By now, we’re all aware that Sigma is doing an incredible job with their Art series lenses. Each one is looked upon as an upgrade to their Canon more dated (not to mention more expensive) L series equivalent. The 35mm and 50mm Sigma Art lenses proved that improved optics, outstanding design and performance, and overall better quality, could be had at a fraction of the cost of their Canon counterparts.
This 24mm shares a nearly identical build to Sigma’s 35mm and 50mm Art lenses. It is so similar, in fact, that I worry about picking the right lens when reaching into a bag. I had gushed over Sigma’s 35mm f/1.4 (http://www.canonrumors.com/reviews/review-sigma-35mm-f1-4-dg-hsm/)when it was released, and similarity does extend to the quality of the build itself: it is also outstanding. . The all-metal construction still transitions seamlessly into large and firm rubber grips, allowing for great control when manually focusing. The build does lend itself to a bit of weight, and if you’re pairing this lens with several other 1.4 primes it will add up.
I found AF to be mostly accurate, though in low light and faster shooting situations it did have some difficulty locking focus. This issue tended to be compounded when I was dealing with moving subjects using a shallow depth of field.
Sigma also packages their lenses with a petal shaped lens hood and soft carrying case , which I find far more useful than the soft cloth bags Canon L series lenses ship with. For those who use filters, the front element has a 77mm diameter.
The Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art delivers with the same level of image quality we’ve become used to with the Art series. The image is reasonably sharp wide open and improves as stopped down. As with many wide-angle lenses, and indeed any lens with a fast aperture, the corners aren’t particularly sharp and it vignettes when wide open. While the latter can be mitigated in software, there comes a time where it will become an obvious flaw. I, for one, welcome my wide-open vignetting overlords with glee, utilizing it to further frame subjects I have centred in a scene. There are tonal changes at the edges of solid colours which may be an issue for some.
Flare isn’t always something I measure. The intrusive kind, that can come from backlit subjects, windows, and other sources, can, with some lenses, cause images to become completely soft. However, this issue doesn’t affect this Sigma. As a bonus, the direct-source visible lens flare is gorgeous and can be used to creative effect if wanted.
Its Canon equivalent, the EF 24mm f/1.4L II, is a fantastic lens but it’s not perfect. My comparison results between the two are mixed.. I found the Sigma’s colour rendition fairly flat and it didn’t seem as sharp wide open (both are still excellent). Shooting at f/1.4 is, admittedly, a handicap of mine and a lot of sharpness issues can be from user error. Yet, I did venture out for some astrophotography and came to similar conclusions. An area in which the Sigma excelled is with its control of chromatic aberrations, mostly being non-existent except for some minor purple fringing in extreme light to dark transitions.
Who’s it for
Photojournalists have long adored the 24mm f/1.4 for its ability to isolate relatively close subjects where even f/2.8 may focus to infinity. The right use at the right time can create an almost three-dimensional look that is spectacular to capture in-camera. While I personally find 24mm too wide for weddings, many can achieve spectacular results in the proper situation and careful framing.
Editorial photographers could create some unique imagery with this lens, though Canon’s excellent 24-70 f/2.8 L II (http://www.canonrumors.com/reviews/review-canon-ef-24-70-f2-8l-ii/) is far more practical and every bit as sharp.
For those shooting on an APS-C sized sensor, the effective focal crop is around 38mm, very close to a full-frame camera paired with a 35mm f/1.4 lens. Many cheaper alternatives are available at this focal length if you’re willing to give up the wider aperture Canon’s EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Pancake lens.
I finally had a chance to try my hand at astrophotography with this lens. Its focal length is a favourite for those involved in the genre. I was excited by my results. As mentioned, the lens does not deal with corner sharpness very well, but when accurately focused at infinity, stars were tight dots with little to no chroma aberrations. Focus is critical of course, and I took many images where those stars soon became small blobs, yet not so bad that the images don’t represent well on the web.
I don’t recommend this lens for those interested in architecture and interiors, unless you plan on shooting wide-open to isolate a subject for some reason. The Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II is one you should seriously consider.
Sigma has done it again. Another fine lens which, while not quite “better” in every area than the Canon, certainly brings exciting quality and value at half the price. Although, my personal uses for 24mm at f/1.4 are limited. I did greatly enjoy the night time exposures, but I would struggle to find a daily use for this lens. Regardless, if you find yourself needing another fast prime lens, it’s hard to beat what Sigma’s now providing in the art series.
- Good sharpness wide open
- Fast aperture for dark settings & isolating subjects
- Looks great, for half the price of the Canon equivalent
- Potential lens bag confusion with other Sigma primes
- Large & heavy for infrequent users
- Slightly inconsistent AF (may be improved with firmware update)