Sigma announced the new Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens back in January of this year, but we were left with a couple of big unknowns such as the price. I guess it has become the latest trend to announce early development efforts by a number of manufacturers now – Nikon did the same with their Nikkor 800mm f/5.6 lens and the D4s DSLR camera. A couple of days ago, Sigma finally announced the pricing and availability of the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM “Art” and I must say, after hearing rumors about Sigma challenging the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 in optical quality, I was very surprised to find out that the lens is going to be retailed for $950. As you may already know, I am a big fan of the new revamped line of Sigma lenses. After reviewing the 35mm f/1.4 Art, I was blown away by its sharpness, focus speed / accuracy and color rendition. So when Sigma announced the 50mm f/1.4 Art series, I looked at the MTF charts and knew immediately that the lens will not disappoint.
Unfortunately, Nikon does not offer a professional-grade 50mm line in its line-up. Ever since the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G came out (see my detailed review), the older 50mm f/1.4G just does not make much sense anymore due to its inferior performance, especially at the maximum aperture (see my Nikon 50mm f/1.4G vs 50mm f/1.8G comparison article). It has been three years now since the 50mm f/1.8G came out and Nikon still has not announced any plans to revamp its 50mm f/1.4G lens. Many pros that want f/1.4 have been hanging on to their 50mm f/1.4 “G” and “D” lenses, or have switched to the older Sigma 50mm f/1.4, which is not a stellar performer either. And for Canon shooters out there, the problem is somewhat similar – the Canon 50mm f/1.4 is far from being superb at the maximum aperture and the 50mm f/1.2L is pretty expensive for the budget conscious, with its own list of challenges in the autofocus department. So Sigma’s 50mm f/1.4 Art lens is definitely designed to fill these gaps for both Canon and Nikon mounts.
Take a look at the MTF chart comparison between the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art and the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G:
Now that’s a huge difference in resolution at f/1.4! The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 is supposed to deliver much better sharpness and contrast compared to the Nikon. I can see a bit of field curvature in the mid-frame, but boy, that sharpness is going to be amazing. Zeiss wants your $4K for its insane 55mm f/1.4 Otus, but that’s a huge lens with no autofocus capability, making it a “no-go” for many. As much as I love the Zeiss Otus, it is just really hard to focus on a DSLR camera with a standard focusing screen. And the price alone limits the Otus to a rather small group! The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 is not a small or lightweight lens like the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G / f/1.8G, but it is lighter and significantly cheaper than the Zeiss Otus. So for those that are looking for top notch performance, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art is going to be a “no-brainer”.
Our rep at B&H indicated that the Nikon version of the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art will be available on May 31, 2014. I requested a review sample ASAP for in-depth testing and looks like I will be getting the Canon version in about two weeks, so the Nikon Imatest results on the D800E will be delayed until sometime mid-June. By then, I should have most vital info available, including some bokeh comparisons between the Sigma and Nikon lenses.
Sigma definitely deserves a praise for its efforts to make excellent third party lenses. It is about time to wake the sleeping giants and show them that there are other options! Way to go Sigma!
As usual, you can pre-order the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art from our trusted partner, B&H Photo Video for $949 with free shipping: