In The Box
Sigma LCF III 77mm Front Lens Cap
Sigma LCR II Rear Lens Cap for Canon EF
Sigma LH830-02 Lens Hood
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Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon
The staple Sigma 50mm 1.4 DG HSM has been redesigned and reengineered to set a new standard for the Art line. With a large 1.4 aperture, the Sigma 50mm 1.4 prime lens is a pro level performer for shooting everything including portrait photography, landscape photography, studio photography and street photography. A Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) ensures quiet, smooth and accurate autofocusing and paired with Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass and Super Multi-Layer coating, the 50mm 1.4 is a high performance lens for the modern DSLR sensors. 13 elements in 8 groups allow for unsurpassed performance even at wide apertures and close-up photography is easily managed with a minimum focusing distance of 40cm. The Sigma 50mm 1.4 lens is the new exceptional standard, standard prime.
As a Global Vision lens, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens receives a designation of "A" for Art (vs. "C" for Contemporary or "S" for Sports). As I've said before, I love what Sigma is delivering with their GV lenses right now, but I'm still not a fan of limiting the usefulness of a lens to one of these categories. Least understandable is what the "Contemporary" designation means. Are the "A" and "S" lenses not at least as contemporary? Can sports lenses not be used for wildlife? This "A" lens works nicely for sports.
As with some of the other "A" lenses, I'm sure that the wide "A"perture has some responsibility for the "Art" classification. Wide apertures mean shallow depth of field. As illustrated in the aperture walkthrough above, an f/1.4 aperture has the ability to remove all background distractions by turning them into a strong blur. Shallow depth of field can make a subject pop from a blurred background.
Only Canon DSLR camera owners can find a wider aperture autofocus lens available, including the EF 50mm f/1.2 USM lens, and a discontinued 50mm f/1.0 AF lens remains in circulation. The current Nikon lens mount is too small to support autofocus on lenses with a max aperture wider than f/1.4, but the fully manual NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2 AIS Manual Focus Lens is available and an out of production 55mm f/1.2 lens exists. Otherwise, the Sigma 50mm Art lens, at f/1.4, is the widest 50-something mm lens available in Canon or Nikon mounts, though many other lenses share this spec.
Blurring the background is of course easiest at longer focal lengths and 50mm is typically considered a normal focal length. Back up and the normal focal length retains a rather large depth of field even at f/1.4 as shown below. Focused on the seating area, the "50" on the field remains largely in focus – especially at this resolution.
Sorry, I couldn't resist a 50mm 50 yard line shot. Looks like someone had their choice of seats.
In addition to blurring the foreground and/or background, the wide aperture allows fast, action-stopping, camera-shake eliminating shutter speeds even in low light. If the narrow depth of field works for your subject, this lens can easily be shot handheld indoors even at night. There are many great zoom lenses that include the 50mm focal length and optically perform very well at f/2.8 or f/4, so one of the reasons to use a prime lens is for the apertures wider than these. An f/2.8 aperture requires 4x as much light to get the same shutter speed as an f/1.4 aperture provides.
Promises of excellent image quality long preceded the 50 Art's price and availability announcement and anticipation for this lens ran very high. With the lens in hand, we were finally able to see how accurate those promises were.
At f/1.4, the 50 Art is quite sharp in the center of the frame with slowly increasing softness toward the periphery of the image circle. Still, full frame corners are nicely sharp even at this wide open aperture. Slight improvement is seen at the center of the frame at f/2 and the corners sharpen very nicely at this aperture. Slight additional corner sharpening is seen at f/2.8 where this lens delivers overall extreme sharpness.
There are many wide aperture 50mm prime lenses, but none except the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 and Zeiss f/2 Makro lenses are really sharp until stopped down to at least f/2.8. Only the Zeiss Otus is sharper at f/1.4, but it is only very slightly sharper in the center of the frame and moderately sharper in the outer portion of the image circle. The Sigma is sharper than the Zeiss 50 mm f/2 Makro at f/2.
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon
|Camera Mount Type||Canon EF|
|Format Compatibility||35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor|
|Angle of View||46.8°|
|Minimum Focus Distance||1.31' (40 cm)|
|Maximum Reproduction Ratio||1:5.6|
|Diaphragm Blades||9, Rounded|
|Filter Thread||Front:77 mm|
|Dimensions (DxL)||Approx. 3.36 x 3.93" (85.4 x 99.9 mm)|
|Weight||1.79 lb (815 g)|