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Author Topic: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?  (Read 17125 times)

alipaulphotography

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Re: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?
« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2011, 10:48:29 AM »
Thanks for the info everyone, the "Russian roulette" analogy convinced me I will wrestle my buddy to the ground and drag him away from the Sigma cabinet if I have to.

You'll be doing your friend a disservice.

The Sigma is much sharper then the Canon 50 f/1.4 at wide apertures, has better bokeh, and has much better build quality. The bokeh is amazing and the lens is actually usable wide open. I personally think it's the f/1.2L's equal. Some have AF issues, but if your friend is shopping in person then he can cherry pick the lens he wants on the spot. FYI, the AF motor in the Canon version is famous for having accuracy problems or just breaking over time.

I'm quite frankly surprised at the number of complaints here. Usually when the Sigma 50 f/1.4 comes up in forums the majority of reports are good.

As to AF issues...no doubt some units ship out of alignment. But I can't help but think that many complaints trace back to people struggling to use fast primes, especially since I've heard the same types of complaints from people who went with the Canon f/1.8 or f/1.4, and even the f/1.2L.

* f/1.4 is difficult for the AF system. This is true of any lens. DoF is stupid shallow at f/1.4 even on crop. On FF? Try one eyelash in focus.

* Any forward/backward movement on your part at wide apertures will move the focus away from where you want it. By the same token you cannot focus/recompose at wide apertures.

* Focus point indicators in the VF are not perfect. Usually the AF sensor points are larger than indicated. If the point is over a target which is not flat, the AF system may focus correctly but still focus somewhere you don't want. (DoF is that shallow.) 3D target areas that work just fine at f/4 or even f/2.8 may not yield the desired result at f/1.4 or f/2.

On a tripod pointed at a flat target the Sigma is about as consistent and accurate as the Canon 85 f/1.8. Perfection cannot be expected with super fast primes however. If you defocus, AF, and shoot 10 frames in a row, at 100% it will be clear that some shots are better than others even in this simple test. (I didn't have access to a Canon 50 f/1.4 when I did this. The f/1.8 is much worse than either the Sigma or Canon 85.) This is with a 7D which has an even better AF system.

I love fast primes, but all of them require some care in AF. There's something to be said for split screen manual focusing when using fast primes, and I've considered a KatzEye for this reason.

With that out of the way...I've shot kids (always in motion) with the Sigma f/1.4 with good success rates. And when you nail it...well...30" portrait prints at f/2 and f/2.8 are no problem at all, tack sharp and gorgeous.

Very wise words. Couldn't agree more. I'd recommend a precision focusing screen for any fast primes. I use one and I am more than happy with my images. I was so pleased with my 50mm sigma i also bought the 85mm f/1.4 - also superb! It also comes with a lens hood which canon refuse to add in with every non L lens they sell. The sigma is a new lens and has new technologies inside. The canon 50mm is a very dated old design, by no means bad, but it does need updating.

I see very little to no chromatic aberration in my images yet I do often notice it on images from canons 50mm. So I'd like to see some evidence of this.

More than happy with my sigma 50mm.

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Re: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?
« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2011, 10:48:29 AM »

92101media

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Re: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?
« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2011, 03:27:38 PM »
No personal experience with either lens, but from what I hear the Canon 50mm f/1.4 suffers the highest return to manufacturer rate of any Canon lens, primarily due to the AF ceasing to work at all.

On the other hand, the Canon 50mm f/1.4 has higher average rating on B&H (4.7/5, and of those many of the negative reviews are probably due to broken AF) than the Sigma (4.4/5).

Another plus point for the Canon is that it's currently on sale at B&H for $339 vs. $499 for the Sigma. 

I wish Canon would release a Mk II version of the Canon 50mm f/1.4 that fixes the AF reliability issues.


neuroanatomist

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Re: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?
« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2011, 05:17:07 PM »
But I can't help but think that many complaints trace back to people struggling to use fast primes, especially since I've heard the same types of complaints from people who went with the Canon f/1.8 or f/1.4, and even the f/1.2L.


I'd be inclined to agree, as the Internet is far from the fountain of Truth. 

But Bryan at TDP certainly knows his way around a fast prime, and he states, "...the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens has proven very inconsistent for me in the focus accuracy department.  I have thrown out as many as 70% or more images from a single shoot of over 100 non-action, wide aperture shots because they were very OOF (Out of Focus)."

Likewise, Roger at LensRentals.com has probably used and tested more camera lenses than most people will ever even see in their lives, and he states, "...the lens exhibits what I will term “schizophrenic autofocus”, i.e. when closer than 5 feet, it will front focus, further than 20 feet it will backfocus. This is not a calibration issue, it’s just how it is."
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willrobb

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Re: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?
« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2011, 05:30:26 PM »
Thanks for the info everyone, the "Russian roulette" analogy convinced me I will wrestle my buddy to the ground and drag him away from the Sigma cabinet if I have to.

You'll be doing your friend a disservice.


I should have said I will "attempt" to wrestle him away, chances are he'd slip away and do his thing.

To be honest, I'm really keen to find out how the Sigma performs now, I get the feeling a good one may be pretty amazing, but a "dud" (which seems to be the majority unfortunately) are frustratingly bad.

Fast primes never really have perfect autofocus, to get the best out of them it's important to focus manually (as I often do with my 1.2L) but it is nice when the autofocus is fairly reliable in the situations where manual focus isn't an option.


photogaz

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Re: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?
« Reply #19 on: December 01, 2011, 05:59:48 PM »
The Sigma 50mm is one of my favourite lenses.  This is coming from somebody who owns a 135L and 70-200 Mark II.

I'd say it can mis focus sometimes on distance objects but overall its an amazing lens.  Unless Canon comes up with a new version, I would recommend the Sigma any day.

niccyboy

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Re: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?
« Reply #20 on: December 01, 2011, 06:07:30 PM »
I've heard very good things about it.

I think it sits between the canon 1.4 and the canon 1.2...

It's a big boy, couldnt believe the weight on it.

Everyone I know that has it swears by it.


alipaulphotography

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Re: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?
« Reply #21 on: December 01, 2011, 06:26:32 PM »
Probably a try before you buy situation. I got mine 2nd hand and must have got lucky as mine is a joy to use.

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Re: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?
« Reply #21 on: December 01, 2011, 06:26:32 PM »

dtaylor

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Re: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?
« Reply #22 on: December 01, 2011, 06:28:39 PM »
has better bokeh
with ugly CA ;) btw Sigma's bokeh is nothing compare to Russian Helios M40-2 analogue. If you prefer excellent bokeh - buy Russian stuff.

Sorry, I don't care for the bokeh of the M40-2. It's unique for sure, and I've seen it put to good use in some shots. But it's very distracting and 'nervous' for most shots. I much prefer the smooth, diffused backgrounds of the Sigma.

Needless to say the M40-2 is a specialty lens (manual focus / stopped down metering / adapter required). On top of that, it's the wrong focal length for this discussion, it's not nearly as sharp wide open, and it does not have nearly the contrast as any of the 50mm lenses being discussed. Again, it has a unique look and that can be put to good use at times, but it's not a substitute for the lenses being discussed.

As for CA: the Sigma is worse than the Canon f/1.4, but much better than the f/1.2L. At any rate CA is pretty much a non issue on digital where it's easily corrected. And with the typical subject matter for these lenses you often won't even need correction. In fact, now that I think about it, I don't think I've used CA correction on more than 1 or 2 shots from my Sigma.

dtaylor

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Re: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?
« Reply #23 on: December 01, 2011, 06:33:41 PM »
But Bryan at TDP certainly knows his way around a fast prime, and he states, "...the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens has proven very inconsistent for me in the focus accuracy department.  I have thrown out as many as 70% or more images from a single shoot of over 100 non-action, wide aperture shots because they were very OOF (Out of Focus)."


He also only tested one copy :) I should note that I don't see any where near a 70% throw away rate. Some shots will get tossed, but no more than with my 85 f/1.8.

Quote
Likewise, Roger at LensRentals.com has probably used and tested more camera lenses than most people will ever even see in their lives, and he states, "...the lens exhibits what I will term “schizophrenic autofocus”, i.e. when closer than 5 feet, it will front focus, further than 20 feet it will backfocus. This is not a calibration issue, it’s just how it is."


This one interests me more because I imagine he has seen/tested more than one copy.

But again, this guy is going shopping, not ordering online. He can cherry pick to get one with decent AF characteristics.

neuroanatomist

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Re: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?
« Reply #24 on: December 01, 2011, 06:39:38 PM »
As for CA: the Sigma is worse than the Canon f/1.4, but much better than the f/1.2L. At any rate CA is pretty much a non issue on digital where it's easily corrected.


Lateral CA - the red-blue tangential fringing away from the center of the frame - is easily corrected, automatically by most RAW converters including DPP.  Longitudinal CA - the purple-green fringing throughout the frame - which is the bane of wide aperture primes, is not easily corrected, and in many cases, impossible to correct satisfactorily.  At high-contrast transitions, the Sigma 50/1.4 suffers from some, but not much.  The 50/1.2L is a lot worse - see the example in the PZ review of the 50/1.2L on APS-C

But again, this guy is going shopping, not ordering online. He can cherry pick to get one with decent AF characteristics.


For himself, sure.  But he also has to deal with the bitching of people who are unhappy with the rental, which is why he warns potential renters up front.
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dtaylor

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Re: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?
« Reply #25 on: December 01, 2011, 07:21:19 PM »
But again, this guy is going shopping, not ordering online. He can cherry pick to get one with decent AF characteristics.

For himself, sure.  But he also has to deal with the bitching of people who are unhappy with the rental, which is why he warns potential renters up front.

Sorry...I ment OP's friend  :)

neuroanatomist

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Re: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?
« Reply #26 on: December 01, 2011, 09:17:42 PM »
Oops...sorry, that should have been obvious.  :-[
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bchernicoff

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Re: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?
« Reply #27 on: December 01, 2011, 10:03:00 PM »
My trick with this lens is to half-press the shutter until it achieves focus lock and then release and repeat a couple of times until the lens doesn't refocus each time to achieve focus lock. Obviously, this doesn't work with any moving subject or when you only have a second to get a shot off.

From a image quality perspective, I love mine.
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Re: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?
« Reply #27 on: December 01, 2011, 10:03:00 PM »

willrobb

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Re: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?
« Reply #28 on: December 03, 2011, 10:06:09 AM »
So we went out and played with 50mm lenses today:

canon 50mm f1.4
Sigma 50mm f1.4
Zeiss 50mm
(canon 50mm 1.8 was dismissed on build and canon 50mm 1.2L were dismissed on poor build quality/cost.)

The Zeiss was dismissed on non AF grounds, even though IQ looked very good. I have to say the AF of the Sigma we tried was possibly the worst I have ever tried. It was a display copy, I realise it's probably had a lot of use and isn't as good as a lot of people have, but it really was all over the place and as a result the Sigma was passed over.

The canon f1.4 really suited my friend, the AF was great, the image quality awesome,he picked up an immaculate 2nd hand copy for a great price, we went out and tested it more and he was over the moon.

Thanks for the input everyone, I really appreciated it. We tested out as much as possible based on what I heard  and my friend based his decision on what we tried. Had it been a better Sigma or a not so good canon it could have been a very different result, but with what we tried it was was it was.

niccyboy

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Re: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?
« Reply #29 on: December 03, 2011, 08:50:11 PM »
canon 50mm 1.2L were dismissed on poor build quality/cost.)

Poor build quality?

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Re: Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM....are they any good?
« Reply #29 on: December 03, 2011, 08:50:11 PM »