Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens for Nikon F mount tested at DxOMark

Sigma 50mm f:1.4 DG HSM Art lens for Nikon F mount test review Sigma 50mm f:1.4 DG HSM Art lens for Nikon F mount test review 2
DxOMark published their test results for the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens for Nikon F mount ($949):

"As one of the key models in Sigma’s new range of high-speed premium Art-series models, the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM A is notable for high sharpness and control of aberrations, particularly at wide apertures. While it is all too easy to dismiss the Nikkor for its rather low sharpness (particularly at wider apertures), and the Zeiss for its price (with an optical performance that rarely comes cheaply), the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM A Nikon-mount version is a highly desirable alternative to the more esoteric models available."

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  • Max

    the 50 1.8 G is one of the cheapest Nikkors and is nearly as sharp as the 58 and the 1.4

    • Mike

      The 50 1.8 is one of those “too cheap not to have in your bag” lenses. But, next to the 58 1.4 the 50 1.8G might as well have an f/4 tag on it because the bokeh on the 58 is so ridiculous (in a good way). Totally different lenses for different purposes.

      • Orange Elephant

        Indeed. I have the 58mm & it’s a stunning lens. The bokeh & rendering are beautiful. I do like sharp lenses & they have their place, but sometimes ultimate sharpness isn’t everything.

        • Brandon Nehus

          I would have to agree with you on that. Like many people, I started with the 50mm 1.8g (awesome lens). I moved to the Sigma 50mm art and made some photos that i really love with it but most of the time I was kind of disappointed with the pictures (unless i was pixel peeping). Ending up getting rid of it and going with the 58mm 1.4g. I love it so much. I thought I would regret spending so much on a lens but after I used it for a couple of portrait sessions, I almost cried (jk…not really).

          • silmasan

            You guys made it sound like the Sigma 50 Art is only about sharpness, but I found that actually the Sigma comes out the smoothest of the three (they all have aspherical element, and the 58 shows most obvious concentric rings in defocused light circles).

            I have seen great “creamy”-looking portraits made with the 58, usually featuring highlights across the whole frame. Still trying to understand whether it’s psychological/subjective/coincidence/mood/perception/whatever.

            • Brandon Nehus

              I don’t think that the sigma renders awful out of focus areas and it can be very creamy when shooting close to the subject (also a strength of the sigma lens). The edges of the bokeh are a bit harsh. It’s very rare that I’ll get a picture with the 58mm where the onion bokeh is clearly visible with out zooming in. We will have to agree to disagree about the look because it’s too subjective. I will say that you get a lot for a lot less money with the sigma.

            • silmasan

              It’s alright, I’m just trying to understand through seeing a lot of image samples. Maybe it’s the transition of highlights as you say that’s more important if the rendering involves a lot of bright patterns/highlights (which happens to be the kind of shots people seem to love about the 58). But then again, I’ve seen “creamier” lenses than 58 (but not at that exact focal length). Maybe the extremely well-corrected CA of the 58 helps too.

            • Brandon Nehus

              Yea, I’d say rent the lens for a three week period (at least) and see if you like it. For me, this lens shines as a Portrait lens. If you don’t shoot people as much, I would definitely go with the sigma. I love shooting wide open when my subjects are a good distance away from me (e.g. 5-10 Feet). I stop down (1.8-2.0) when they are closer and the background is still so nice.

            • Brandon Nehus

              Yea, I’d say rent the lens for a three week period (at least) and see if you like it. For me, this lens shines as a Portrait lens. If you don’t shoot people as much, I would definitely go with the sigma. I love shooting wide open when my subjects are a good distance away from me (e.g. 5-10 Feet). I stop down (1.8-2) when they are closer and the background is still so nice. This pic is at f2.

            • silmasan

              Thanks for sharing that image–beautiful.

              It’s indeed for portraits, and I’m already decided on the Sigma 50 Art, it’s more versatile, and I’ve seen countless beautiful images from this species. For the extra creaminess I have the 105 DC. Or I’ll just use an 85. Still not sold on the 58. I can be anal about “bokeh” and I won’t touch the 35 for this purpose, but the 50A is so different in my book, and I actually prefer it to the Otus. 🙂

            • Brandon Nehus

              There’s definitely times when I really like the bokeh of the sigma 50mm Art. This is a picture I took of my niece (@ f1.4). The bokeh is very unique and you could never get an image like this with the 58mm. The eye is so sharp! Clicking on the picture will give you a higher resolution image.

  • Zero

    So… The ~700€ Sigma is sharper than the ~3500€ Otus…
    Who would have thought 🙂

    • The differences are well within their sample to sample and measurement error tolerance but even if the lens is approximately equivalent, Sigma has pulled off another fantastic lens.

      • Zero

        Yup, even if that lens was just a tad worse than an Otus I would equally be impressed, given the huge price difference. Great work from Sigma, again!

        • Mike

          Price difference and auto focus! Zeiss touts the Otus as a no compromise lens, even at the expense of autofocus. Yet here is the Sigma, within 1% of the optical qualities of the Zeiss and it has AF. For 1/5 the price.

          • silmasan

            Damn right. Except, it’s 1/4 where I live. Still looking for a better deal. 🙂

          • Munchma Quchi

            Having used both, the Otus is without match due to its Apo nature. They both have a place in my bag but when it really counts, an Otus is the only way to go.

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    • JJ168

      Not to mention the AF defect on the Otus 🙂

      • DT

        What AF defect? I thought the Otus was manual focus.

        • Paco Ignacio

        • JJ168

          Hey, it meant to be a joke.

      • sickheadache

        Oh can something be a defect, when it was design to be Manual. What is defective, is your defective clueless comment. Defective on arrival. I detect that you are defective.

        So JJ..all Manual Lenses are a Defect? Fail.

        • JJ168

          Sickhadache, I think you need to take your medicine again. It looks like your humor detector is not working.

    • It has been known for quite some time that they are close in sharpness.

      But the Otus, if you care for it, has other qualities that the Sigma cannot equal. It’s an exotic, for Pete’s sake. It’s abnormal to even appreciate the things it can do. And rarer still to actually need those qualities.

      I certainly don’t need it. But it’s made me a better photographer to have one. As Phil Holland wrote recently: ” I would define the main Otus properties as high resolving, thick contrast, vibrant-yet-neautral color rendering, nearly no geometric distortion, a very pleasing out of focus (bokeh), optical correction with nearly no aberrations, and a high level of micro-contrast/acutance. This adds up to a combination we haven’t seen in any optical design before really.

      “The very first shot I took with my Otus 55mm f/1.4 in Hollywood was at f/2 of a motorcycle on the sidewalk and the draw of the lens with it’s smooth roll-off to the out of focus image very much impressed me. That detailed to smooth bokeh transition is a characteristic among all three Otus lenses.”

      The Otus is so well designed that one does not have to worry about the optical quality of the aperture, from f1.4 to f16.

      The Sigma is a great lens, I’m sure. It’s all that almost everybody needs, and more. But the extra cost, and inconvenience of the Otus, is there for a reason, and cannot be replaced by the Sigma, or any other lens, actually, for its rare and special qualities.

      • Captain Insane-O

        My schools photography department has a zeiss 135 f2 prime to check out. It’s not an otus but it’s very close on dxomark. The sigma 50 is remarkable similar in quality and half the price.

        Distortion and aberration is well controlled on the otus and sigma, but Lightroom will automatically equal the playing field for both.

        The sigma can actually be used on the street. The otus might as well be left home for the kit lens in situations where you can’t accurately focus quick enough and your photos will be trash.

        This is huge, and I’m hoping for a 85 f1.4 art now!

    • Bob Thane

      Stopped down. If you check the sharpness field map, the Otus blows the Sigma away at f1.4. Is it worth the extra price? Probably not for most, especially when you consider AF and weight.

      • Spy Black

        “…the Otus blows the Sigma away at f1.4.”

        Um, no.

        • Bob Thane

          Relatively speaking, of course. When you’re dealing with lenses this good, the difference between the two at f1.4 is significant – even if they’re both still great. The Sigma holds its ground in the centre, but has very weak corners and edges at f1.4 whereas the Otus is practically perfect across the frame. So while the Sigma’s great, there is a reason the Zeiss is $4.5k.

          • silmasan

            Please read the SLRGear article. “Very weak corners and edges at f1.4” is an oversimplification, if not downright misleading. When the CA is corrected it will turn out sharper to the eye. Also in the center, f/1.4 through f/2.8 it’s likely to be slightly sharper.

            • Bob Thane

              Wait, are you saying that when you correct for CA the Sigma will be sharper than the Zeiss in the corners? Because from the SLRgear article: “At ƒ/1.4 on a full-frame camera, the Sigma 50mm ƒ/1.4 Art is just as sharp right in the center as the Zeiss lens, while the Otus shows better sharpness in the corners. The Otus 55mm’s blur characteristic is almost perfectly flat, and very sharp everywhere.”

              It states quite clearly that the Zeiss has better corner sharpness wide open, and you can see this by comparing SLRgear’s blur index graphs as well as well as comparing DXOMark’s sharpness field graphs.

              Again, I’m not saying the Sigma is bad – I’m simply stating that the Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4 has better corner sharpness than the Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art. Does this matter to you? Probably not, but to say that the Sigma is sharper than the Otus is a misleading conjecture which is based upon stopped down performance, whereas wide open performance is often quite important as well.

            • silmasan

              “Sigma is sharper than the Otus”

              Yes, in the center. And only slightly so, as I said. Until about f/4 and then Otus peaks higher IIRC. There’s one review from Photographylife (Nasim Mansurov’s site) that says the same.

              And regarding the corner performance, did you read from the SLRgear review of the Sigma 50A — specifically the “micro-contrast” section? There’s even a mouse-over image where you can compare it directly. The CA-laden corner performance of the Sigma at f/1.4 is perceived by the machine/software benchmark as blur, while you can see with your eye, that it actually has better definition to the lines and edges.

              Of course the Otus saves us from having to do any post-processing whatsoever. But looking at the actual image, their observation (beyond the plain computational scores) has merits.

              I will hold myself from saying anything that might be considered offensive now, but after you re-read please share what you think about their findings.

            • Munchma Quchi

              Diglloyd has extensively covered why the Otus is superior to the Sigma.

            • silmasan

              Different perspective is still allowed in the free-world isn’t it?

            • Isn’t he also partial to everything Sony/Zeiss?

            • Michiel953

              Sony? Not really. Seems to think the A7RII body is too small. He is very partial to evf’s though.

            • silmasan

              Now let me say one thing for the Zeiss Otii: At their prices, you’re sure to have much better QA (no cherry-picking needed whatsoever).

      • silmasan

        At the center Sigma does quite well actually, at the corners Otus wins with lower CA too. SLRGear has a very interesting detailed comparison between the two.

    • NicP

      Saw your post and went to DxOmark, not that I completely believe the results, but their tests both with D800E show that at f1.4 55 OTUS is sharper than Sigma especially at corners. Are we seeing different sites?

  • silmasan

    The Canon 5Ds R resuIt has been there for some time.

    Notice the “best at” aperture values which are different (stopped down for Sigma 50 and Nikon 58, wide open for the Otus), which makes DxO scores tricky to compare.

    Not that the 50 A needs the scores. 🙂

    • John Mackay

      The dxo article has all three lenses f1.4 acutance profiles compared on the same graph if you want ti compare wide open performance. Knowing the “best at” result isn’t wide open is nice though as it immediatly tells you that the lens is a bit soft by its own standards wide open.

      • silmasan

        Also check the SLRGear’s review that gives more insight into how it compares to the Otus. Bottom line: It’s actually not “soft” at all, but the CA at the corners might’ve made its scores lower (perceived as blur).

        • John Mackay

          I don’t think the lens is soft at f1.4, but just a lot sharper at f2. I dont think the reduction in measured sharpness on DXO between f1.4 and f2 is down to CA though because the CA profiles of the lens are almost identical at f1.4 and f2.

          • silmasan

            Hi John, I’ve reread it, and I think the loss of measured “sharpness” (transition from dark to light) is due more to coma, not chromatic aberration, which is more consistent to the rest of the comparison (the Otus has the least of it throughout the frame).

  • jec6613

    And all in a package heavier than a 300 f/4E. 😉

    • Eric Duminil

      Wow, and I thought you were joking. It really is 45% heavier than my 85mm 1.4D.

  • tjholowaychuk

    Hmm I’m not sure I believe this. I have 50mm art and the 85mm Otus, but the art doesn’t even come close to the Otus at f1.4 with a far focal plane. Subjects that are relatively close are bloody sharp with both but nothing comes close to the Otus otherwise. I can shoot wide open at a mountain and it’s still artifact free and tack sharp.

    • Julian

      Have you tried focus tuning it with the Sigma USB dock. Mine really needed this, but once done its really sharp across the full range on my D800.

      • tjholowaychuk

        I don’t have the dock, but now I’m curious. I’m not sure what aperture DXO uses but I’m assuming they don’t consider wide open.

        • Munchma Quchi

          DXO doesn’t actually test lenses. They calculate them. This is a known fact.

          • Julian

            OK – so its a known fact, then you should be flush with links to prove it right? From what I’ve read they test the lenses, just the conditions that they test them is questionable…

        • Julian

          With the dock you can fine tune the focus at different parts of the focal range, so you could probably correct it at infinity. I had to adjust mine right the way across the range, but I’m happy with it now. That said I cannot guarantee it will be enough to fully correct it – but at about $40 for a dock its worth a shot if you’re warranty is out or you’re otherwise happy with it.

  • HF

    At f1.8 acutance profiles are clearly better than those of the Sony 55/1.8 (A7r, similar 36MP sensor), which was called best AF prime tested. I think until now. The Sigma is a very good prime, we use at weddings quite often. But I prefer the Sony when hiking, much lighter.

  • Michiel953

    So it’s…..


    • Jeffry De Meyer

      When you drop it and something breaks

  • sickheadache

    I use the SIgma 50mm Art on my D800/10 and Test Drove the Otus 55mm…I have said two years ago and today..That The Sigma 50 Art came damn close to the 4 Grand Otus. It is that good, for a mere 800 dollars. Yep I went with Sigma 50. It is that amazing. The Sigma 50 Art is extremely sharp and tack on. Yes, don’t get me all wrong..I would love if Zeiss is willing to give me their Otus for 800 dollars, lol…To use the Otus, it is an Excellent Lens and freaking sharp at all times, and yes it has contact confirmation with my Nikon that tells me when it is in focus. But that Cost, and when the Sigma Art is up there with the Otus, Well my own conclusion are very obvious.

    And I know..The spinners here will defend that soft crap Nikon Produced called the 58mm…I test drove it and truly did not like it. It was not as sharp as the Sigma’s and cost twice as much…The Nikon 58mm was a pile of mush and I was very disappointed with it.

    • Michiel953

      Hey, I just found out, thanks to you, that I’m a “spinner”!

      Please show us one of your “extremely sharp and tack on” (whatever that is) images and we’ll be suitably impressed (or suffer from a headache).

      You must be American, form one of the Western states.

      • sickheadache

        But…Is there not tons of reviews and images on how sharp Sigma’s 50 mm Art on the Net? This is old news ..and finally DXO slower than DP..finally reviewed what i knew, and the rest of the world knows..Sigma’s Art is excellent…DO you use Sigma’s 50 Art?

        • Michiel953

          It was your unasked for derogatory snipe at the 58 that sparked my comment.

          Be happy with your sharpness. Snap away in ignorant bliss.

          • CERO

            can you both grow up? seems like you two are 9 and fighting over whose dad earns more money.

    • Brandon Nehus

      I had the sigma 50mm art for awhile and completely agree. It’s a ferocious beast of sharpness. I think I appreciated it the most for shots that were close up (love how close you can get to your subject with that lens). I eventually got the 58mm 1.4g and loved it so much more because it worked really well for the type of photography that I do (i.e., family/individual portraits). When you are further away from your subject, the background still looks so nice (@1.4). When I get closer, I found that shooting at 1.4 made everything mushy like you mentioned. But if you stop it down to f2, the lens is so sharp and the bokeh is still so nice. Love them both but I am a 58mm 1.4g believer!

  • DT

    Well duh DxO. We’ve known this for a year. Great, late review. This is why I seldom rely on anything DxO says.

  • mas921

    Dxo …better late than never ha?

  • Maciej Szlachta

    Sigmas are flat as a table, and then there is Voigtlander 58mm 1.4, which is one of the best lenses for Nikon and yet noone mentions ;). And it is really sad, that people still rely on DxO marks 🙁

    • Brandon Nehus

      I have the 58mm 1.4g (loves it) but I really want to try the Voigtlander. I still need the auto focusing though.

    • jonra01

      I’ve been looking at the Voigtlander as the replacement for my 50mm f/1.8 Nikon. Do you have a problem with the consistent over-exposure I’ve been reading about with your copy of the lens?

  • RIT

    Bench-test results are one thing and I have no reason to doubt them, in fact I take DXOMark scores into account when choosing lenses as well as extensive pixel-peeping at sample images. However, I just can’t get my fantastic Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens to reliably autofocus on my D800E so I barely use it. A great lens ruined. Is the 50mm Art going to be the same? I find Nikon lenses autofocus much better so I’m sticking to them in future. (Unless someone can convince me there’s another reason for the problem, other than my own incompetance!) (reposted from original thread)

    • Patrick Baldwin

      I have had similar issues but had greater success when the af is set to single servo rather continuous on my D800. I think hit and miss is part of the territory when it comes to f1.4. I work in the theatre and would love to use them for that but in reality the failure rate is too high a price but I get them out if I do some static portraits after the show for instance.

      • Brandon Nehus

        I agree. I have also had trouble with AF inconsistencies:( one of the reasons I went with the Nikkor. Still love the sigma when it’s on though.

  • PJ

    I use the Sigma 50 1.4 DG Art w/ the D810A and D750. I am frequently amazed at the sharpness and bokeh results. Build quality of the lens is solid.

  • MaximusPhotography

    I bought the Sigma 50mm 1.4 art one year back and this is officially my favourite lens of all.
    The sharpness is outstanding from edge to edge
    The color rendering of the lens is outstanding
    Speed and focus unbeatable
    The face construction when shooting portrait or in studio is close to perfection
    There is nilly chromatic abbreviation I never correct photos taken from this lens
    The quality of the lens body is superior to any nikon or canon plastic bodies.
    The weight of the lens is also great to help balance the camera in hand.

    I use it with Nikon D810 and for pixie peepers this is way more they can barging for.

    In comparison with any other prime lens this is by far my favorite.

    Highly recommended.

  • RHNO!


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