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