Today is an exciting day for DSLR photographers! The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens has had its pricing announced and is now available for preorder. This lens is one that I’ve been quite excited about since the announcement several months ago.
The 50mm space is a really interesting one that up until recently has not had an excellent choice to pick from. I currently have the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens
and I also have a circa 1960’s copy of the Canon FL 55mm f/1.2 that I have used an Ed Mika conversion kit to make it work (manual focus only) on the EOS system. Neither of these choices are awesome at all, especially wide open or even close to wide open. They are not very sharp and just have a myriad of problems until at least f/2.8.
I also have not picked up a copy of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L lens. This lens has a lot of issues like the well documented Focus Shift problem as well as the sharpness. For the price that Canon wants for this lens, I’d expect it to be of higher quality.
Last year, the good folks at Carl Zeiss made huge news with their uncompromising Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus Lens. This lens compromised on nothing including price. It goes for north of $4000.00. Ouch. It’s a beast though, and I recommend this youtube video for your enjoyment. There were two problems with this lens, one was price, the other was it is only available in the manual focus variety. I do tend to “dial in” all of my wide open shots manually though, so that’s not a total deal breaker. $4000 was the biggest problem, but I was at least seriously thinking about it nonetheless. At the very least, here was a lens that had the quality going for it.
This all changed when Sigma made their press release this past January. Sigma recently has retooled their lens lineup to different categories. I’m specifically interested in their “Art” lenses, which so far have been nothing but awesome. I also own the Sigma 35mm Art Lens and have been nothing but happy with the results. Today is the day that they announced the price and some outlets started pre-ordering for the 50 f/1.4 Art lens. I have placed my order.
Just to show some visual, here’s some graphs from the SlrGear folks. This is a great website to research lenses before you buy.
Upper left is the new Sigma f/1.4 Art (~$950). Upper right is the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L (~$1600)
, Lower left is the Zeiss 55 f/1.4 Otus (~$4000) and lower right is the Canon EOS 50 f/1.4. (~$400) This set of graphs show sharpness. I’ve put them all wide open at f/1.4, except fort the Canon f/1.2 which is stopped down to f/1.4 (which in theory should give the Canon a slight advantage here). How to read these is that the lower the value, the sharper. The graph represents the frame of the image taken, so the corners of the graph are the corners of the frame. It’s amazing to me how bad the Canon offerings are. The 50 f/1.4 is really terrible, and the L series Canon f/1.2, for an L series (the highest quality lenses Canon makes), is just embarrassing.
To stress the point, here’s the graph, wide open at f/1.2, of the highly acclaimed Canon EF 85mm f1.2L II
(Which I own).
That’s what an L lens that commands high dollars should look like!
The Zeiss otus on the other hand, is just unbelievable, 1-2 blur units across the entire frame including corners. At $4000, it had better be.
Now the new lens that I’m talking about is the upper left. Is it as sharp as the Zeiss? No, but it’s really close. You’ve got under 2 blur units in the center and just up to 4 in the far corners, and this is wide open. The full review of this lens at SLRGear does show some CA wide open in test shots. It’s hard to make a case to justify the Zeiss over this Sigma, but possible. I can’t really imagine making a case that the Canon 1.2 L is a better choice than the Sigma though, especially given that the Sigma is so much lower in cost!
Either way, this is the kind of performance I’ve been looking for in a 50mm lens! I’m very excited to get this lens in my hands and make some photos with it. I will certainly post some samples when I get this.