Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM A-mount lens review by MediaArchivist

reviewer#10378 date: Jul-13-2012
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Rokkor 58/1.2
price paid:499 USD (new)
positive:Excellent build quality
Excellent image quality
Great bokeh
Great low light performance
Good price
negative:At f/1.4 sometimes autofocus has to hunt.
comment:Awesome lens. I take a lot of shots of musicians in dimly lit bars, and for those situations I bring this lens and my CZ 24/2. I call them my "rock & roll lenses."

I had read about quality control issues, in particular auto focus accuracy. I have found nothing to complain about. Maybe I got lucky, but I suspect those issues were confined to early production runs (I bought mine in April 2012).

At f/1.4 the depth of field is effectively the width of a human hair, so I am not too surprised that the autofocus has to hunt every now and then. The manual override works perfectly, and on an a77 the peaking makes this easy. I have shot entire sets at f/1.4 and manual focus with great results.

The bokeh is wonderful, and it seems even better in low light. It really makes "melting the background away" work. Not surprisingly, it works very well as a portrait lens. I have often been walking around the city (any city, really) as the sun goes down, and from noon to midnight I am still able to capture great sharp shots. The minor flare from sunlight is attractive (I sometimes use flare as an artistic element), but easily manageable with the hood. Unexpected bonus: with macro tubes I can get a magnification level better than 1:2!

The lens is (for the most part) a fairly simple double gauss construction, with a pretty big front element. I don't find this lens to be particularly heavy or large. If you want f/1.4 (I do), a huge front lens element is inevitable. Glass is heavy, and more glass is more heavy. With that in mind, I think this lens is as small and light as possible for the features and performance.

Highly recommended.

Update: I am using this on my a99ii, and it is spectacular! Take everything I mention above, and add very accurate AF-C and facial tracking with the a99ii. Killer combo for low light concert photography!

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 61
  • sharpness: 4.75
  • color: 4.67
  • build: 4.64
  • distortion: 4.82
  • flare control: 4.59
  • overall: 4.69 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania