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Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras
Overall score: 84%
See review summary and sample images
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- Large Aperature, standard prime lens, has superior peripheral brightness and corrects the sagittal coma fare
- Standard lens with large maximum aperture of F1.4.
- Creates sharp images with high contrast and ensures superior peripheral brightness
- Incorporates molded glass aspherical lens, perfectly correcting coma aberration and creating superior image quality.
- Super multi-layer lens coating reduces flare and ghosting.
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|Aperture Control Design||Aperture controlled by camera|
|Compatible Mountings||Canon EF|
|Focus Type||Ring-type ultrasonic|
|Item Dimensions||3.35 x 3.35 x 2.68 inches|
|Item Display Weight||503 grams|
|Item Weight||1.11 pounds|
|Lens Type||Prime lens|
|Macro Focus Range||0.45 m|
|Material Type||Plastic barrel, Metal mount|
|Maximum Aperture Range||F1.4|
|Maximum Focal Length||50 mm|
|Maximum Format Size||35mm FF|
|Minimum Focal Length||50 mm|
|Minimum Focal Range||17.7 inches|
|Number of Diaphragm Blades||9|
|Number of Elements||8|
|Number of Groups||6|
|Photo Filter Thread Size||77 mm|
|Real Angle Of View||46.8|
|Shipping Weight||1.75 pounds|
|Style Name||Canon Digital SLR Cameras|
Review summary from DPReview
The Sigma 50mm 1.4 has smooth out-of-focus backgrounds, improved sharpness at large apertures, and lessened vignetting due to its large lens barrel. It's a far better portrait lens on APS-C than legacy primes designed for 35mm film, as well as an extremely competent standard on 35mm full-frame.
Scoring is relative only to the other products in the same category.
Sample images from DPReview
Sample images for Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM
From the Manufacturer
50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM
The Perfect Standard Prime
Sigma's 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM is high quality, professional optics and you’ll know it the minute you pick it up. In the past few years, camera manufacturers have overlooked the need for a reasonable fast prime lens that is compact enough for everyday use, yet provides the necessary image quality to meet the highest expectations. Now, with the advent of the APS-C cameras, the long popular 50mm focal length takes on double duty as a portrait length lens of approximately 75mm on most of the small chip cameras.
Dimensions (Diameter x Length): 84.5 x 68.2 mm/3.3 x 2.7 in
Weight: 505g / 17.8oz.
Since 1961, and with the recent introduction of Sigma Global Vision, we have worked toward one single, simple goal: To hold ourselves to the highest standard of design & manufacturing of imaging products. Photography is all we do. And it’s all we’ve done. So you can rest assured that it’s something we know extensively and care deeply about. You have a vision. We’ve made it our mission.
- Fast, large aperture standard lens
- Molded glass aspherical elements
- Carrying case, lens hood, front & rear caps
- Sony and Pentax mounts are discontinued
Top Customer Reviews
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.......
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Without spending the extra 6-700 on the Canon L series this lens helps achieve the shots you are looking for with a 50 prime that i...Read more