Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM review
The 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM is the latest design from independent lens maker Sigma, announced in March 2008. It's a rare example of what is rapidly becoming an endangered species; an all-new, large maximum aperture, fixed focal length 'prime' lens, and (like Sigma's 30mm F1.4 DC before it) a hugely welcome addition to a market in danger of becoming saturated by identikit slow zooms. The 50mm focal length makes it a classic 'standard' lens for 35mm full-frame cameras, while on DSLRs with smaller format sensors it acts as a short 'portrait' telephoto, with an equivalent angle of view ranging from 75mm (on 1.5x 'DX' format) to 100mm (on Four Thirds DLSRs). The fast maximum aperture offers several key advantages over zooms, including the ability to isolate a subject by selectively blurring the background, the option to shoot in low light whilst maintaining reasonably high shutter speeds (ideal for indoor photography without flash), and the provision of a bright viewfinder image for composition.
Of course all of the major camera manufacturers market their own well-established fast 50mm primes, so at first sight this new release may appear puzzling. But Sigma has included a number of features which distinguish this lens from those older designs, including an aspheric element for superior correction of aberrations, an oversized barrel design to reduce vignetting at wide apertures, a rounded diaphragm for attractive background blur, and 'super multi-layer' coating for reduced flare and ghosting. But perhaps of most interest is the ring-type ultrasonic motor for fast and precise autofocus with full-time manual override, here making its debut appearance on a 50mm F1.4 lens. This has the benefit of providing autofocus to owners of Nikon's entry-level D40(x)/D60 bodies for the first time on a 50mm prime; however it unfortunately comes at a cost to users of older Pentax DSLRs, as the effective 'KAF-3' lens mount specification means AF won't work on models which don't support SSM.
The Sigma 50mm F1.4 has arrived to undoubted excitement and anticipation; as the first new, reasonably affordable fast 50mm lens for many years, it has the potential to redefine the quality obtainable in this popular class of lens through the use of modern optical design and manufacturing techniques. But it also currently commands a hefty price premium; the Sigma is considerably more expensive than any of the camera manufacturers' own 50mm F1.4 primes. So the obvious question is whether the optical quality can justify that additional outlay of your hard-earned cash; let's find out.
- 50mm focal length; fast F1.4 maximum aperture
- HSM (ultrasonic type) autofocus with full-time manual override
- To be available in Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sigma, Sony and Four Thirds mounts
Angle of view
The pictures below illustrate the angles of view on 35mm full frame and APS-C (1.6x crop) camera bodies. Our observations indicate that the focal length is noticeably shorter than the specified 50mm (probably closer to 47mm):
|50mm (35mm full-frame)||50mm (APS-C; 80mm equivalent)|
Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM specifications
|Street price||• $500 (US)
• £329 (UK)
|Date introduced||March 2008|
|Maximum format size||35mm full frame|
|35mm equivalent focal length
|Diagonal Angle of view (FF)||47º|
|Diagonal Angle of view (APS-C)||31º|
|Lens Construction||• 8 elements / 6 groups
• 1 Aspherical element
|Number of diaphragm blades||9 (rounded)|
|Minimum focus||0.45m (1.5 ft)|
|AF motor type||• Ring-type ultrasonic
• Full-time manual focus
|Focus method||Unit focus, internal to lens barrel|
|Image stabilization||• None|
|Filter thread||• 77mm
• Does not rotate on focus
|Supplied accessories||• Front and rear caps
• Lens Hood
• Soft Case
|Weight||505g (17.8 oz)|
|Dimensions||84.5mm diameter x 68.2mm length
(3.3 x 2.7 in)
|Lens Mount||Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sigma, Sony, Four Thirds|
* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area
Aug 18, 2008
Mar 18, 2008
Aug 17, 2011
Aug 17, 2011
|_MG_5100 by tim and jan|
from Welcome to the Saloon!
|The Grimm 11 year old by Ryan Gardner|
from Trick or Treat
|Heron with fish by APenza|
from A Big Year - birds
See some of the most iconic black-and-white photographs throughout history brought to life by a community of colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers in the new book Retrographic.
Shopping for a photographer? Whether you are one yourself or not, chances are you could use some ideas. From stocking stuffers on up, we've got some photography gift suggestions for every budget.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Drum roll please... the #6 spot belongs to none other than the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DH HSM Art.
Read the story behind this gorgeous wedding photo captured at Trolltunga in Norway by husband and wife duo Priscila Valentina Photography. The 14 hour hike in the rain that preceded this shot was TOTALLY worth it.
Go behind the scenes with filmmaker Nick Arcivos, who recently created a beautiful cinematic short film in Paris using only the iPhone X, a couple of gimbals, and a few lights. The results are very impressive.
A Bay Area startup offering a pay-by-the-photo camera service cleverly addresses the pain points photographers experience when they pick up their first DSLR. But can it survive the smartphone?
It's been a big year for software innovations, dual cameras and huge displays. Take a look at our picks for the top smartphone cameras and why we think they stand out.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #7 spot is the ready-for-any-weather Olympus Tough TG-5.
By combining his skills as a time-lapse filmmaker and an engineer, Julian Tryba created this out-of-this-world creative 'layer-lapse' of New York City that alternates between night and day in time with the music.
Canon Japan's new lineup of novelty camera-themed gifts was just revealed online, including a lens mug and lens thermos, two retro camera-themed USB drives, and a picnic mat.
The Profoto A1 most certainly isn’t for everyone [...] But for those who are used to using the Profoto systems, and want something that pairs seamlessly with the strobes you already have, there is no better companion.
Fujifilm has asked a US district court to clear it of any wrongdoing, after allegedly being threatened with trademark litigation by Polaroid.
While a couple of our reviewers are out testing the Sony a7R III in Arizona, back in Seattle we slapped the camera in front of our studio scene to get a close look at its image quality. See how it stacks up against the competition.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #8 ranking belongs to the Nikon D7500.
B+W has announced a new aluminum filter holder that offers three slots so users can use multiple filters at the same time. The holder goes with the 2mm thick 100mm square filters it launched earlier this year.
8K video is coming a lot faster than you think, and Blackmagic is ready for it. Meet the DeckLink 8K Pro, a new high performance PCI-E capture and playback card built to handle 'real time high resolution 8K workflows.'
"Glass is everywhere in photography. From Eugène Atget’s reflective vitrines to Lee Friedlander’s sly self-portraiture, photographers have long been in thrall to the visual complications glass can inject into a composition."
Former Apple Aperture lead developer Nik Bhatt has designed an iOS app called RAW Power that lets you edit raw photos from your professional camera using your phone and tablet.... color us intrigued.
Advertising photographer Blair Bunting got his hands on the new Microsoft Surface Book 2, and it blew him away. Bye bye MacBook Pro...
The OnePlus 5T retains many of the 5's features and specs, but comes with an edge-to-edge display and a dual-camera that is optimized for low light.
Sony's recently announced IMX461 backside illuminated medium format sensor will bring 100MP resolution and almost 2x the speed to the next-gen Fuji GFX and Hasselblad X1D.
With the ‘Rent a Hasselblad’ camera equipment renting program, the camera makers is aiming to give enthusiast and professional photographers easier access to its medium-format photography products.
They say seeing is believing, and that's exactly what happened when one DPR staffer took the Google Pixel 2 out for an afternoon shooting under challenging conditions.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #9 spot we have the Fujifilm GFX 50S, a medium-format camera that took CP+ 2017 by storm.
Instagram is testing a new feature that lets you follow hashtags in addition to people, making it possible to keep track of your favorite #landscapes or #portraits without leaving your home feed.
Despite the gigantic volume of second hand film bodies in existence, it seems there is still a demand for new 35mm SLRs with a retro feel. The latest is a remake of the Ihagee Elbaflex from the 1960s, but with a Nikon F mount.
The Polaroid Insta-Share Moto Mod straps an instant printer directly to your Moto Z smartphone, so you can print your photos as soon as you've captured them.
The Mitakon Speedmaster 135mm F1.4 lens is being relaunched in 7 different mounts, including: Sony A, Sony E, Canon EF, Nikon F, Fujifilm G, Pentax K, and Leica L. Got an extra three grand lying around?
In January, Kodak announced it would bring back the beloved slide film Ektachrome. The timeline has been pushed back a bit, but Kodak says you can expect to purchase Ektachrome again in 2018.
Instagram popularity is threatening some of the most beautiful landscapes in the US, as hordes of 'nature lovers' trample over the same spots over and over again in search of the same exact shot.