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Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens

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Canon Rumors:
Tweet Bryan at The-Digital-Picture has completed his review of the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art series lens. As you’re probably used to reading, this lens is a stellar performer and nearly as good optically as the Zeiss 55 f/1.4 Otus, which costs 4 times as much. Says Bryan “While I will dock a few points from this lens for occasional AF inconsistency, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens is now the overwhelming favorite in the 50mm field. This lens delivers excellent image quality, has a beautiful design and for what you get, a very attractive price. The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens is the easy 50mm choice for those with a moderate budget.” Read the full review Preorder the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art: Amazon | B&H Photo | Adorama cr

dadgummit:
"occasional AF inconsistency"

Noooooooooooooooooooooo!!  This is why I retuned all of the copies of their old 50mm...  Hopefully the Sigma dock can fix this.

Otherwise the review looks great.  My biggest concern with this lens was if it sacrificed a nice smooth OOF for sharpness.  The few "Bokeh" (I never know if I am using that word correctly) pictures I have seen look good though. 

TWI by Dustin Abbott:
The review was great to read, and I really liked the look of the headshot of Brianna.  The AF inconsistency is a bit of concern, though.  Always enjoy Bryan's reviews.

docsmith:
I've had the 35A for about 2 months now and what Bryan has said about the 50 mm is pretty much what I am finding.  Amazing pictures, even wide open, when it nails the focus.  But there are some AF consistency issues.  I am actually going to try MF for awhile, see how I like that. 

neuroanatomist:

--- Quote from: Bryan @ TDP ---Below I share ten 100% crops from one of the more-formal focus tests I performed. The subject is a large book properly aligned with the camera at a relatively close focus distance. Starting with a slightly defocused lens, each shot was autofocused using the center AF point that was very comfortably and completely covered by the book. The first 5 and last 5 images from this particular test are presented below and are representative of the larger test group. … The camera was a tripod-mounted EOS 5D Mark III with mirror lockup and the 2-sec self-timer in use.

--- End quote ---

Of those 10 shots, 4 are sufficiently OOF as to be unusable (3, 4, 6, 10).  A 60% hit rate with a static subject and a tripod-mounted camera, particularly one with an excellent AF system, does not inspire confidence. 


Also, this is a departure from the norm for Bryan's lens tests (and one, frankly, with which I'm not too pleased):


--- Quote from: Bryan @ TDP ---My evaluation lens was a short term loan from Sigma, as they offered the production-grade lens before it was commercially available.

--- End quote ---

Any time a manufacturer supplies a product to a well-known reviewer, a big unanswered question is whether the provided copy is truly representative of units purchased retail.  Clearly, it would be in Sigma's best interest to pre-test a batch of them and pick the best copy they can find for review (in fact, they are supposed to generate measured MTFs for every lens they produce, so they have the data already).

I've always felt that one of the strengths of Bryan's reviews (in addition to their thoroughness and readability) is that he purchases review copies through standard retail channels (B&H may put him near the top of the preorder queue, but that's fine), and therefore avoids the potential confound of bias introduced by testing a 'hand-picked' lens from the manufacturer.  I hope Bryan chooses to test one or more copies of the lens purchased retail to see if the results align with the copy provided by Sigma. 

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