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Why the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art is such a great used lens

As featured in MPB’s recently announced Hall of Fame, the ‘game changing’ Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art is one of the best used lenses you can buy. Here we take a look at the particular strengths (and a few weaknesses) of the lens, and share some invaluable insights from owners.

Two years after the release of the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art, the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art arrived. This highly anticipated prime received a lot of interest when word got round that Sigma wasn’t out to compete against Canon or Nikon prime lenses of the same focal length, but the Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4 – a lens that’s as close to optical perfection as it gets. Significantly cheaper than Zeiss’s offering, the Sigma is in the same league in terms of optical quality and offers autofocus whereas its close rival is manual focus only. It’s exceptionally sharp, controls aberrations admirably and is well matched with modern high-resolution cameras in resolving fine detail. It has picked up a reputation for being one of the finest third-party lenses ever made.What we said
● ‘The images it produces display a staggering amount of detail across the frame’
● ‘Those shooting landscapes and travel images will be impressed with its edge-to-edge sharpness’
● ‘This lens is on a par with
the best 50mm optics that we have tested’
● ‘If you have the money and want a fast 50mm, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it’

Here we see a Canon EF mount example of the lens coupled to the original Canon EOS 5D

What to pay
Head to MPB’s website and you’ll be able to search their current stock of used lenses in a matter of seconds. Examples of the lens in like new condition cost slightly more in Canon fit (£534) than in Nikon fit (£499). Excellent condition examples in Canon fit cost £509, whereas excellent condition Nikon examples with the lightest of cosmetic marks could be picked up from £474.

How it fares today
The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art has gained an incredibly high reputation with photographers worldwide and is alleged to be one of Sigma’s best-selling lenses. Initially available in Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony A and Sigma SA mounts, it continues to deliver sublime image quality with today’s high- resolution cameras and produces pleasing bokeh with a natural aesthetic.

New alternatives
In 2018 Sigma added the Sony E-mount version of its 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art to its lineup. Since then we’ve seen the manufacturer add an L-mount version of the lens to cater for photographers who’d like to couple it directly to their Leica and Panasonic cameras. Both examples have been optimised for their respective brands’ autofocus systems and cost the same as DSLR versions.

For and against
+ Offers fantastic value for money
+ Exceptional image quality
+ Great 75mm (equivalent) lens on cropped APS-C cameras
+ Sweet spot of sharpness between f/5.6 and f/8
+ Robust build quality
– Heavier than some alternative 50mm f/1.4 lenses
– No optical stabilisation

At a glance
£474-£509 (in excellent used condition)
Aperture: f/1.4-f/16
Construction: 13 elements in 8 groups
Minimum focusing distance: 40cm
Filter size: 77mm
Weight: 815g

What the owners think

Michael Topham
For many years the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II was my first-choice prime, but I’d been on the lookout for a similar focal length lens capable of delivering a better optical performance matched with superior build quality. I was tempted by the Canon 50mm f1.2 L USM, but the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art was so much cheaper which helped sway my decision. I bought it from new six years ago and since then it has become my turn-to lens for isolating subjects from their surroundings or drawing the viewer’s eye to the heart of the image. It’s by far my favourite lens for shooting portraiture and weddings in low light, where I prefer to shoot in natural light.

The lens is ideal for bridal preparations in low light Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art, 1/125sec at f/1.4, ISO 200

The only drawbacks are its size and weight. It’s heavier than some people might be used to, but this is a compromise that I was prepared to make for a lens that feels so solid and robust in the hand and yields such impressive results. The way it displays such staggering levels of detail wide open is what impresses me most. It goes without saying that those who buy it can’t fail but be impressed by its performance. See Instagram @michaeltophamphotography.
For and against
+ Brilliant for natural-light portraits
– Size and weight

The lens is often pulled from Michael’s bag for his engagement photoshoots and portraits taken in the great outdoors Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art, 1/1600sec at f/2, ISO 200

Keith Young
I purchased a new Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art lens and have fallen in love with it over the last year. Sigma has really stepped up its game with its Art series, offering sleek, modern styling and truly impressive performance. The difference is stark compared to older Sigma lenses. Its wickedly fast autofocus grabs tack-sharp images so effortlessly and silently you’ll wonder why you ever spent so much on your brand-name glass. It’s hard to beat at this price point, so complaints are incredibly minor considering the stunning value it represents. I’ve used it for just about every scenario you can imagine, and it provides top-notch performance. See Instagram @keithyoungphoto
For and against
+ Sleek, modern styling
– MF ring could be slightly smoother

The lens consistently produces exceptional results and is indispensable for Keith’s automotive work. Nikon D750, Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art, 1/3200sec at f/1.4, ISO 100

Sandra Backman
A few years ago I put more effort into my photography and opted to buy a Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art lens. The main reason I wanted this lens was because of the way it performs in low light and the super shallow depth of field it lets you create.

Sandra exploits the shallow depth of field created at f/1.4 Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art, 1/250sec at f/1.4, ISO 250

I have owned the lens for three years and it is one that I always make sure I pack on my adventures. I mainly use this lens outdoors for nature photography and I love the way it allows you to shoot within 40cm of a subject. I also dig it out when I photograph people as it’s a absolutely stunning portrait lens. I’ve recommended it to so many photographers over the years and will continue to do so. See Instagram @phosandra
For and against
+ Very impressive sharpness
– Occasionally the focus fails at f/1.4

An example of the bokeh one can expect wide-open. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art, 1/160sec at f/1.4, ISO 320

Source
Amateur Photographer

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