on January 19, 2011
Prior to ordering this lens, I probably spent more time reading owner reviews than I have for any other lens I own. At the time of my order, I think Amazon listed some 85 customer reviews of this lens. It was hard to arrive at a conclusion. Image quality was generally not a point to be disputed. In fact the majority of owners had nothing but good to say about this lens. But, some complained of issues related to a failure to auto-focus when shooting at or near wide open aperture settings especially shooting close-ups in subdued light. I wondered why so many were pleased while others had focus problems. And, while what I have to say should not be construed to be conclusive (perhaps there are some bad copies that slipped through the QC department at Sigma)I wanted to share with others my experience with this lens and what I did to fix my focus problem. Obviously, I purchased one.....
A lens like this is generally purchased with one or both of the following in mind. Either for portrait work or for low light shots. Therefore, it is near essential that the auto-focus be spot on. No auto-focus lens is perfect in that it is impossible to be on the dot 100% of the time, but if the majority of your shots are not keepers, there is a problem to be reckoned with. You could rely on manual focus (I do sometimes where a shot is critical, I won't trust auto-focus alone)but you paid for auto-focus and you obviously laid out the cash for a reason.
When my lens arrived, I went to work shooting test shots to see how auto-focus worked at these wide open settings. Sure enough, many shots were blurred. I tried manual focus, no problem, most of the shots were sharp. I sat down and thought about it for a while and it occurred to me that the camera was set to use multiple point auto-focus. I thought some more and realized that I had not really paid attention to what point/points were locking in. I reset the camera to a single (the center) focus point. At wide open (f/1.4) I shot close-ups of my wife (close enough that her face filled the frame) placing the single center point on her forehead. Wahlah.......perfect focus. Multiple test shots produced like results.
I am wondering if others have made the same oversight as I did. With focus being so critical at these settings and distances, it is imperative that as much margin for error as possible be removed. I knew that when shooting with apertures wider that f/2.8, a single focus point should be used. I am wondering if others may have made this same oversight??? I can't recall reading any remarks concerning this. In any event, if you have a Sigma 50mm f/1.4 and you have had focus problems, give it a try if you haven't tried it already.
I must say that I am pleased with this lens now that I have resolved the focus problem. It is sharp as a tack and is quickly becoming one of my favorites. It is a great value when compared to it's competitors besides being a beautiful lens to look at with all that big glass.......
on November 23, 2008
I'm a primary Canon user. I owned before the canon 50 mm 1.4, a trully excellent lens for the money too. But not to sharp wide open. You have to stop down at least to f2 in order to get good contrast and saturation. Also, the focusing ring was bad in my opinion.
In the other hand, the 50L 1.2 was a big dissapointment to me.I expected the same image quality as the 35L or the 85L for that price.
When I received the Sigma lens I really love it at once. The construction was amazing, solid as a tank, and the ring is very smooth.
What have really impressed me was the performance wide open. Images are clear as crystal with good color and rendition.
on July 4, 2009
This review is three pages long. The first section which is 1 page in length does not cover this lens in particular but rather goes into lens basics such as primes vs. zooms and benefits of wide aperture. The second section reviews this lens in detail. Experienced photographers can skip straight to the second setion starting from BUILD QUALITY.
YES ITS BETTER THAN CANON'S 50MM F1.4 LENS!
Out the box this lens is impressive. Better yet on camera it's more impressive. The lens hosts some of the best performance features and specs any normal lens can offer including razor sharp images (at par with Canon's best lenses), fast and accurate focus, and breath taking Bokeh (blur) quality. All of this comes enclosed in a very solid body bundled with essential accessories all for under half a grand. For me this is value 101. But before getting into details lets answer the question why buy a prime lens like this Sigma?
There are two main unique benefits to this lens A) it's a prime B) it offers a wide maximum aperture.
Primes come in fixed focal lengths, making it essential to physically move back and forth to reduce and enlarge the frame coverage respectively. Zoom lenses on the other hand can reduce or enlarge the frame coverage with a twist of a ring. Traditionally, the main advantage of primes is that they are lighter, smaller, sharper, control distortion better, and come in wider maximum aperture. With the advent of better zoom lenses those advantages have eroded. New zoom lenses are as sharp and control distortion as well as primes. Size and weight, however, remain a prime advantage. That being said most photographers are more than willing to overlook this aspect for the convenience of having multiple focal lengths in one zoom lens.
The last advantage in the list, wide maximum aperture, remains prime territory and has so far remained off limits to zooms. The maximum aperture for 35mm compatible zoom lenses is f2.8. That's 2 stops narrower (slower) than Sigma's f1.4 aperture. (Side note: some zoom lenses have wider aperture including Olympus ED 35-100mm f2.0. Before you get excited, however, this lens is made for the Olympus much smaller four thirds sensor cameras. The four thirds system has its own short comings and the lenses are not compatible with 35mm cameras.)
The advantage of wide aperture is that it increases exposure speed. Hence, opening the lens wider by one stop increases shutter speed by double (up from 1/100 to 1/200 for example), which better freezes action and reduces the effects of camera shake on the final image. The second main advantage is that wider aperture reduces depth of field or focus range. In portrait photography that creates a beautiful separation in the form of blurred details between the subject and background.
There are additional minor, but still great, advantages to wider aperture. Since lenses stay open at their maximum aperture, a larger opening allows more light to reach the camera focus sensor and the view finder. The result is faster and more accurate focusing and much brighter viewfinder.
Keep in mind you are looking at a normal field of view lens made for 35mm cameras. On a 1.6 crop factor camera such as the Canon 40D, 500D, Rebel XTI, etc the field of view is like 85mm (50x1.6) on FF cameras. Standing 6-7 feet in front of a subject with this lens on a 1.6 crop factor camera held horizontally covers the top quarter of the body (chest up to head). Using this lens on a FF or 35mm sensor size camera at the same distance and orientation covers well over half the body. On a 1.6 form factor camera the field of view this lens offers is perfect for window lit portraits. On a FF camera the field of view this lens offers is perfect for environmental (portraits that include the environment around the subject) and office portraits.
The build and size of this lens conveys quality. One thing that I didn't like was the lens surface which is covered with Sigma's mat finish. I don't like the finish but it's certainly better than plastic. I read that the finish gradually peels off and in a year's time can leave a mess behind. None of that happened to my one month old lens, but time will tell whether this is a common problem or not. I just wish Sigma didn't use this finish, but I guess the matte finish provides a better grip surface over bare plastic/metal.
WEIGHT AND SIZE
The lens is mostly made of metal withonly the outer shell made in high quality and solid plastic, making it far superior to Canon's 50mm 1.4 mostly plastic body. That being said, all that metal comes at a price; it's not cost its weight. The Sigma weights about 1LBS (500g, 16oz), where as the Canon weights (290g, 10oz). For me the weight is just fine but some might find the weight a little objectionable. Size wise the Sigma is about the size of the Canon 85mm f1.8 (about 2.7"). I find this size/weight combination perfect for balancing my camera. Especially so for countering the force required to press the shutter release button. In comparison the Canon 50mm is about 2" which I find a bit short to hold while mounted to the camera (I have long hands).
The lens comes with a hood and protective pouch. Since those two items not included with the Canon you need factor their cost when comparing both lenses. My guess is that Canon's equivalent accessories cost minimum $50. Hence, you might want to factor that cost when comparing both lenses. The hood mount design is much easier to use than Canon's hood mount. Though, the locking click feels a bit too soft, I fear it might wear out over time.
Since I do not own the Canon 50mm f1.4 I will compare this lens to Canon's 85mm f1.8 lens. I have owned and used that lens for over three years and find its performance amazing. In fact, by most accounts the 85mm lens out performs the 50mm and is also considered one of Canon's best lenses. Hence this will set the bar high for Sigma. Take note that I also have extensive experience with the 50mm through in store tests and lots of online research.
SHARPNESS AND DISTORTION
Since the Sigma features and specifications read like a dream list, I had high expectations for this lens. I can gladly confirm that the lens delivers to my expectations. Sharpness is at par with the 85mm f1.8, which is a big statement since the 85mm is one canons sharpest lenses. Chromatic and flare distortion are well controlled in the Sigma, outperforming Canon's 85mm in both areas by a good margin. Vignetting also seems very well controlled and better than Canon 85mm. I would rate the Sigma as excellent in all of the above areas.
From the onset focus accuracy was recognized as the weak spot of this lens. Therefore, I observed the focus performance of this lens very closely. I never encountered any of the reported focus problems. It seems the first few production batches had some issues. Judging from my lens, which is a later production model, the problem was ironed out. Testing the focus using F1.4 aperture I encountered no front or back focus problems. The lens quickly focuses on the selected focus point. The speed is impressive and it seems to be at par with my Canon 85mm. Throughout my in store tests the Canon 50mm f1.4 focused slower than the 85mm and was a little noisy. Therefore, I can confirm that the Sigma focus will be quicker and quieter than Canon 50mm f1.4.
The final feature, and perhaps most important in this lens, is the boken (blur quality). I researched this matter extensively online and came to the conclusion that Sigma's blur pattern is superior to Canon's 50mm f1.4. My practical experience with this lens confirms this. The lens produces the most beautiful blur among all of my other Canon lenses. The bokeh seems more uniform and stronger in effect, almost a dreamy(r) effect. Perhaps this is due to the lens aperture design which includes 9 blades vs. Canon's 8 blades.
My only quibble, is that the lens aperture only goes up to f16 which is really not an issue because I didn't buy this lens for landscape, but this can be limiting when I am doing food photography. Depending on the setting f16 isn't always enough to bring the content of the dish into full focus. On the plus side the lens wide aperture (1.4) makes the viewfinder much brighter for easier manual focusing.
For the price and performance this lens is truly a dream come true for natural portrait photographers. The lens can be opened to its widest aperture to isolate the subject with shallow depth of field. This also provides faster shutter speeds which reduces camera shake effects on the final image.
For landscape photographers keep in mind that since this lens aperture starts at f1.4, it achieves best sharpness between f2.8-f4.0 (around 2-3 f stops above maximum aperture). Below that range the lens sharpness will start to degrade. Thus, if you intend to use this lens for fine art/large print landscape photography you might want to test it against another lens with a lower maximum aperture such as f2.8. At f2.8 a typical lens will achieve best sharpness around f5.6-f8.0. That's the range most photographers start with to capture landscape scenes in full detail. This lens sharpness will start to degrade well before that.
Last but least, the minimum focus range with this lens is 45cm or 17" half the required distance by Canon 85mm lens. The Canon 50mm also offers 45cm minimum focus distance. I find this feature very useful when photographing small things like newborn kittens for example. It allows me to get much closer and fill the frame with the object/subject while still maintaining focus.
on August 13, 2008
In a world of zooms, many people would find plopping down $500 for a 50mm prime -- from a third party manufacturer, no less -- to be a bit absurd.
However, if you are a "prime person" -- and you know who you are -- you'll love the performance of this lens: super sharp photos, incredibly creamy background bokeh, nice contrast and flare resistance, and operation in low-light without needing super-high ISO or a blast of flash.
+ @1.4 it's quite usably sharp
+ @1.8 and beyond, it's very sharp
+ the bokeh (rendition of out-of-focus areas) is really amazingly smooth. More so behind the DOF than in front, though
+ colors, contrast, etc, all excellent
+ great build quality, solid feel, free case and lens hood
- big filters (77mm)
Canon already has three 50mm lenses: the 1.8, 1.4, and 1.2L, so you might wonder why Sigma felt the need to jump into this market. The Canon's are all pretty good, with the 50/1.8 being an great value at $80, the 50/1.4 being a reliable workhorse (though prone to a dreamy look wide open), and the 1.2L, being, well, $1500. This lens is priced between the 1.4 and 1.2L, and judging from photos I've seen, it probably performs in that range as well. So it is filling an niche in the wide gulf between the 1.4 and 1.2L.
On my camera, a 400D, a 50mm is like a short tele, and I use it mostly for relatively close up photos of people. I like that when if upgrade to FF, I'll be able to continue to use this lens (and I'll sell my Sigma 30/1.4) whose place it would take.
The lens has not been out very long, and, to my knowledge, no formal reviews have been published (8/2008), but the general "buzz" is that people are seeing AF problems at distances beyond a few meters subject distance.
I personally have not done exhaustive analysis, but I feel my copy performs quite well. Then again, I don't use this lens for far-off subjects very much, and almost never wide open in that case. So there may indeed be problems with this regime, but I don't feel it affects my photography much. That said, it could be that I'm just not as exacting as some, or my camera's AF is sloppy enough to hide lens variation to begin with. However, I do pixel peep a lot and I get about the same hit/miss rate as I do with other lenses I own.
So far, I'm a happy customer.
on December 21, 2008
This is one of the best portrait lenses I have ever used.
I had originally bought the new Nikon AF-S version of this lens. While it was nice, I really had a problem with the way small bright lights looked in it's bokeh. After using the Sigma version once I sold my Nikon and never looked back.
First, the bad:
At F/1.4 this lens is slightly softer than the Nikon version. Unless you're printing poster sized prints and then standing a foot from them you will not notice. At about F4-F5.6 its razor sharp.
Quality control...Sigma has a poor reputation in this department. Unlike their other lenses I have yet to see reports of this lens having the same issues, but you never know.
Weight...it weighs a fair amount, and a little bit more than the Nikon version. Both are heavy however, and if you're used to using a lens of this quality you won't notice.
Now, the good:
The Build Quality is superb. I'd have no regrets with shooting in the rain, snow, or desert.
Bokeh...Wow. The first word that comes to mind whenever I take a picture with this lens is "Creamy". It truly has some of the finest bokeh I've ever seen. When taking portraits you want nothing to distract the viewer from the face of the model; this lens does just that. It turns the background into a beautifully soft collage.
When comparing the bokeh of the Nikon and Sigma lens it is really clear who the winner is. The Nikon is just SO harsh with lights (especially Christmas style) it really distracts the viewer.
Bokeh is the reason most people buy F/1.4 lenses these days, don't waste your money on the inferior Nikon.
on July 2, 2009
This lens, apart from the price, is exactly what I wanted! I could not be happier.
-This lens was paired with my Canon Rebel XTi/400D. As such, this review is based on my experience with the lens on the rebel. If you would like to see some of its capabilities you may visit my Flickr page: [...]
I'll start off with the pro/con itemization first:
- Very, very sharp - even at f/1.4! Much more so than the Canon f/1.4. It's comparable to Canon's f/1.2 "L" series, and may be arguably sharper. It's definitely sharper at anything above f/1.8.
- Color rendition is spot-on. It doesn't lie to you. If it's a somewhat gloomy picture, ie, lots of gray, that's how it's going to come out. If you shoot in RAW (which you do if you are looking at this lens) you can always boost the color if you don't like it. Personally, I'd rather have accurate color than exaggerated color.
- It's HEAVY! Yes! That is a PRO in my book. Honestly, I don't understand why people list the weight as being a con! For me, it was a relief to feel how heavy and robust it actually was. Words cannot explain the feeling you get, if you're like me, when you first take it out of the box. Personally, I felt like I was holding a gold brick.
- The "HSM" works very well. AF is fast, accurate, and always spot on. The only time I've ever seen it "seeking" is either in very very low light or where I cannot keep the AF point on the subject (shaky hands), ie, one blade of grass, a stick, small leaf, etc.. That's user error. Maybe I got lucky, or maybe people just like to write bad reviews, I 'dunno! No focus issues here.
- Bokeh. This lens completely nukes anything that's more than a few inches out of the DoF at f/1.4. It's creamy, as others have said, and it's not distracting like some of Canon's stuff. Canon's 50mm f/1.8 creates harsh, blown out pentagons. Not pleasant.
- Accessories. If you're trying to decide between this Sigma and the equivalent Canon f/1.4, and the price is the deciding factor, forget it. You get a very nice, belt-looped case with ample padding and a place holder. You also get a "flower petal" style lens hood that would easily run you 50 bucks if you bought it from Canon. The accessories you get, along with nicer (in my opinion) pictures, cancel out the price difference.
- Filters. Yes, yes, the filters are huge and pricey. It's not really a con so much as something you should "know about". A good M/C CPL is going to run you between 80 and 100 bucks. Can't stomach that? Buy a different lens. Simple as that.
- A tad slow? I've been testing it against the 18-55mm EF-S lens, the 'kit lens', and as far as I can tell, the kit lens is a little faster at f/5.6 and 50mm. Maybe it's just because the kit lens is so cheaply made it lets in more light through spaces and whatnot.
- (maybe) AF speed changes? If I put the lens cap on, the lens will sometimes move at a decent speed through the range and then go 2x faster back to infinity. I really don't know if this is normal or not, it may or may not be. I'll list this as a "maybe" con. Either way, it's still very, very fast.
-[...]Yes, it cost me more than the entire camera package. It is very expensive, it's also very much worth it. If you can't shell out the big money for this lens, get yourself a Canon f/1.8. It's worth a lot more than 80 bucks, but it's not as great as this Sigma.
In conclusion, I'd like to point out that if you do purchase this lens, and you do get a bad copy, you can/SHOULD send it to Sigma and have them recalibrate it. If you send it back to Amazon for another one, you're likely to have the same problem and it's also likely to take the same amount of time.
If the name alone is steering you away, don't let it! It's a great lens, honestly, truly.
on October 16, 2012
Received the lens yesterday morning. I opened it and was very impressed with the build quality of the lens itself... It is very solid and "heavy". The quality of the lens build is very nice. Comes with a very nice case to store it in as well.
Exception to this is the REAR Lens cap and Lens hood are "cheap". They don't seem to fit very well. Lens hood seems like it was just made as an after thought and does not match the build quality at all. I compare the hood to the quality you would expect from a Happy Meal toy type of plastic. Not nearly has high quality as the Canon hoods. Same goes for the rear cap.
Let me point out that their are 2 series of this lens. Older models since 2008 when this was released. These have what appears to be a "crackled" appearance on the shell.... and the new ones that are smooth flat black. I was sent a new series model.... which I was hoping would preclude me from the Focusing problems this lens has demonstrated on the Canon Mount version. Sadly it did not.
I mounted it on my 5D Mark 3 and then I spent about 4 hours trying to calibrate the lens with my Lens Align Mark-2 tool. I calibrated back and forth to both extremes of Micro Adjustments. I went a full 20 points back focus, and a full 20 point front focus. Just to adjust through the paces of the camera to make sure I was doing it properly and it was working as expected. I was able to see as I moved that the focus point was moving properly from -20 to 0 to +20. So the Micro AF Adjustments were doing as they should.
The problem is that even when I went the full extreme to compensate for a pretty severe front focus... I couldn't go far enough to get it right. I probably need a good 5-10 more AF Microadjustment points to get it right. That means a full 20-30 points off!
Some might say "did you try this?" or "you don't know what you are doing, shooting with primes is different". Trust me, I know what I am doing. I had mirror locked up, single focus point, wireless shutter trigger, well lighted calibration tool, tri-pod mounts, ISO 100, etc... etc.... It was still focusing about a CM forward of my target.
Now 1cm forward focus might not seem like a lot... but when you are shooting at f/1.4 your Depth of Field is super tight. To give some perspective, this would mean if I was focusing on an Eyeball, the tip of the nose would be tack sharp, and the eyeball out of focus. That just doesn't work for me.
Just use "Manual Focus!!" ya ya ya. But I paid a lot for my fancy camera with 61 points of Autofocus.... not gonna turn that off... and I paid a lot for this lens... $150 more than the Canon equivalent.
I am really disappointed that it didn't work out. I was hoping the Sigma would be better for managing the soft focus because of having a much larger front element. I have to admit the Bokeh was very creamy and beautifully smooth... but sadly that was happening to the areas I wanted to be IN-Focus....
So I packed it up and shipped it back to Amazon for a refund.
on January 21, 2009
After avidly reading all the good and bad about this lens, and seeing in the FM forum that late models performed better, I ordered one at $439, fully prepared to return it if it wasn't good (not being a huge fan of Sigma), but wanting to like it because 50 is my favorite FL. Rented also Canon 50L, and have the 1.4 and 1.8 Canon 50's too, I tested some and the Sigma is awesome! I was shocked, the images were more like those from the excellent EF 85 1.8, SHARP wide open and only getting better stopped down, beautiful color and contrast and the bokeh was almost indistinguishable from the 50L. I showed the images around some and to a person the Sigma's images were picked as the nicest, the 50L included (granted it was a rental copy). Impressive as all get out.
I've already sold my EF 50 1.4 and will probably sell the 1.8 and maybe my 35L too. The focus ring isn't silky like the L's, but as for IQ this copy of the Sigma 50 I have is a real sleeper, I can see it's going to be my favorite walk-around. And the fitted padded case is a great touch, these days you don't get that with an $1800 Canon 85L.
My opinion of Sigma has forever changed, this is a fine lens at a killer price, all things considered.
on July 9, 2009
Having read multiple reviews from every web site I could find on the most bang for your buck 50mm for canon, I made the leap of faith and purchased this lens at the local shop.
This was not one that had been sitting around, because they had just gotten in a new shipment. I had read about the focus problems with this lens when it first shipped, but I was under the impression from most reviewers that this issue had been resolved.
In my case, this was not true. I shoot with a Canon 40D. I am no professional, but understand my camera well, and took photography in college so the shallow depth of field idea is not new to me. Despite my every effort to get this lens on target, it appeared to be focusing about 4 inches in front of my subject (brand new baby boy)at a distance of 3 to 5 feet at 1.4 to 2.8 (stopped down was fine I think because the depth of field was such that I was able to get beyond the 4 inch near focus issue). In the 5 days that I had the lens, I took in excess of 100 shots and few if any were sharp where my spot focus was placed.
I tried very hard to like the lens, debating whether to take it back, or live with the results at wide open (1.4 to 4). In the end I decided it was not worth the frustation.
Two days ago I returned the lens to the local shop (1.5 hours round trip...I guess not so local) and picked up the canon 50mm 1.4. Geez, it wasn't in my head, the Sigma lens really was off that far. When I got the Canon 50mm 1.4 home, I promptly began to shoot my baby in the same manner as I had before, and bingo, all the pictures where focused where they were supposed to be focused.
Some have commented, and the professional review sites (dpreview etc...) in particular have noted that the Sigma outperforms the Canon 50mm 1.4 wide open "the Canon is a little soft..." etc, but I will take "a little soft" in focus versus tack sharp in the wrong place. I was praying for a "good copy" of the lens, but apparently Sigma is still producing some bad apples. In comparing the two lens', the color rendition from the Canon to my eyes appeared more vivid, with the Sigma having a colder, blueish tone.
The only positive I could come up with is that it does have a more solid feel, versus the Canon.
Sigma should not send $500 dollar lenses out the door that do not focus properly. I own 7 lenses (3 for my Canon and 4 for my previous Minolta/Sony, Minolta is what I shot in college) and not a single lens has even come close to how off this lens was. The slight advantage this lens has completely wide open (assuming you get one that functions properly) is not worth the time wasted!
To preface: I’m a semi-pro photographer with an appreciation for fine glass but a very real sense of budget. In an ideal world, I would own several flight cases full of L lenses and I would be shooting with a 5D MkIII instead of the 5D classic. Unfortunately, I live in the real world and as much as I would love to pay my landlord in smiles, high fives and free photoshoots, he prefers to take a check (imagine that)! I’m rambling all of this to say: though I appreciate the quality of Canon’s L series (and have owned several/shoot with a dozen or so), I also know that expensive lenses are not a requirement for good pictures.
**I have attached samples from this lens to my review, full size versions can be seen in the links in the comments.**
I’ve used Canon’s behemoth 50mm 1.2L lens, as well as the 1.4 and of course the nifty fifty 1.8. Though excellent lenses in their own rights, the 50mm 1.2L was out of my budget, and the 1.4…I don’t know, I’ve just never been floored by it, you know? With a need for a decent portrait lens and a few hundred dollars in my pocket, I decided to give the Sigma 50mm 1.4 a try, purchasing it on a different online retailer because of a black Friday promotion. A few days later, the lens with pouch, lens hood and caps showed up on my front doorstep.
This is by far the first thing I noticed about the Sigma. It’s built like a tank. Sure, it’s not as huge as the 50mm 1.2L, but it’s certainly heftier than both the 1.8 and the 1.4 from Canon’s 50mm offerings. I don’t count this against it - personally I prefer more solidly built lenses as I find the weight (if not too great) helps steady shots, particularly when taking video. The rubberized grip on the focus ring feels a lot nicer than some of the cheaper zooms that Sigma offers, and although the filter rings seems to be etched out of composite plastic, the mount is made of metal. The lens hood is similar to Canon’s hoods, and clicks on with a nice firm grip.
I have to say that I’m very impressed with the image quality of the Sigma 50mm 1.4, and that it definitely exceeded my expectations. Of course at f/1.4, you have your typical softness but not to the point of it being unusable. By f/2.0 it’s super sharp with f/2.8 being the absolute sweet spot for my copy. Wide open I’ve taken some lovely individual portraits where the eyes are very sharp but by the time you get back to the person’s shoulders bokeh is starting to take over (a look that I personally adore). The bokeh is smooth, like buttery smooth. A lot less harsh than Canon’s 50mm 1.8 and (in my opinion) superior to their 1.4 also. Colors and contrast are excellent - for the first time in quite a while the only post I have had to do on my pictures is a little curves/exposure adjustment. The color reproduction actually made me pause a little, so I used a gray card on my next shoot to confirm - little to no color correction was needed off of my 5D classic, which usually tends to be a little warm in my experience. Overall, highly impressed.
Wide open, I did notice that the lens will have a little hesitation in finding its focal point, but to be honest this is more a product of shooting at wide apertures than the lens itself. Even using the 1DS MKII and Canon’s 85mm 1.2 it would have to search sometimes for focus. Stopped down a hair, focusing becomes snappy even bordering on impressive. Keep in mind that my body only has 9 focal points so this is a highly subjective interpretation, and it may be a lot fast or slower based upon your camera’s AF system.
This is a all-around workhorse, and I would even venture to say that the image quality is exceptional for this price point. I’m honestly a little confused by its four-star rating here on Amazon - I totally get how some people felt their copies weren’t sharp, but I don’t understand how you can’t be impressed with the image quality. I sold my Canon 85mm 1.8 portrait lens some time ago, simply because I wasn’t wowed by it, but at almost the same price, I truly have grown very fond of my Sigma 50mm 1.4, and it won’t be leaving my camera bag ANY time soon. A lovely portrait lens (both on full frame and crop sensors) or excellent as a general purpose lens, I highly recommend giving this lens a try!