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Review Sigma 50 mm f1.4 EX DG HSM

So I got to the popular fifty dollars from Sigma. The first thing that catches your eye is its shape and size. It is thick but compact. It seems to be rather big, but quite light. It feels very pleasant in the hand. For his appearance, I give him a solid five. It looks solid, and at the same time is not heavy - which is very important.

Sigma 50 mm f1.4 EX DG HSM photoAs soon as I started taking test shots with it, to be honest, I was disappointed. No sharpness on the open. The fixes I'm used to (Canon 85mm 1.8 , Sigma 35mm 1.4art, Samyang 14mm 2.8, and even Soviet Jupiter 37A и Helios 81n ) cannot be compared in terms of sharpness at open relative to this lens. They have no complaints about shooting in the open. Sigma 50 mm f1.4 EX DG HSM for 1.4 lathers. Although I read a lot of reviews, where it was said that 1.4 is fully working on it - just to get into focus. The first sensations were - to sell immediately. I tried to shoot on it night report... I realized that it is better not to shoot outdoors. Good shots are obtained from f2, and better f2.8... But these were the first impressions.

Open vignetting is naturally present, but not as annoying as in Sigma 35 1.4... And at f1.8 it becomes noticeably weaker.

By the way, about autofocus. He made me happy right away, even though I had read a lot of unpleasant things about him on the forums. Fast and tenacious. At 1.4 it gets worse. It is worth covering a little, and there are no complaints about autofocus.

Then I tried to shoot portraits on him (for which I actually took). Then I realized that the lens was bought for a reason. It gives very soft and voluminous bokeh. Shooting close-up portraits on him is a pleasure.

50mm full frame - not ideal focal lengthe for portrait photography... A 50mm full-height portrait is no longer suitable due to the weak background blur. Even the waistband is not always good, because too much excess gets into the frame. 50mm is a fairly wide angle for this kind of shooting. The lens blurs the plan very well if you shoot a person in close-up: a front or shoulder portrait. But here another factor is already starting to play a role - small perspective distortions. So it's not easy to shoot a portrait with him. It is rather limited in use compared to the same 85mm... However, in some situations I really like it.

I wrote in more detail about the choice of focal length for portrait photography in this stuff.

Comparison with other lenses: Canon 85 1.8 vs Sigma 50 1.4

 sigma 50 1.4 vs canon 85 1.8

These shots are pretty similar. Canon still gives a nicer picture. The colors are warmer, the skin looks more natural. Of course, this is corrected in the editor. But personally, I am a supporter of the best image possible without processing. Bokeh is difficult to compare here, because taking 85mm, I went further away to repeat the composition of the frame.

Test frames on Sigma 35 1.4art and the usual Sigma 50 1.4.

sigma 50 1.4 test

Sigma 50 mm f1.4 EX DG HSM

sigma 35 1.4 art test

Sigma 35mm f1.4 DG HSM

As expected, the Sigma 35mm 1.4 art gives the best picture. The difference in price is 2 times after all. Sharpness in the open, contrast - immediately visible. By the way, the Sigma 50mm has a longer minimum focusing distance.

Sigma 50 1.4vs Helios 81N

What conclusions did I come to in the end.

  • The f1.4 aperture of the Sigma 50 mm f1.4 EX DG cannot be called completely inoperative. It is quite suitable for portraits. Some drop in sharpness and blurring of details do not spoil the result.
  • Shooting landscapes or reporting on 1.4 is not worth it. On the Sigma 35 1.4 art or Canon 85 1.8 this is quite acceptable: both in terms of image detail quality and autofocus accuracy. The Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM at 1.4 behaves moody. For a leisurely portrait shooting, this is permissible, but for shooting a reportage or general shots, it is better to cover the aperture at least to f2.
  • Starting from 2.8 there are no complaints about sharpness. By closing the aperture, the lens becomes razor sharp.

In general about the Sigma 50 mm f1.4 EX DG HSM.

Despite my first impressions, I now think this is a very good lens. At closed apertures, it's super sharp. On the open side, you can shoot gorgeous portraits. It's compact, lightweight and looks solid 🙂 The autofocus is very fast and quiet. Focal length 50mm (in full frame), allows you to use it in a very wide range of situations. You can take it with you as a versatile lens.

On the other hand, if you choose a purely portrait lens, then I definitely advise Canon 85mm 1.8... This focal length is much better for a portrait shot.

By the way, about the new Sigma 50mm f1.4 DG HSM Art... I didn't hold this lens in my hands. But I can judge by its brother Sigma 35mm f1.4 DG HSM Art. My opinion - I would not take it. If you want a super fifty-kopeck piece - better Canon EF 50 f1.2L. Super sharpness for portraits at wide apertures is not critical. Yes, the new Sigmas provide a clear and correct picture with high contrast and detail. But Canon's color reproduction is second to none. In addition, the new Sigmas are very bulky and heavy - they are inconvenient to use and difficult to carry for a long time. 

To protect the front lens element, I recommend using Hoya protective filters... I personally don't carry caps with me, but I always wear a filter and a hood.