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Sigma 50mm 1.4 vs Nikon

John E , Aug 11, 2011; 07:15 a.m.

I'm trying to decide which lens to get the Sigma 50mm 1.4 auto focus or the Nikon AF-s 50mm 1.4 auto focus. which is sharper, has better bokeh, etc?? I've never used Sigma but have heard good things. I noticed the Sigma is more expensive than the Nikon at BH.

Responses


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Richard Snow , Aug 11, 2011; 07:47 a.m.

I have the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 and have (briefly) shot the Sigma.

The Sigma produces more pleasing background blur than tha Nikon, (though neither produce what I consider extremely smooth bokeh) and the Sigma focuses a bit faster.

Both are a bit soft wide open, but are equally sharp once stopped down a bit.

The Nikon is a bit lighter and, although AF is a bit slower, it seems to be more precise when wide open...which seems to be Nikon's focus on all of their AF-S f/1.4 lenses. (pardon the pun).

Both are close enough price wise so there's not really a comparison there.

In the end I chose the Nikon...mostly because I've had bad experiences in the past good copies of Sigma lenses...but I see that complaint less and less these days and I don't usually even try Sigma lenses, but my friend insisted that I try their 50mm f/1.4 offering before I bought the Nikon.

Hope this helps
RS

Matt Laur , Aug 11, 2011; 08:17 a.m.

Having tried both with an open mind, I went with the Sigma. This was based mostly on my intended use (shooting with wide apertures ... I've got other lenses I can use very happily at 50mm when I don't need speed or lots of DoF control).

My impression, handling them both and looking at the results, was that the Sigma is optimzed for shooting wide open or closer to it, and mostly at near/mid-distance objects (like people). The Nikon strikes me as a more general-purpose lens, something I'd reach for before the Sigma if I was using it for landscapes, or when AF speed wasn't as important (say, with quickly moving nearby subjects, like a child or pet, etc) as was across-the-range precision for a more methodical pace.

You will be very happy with either lens. But if you know that your purpose for the tool is a specific sort of shooting, you might choose more carefully. I find the Sigma's blur-rendering to be far more pleasing - very noticeably so - and like its AF behavior on the sort of subjects for which I purchased it. The Sigma is larger, but not (for me) unpleasantly so. I like that it uses 77mm filters, vs. Nikon's odd choice of 58mm on theirs.

Over the number of years you'll use either lens, the difference in price is meaningless.

Mihai Ciuca , Aug 11, 2011; 08:29 a.m.

I agree with Matt that the two lenses seems to be built with a different purpose in mind. While Nikon is a good lens it does not hit the first place at any area... that's why I parted with my copy after using it a year or so... I had serious prejudices against 3rd party manufacturers like Sigma and Tamron... based mostly on bad reputation... until I tested a Sigma 50/1.4. My copy really shines... Since that time I added alongside 50/1.4 other great primes from Sigma camp and I could not be happier... 24/1.8, 85/1.4 and 150/2.8 micro... At least the last two are in the top five of my lenses.... and believe me I own many (expensive) lenses... Sigma 50 has a nice character and if you love to shoot people, wide open and/or in available light this is the lens to go. If you need better corners you have to go for Nikon... but I tell you that I like more the new Nikon 50/1.8 G than the 50/1.4 G. The 1.8 is a steal for the money.

Mike Earussi , Aug 11, 2011; 12:01 p.m.

Depends on which format you're shooting. Sigma has a fairly flat field for APS-C but not for FF. So if you plan on shooting mostly f1.4-2 on an APS-C body then the Sigma will be best, otherwise buy the Nikon.
http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1202/cat/30

http://www.lenstip.com/177.1-Lens_review-Sigma_50_mm_f_1.4_EX_DG_HSM-Introduction.html

http://www.photozone.de/nikon_ff/616-sigma5014ff

http://www.dpreview.com/lensreviews/sigma_50_1p4_c16/page4.asp

Eric Arnold , Aug 11, 2011; 01:00 p.m.

no question the sigma has better bokeh. haven't tried the nikon version so i can't comment on its sharpness or AF. i often shoot the sigma on FX at open apertures and get pretty good results. don't use it much on DX since i also have the 30/1.4.


sigma 50+D3s

Andrew Garrard , Aug 11, 2011; 02:16 p.m.

I've briefly used the Sigma (a friend owns it). On FX, wide open, the corners weren't worth the price to me; the Nikkor is, I believe, better in the corners, but the bokeh ruled it out for me. Which is why I own neither - but if I had a DX camera, I'd have the Sigma. Good luck deciding. :-)

Eric Arnold , Aug 11, 2011; 04:01 p.m.

On FX, wide open, the corners weren't worth the price to me.

who needs sharp corners at 1.4 or f/2? lol. what are you shooting that requires sharpness in elements which are out of focus at that aperture anyway? if you plan on shooting a fast prime at f/4 and above, in low-light conditions, the sigma is the clear choice. OTOH, if you're more of a landscape shooter and you mainly want a normal lens which stops down nicely at 5.6-11, the nikon bears consideration. since i have other lenses which have sharper corners past 5.6, i don't really need to use my fast primes like i would a slower lens.

if I had a DX camera, I'd have the Sigma.

actually, i recommend the sigma 30/1.4 for DX.

Andrew Garrard , Aug 12, 2011; 04:20 p.m.

who needs sharp corners at 1.4 or f/2? lol. what are you shooting that requires sharpness in elements which are out of focus at that aperture anyway?

(Oops, sorry, hadn't spotted that this thread was still alive.) To my mind, it's a myth propagated by Mr Rockwell (notably) that nobody cares about the corners of fast lenses - he claims this of the 85mm f/1.4 AF-D and the 70-200 f/2.8 VR mk1, for example. It's true that, for many images, you don't care what the bits of the image away from the centre look like. Then again, if you compose the image with an off-centre subject, you may care quite a lot how quickly the image deteriorates. Photograph something near any surface containing mild detail that crosses the focal plane and, to me, it's quite distracting if the detail in that surface falls apart because the lens can't resolve details at the edges. The detail doesn't have to be much - I'm not suggesting that you need something there which would pull the eye away from the subject; I'm talking about grass, or trees, or carpet detail, or maybe even the edge of a table - but there's a clear difference between "this is naturally blurred because of the focal plane, along with the rest of the scene" and "this part of the image has just dissolved into a smeared mess". If I only cared about the centre, I'd own a lensbaby.

The other primary reason I have for combining speed and sharpness is for amateur astrophotography. Large apertures mean more light; poor corner performance means I may as well be using a narrower field or smaller sensor.

I'm not saying the Sigma is a bad lens, just that this issue means I'm not prepared to pay the going rate for it. The same applies to the Nikkor 85mm AF-D f/1.4 - but I did buy the 85mm Samyang, which is not vastly better but is vastly cheaper. I expect others to make different decisions, especially if they're sensible enough not to pixel-peep.

if I had a DX camera, I'd have the Sigma.
actually, i recommend the sigma 30/1.4 for DX.

I hope you recommend the 30mm lens to DX shooters looking for a normal lens, rather than to DX shooters looking for a 50mm mild telephoto? So yes, if I shot DX, I would own the Sigma 50mm and use it as a wide portrait lens. To be fair, I don't miss not owning a high-end 50mm anyway, since I don't seem to have much use for very fast normal lenses. I may reconsider when a cheap ED AF-S VR 50mm f/1.2 turns up, especially if it's a macro lens. :-)

Eric Arnold , Aug 12, 2011; 04:37 p.m.

I hope you recommend the 30mm lens to DX shooters looking for a normal lens, rather than to DX shooters looking for a 50mm mild telephoto?

well, andrew, i have the 50/1.8 AF-D as well as the 50/1.4. the truth is, i dont use either very much on DX. IMO that focal length is a little too short for portraits, and too long for a 'wide portrait lens' --which is what the 35/1.8 and 30/1.4 are, in addition to excellent low-light/street lenses. i dont know who these DX shooters looking for a 'mild telephoto' you mention are, all i know is that 30 or 35 is a more useful focal length on DX, especially indoors. you don't have a DX camera, right? so you may just be guessing at the size of the 'mild telephoto' demographic.

To my mind, it's a myth propagated by Mr Rockwell (notably) that nobody cares about the corners of fast lenses

i think you're assuming here that everyone shoots what you shoot, the way you shoot it. if you want sharper corners, stop down, it's that simple. what i'm saying is that when you are shooting at open apertures such as 1.4 or f/2, corners dont matter. at all. what's important is the subject isolation you get from shooting that way. if you want a fast lens which gives you both subject isolation and sharp corners, good luck with that one. i've looked at enough MTF charts on photozone at 1.4-2.8 to figure out that there are few if any lenses which perform that way wide open or close to it.


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