Opinions on Sigma 50/1.4

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Edge100, Jan 5, 2010.

  1. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    I'm upgrading most of my glass and adding a FF body, and the time has come for me to choose a 50mm prime (I have a 50/1.8, and I'm sick of its so-so bokeh and terrible low light AF performance, not to mention its s**t build quality).

    I'm torn between the Canon EF 50/1.4, which I've used extensively on loan from my brother-in-law, and the Sigma 50/1.4. I can get $75 (CAN) off the cost of the Sigma until Jan 31. I recognize the Sigma costs a lot more than the Canon, but I'm making these purchases for the long haul, and so price is not a factor; I will pay the money for the Sigma if I have to.

    Virtually every review of the Sigma I've seen says it produces far better IQ than the Canon, with particularly good sharpness at f/1.4 and excellent bokeh. The main problem with the Sigma seems to be the AF performance; some copies appear to front-focus, especially on close subjects at f/1.4.

    I'm a bit torn at this point. I'm willing to pay for the better IQ of the Sigma, but the widely-reported AF issues have me spooked. Anyone have any first hand experience with the Sigma?
  2. modular macrumors regular

    Apr 10, 2009
    i have a sigma 30mm 1.4 and i love it, LOVE IT!
  3. tofagerl macrumors 6502a


    May 16, 2006
    Never read a bad review. Honestly for me, the biggest problem would be that it's FRIGGIN HUGE!
    If you have a bigger camera than my puny D40, you should be fine ;)
  4. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

    Oct 15, 2003
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    Anyone know what the odds are that Canon will update their 50mm f/1.4 in the near term? I was looking at dpreview's review of the Sigma 50mm, and they mentioned that both the Nikon (which has since been updated) and Canon 50mm f/1.4 lenses were somewhat long in the tooth.

    If there's a decent chance the Canon will get updated, it might be worth waiting for.
  5. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    just buy one. buy it locally if it makes you feel better. just factor in not having it an extra two weeks or so since you'll probably have to send it in for calibration. also, if you do have to get it calibrated, make sure to email them or call them for the status after a week or so, otherwise you might be waiting a month....
  6. Edge100 thread starter macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    I've never read a bad review of the IQ and bokeh, both of which are in the league of the 50/1.2L. The lens certainly does produce some stellar images.


    From the-digital-picture.com

    "Inconsistent focus accuracy is definitely the downside of this lens. It is possible that another copy of this lens would focus more consistently, but my guess (helped by feedback from others) is that my lens is representative of this model. Thus, unless you are primarily using manual focus or shooting at narrow apertures (f/4), I suggest buying the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens instead. While it may not be as nice of a lens as the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens, it will focus more accurately and therefore delivers much better image quality."

    See this thread and this thread at fredmiranda.com for some user reports.

    A lens can have the best IQ and bokeh in the world, but if it doesn't focus properly, it's not much good to me.
  7. FX120 macrumors 65816


    May 18, 2007
    It is a very hit-and-miss lens, some copies will be fantastic out of the box with great IQ and bang-on AF. But there are enough complaints out there from some people that have bad AF on their copy that it lead me to purchase the Canon 50 f/1.4.

    Which by the way, you'll very rarely end up using at f/1.4 because the DOF is so very thin and it doesn't matter if it focuses perfectly because by the time I get around to pulling the shutter release either me or my subject has moved enough to shift the plane of focus. Typically I won't use it any wider than f/2, and 90% of my shots are at f/2.8 or wider.
  8. CrackedButter macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2003
    51st State of America
    The Canon 50mm 1.4 is over 20 years old when it comes to lens design while the Sigma one is very modern, I've also never heard bad things about this lens other than the size of it. Which is something that can't be avoided for a lens with a large aperture.

    Oh and f1.4 isn't that tight to shoot wide open ;), you're just not using it properly. :p
  9. Edge100 thread starter macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    I've used the EF 50/1.4 quite a bit, and while I do find myself frequently using f/2 and higher, I will definitely be using f/1.4 and f/1.6 for portraiture, so I need something that can AF at those f/stops.

    I'm leaning more and more toward the Canon; I just don't want to futz with the Sigma.
  10. Edge100 thread starter macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    If you havent heard bad things about the Sigma, then you didn't follow the links I sent. There are LOTS of problems out there with this lens, and they all have to do with the AF performance. Some people have problems with focusing at the MFD, some have problems at infinity focus, some have problems at both ends, and some have no problems at all.

    I'm aware of sample bias when it comes to reporting problems on the internet, but this is such a widely reported problem that it's not crazy to think it's real.

    Yes, the Canon is an old design, but I need a fast 50, and it seems that the 50/1.4 is the best trade off between IQ, AF performance, and price (the 50/1.2L has its own AF problems, and is too expensive for what you get).

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