reviewsamples/photos/2897503/f1-4_01img_5736?inalbum=sigma-50mm-f1-4-dg-hsm-art-canon-preview-samples

1 upvote
David Bourke

Not a single shot into the sun? It would be nice to see how lens lens handles flare.

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake

See the shots into the sun in the 'Flare' section of the review.

3 upvotes
chiane

Oops. Wanna get away?

1 upvote
igor_s

Low contrast at f/1.4 (not uncommon, though).

2 upvotes
ambercool

Why was the Summilux 50 f/1.4 left out?

1 upvote
coudet

They encountered trouble mounting Summilux-M on the 5D3. Wild guess, of course. ;)

18 upvotes
ambercool

Impressive answer. Well played... well played... :)

3 upvotes
quezra

Pft Summilux-M stands for Macro on Canon of course

1 upvote
photosen

Nice review, interesting lens; if Canon update theirs I'm afraid it would be hitting this price point.

0 upvotes
l_d_allan

IIRC, the upcoming Canon 50mm may have IS. To me, that will be a huge advantage over the Sigma Art and especially the manual focus Otus.

I'm really happy with my reasonably priced, reasonably sized, very sharp, quick focusing Canon EF 35mm f2 IS.

My speculation is that the price at introduction of an EF 50mm f??? IS would be relatively high, but settle down nicely within 6 months. That was the pattern with the 35mm f2 IS.

0 upvotes
JEROME NOLAS

Impressive!!!

1 upvote
Jogger

I prefer my 50 to be cheap, small, light weight and have good enough image quality.

4 upvotes
tkbslc

They have a handful of those already.

7 upvotes
fastlass

sounds like my first 3 husbands.

13 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer

Badda bing, fastlass! It may be an optical triumph but it's still a 50mm lens.

0 upvotes
photog4u

Scored 35 with Canon mount so I'm guessing 43ish on the D800E or a7R adapted to alpha mount...sweet. I just hope the new 24 1.4 is at least as good.

2 upvotes
coudet

"Large and heavy for a 50mm F1.4 prime"
"Relatively expensive for its class"

Well, they could have made it small and cheap if you were willing to accept optically poor lens. I'm not.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Wilight

"■Relatively expensive for its class". Really? Which class are you talking about? The little canikons with the same FL and maximum aperture? For me this one has nothing to do with that class. Although I'm not sure if I will buy this Sigma right now, I was afraid that this lens would have a higher price tag. So, in my opinion, the price couldn't be fairer. It's actually a little large and heavy, but still better than the (MF only) Otus in this regard. The only thing that really disappointed me is the lack of weather sealing.

4 upvotes
thinkfat

This appears to be a very positive review. At least it seems to me, because "positive" is positively used in every second or so sentence.

Regarding the lens, I'm genuinely positive.

4 upvotes
Andy Westlake

There are six instances of the word 'positive' in the review, and one of the word 'positively'. Sorry about that.

3 upvotes
Xentinus

Why sorry?If it is positive,then it is positive.

2 upvotes
thinkfat

Yes, but what is a "large, positive focus mode switch". And how does a grip provide "positive handling when changing lenses".

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake

@thinkfat: [http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/positive](http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/positive)

Comment edited 49 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Nordstjernen

I wonder if this lens is sharp enough for my web pictures ... :-D

7 upvotes
Xentinus

You had better look for Otus or Canon 1.2 :P

2 upvotes
nicolaiecostel

I didn't realize that the Canon 1.2 was a sharpness benchmark :))

7 upvotes
Xentinus

Oh my bad...Then you don't recommend Canon 1.2 for web photos and selfies,do you?

2 upvotes
neo_nights

Shooting on a FF at F8 clearly brings more detail to the overall picture. Just look at that boat!

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake

Unfortunately half of it has disappeared at F11.

4 upvotes
neo_nights

Talk about 'sweet spot'!

1 upvote
reginalddwight

Congratulations to Sigma for hitting another home run with this latest addition to the Art series.

For me, I cannot justify the price of the Zeiss Otus 55mm/1.4, which has superb optics reportedly matched or even surpassed by the Sigma 50mm/1.4.

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

5 upvotes
Miwok

Yea! $1000 for a fixed 50mm it's such a bargain! :)

2 upvotes
coudet

@Miwok - seems like a bargain of the century compared to, say, $1,000 Sony 55/1.8.

Good job, Sigma.

3 upvotes
The Lotus Eater

Coudet, I tend to find that those claiming the Sony FE 55/1.8 is overpriced have not actually used it.

2 upvotes
Miwok

I'm not a pro and didn't pretend to be one. I'm perfectly happy with my $120 Sony f1.8

2 upvotes
steelhead3

For bargains, how about the Sony 50mm 1,4 ZA at $1500.

0 upvotes
RuneStenseth

Would it not be better to test those kind of lenses on a Nikon D800e rather than a 22mp Canon? More resolution, dynamic range and no diffusor in front of the bayer array?

2 upvotes
Andy Westlake

In principle it's always best to test lenses on higher resolution sensors (note though that DR is pretty much irrelevant). However Sigma has a habit of releasing Canon mount versions of its lenses a month or two before the Nikon version, so naturally they get tested first. We usually add Nikon test data when it becomes available.

9 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

Andy Westlake:

Why would better, or worse, DR be nearly irrelevant in lens testing?

0 upvotes
coudet

I'd rather see a test on Pentax Q.

4 upvotes
Andy Westlake

@HowaboutRAW: The comment I answered was about our originally-published short 'Lab Test Review' of the 50mm F1.4, which was based purely on DxOMark's data. None of the studio tests they conduct on lenses stress the available DR of any current camera.

Comment edited 26 seconds after posting
1 upvote
HowaboutRAW

Andy Westlake:

Okay, it's referring to DXO's methods not the reasons one would indeed look at how well a lens works with the DR available to the camera's sensor.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Andy Westlake

@HowaboutRAW: Yes, that's correct.

0 upvotes
The Lotus Eater

With regards to Sigma releasing Nikon mount versions for testing, I wonder if Sigma are worried that it is not as much as an Otus killer as has been hyped.

The Sony Zeiss FE 55/1.8 is incredibly sharp, and results were off the charts when tested on the A7R. I wonder if the Sigma can even compete with that lens, never mind the Otus.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW

The Lotus Eater:

Stopped down a bit the SonyZeiss 55 is sharp. But sharpness is not the only quality one looks for in optically excellent lenses.

Also Sony undermines itself by compressing A7r raws. (Of course that applies to any lens mounted.)

Comment edited 20 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Andy Westlake

@The Otus Eater: Historically Sigma release Nikon mount lenses for testing just as soon as they start shipping them to customers. The Nikon version has just started to go on sale in Japan, so hopefully DxOMark will get one in shortly for testing.

However, I see nothing in the current test data (or indeed the real-world images) to suggest that the Sigma will have any trouble at all keeping up with the FE 55mm F1.8, or indeed the Otus.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
The Lotus Eater

Sharpness is of course not the only important quality, but the FE 55 is no slouch in other areas either.

0 upvotes
The Lotus Eater

"@The Otus Eater"

I see what you did there.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

The Lotus Eater,

Right, and Sony would probably sell more if A7/r/s? raws weren't auto-compressed. And Sony has an A7 shutter noise problem.

Comment edited 22 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
The Lotus Eater

Well I haven't personally seen any problems with the RAWs in real world shooting, so I'm not sure how much that alone will be impacting sales.

What A7 shutter noise problem are you referring to? The A7R has apparent issues with shutter shock in certain conditions and circumstances, but the A7 is unaffected as it has electronic first curtain.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

TLE:

The A7 (various) are incredibly loud--like Nikon D3s loud.

The color is not great, even shooting raw with good lenses. This is where less raw compression could help Sony.

0 upvotes
The Lotus Eater

They're not really that loud. The A7R has a double shutter sound, which may add to the overall volume, but I find the A7 quite satisfying actually.

Got any links showing this "not great" colour?

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

TLE:

It makes the A7r+A7 unusable in many situations.

I have my raws showing the not great color.

0 upvotes
The Lotus Eater

I've never been unable to use my A7 - perhaps you photograph libraries?

You'd think the net would be awash with evidence of the poor colour reproduction of the A7(R), but I just can't find it.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

The Lotus,

Depends on the situation, live unamplified music in a small space is an obvious place loud shutters are a problem, film and TV sets also.

It's not color reproduction that's the problem, it's a bit more than that.

0 upvotes
The Lotus Eater

That would be a problem with many FF cameras on the market.

Perhaps you can elaborate on the "bit more than that".

0 upvotes
JDThomas

@HowaboutRAW: If you're working on film or TV sets you should be using a blimp.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

JDThomas:

Blimps are next to impossible to use with MF lenses.

Note “live music” event.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

The Lotus Eater:

There are much quieter full framed bodies, like the Canon 6D, Nikon Df or Nikon D4s. Or a D700.

0 upvotes
JDThomas

@HowaboutRAW: Well, if you're hired to to photograph stills for film or TV (as I have been) Then use the right tools for the job. A DSLR camera with a blimp and an AF lens.

Re: "live music" event: I'm professional live music photographer. The Df has one of the quietest shutters of any camera I've ever worked with. I shoot quiet acoustic gigs at the Austin Gibson Guitar Showroom at least 3 times a month. Never a complaint.

Again, the right tools for the job. If you're a pro you know you can't do it all with one camera.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

JDThomas:

"live music" um, reread what I wrote: I was talking very clearly about the loud shutter on the D3s + A7. I noted the quieter shutters, including the Df's.

Then: Must one use an AF lens of a film set? See the problem?

The A7 and A7r remain too loud for use in many, not all, situations: That's the entirety of the point The Lotus Eater tried to argue with.

0 upvotes
JDThomas

Sorry, there pal. I thought the reply about the quieter shutters was from the other dude.

Anyway, continue with your arguing...

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
0 upvotes
flyto9

It might be a dump question to ask. Should I get 50mm or 32mm? I tried 50mm (Fullframe) and 40mm (20mm m43). Whenever I see a picture and want to capture it. 50mm seems to be a bit limited that I need to step back to capture the picture. It might be that I was used to my 20mm m43? I personally also whan to get the 85mm for good portrait. So would the 32mm be more appropriate in this case?

The 50mm art seems to have a better review than the 32mm art. Is it that much better? optically? IP? Bokeh?

thanks

0 upvotes
WetCoast

Get the 35mm Art.

1 upvote
ageha

There is no 32mm Art obviously.

1 upvote
flyto9

My mistake. I meant 35mm Art. lol. The 50mm seems to be optically superior!!! I think I'll get the 50mm and try to get used to it. lol

1 upvote
lovepeacewar

I own this lens and I love it. Normally I would not have considered Sigma (I'm a Canon L fangirl), but a co-worker of mine suggested I give them a second look. Glad I did, as this saved me about $800 or so as I was about to go out a buy a new 50mm f1.2 L. Reviews like this are what sold me on going for a Sigma.

3 upvotes
stevo23

Keep at it Sigma! Of course one has to appreciate the performance to justify the cost.

2 upvotes
gbdz

Nearly a thousand dollars for a 'normal' lens that weighs over 0.8 kilos.
People absolutely want it...I'll bet that there will be quite a few of these marvels on eBay pretty soon.

3 upvotes
Scottelly

It looks a lot bigger than the Canon, but it is only about 1/3 more weight. I think people will be happy to pay less than $1,000 for a lens that's sharper than the Canon and in almost all other respects (except size and weight) as good or better. I have no doubt that people will keep their Sigma 50mm f1.4 A lenses, and protect them like first-born children.

3 upvotes
badi

"a lens that's sharper than the Canon and in almost all other respects (except size and weight) as good or better"

It is a great lens, but it's direct competitor is actually the ottus.
And the only way it is better that the other great ~50 lenses is the sharpness. The canon 1.2 is all about bokeh, same the new nikon 58/1.4.

Always there will be photographers that prefer nice bokeh and photographers that prefer sharpness. And their money will go with their preference.

4 upvotes
lovepeacewar

Are you kidding me? This lens blows the competition out of the water! Like someone else just mentioned, its direct competition is the zeiss otus.

1 upvote
dynaxx

.... apart from the ( untested ) Sony Zeiss Planar 50mm F1.4 ( about US$500 more though ) which Andy said might be better .

0 upvotes
Total comments: 567
1234