Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM for Sony E-Mount Review
The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM for Sony E-Mount is a new standard prime lens for Sony's full-frame range of mirrorless cameras.
This lens 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 Sony version of the lens features a newly developed control algorithm that optimises the autofocus drive and maximises the data transmission speed specifically for mirrorless cameras, in theory making it quicker to focus than using the DSLR version of the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM lens with a lens adapter from Sigma, Metabones or another third-party adapter. It's also compatible with Sony’s Continuous AF (AF-C) and high-speed autofocus modes, plus the camera's in-body image stabilisation system, if it's available.
The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM for Sony E-Mount lens is currently available for £599.99 / $949.99 in the UK and the US, respectively.
Ease of Use
Weighing in at 910 grams and measuring 12.6cm in length, the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM for Sony E-Mount is a very big and heavy lens given its focal length, and signficantly larger and heavier than most other standard 50mm lenses for Sony mirrorless cameras. On the other hand, it's actually about the same size and weight as the DSLR version of the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM plus a lens adapter.
As seen in the photos below, it rather dwarves a full-frame mirrorless camera like the Sony A7R III that we tested it with, requiring you to cradle the lens barrel in your left-hand and hold the camera grip with your right.
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.
In terms of features, the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM for Sony E-Mount 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, as does the camera's in-body image stabilisation system, if it's available.
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.
The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM for Sony E-Mount 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 for Sony E-Mount zoom is a pretty quick performer, taking about 0.2 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Sony A7R 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 satisfyingly quiet, thanks to the built-in HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor), which makes this lens quite well-suited to video recording.
The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM for Sony E-Mount ships with a good quality soft case and also a large plastic petal-shaped lens hood. It accepts 77mm filters.
At the 50mm focal length the angle of view is 46.8 degrees.
Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are only conspicuous by their complete absence from our test shots.
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.
The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM for Sony E-Mount 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.
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 for Sony E-Mount 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.
In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.