Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art Sharpness and Bokeh Comparison

While initially testing the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens for our in-depth review, we only had access to the Canon version of the lens (since it came out first), so we could not provide comparison results to other similar focal length Nikon prime lenses. Thanks to our friends at B&H Photo Video, we recently received two copies of the lens for the Nikon F mount to finally complete the review. We also obtained the older version of the lens, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM, along with the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G and Nikon 58mm f/1.4G lenses for comparisons. Unfortunately, the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 we tested was not available at the time and we could not include it in the below bokeh comparisons, although our usual sharpness tests were carried out and those are included in this article.

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art

Before we talk about bokeh characteristics of the above-mentioned lenses, let’s first take a look at the sharpness performance. As usual, we used Imatest software to measure the resolving power of lenses.

1) Imatest Score System Overhaul

While looking at the below Imatest results, you might notice that the scores have decreased from our normal range. This is due to the fact that we have decided to change our lens testing methods for more accuracy and consistency of results. Previously, we relied on Adobe Camera RAW engine to process images, thinking that it was a more realistic approach, as many photographers heavily use Adobe software like Photoshop and Lightroom for post-processing images. However, our experience with the Adobe’s RAW processing engine has shown that Adobe can be quite unreliable and inconsistent when it comes to processing RAW files, particularly when dealing with different manufacturers. Silent application of lens corrections and bad handling of Fuji RAW files were the reason why we’ve decided to permanently switch to DCRaw software for demosaicing RAW files. The results have been much more consistent and accurate.

In addition, we want our readers to be able to compare our Imatest scores to other review sites on the Internet that also utilize Imatest software and the same cameras (for Nikon lens tests, we use Nikon D800E / D810 DSLRs, for the Sony E mount we use NEX-7 / A6000, for the Sony FE mount we use Sony A7R and for the Fuji X mount we use X-E2 / X-T1 cameras). We will provide instructions on how to do that in a separate article, where we will also shed some light on our lens testing procedures.

Since we have tested many lenses so far, we ask our readers to be patient while we transition all the reviews to the new format. In addition, we are also updating each review, so that the provided image samples are of high resolution (minimum 2048 pixels on the long edge) for newer high resolution monitors, tablets and other hand-held devices.

Let’s take a close look at how the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art performs in terms of sharpness and bokeh and compare it to other fast f/1.4 lenses in the similar focal length range.

2) Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art vs Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM

How different is the new Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art compared to the older Sigma 50mm f/1.4 version? Let’s take a quick look at the performance benchmarks:

Looking at the above charts, it is immediately clear that the older Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM simply does not stand a chance against the new 50mm f/1.4 Art. The older version is much worse at the maximum aperture and does not have near as good of sharpness when stopped down. This is expected, since the optical formula is very different between these lenses.

3) Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art vs Nikon 50mm f/1.4G

What about the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lens? Let’s compare the two:

Although the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G starts out better than the older Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM, its performance is nowhere close to what the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art is capable of, even stopped down to f/8.0.

4) Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art vs Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4

Here is how the amazing Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 compares to the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art:

Interestingly, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art was actually a bit sharper than the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 at wide apertures in the center. However, take a close look at the mid-frame and corner performance of the Zeiss and you will quickly realize that the Zeiss Otus has very impressive sharpness across the frame at maximum aperture, which is something you would rarely see on prime lenses. And when stopped down to f/5.6, the Zeiss Otus reached the most impressive score of 3209, which is a record-breaking result in our lens testing experience. In fact, no other lens has been able to even get to the 3100 mark! As both lenses are stopped down beyond f/4, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art takes over in the mid-frame and the corners, giving more even performance across the frame than the Zeiss Otus.

Don’t let the above chart fool you though – there is much more to the Zeiss Otus than what you see here. The two Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lenses we’ve tested did not reveal consistent results. Although we always use the best scores a lens can produce, the first sample of the Sigma Art produced inferior results, by up to 12%. This shows that your mileage with the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 could vary due to inferior QA / sample variation, something you cannot say about the Zeiss Otus, which goes through much more rigorous testing and QA. In addition, the Otus produces stunning colors that the Sigma cannot match – German glass is neutral in color and is much more natural in comparison to Japanese glass. There is a reason why exotic lenses are so much more expensive

5) Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art vs Nikon 58mm f/1.4G

Lastly, let’s take a look at how the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art fares against the Nikon 58mm f/1.4G:

As we have pointed out in our Nikon 58mm f/1.4G review, the lens is not about sharpness and the above chart reflects that. Not only is the Nikon 58mm f/1.4G noticeably softer wide open, it also has quite poor mid-frame and corner performance due to its wavy / sombrero field curvature. Its corner performance stays poor even when stopped down. Clearly, if you are looking for ultimate sharpness, you should skip the 58mm f/1.4G…

6) Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art Bokeh Comparison

The bokeh rendering capability of the lens is quite pleasing for a 50mm prime. Highlight shapes do show defined transitions, but they do not look distracting as on some lenses. The dreaded onion-shaped bokeh that I showed on the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art is barely visible when photographing extremely bright points of light. Below are two comparisons that illustrate bokeh rendering capabilities of the following lenses: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM, Nikon 50mm f/1.4G and Nikon 58mm f/1.4G. Here is the first comparison that shows bright highlights:

Sigma 50mm Art vs Sigma 50mm vs Nikon 50mm vs Nikon 58mm Bokeh Highlights

Based on my subjective opinion and preference, I would rank the above lenses in bokeh performance in the following order, from best to last: Nikon 58mm f/1.4G, Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM, Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art, Nikon 50mm f/1.4G. The Nikon 58mm f/1.4G clearly shows the least defined borders and very smooth transitions everywhere, so it is my #1 choice here.

What about background transitions? Let’s take a look at another example:

Sigma 50mm Art vs Sigma 50mm vs Nikon 50mm vs Nikon 58mm Bokeh Render

Once again, the smoothest of the bunch is the Nikon 58mm f/1.4G, followed by the older Sigma 50mm f/1.4, then the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art and the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G.

Looks like the older Sigma 50mm f/1.4 has a superior bokeh construction, although its sharpness is nowhere as good as the new 50mm f/1.4 Art.

7) Summary

Based on the above sharpness comparisons, it is clear that the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art is a superb choice when compared to the competition. The lens heavily outperforms its predecessor, both Nikon 50mm f/1.4G and 58mm f/1.4G lenses and shows very impressive results when compared to the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4, which is over 4 times more expensive. Although the Zeiss Otus outperforms the Sigma stopped down, the latter actually looks very similar in the center at wide apertures. The Sigma also improves significantly across the image frame when stopped down, showing superb corner performance at f/4 and smaller. The only area where the Sigma Art shows inferior results is in its bokeh performance – the older Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM seems better in this regard, thanks to smoother rendering of highlights and other out of focus regions.

Congrats to Sigma for creating yet another winner. I hope Sigma will continue to impress us with more superb lenses like this in the future. The rumored Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art might have a tough time competing with the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G and 85mm f/1.8G lenses, as they are already amazing…

The above information was incorporated into our Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art review


  1. 1) Lee
    August 11, 2014 at 4:39 am

    It should be Zeiss otus 55mm not 58mm.

    • August 11, 2014 at 4:52 am

      Thanks Lee, that was a typo in the summary – I have just fixed that.

  2. 2) autofocusross
    August 11, 2014 at 4:45 am

    Thanks for the hard work in testing and scoring these lenses. I love my Sigma wide angle, the only issue that seems to crop up with Sigma is that the (used to be) lenses varied in quality from batch to batch, so the same lens bought in two different cities or countries may exhibit excellent in one place and so-so in another.

    I hope Sigma are on top of this issue now, and we can look forward to consistency. I have no complaints with my lens, but reading around the web, there are a few who are unhappy (amazon reviews where people swapped to another lens etc).

    At these prices, they should be as perfect as possible, and it seems the tested lens ticks all those boxes, thanks again.

    • August 11, 2014 at 4:54 am

      Autofocusross, yes, that’s true and that’s certainly my experience with Sigma lenses as well. As noted in the above article, the two samples I tested varied quite a bit, which is unfortunate. Nikon is more consistent and Zeiss is the gold standard for the Nikon F mount in my experience…

      • 2.1.1) darrell Wood
        August 11, 2014 at 6:45 am


        Does you review mean you will replace your Nikon versions with the Sigma. Would be good to understand if not a reasons. Thanks in advance

      • 2.1.2) Arturo
        August 11, 2014 at 9:30 am

        Yep AF consistency is the most important question when it comes to Sigma lenses. Youcan have crazy sharp lens, with beautiful or ok(in sigmas case) bokeh, no CA and other distortions – but at the end, if it misses focus 8 out of 10 times – its no good! I’ve replaced my 18-35A two times, and still the same s*ity focus issues. I do not have nerves to play that game anymore…

        When they fix their production issues and this becomes publicly known fact, I’ll by 35mm, 50mm and 85mm (ok still no available). Withou AF issues their lenses completely outclass Nikon’s legacy designs. BUT while AF issues prevail, so will my abstinence…

  3. 3) Matt
    August 11, 2014 at 4:58 am

    Thanks for the review. It’s the first time I’ve seen the test results verses the older sigma 50mm f1.4. The question I have is to upgrade or not? Still none the wiser! I guess it depends on the sharpness vs bokeh question? Is the autofocus on the new art lens any more accurate/consistent?

    • August 11, 2014 at 5:47 am

      Matt, if you like shooting with a 50mm prime, I would suggest to upgrade to the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art from the old version, as its sharpness is amazing at f/1.4, which is the aperture I would want to use on this lens all the time. Bokeh is a subjective topic, but it is not like you are getting very ugly bokeh with the Sigma Art – it just looks a bit more defined compared to the older Sigma. When shooting bright highlights, you will get onion-shaped bokeh on the old Sigma, as shown in this review and the bokeh characteristics change significantly with out of focus regions in front and behind of the focused area. Sometimes the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G looks better, other times the Sigma 50mm non-Art does. So it depends on what you are looking at and what you prefer more…

      Great question on AF consistency and accuracy. I find the AF speed and accuracy to be noticeably better on the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art, especially in low light situations. I shot a wedding with the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art on the D810 and its AF accuracy was quite good – will report on this in a separate article.

      • 3.1.1) sceptical1
        August 11, 2014 at 6:18 pm

        Hi Nasim,

        Thanks for the review. I am not regretting purchasing the 50mm Art and felt it was an upgrade in sharpness and bokeh vs the Nikon 50mm 1.4. I am having fun with it for sure, but after seeing the bokeh results for the 58mm and the older Sigma I think the Sigma Art is a less clear cut choice depending on how you trade off sharpness / bokeh. I tend to emphasize bokeh and while I don’t intend to change out this 50mm anytime soon (having sooo much fun with it) I can easily see how I might have purchased the Nikon 58… :)
        I really respect another comment made by Nasim about the 50mm Art. You purchase it to shoot wide open! The AF and sharpness are so good you don’t worry about stopping down, just about DOF.

  4. 4) Travis
    August 11, 2014 at 5:45 am

    Hi Nasim,

    is your full, detailed review of the Nikon Nikkor 35 1.8 G FX lens still planned and or coming?

    So far, we only got a short preview with the notification that full review is (up)coming….thats why I am asking….

    Thanks for informing us,


    • August 11, 2014 at 5:57 am

      Travis, yes, that’s certainly in the pipeline – it got delayed due to other projects and commitments. I have it started, but have not had a chance to complete it…wish there were more than 24 hours in a day!

  5. 5) Mel
    August 11, 2014 at 7:01 am

    Nasim, great review! And thanks for including the original Sigma in the comparison, I don’t think many/any other online reviewers have done it. And of course you one one of the only ones that looks at very important bokeh and transitions!

    I have always admired the smooth transitions and smooth bokeh in photos taken with the original Sigma lens, and had wanted one for a long time. I have read your previous article about Bokeh comparison of the old sigma and never agreed with your conclusions. It’s probably the only article on this site I just couldn’t agree with.

    When the Art 50mm was announced I put my plans to buy a Sigma 50mm EX on hold and put in a “pre” order for the new Art. When sample photos were published online of the Art lens, I did not like the look of the the (for me) harsh bokeh that I saw and promptly cancelled my order.

    The good news for me was that there were lots of the older versions on the market and I was able to find a used one from a working family/wedding photographer that was almost brand new. I could not be happier with it!

    Your test for me shows that my $325 was VERY well spent vs. the Nikon 58mm (a lens I admire). For me the original 50mm is a perfect combination of bokeh, smooth transitions, color, sharpness, AF speed, price for my use. In fact my copy is extremely sharp to my eyes. In many cases I find it sharper (starting at f2) than my 70-200 F4 VR, if you can believe that!

    And I am glad that you have come to love the Nikon 58mm… and now you seem to rightly give more credit to the original Sigma 50mm ;-).

    • 5.1) Mel
      August 11, 2014 at 7:04 am
      • 5.1.1) maghi cat
        August 11, 2014 at 7:56 am

        Lovely image, very sharp at mid. I do see a lot of chromatic aberration (CA), greens and purple on the edges and boarder shadows. I realize this test was centered around sharpness and bokeh but CA must also be considered. It can be removed in post but always at the risk of image quality.

      • 5.1.2) Manny
        August 12, 2014 at 10:32 am

        Nice photo, but even though the composition works for this picture, eyes smack in the middle, what happens when the point of interest is in the outer 1/3 of the frame. Just as the the Nikon 58mm, too soft to be usable. I like bokeh, well maybe not as much as the next guy, but I do not want bokeh on a person’s face when they are the point of focus and happen not to be centered.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          August 12, 2014 at 12:53 pm


          Just an FYI – when a lens such as the Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G has heavy field curvature, it does not mean that it will be blurry outside the center – it will be sharp where you focus and blurry around it. So even if you place the subject off center, you will still be able to get the subject sharp.

  6. 6) acmfabs
    August 11, 2014 at 7:14 am

    Wonder how the Nikon 50mm.f1.8g would compare in this company?

    • 6.1) Marco
      August 11, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      I’ve suggested below that the bokeh quality and sharpness of the Sigma 50mm Art probably compare very favorably with the Nikon 50mm 1.8G. The problem is that users of fast 50’s may not like this. I suspect most would prefer the softer bokeh rendering of a Noct.

  7. 7) Carlo
    August 11, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Hi Nasim, in the comparisons that you illustrate bokeh rendering capabilities for the highlights, in my opinion Nikon 58mm is not so good because in the circle on the right is clearly visible the classic onion-shaped and also the fringe colour around the circle is more evident. So in the first place I would placed the 50mm art or the old Sigma. Not certainly the Nikon 58mm.
    For the background transition test, the Nikon 58mm is the winner indeed! But probably this is due to the fact that this lens is the worst sharp lens on the league. Now if Zeiss Otus 55mm is the sharpest lens, I just wonder how the bokeh test (for the highlights and transition zone) would be for this lens. Since it is the sharpest probably the transition test will be not so smooth (I’m just thinking).
    And again, what about the cheapest 50mm lens on the market (Nikon 50mm f/1.8 G) in comparison to this big guys?
    If you shot in a real world (for instance where the background contains leaves and twigs or bushes), how is the background? I’ve seen many test of the 35mm Sigma art where the background is really nervous and not smooth as it must be.
    You told us that the second copy of the sigma is 12% inferior to the reported result. Have you tried to adjust the AF tune on camera or have you used the USB docking station to calibrate that lens before testing? Or even after the fine tuning the result was inferior to the first Sigma art lens? In other words if we get a bad sigma lens is there no way to adjust it???
    Please consider my comment for a possible update of your interesting and useful comparison.

    • August 17, 2014 at 12:41 am

      Carlo, bokeh is subjective, so what I presented in the article is purely my opinion. Unfortunately, I did not have the Zeiss lens at the time when I was doing the test. If I obtain another copy, I would be happy to compare it with the Nikkor lenses I have. From what I remember, bokeh on the Zeiss Otus also had the onion-ring shape to it due to use of aspherical lens elements.

      As for real world test, the above two bokeh examples are very similar to what one would see in the real world in terms of transitions and rendering of background highlights. And the Sigma art is not expected to show beautiful bokeh, because it is a wide angle lens and those are never good for creamy bokeh.

      The Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G is an amazing lens for its price. Its bokeh comparison can be found in my Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G review. And the MTF performance of the 50mm f/1.8G is also superb – better than what the 50mm f/1.4G can yield, especially wide open.

      As for the second copy of the Sigma that had inferior focus, please note that its AF capability is not important when I perform these tests – all focusing is done via contrast detect in Live View, so adjusting AF Fine Tune or trying to tweak the lens with the USB dock would be useless. In many cases, I end up manually focusing lenses, since even Live View contrast detect is not always 100% accurate…

  8. 8) Sven Erikson
    August 11, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Great review, interesting comparison.

    In the bokeh comparison, you rank the least sharp lenses to have the ‘best’ bokeh. It seems like there is some tradeoff between sharpness and the smoothness of blur transitions, at least, in your subjective ranking.

    I prefer the bokeh of the 50mm Art personally – it has the least color fringing.

    • 8.1) Marco
      August 11, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      Color fringing tools are able to easily remove these in seconds.

  9. 9) Harry Samuel
    August 11, 2014 at 10:24 am

    While this is very informative you should add charts for the Nikon 70-200 @ 85 and 135 as well as the Canon 70-200 @ 85 and 135. I stopped using most of my primes when the 70-200 zooms came out. And while the zooms may not be up to the stats of all the primes, it would be of interst to see how they stack up.

    • August 17, 2014 at 12:42 am

      Harry, I don’t think it would be logical to compare a slower f/2.8 lens to an f/1.4 prime – there are huge differences in depth of field and rendering of bokeh.

      • 9.1.1) Harry Samuel
        August 18, 2014 at 11:51 pm

        But it would give me information to compare the two. I take my 50mm F/1.2 out very rarely. Just thought might be interesting to see the charts.

  10. 10) Pieter Kers
    August 11, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Hallo Nasim, i understand you use d800e and d810 for these Imatest comparisons.. from the internet i learned that the d810 is sharper than the d800e offcenter… Do you experience that too? ( could be due tot the new sensor/coverglass)
    So it might give different results when using both bodies for Imatests
    cheers! PK

    • August 17, 2014 at 12:44 am

      Pieter, that’s actually not true – see my article that I published today, which shows that there is no difference in performance between the D800E and the D810 in terms of sharpness:

      If you see a test showing different results, it is most likely due to poor testing technique, or the author did not re-focus with the lens on different camera bodies. Even 0.001mm difference in flange distance can potentially skew the results…

  11. 11) Marco
    August 11, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Thanks, Nasim, the way you set this up made for a very interesting comparison. Great to see the Art against it’s predecessor as well as Nikon’s 1.4G and 58mmm. That provides for both continuity to past reviews and relative measurement against other well known lenses.

    Several years ago I chose the original Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM over the Nikon 50mm 1.4G specifically for its better background bokeh over Nikon’s lens knowing that the Sigma required more stopping down to achieve edge and corner sharpness. Did that make sense? For me it did. If someone is buying a f/1.4 lens it is a safe bet is that it’s for superior bokeh wide open, not edge sharpness.

    MF glass excluded, the 50mm Art now has arguably got the sharpest lens but at the cost of having the hardest background bokeh… qualities that make its optical character more similar to a dirt cheap Nikon 50mm f/1.8 than a Noct. In that regard I wonder if Sigma’s design objectives with the 50mm Art were fundamentally at cross purposes to what users of a fast 50 want (soft, beautiful bokeh).

    In light of the stratospheric pricing for the Nikon 58mm, your tests show the quality of bokeh produced by the much less expensive Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM now represents a particularly outstanding value. If I were buying a fast 50 today, it is clear to me that I’d still choose the older EX DG lens and pocket the savings.

    • August 17, 2014 at 1:04 am

      Marco, based on what I have seen from my numerous tests, the rendering of bokeh is heavily dependent on the type of elements used in a lens and their location on the lens. Most lenses that perform superbly in terms of sharpness have aspherical lens elements and those typically end up creating onion-shaped bokeh. Examples of such lenses are: Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G, Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art, Sigma 50mm f/1.4 non-art, Zeiss 55mm f/1.4. All are optically corrected for CA and other optical issues and all show signs of onion bokeh (some are worse than others). If you look at any of the Nikon’s “cream machines”, the 85mm f/1.4G, 135 f/2 DC, 70-200mm f/2.8G, none of them have aspherical elements, so their bokeh appears very smooth. So yes, there seems to be a trade-off between sharpness and bokeh – whenever a lens is super sharp, its bokeh will probably be affected negatively. The Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G is an exception – Nikon wanted it to have very good bokeh, but if they did not use an aspherical lens element, it would have been an optical disaster (I cannot imagine it being any worse than it already is optically). If Nikon figured out a way to make the 58mm f/1.4G sharper without using an aspherical element, it would have joined the ranks of real cream machines like the 85mm f/1.4G.

      As for the 58mm f/1.4G vs Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM, the Nikkor is sharper where you focus it. Due to its weird field curvature, it actually renders the background away from the subject differently, giving you a “3D” look – I wrote about this in my Nikon 58mm f/1.4G review. So I would not judge the performance of both lenses purely based on the above chart and bokeh comparisons – there is more to the 58mm lens for sure. For some people, the difference is very minor, while for others, it is important. I would recommend to rent both and try them out for taking real pictures of subjects and base the purchase decision by evaluating the results. In addition, I have not found the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM to be consistent in terms of AF and sharpness, especially on high resolution cameras like the D800 / D800E / D810. Many of our readers have reported problems with the Sigma, with failed AF motors, sharpness variances and other problems occurring overtime. Unfortunately, this holds true for the Sigma Art series as well, which is why you really have to watch the performance during the first year of owning a Sigma lens.

      • 11.1.1) Marco
        August 28, 2014 at 11:18 am

        Thanks for adding the points about the 58mm Nikkor. It gives me something to look for when reviewing images shot with that lens. Interesting that you believe its “weird” field curvature “renders the background away from the subject differently, giving you a ā€œ3Dā€ look.” This is a quirky finding that reminds me of the bokeh comparison you did for the original Sigma comparing the quality of bokeh in front of the plane of focus (where I recall it didn’t fare as well as the Nikkor 1.4G).

        I’ve personally found my Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM to focus accurately and swiftly on my D700. To your point about the newer lenses holding up better on high resolution cameras, granted. I’m still not sold that the higher resolution is needed by most people and see some evidence that color quality has been compromised for the sake of higher resolution and higher ISO.

  12. 12) AZ Shooter
    August 11, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    Thank you for the most informative post. I have been looking to get a fast nifty fifty for some time now and have been uncertain regarding the Sigma or the Nikon copies. Admittedly, I have been leaning towards the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM (based on the larger front element 77mm) and although the “Art” version out performs the original Sigma, it is a bit of heavy lifting based on the price and my current ability as a photographer. Your article has convinced me that older lens is a true value, at least for me, based on the new selling price.

  13. 13) HomoSapiensWannaBe
    August 11, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    In the bokeh example, the out of focus highlights for the Sigma ART lens show the least longitudinal chromatic aberration. Therefore — subjectively — even though the ART highlight “rings” are more defined, I prefer the look because the cyan fringing on the others is too distracting.

  14. 14) ma
    August 11, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Hi Nasim, long time reader but first time poster, very disappointed 50 1.8g wasnt included in the comparison, obviously its not 1.4 but I believe alot of the readers like me that are interested in the sigma would have like to see it before purchasing the sigma (once it is available). Any chance you can add it?

    • August 13, 2014 at 5:13 am

      Ma, don’t be disappointed – the 50mm f/1.8G is a gem when compared to the 50mm f/1.4G. Much better MTF numbers and the bokeh does not look bad either. I did not include the lens in this comparison, because it is a f/1.8, not an f/1.4. Plus, it is supposed to be in a different price category…

  15. Profile photo of A Roanld 15) A Roanld
    August 11, 2014 at 4:21 pm


    Do you use the default settings in dcraw?

    Do you use 16bit tiff output?

    Personallly, I find taking the large NEF files from a D810 and multiplying the size by a factor of 8 (going from 14 bits to 16, two of which are wasted) a bit off-putting. I gone back to sucking it up with ACR.


    • August 13, 2014 at 5:15 am

      I use the default DCRaw settings in Imatest. TIFF output shows 48-bit Adobe RGB in Imatest. I originally ran 24-bit sRGB, but the calculation was not any faster, so I decided to keep it at 48-bit.

  16. 16) Japati
    August 12, 2014 at 12:35 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Could you please post the whole pictures from each lens instead of just crops of the bokeh comparison? I am eager to see how different (or similar) the pictures looked from each of the lenses.


  17. 17) Manuel
    August 12, 2014 at 1:16 am

    I have a question,
    could it be, that lenses with higher MTF-Performance have sharper bokeh-frings. What I mean is, could it be that they can`t get such a smooth bokeh because of the frings are sharper? Sorry for my bad english.
    Greeting Manuel

  18. 18) Mr. T
    August 12, 2014 at 2:06 am

    I would appreciate to hear more about DCRAW from you. How to install it, use it, some pics showing the difference with ACR, etc. Thanks

    • August 12, 2014 at 3:06 am

      I agree! :-)

      I use Linux (Fedora) and there are not many programs that can convert D610 raw photos for it. I have tried dcraw, but the different options were too time consuming for me to use it on a regular basis. Right I’m now testing AfterShot Pro 2 and it seems to be ok, but I really like the open source way of doing things.

      Nasim, could you please write on how you use dcraw and what arguments you pass it? Do you convert the photos to .tiff then open them in an editor to do the rest of the processing?

      • August 13, 2014 at 5:19 am

        Christopher, I will post an article on the subject separately perhaps, but I am not sure if it would be very useful. DCRaw is used pretty widely by a lot of different software, including Photo Ninja I believe.

        • Neil
          August 13, 2014 at 1:36 pm

          I’m not as sure about that. Before the first Fuji x-trans support for Photo Ninja was released I asked them about support for it. The programmer wrote to me talking about the algorithms he was trying. Doesn’t mean he isn’t doing dcraw but it’s possible he isn’t. What I’m curious about is why there’s been no update to PN since March.

    • 18.2) Neil
      August 12, 2014 at 8:48 am

      Try LightZone which uses dcraw and puts a nicer interface around it and is easier to install.

      • 18.2.1) Mr. T
        August 12, 2014 at 3:46 pm

        Thanks, checking it out…

  19. Profile photo of Sherman L Barr 19) Sherman L Barr
    August 12, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    Thanks so much for the reviews. I try to read all that pertain to the gear that I am looking at.
    Now for this review of the Sigma 50mm F/1.4. I have the new Nikon 50mm f/1.8 G. , and I am thinking
    of switching to the Sigma.

    I have been having good luck with a Sigma 50-500 lens that I use for my wildlife photography. It has
    acceptable AF speed and accuracy. Someday I hope you will have the time to review this lens.

    Thanks again,

    Sherm Barr

    • August 13, 2014 at 5:17 am

      Sherman, I will write about this in a different article, but I find the hit ratio with Nikkor glass to be better compared to Sigma. Particularly when using the 50mm f/1.8G, which has very good AF accuracy in my experience.

  20. 20) AJ
    August 12, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Talking about ‘German Glass’ it would have been informative if you’d included the Zeiss 50 MP in the comparison tests.
    I have the Nikon 50 F1.4 AF-D and am not impressed with it so the alternatives would be the Zeiss 50 MP or the Sigma 50Art at similar price points.

  21. 21) Jan K.
    August 13, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Bokeh from the Otus is missing?

    Nice article though!

  22. 22) Arnav
    January 10, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    I personally think that the Nikon bokeh is a bit brighter and distracting. The Sigma (non-art) is softer and non-obtrusive :)

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