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

reviewer#9617 date: Nov-22-2011
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.7
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:Sony 50/1.4
Rokkor 58/1.2
price paid:499 USD
positive:Creamy bokeh
center sharp from 1.4
silent HSM focus
negative:size and weight
barrel coating feels chintzy
comment:50mm (i.e., the equivalent of it) used to be my most often used FL on my a700. 52.5, to be precise, and it was the 35/1.4 that gave me this angle and view.

Fast forward to the a850. I wanted a good 50mm lens and started with the Sony 1.4. Liked (loved!) its build, size and look, hated (hated!) its IQ at open apertures and its bokeh. So I sold it and replaced it with a used sigma 50/1.4. Liked the bokeh but wasn't too happy with the sharpness on my 850. So I sold it again, looking for yet another solution. I used to have a Rokkor 58/1.2 back in the MF film days and I loved it then, so I gave it a new try.

Not it! The copy I had was way too stiff on the focus ring, and I found out that I had become an AF person. So, after re-reading the reviews here on the Sigma, I thought I give it another try, this time with a new one that I can return or exchange if I am not happy. But I WAS happy! This copy is good, sharp from the start—at 1.4 sharpness is limited to the center, but that's fine, I can live with that. Sharpness (and its area) improves with stopping down, so I cannot reproduce what some reviews are reporting ("no sharpness improvement or even deterioration with smaller apertures"). Also, I tested for focus shift and could not detect it. I do have front focus, though, but with micro adjust set to +10, it is nicely compensated and stays there also with smaller apertures.
I posted some initial pictures in the sample thread, and those show the oh-so-creamy bokeh that I wanted (and that I missed from the 58./1.2).

So, in a nutshell for me: more convenient, sharper from the start, similarly good bokeh than the Rokkor but less expensive and with HSM; all-around better (but bigger/heavier/more expensive) than the Sony offering.

Distortion and flare control have not been tested, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt and correct once I have different experience.

Recommendation: buy

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