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Author Topic: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens  (Read 26041 times)

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Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« on: April 22, 2014, 10:46:16 AM »
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

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« Last Edit: April 22, 2014, 10:48:29 AM by Canon Rumors »
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Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« on: April 22, 2014, 10:46:16 AM »

dadgummit

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Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2014, 10:53:36 AM »
"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. 
« Last Edit: April 22, 2014, 11:13:24 AM by dadgummit »

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Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2014, 11:19:12 AM »
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.
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Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2014, 11:23:57 AM »
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. 

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Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2014, 11:26:36 AM »
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.

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.

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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Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2014, 11:40:09 AM »
Is there a lens out there that never has occasional AF inconsistency?

Does a 40% miss rate really constitute occasional inconsistency?  I think not...
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Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2014, 11:49:07 AM »
Even the missed focus shots are sharper than the Canon f/1.4.  ;D

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Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2014, 11:49:07 AM »

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Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2014, 11:59:55 AM »
Even the missed focus shots are sharper than the Canon f/1.4.  ;D

Did you look at the 10 samples shots of the butterfly? :o  As Neuro pointed out, 4 are seriously out of focus, definitely NOT sharper than the Canon f1.4!

Overall a nice review and a quality lens.  However, the AF issues would hold me back from ordering one.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2014, 12:01:38 PM by bholliman »
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Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2014, 12:06:58 PM »
Feeling better about my cancelled pre-order now that LensTip and Brian are both reporting AF issues.  With the 50L, if it misses focus, it's almost always my fault :)

Given how good it is otherwise, I hope Sigma can improve the reliability.
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Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2014, 12:11:26 PM »
Drat it anyway.  The image quality comparisons between it and the two Canon alternatives are tantalizing.  It's got amazing sharpness right to the edge even at 1.4-2 in comparison.  But focus inconsistency is something that ruins it all.  Overshooting is fine to a point.  I really like Bryan's tests and I hope he can pick up another sample or two at random to compare.  You'd think Sigma gave him a great copy.  I hope not and there is hope for this lens' AF consistency.       

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Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2014, 12:14:42 PM »
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.

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.

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.

I don't disagree with what you are saying at all, but I understand the conundrum as a reviewer.  These days it seems like most reviews are published before retail copies are technically available.  Waiting until the lens launches to the public means that you lose the early momentum/hits that are so important to building a brand and a website.

I don't have an "in" with Sigma, so I am waiting for a copy to be provided to me from a retailer for review right now...and it's taking a while.

P.S.  Your point about the AF is very well and clearly stated.  That's a problem...and not a small one, particularly if one intends to use this lens commercially.  You could by with it doing portraiture, but certainly not event work.
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Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2014, 12:32:55 PM »
Is there a lens out there that never has occasional AF inconsistency?

Does a 40% miss rate really constitute occasional inconsistency?  I think not...

Compare this to Zeiss missing 100% of AF shots  ;)

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Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2014, 12:46:52 PM »
I was wondering how the AF consistency test would turn out with this lens using FoCal. Most of Canon's new lenses get 99% AF consistency. If this one is in the 60-70% range, I may just wait for the Canon's new version. Sharpness is meaningless if focus is missed.
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Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2014, 12:46:52 PM »

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Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2014, 12:49:51 PM »
.
Does this guy get paid by the word?

He desperately needs a good editor.

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Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2014, 12:55:41 PM »
I don't disagree with what you are saying at all, but I understand the conundrum as a reviewer.  These days it seems like most reviews are published before retail copies are technically available.  Waiting until the lens launches to the public means that you lose the early momentum/hits that are so important to building a brand and a website.

Thus the suggestion to test additional lens(es) purchased through normal retail channels, once they become available.

I do appreciate the quandary, but I'd argue that merely adds another potential source of bias (and please note the use of the word potential).  If delivering an early review to gain momentum/hits is that important (and I'm sure it is), what if the review is negative?  It seems possible that a negative review would result in the reviewer not getting an advance copy of the next lens from that manufacturer, and thus losing out on the momentum/hits for the next round.

The full text of the review indicates a 40% AF miss rate in formal testing, and includes statements like, "...the longer I focus tested this lens, the less sure I was about its focus accuracy," and, "Sometimes, most images are properly focused and when my shots counted, this lens delivered. But sometimes, more images are out of focus than I am comfortable with."  To me, that does not equate to, "...occasional AF inconsistency."  Which of those statements made it into the concluding paragraph of the review, which is the part most likely to be picked up and quoted, as it was in this post by CRguy?
« Last Edit: April 22, 2014, 12:57:39 PM by neuroanatomist »
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Re: Review: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2014, 12:55:41 PM »