There was a time, not that long ago, when if you were considering buying the best optics for your camera, you'd look no further then the branded options. Today however, it's a totally different story, with independent brands such as Sigma, Zeiss and Tamron offering lenses with optical quality that matches or even surpasses brand lenses.
Sigma's Art series is one of the major successes in this respect, with a strong reputation for lenses delivering the highest possible quality, making it a popular choice with enthusiasts and professionals alike. The 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM, reviewed here, is a fine example of what the series offers
If you've used a 50mm lens before, the first thing you'll notice about this Sigma is its size and weight. At 815 grams, it weighs more than quite a number of camera bodies and almost three times that of comparable lenses from Canon and Nikon.
Part of this added weight is the materials used in the construction of the lens. The clean, black barrel not only looks great, the use of metal and a brass mount means it feels very solid and well put together. A wide manual focusing ring sits at the front end, with a focus distance window and AF/MF switch located behind it.
The lens uses 13 elements in eight groups, including a number of SLD (Special Low Dispersion) and aspherical glass elements, along with Super Multi-Layer Coatings to reduce flare and ghosting and improve sharpness and contrast.
Functionality & value for money
Autofocus is handled by Sigma's tried and tested Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM), which provides very fast and near-silent AF. With basic 50mm f/1.8 lenses costing around £100 and marque 50mm f/1.4 lenses under £400, a lens like this Sigma (Guide Price: £579) needs to be special to warrant the extra bulk and hefty price tag. While the more affordable lenses deliver fine results, there is a marked jump in image quality with this Sigma, with the lens capturing incredible levels of detail and at wider apertures producing beautiful bokeh.
Contrast is very high and distortion, ghosting and flare are handled incredibly well. For those wanting the ultimate performance from a standard lens, in particular for users of super-high-resolution cameras, the Sigma proves to perform brilliantly in every department and despite its price, represents very good value for money.
Those looking for a premium standard lens capable of the best quality results should consider this Sigma. It's relatively large and heavy for sure, but if you can live with that, you'll love the quality of the images it can help you produce, which is why we give it five stars.