Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Review

5.0
May 8, 2014 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM is a fast standard prime lens for full-frame DSLR cameras. The 50mm f/1.4 features 13 optical elements in 8 groups and a HSM focusing system which provides quiet, smooth and fast autofocus with full-time manual focus override. Retailing for £859 / $949, read our expert Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM review to find out if it's the ultimate "fast fifty" lens...

The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM is a new standard prime lens for full-frame DSLR cameras. Designed to be the ultimate “fast 50”, the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM is comprised of 13 elements in 8 groups and features a rounded 9 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out of focus areas of the image. It has a Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) for quiet, smooth and accurate autofocusing, Super Multi-Layer Coating to reduce flare and ghosting, a minimum focusing distance of 40cm /11.8in and a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:5.6. The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lens is currently available for £849.99 / $949.99 in the UK and the US, respectively.

Ease of Use

Weighing in at 815 grams and measuring 9.9cm in length, the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM is a big lens given its focal length, and signficantly larger and heavier than other standard 50mm lenses, with the exception of the Zeiss Otus 55mm F1.4. As seen in the photos below, it complements a full-frame camera like the Canon EOS 5D Mark III very well though, feeling well-balanced if a little heavy!

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lens alongside a Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Build quality is excellent. The lens has a plastic shell with a mixture of metallic parts and a new compound material, TSC (Thermally Stable Composite), used inside. It also incorporates a brass bayonet mount that's supposed to be more durable. The optical elements are made of high-grade glass. The focus ring is pleasingly wide and ridged for easier grip.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSMFront of the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Front of the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

In terms of features, the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM offers all the basics that you need from a prime lens. The main exception is the lack of built-in Vibration Reduction, although the very fast maximum aperture of f/1.4 helps to make up for this.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSMFront of the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSMRear of the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

Focusing is usefully internal and manual focusing is possible when set via the Focus switch on the lens barrel. Full-time manual focus override is also available at any time simply by rotating the focus ring. A clear distance scale in both feet and meters runs from the closest focusing distance of 0.4m / 1.3ft to infinity.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSMFront of the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSMRear of the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM ships with a good quality soft case and also a large plastic petal-shaped lens hood. It accepts 77mm filters.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSMThe Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lens in-hand

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSMFront of the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lens, with the supplied LH730-03 lens hood fitted

Focal Range

At the 50mm focal length the angle of view is 46.8 degrees.

 Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSMField of view at 50mm

Focusing

The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lens has a wide focus ring. There are hard stops at both ends of the range, making it easier to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the 77mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM zoom is a fairly quick performer, taking about 0.25 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III that we tested it with.

We didn't experience much "hunting", either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time. It's also a quiet performer, thanks to the built-in HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor), which makes this lens quite well-suited to video recording.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are only conspicuous by their complete absence from our test shots.

Light Fall-off

With the lens set to its maximum aperture of F/1.4, there is significant light fall-off in the corners. Stopping-down to F/4 virtually eliminates this.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSMLight fall-off

Macro

The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM isn't claimed to be a macro lens, with a minimum focusing distance of 40cm/15.8in and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:5.6. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to your subject, in this case a Compact Flash memory card.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSMClose-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. In the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lens, Sigma employed an iris diaphragm with nine rounded blades, which has resulted in very nice bokeh in our view. We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several 100% crops for your perusal.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM
   
Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.

Entry Tags

review, lens, nikon, sony, canon, full frame, full-frame, sigma, aps-c, fx, f1.4, f 1.4, 0mm, Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Review, sigma 50mm

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