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

reviewer#8472 date: Jan-4-2011
sharpness: 5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.8
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 MP24MP24 MP36MP36 MP42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony 50mm f1.8
Sigma 30mm f1.4
price paid:
positive:Amazing bokeh and sharp focus
Fast HSM
Basically no distortion or vignetting on APS-C
Heavy and big
Filters are expensive too
Difficult to AF on dark or very low contrast subjects
comment:50mm is an excellent portrait lens for APS-C and perfect normal lens for FF so it's important to invest in a good lens as it will likely stay in your kit permanently. This Sigma is the only modern design 50mm and includes a super fast and silent HSM motor, others are all based on designs from the 80's with minor coating updates.

Reviews have consistently praised this lens and my experience confirms it. It focuses quickly and accurately, is very sharp, and has amazing bokeh. Tests and real-world use show little to no visible distortion or vignetting. Flare is well controlled. Chroma is supposedly well controlled too but with my SLT it is harder to determine if it is lens or body based.

The Sony 1.8 is a good lightweight lens but the sharpness and bokeh are markedly improved by the Sigma. This lens adds a welcome HSM motor over the Sony 1.4 as well as moderately better optics. The Sigma 30mm for Sony lacks HSM (why?!?) and is APS-C only so has more distortion and vignetting than this 50mm but has a better focal length for indoor shooting.

However, this lens is expensive, large, and heavy! On my SLT-A33 the lens is taller than the camera so when I set it down the lens filter ring acts as the front foot. It is also as heavy as a moderate size zoom due to all the glass.

Thankfully my copy of this lens does not have any apparent front/back focus issue. However it is advised to check any Sigma lens for this very common (to them) problem. I do note that the lens color does have a slight shift compared to Sony and Minolta lenses but I don't have any problem with that. It also appears a bit darker in the viewfinder possibly due to the additional glass and thus lower light transmission. The biggest negative to me is that the lens appears to have more difficulty with AF on dark or very low contrast subjects than I would have expected.

Overall I am very pleased with this lens and it is the one that spends the most time on my camera. This top of the line 50mm prime combined with Sony's in-body image stabilization is the one for competitor's to beat at this standard focal length.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 60
  • sharpness: 4.74
  • color: 4.68
  • build: 4.63
  • distortion: 4.83
  • flare control: 4.60
  • overall: 4.70 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania