Hardware Review: The Nifty 50 from Sigma

After a couple weeks there of some touch-and-go blogging, rest assured, things are back into high gear this week.  Today the trusty hardware review returns, and regular content is on the horizons for sure.  Thanks for all the patience of those who have stuck around during some down time.  Today, we’ll be taking at the Sigma 50mm lens, f1.4.

First off, thanks to the good folks over at Sigma for accepting me into their loaner program to experiment with these lenses gratis for a few weeks, so others out there can learn the benefits of some of these lenses.  In case you don’t remember, in the past I had taken a look at some pretty impressive gear from their line-up including a 18-250mm lens, and a 10-20mm lens.  Anyway, back in the saddle today, here’s the 50mm f1.4 from Sigma:


First up – since this is the f1.4, what most people really want to know about is how the depth of field is on this lens, and whether it can be tack sharp at the perimeter.  The answer is yes, it can definitely be tack sharp.  here’s a few sample shots taken with the lens.

Portrait Test from Sigma

Portrait Test from Sigma

Depth of Field Test on Sigma (Low Light)

Depth of Field Test on Sigma (Low Light)

Bokeh Test from Sigma (outdoors)

Bokeh Test from Sigma (outdoors)

I tried the lens in multiple environments and with multiple things in mind, including portrait work (my dog is the only one who will sit still for me anymore), depth of field, and bokeh, as well as indoor and outdoor shots, as shown above.  While the subjects and overall composition may not be worthy of Smithsonian inclusion, I think they illustrate well how the Sigma 50mm f1.4 would work for its intended purpose.  (Pretty darn good on sharpness, bokeh, and low-light performance.

Other Pluses

  • Weight – I love the weight of this lens.  It’s not too heavy, but also sturdy enough to know you’ve got some good glass on your body.
  • Finish – The now-familiar mat finish adds a nice professional touch, with the lens very sturdy and non-slip grip easy on the hands.
  • Filter – The popular 77mm filter for the lens cap is another nice touch as that is one I have both an ND and a polarizing filter for, eliminating the need to purchase additional filters for use on this. (The Canon 50mm takes a 58mm filter which I don’t have in my gear bag).
  • Low-Light – As mentioned above, I tried a few low light shots (so the ISO was cranked way up too).  Given the limitation of ISO, I was able to effectively hand hold the lens in limited lighting environments, so places like restaurants, concerts, and other areas where light is not as immediately available, or where flash could be obtrusive, the lens did very well.

The downside (you knew it was coming), is the cost.  Here the Sigma actually runs more than its comparison in the Canon line-up, because it’s $100 more, coming in at $499 retail from B&H.  (The Canon is $399.)  I have a feeling though, that the rule of thumb applies here as the lens seems a tad heftier and it has an additional element to it (8) than the Canon counterpart (7).

Overall, this lens, as a made-for-digital tool is definitely one for the gear bag of the discerning photographer.  We’ll be back again tomorrow with the Contest Winner for October, and the announcement of the prize/giveaway for November, along with a software review.  You may be able to guess what’s coming, but be sure to tune in anyway, as there’s lots to come!  Happy shooting everyone and we’ll see you back here tomorrow!

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5 comments for “Hardware Review: The Nifty 50 from Sigma

  1. October 26, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Its funny that you post about this – I bought that very lens about three weeks ago for my 50D. I used to have the Canon 50 1.8, and I like this lens much better. The only thing I will say is that its sharpness is not what I had expected from a prime lens. My Tamron 24-75 2.8 is incredibly sharp, and noticeably so when comparing to this lens. Maybe Ill have to do an actual test….

  2. October 26, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Hey hun, did you post the winners to flickr group yet and I just missed it somewhere? Nice review too. 🙂
    .-= mitzs´s last blog ..Photoshop Lightroom – 03 – The navigator and image rating =-.

  3. October 26, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    ummm, ignore my questions I just saw it at the end there. Missed it first time around.

    I will say this about the lens. I don’t think I would spend a 100 more for off brand lens. I don’t think 1 element will make that much of a difference for the price. But then again. I am newbie to this and cheap. 🙂
    .-= mitzs´s last blog ..Photoshop Lightroom – 03 – The navigator and image rating =-.

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