Want to get photographers' attention? Put "f/1.4" in the model name of your lens. Pair that extreme wide aperture with a highly useful 24mm focal length, arguably best-available 24mm image quality and an attractive, highly functional design and you have a lens destined for success. Throw in a great price and ... you have my attention.
That the 24mm f/1.4 Art lens has arrived is not a surprise. Sigma has been making waves in the industry with their "Art" series lenses and, with the 35mm and 50mm f/1.4 Art primes being so well received, it is only natural that the 24mm f/1.4 Art Lens is now part of the lineup (an 85mm f/1.4 Art lens would also not be unexpected). These lenses share not only similarity in name, but also in design as seen in the following comparison image.
Performance across these lens models is also shared including the attention-grabbing best-in-class image quality each has successively delivered.
The 24mm focal length is wildly popular and very useful. Only 50mm is better represented in Nikon's prime lens lineup and 24mm is tied for the focal length most represented by prime lenses in Canon's lineup.
What is 24mm being used for? The list is too long to generate, but I'll list some of my favorite uses.
Landscape photography is a great use for a 24mm lens. This focal length is quite wide and allows an entire scene to remain in focus, but 24mm is not so wide that it complicates composition. A very high percentage of my landscape images have been captured at 24mm.
Architectural photography, large product photography, interior photography, birthday parties ... are some uses for 24mm. I've been using this lens around the house for documenting life in general.
Wedding and event photography often utilizes a wide angle lens for capturing the large scene, for environmental-type portraits and for larger group portraits in tight spaces. Photojournalist's needs are often similar to those of a wedding photographer and can also make use of 24mm.
When combined with an extreme wide aperture, a 24mm lens is a great choice for night sky photography. Videographers often find the 24mm focal length to be just right for their needs.
While telephoto lenses are more frequently used for sports, a 24mm angle of view allows a very different perspective on these events. This focal length can be used to capture the big picture of the venue, overhead shots of the stars and their coaches being interviewed after the game and, when access permits, full body environmental action sports photos showing lots of venue in the background such as one I'll share below.
While on sports photography, I'll drop in a related teaching point: When used for action sports with a rapidly approaching subject, a 24mm angle of view makes capture of the perfect pose at the perfect framing distance very challenging. A telephoto lens' narrow angle of view provides a much longer distance range for ideal subject framing, allowing far more time for the perfect capture. The 24mm AOV (angle of view) fast-action challenge makes even the Canon EOS-1D X's extreme 12fps frame rate seem slow.
When used on an ASP-C/1.6x FOVCF sensor format DSLR, this lens' angle of view is similar to that of a 38.4mm lens on a full frame DSLR. While many of the uses for this AOV remain the same as for 24mm, the narrower angle of view obviously requires more distance for the same subject framing and the longer distance changes the perspective modestly.
With so many 24mm options available, aperture becomes one of the differentiators, and in this case, it is a big one. None of the big lens manufacturers offer a less-than 50mm focal length DSLR lens with an aperture wider than f/1.4. And none offer the f/1.4 aperture in a lens wider than 24mm.
Compared to the next-fastest f/2.8 24mm lens options (including many zoom lenses), the f/1.4 aperture allows 4x as much light to reach the sensor, permitting subject and camera-shake-stopping fast shutter speeds even in low light and providing subject-isolating shallow depth of field. Let's take a closer look at the aperture range available in the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens.
How do I know when my oldest daughter is home from school? There are multiple answers to this question, but the first I'll share is that tasty baked goods appear in the house.
Another answer to that question is revealed in the narrow aperture, deep depth of field examples in the second row: a completely trashed kitchen (love you Brianna!).
I'll talk more about MFD (Minimum Focus Distance) later in the review, but the top row of cookie photos illustrate the MM (Max Magnification) available at MFD. I was going to measure the cookies, but ... they seem to be gone. Figure that they are 3" (8cm) in diameter. Hopefully you are not reading this on an empty stomach.
As you likely noticed above, f/1.4 with a close subject creates a very shallow DOF and what is in focus catches the viewer's eye. It is hard to diffusely blur the background with a wide angle lens, but an f/1.4 aperture can do just that.
An f/1.4 aperture also excels at stopping action. This action can be camera shake and/or subject motion.
Up for discussion in this sample photo is: Did you ever think that an aperture could be too wide when stopping action is the goal? If you are shooting under a full sun at f/1.4, you will likely need a 1/8000 sec shutter speed at ISO 100 to keep the exposure dark enough. While there is little action that a 1/8000 sec shutter speed cannot stop, if the subject has very bright and/or reflective colors, that 1/8000 sec shutter speed might not be fast enough to avoid blown highlights. The above image was captured at f/1.4, 1/8000 and ISO 100 with brightness reduced by .1 stop in post processing.
Some cameras have an extended ISO setting of 50 that can be optionally used in this situation (perhaps with lower dynamic range). Using a neutral density filter is another good option to retain the ability to use f/1.4 under direct sunlight and this is the best option when using cameras with shutters that max out at 1/4000 sec (such as the Canon Rebel series).
Stopping down (narrowing) the aperture is always an option for preventing an image from getting too bright. While stopping down negates the need for the wide f/1.4 aperture and the subject-isolating shallow depth of field is lost, this lens holds another potential advantage when stopped down: it will show less vignetting at f/2.8 than an f/2.8 max-aperture lens would show at this aperture.
I'll discuss specific vignetting performance under the image quality heading below, but I want to point out the characteristic-for-all-f/1.4-lenses peripheral shading illustrated so well against the blue sky in this photo. At f/1.4, the subject's face, the primary focus of an image containing such, will fall into the darkened portion of the image circle. I'll add "usually" to that comment as I seldom want my subject's face in the center of the frame. An exception may be a headshot, but even with these photos, part of the subject's face typically falls outside of the bright spot in the center. And, 24mm is not often a great headshot focal length due to perspective distortion.
Vignetting can be corrected in post processing with the penalty being additional noise showing in the amplified portions of the image circle. The initial capture brightness can also be increased as long as no channels (RGB) are blown in the center of the frame. The center of brighter image can then be made darkened in post, avoiding the noise penalty. Another vignetting issue more directly related to sports photography is cropping. Cropping is needed more often when shooting sports with a prime lens and cropping into strong vignetting can unbalance the image.
In the runner photo above, I like how the darkened peripheral area draws the viewer's eye to the runner who is near the center of the frame. I lifted the brightness of the young man's face just slightly in this photo. In the cookie example above, the "f/1.4 +" results were brightened by 1/6 and 1/3 stop respectively from their full-stop manual exposure settings to show a more-preferred overall brightness for this aperture.
Back to the shutter speed issue ... I have never heard anyone say that their aperture was too wide when shooting sports indoors. Indoors, f/1.4 rules AND rocks. As I said already, I've been using this lens around the house. No flash needed.
Image stabilization is not featured on this lens or any other f/1.4 lens as of review time. While I always welcome this feature, you can shoot this lens handheld in very low light conditions without image stabilization – as long as the f/1.4 aperture has adequate depth of field for your needs.
Landscape, architecture and other photographers looking for deep DOF will want a tripod when light levels drop – and possibly when shooting with CP filters under even reasonable light. The only 24mm prime lens with image stabilization is the Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens. The biggest trade-off for IS in this case is the much narrower f/2.8 max aperture.
In my opening comments, I mentioned that the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art Lens has "arguably best-available 24mm image quality." Starting at f/1.4, this lens delivers a reasonably sharp center of the frame with obvious softening showing in the corners. A big improvement is seen in center of the frame sharpness at f/2 where details are rendered very sharply and little additional improvement is noticeable (or needed) at narrower apertures. Corners remain somewhat soft at f/2 and look much nicer at f/2.8. Extreme full frame corners become quite sharp at f/4 and at f/5.6, extreme corners are impressively sharp.
Here is a look at an in-the-field (literally) aperture comparison showing worst case image quality – extreme full frame corners:
The above images were captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III. The RAW files were processed using the Standard Picture Style in DPP with a sharpness setting of "1" (very low). While the f/1.4 corner is soft, the f/4 corner is very good and the f/5.6 corner is remarkable.
I'll talk more about the comparable lenses later in the review, but this lens is at least as sharp overall as the next-closest contender, the Canon 24mm f/1.4L II Lens and the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G AF-S is right there also. When stopped down to the comparable aperture, this 24 Art competes very strongly with the rest of the lenses covering the 24mm focal length at their max apertures (and often beyond).
As I mentioned earlier, this lens shows noticeable vignetting at wide apertures. At f/1.4, corners are approximately 3 stops darker than the center of the frame. As illustrated in the photo of the runner, this amount is noticeable. While that may not sound good, proper perspective is needed: the Nikon and Samyang equivalents are similar in this regard and the Canon equivalent has about 1 stop of additional shading in the corners. Stopping down to f/2 reduces vignetting by about 50% and another 50% is lost at f/2.8 where vignetting becomes generally unnoticeable. Stopped down, the Sigma has noticeably less corner shading than the Samyang and Canon, and performs similarly to the Nikon.
APS-C users might notice the near-1-stop of shading in the corners in some images, but otherwise, vignetting is a non-issue for this format.
While I won't declare this lens to be CA-free, it is nearly so. I can see a small amount of CA in high-contrast meridional lines (tangential to the radial lines) located near the frame corners, but ... this lens is looking very good in this regard. Purple fringing in areas of very high contrast near the center of the frame, sometimes an issue with ultra-wide aperture lenses, has not been a problem I've encountered with this lens.
At f/1.4, this lens shows very little flare even with the sun in the corner of the frame. Flare linearly increases until becoming strong at f/16.
I've been looking for the perfect night sky lens and had high hopes that the Sigma 24mm Art Lens would be just that. Along with an ultra-wide aperture and good sharpness across the frame at that wide aperture, I am looking for lack of coma for this purpose. Reason is, stars in the corner of the frame make coma readily visible. Coma (not to be confused with CA) is generally recognized by sharp contrast towards the center of an image with a long, soft contrast transition toward the image periphery. Coma is generally most destructive in frame corners at the widest-available aperture. Coma turns corner stars into flying saucers or ... perhaps some type of insects in this case.
The comparison lens is a Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II Lens (sample captured on a different night). These f/1.4, 10 sec, 100%-sized crops are from top-right corners of full frame 5D Mark III images. There were no insects out on this very cold night (and they would not have been still for the duration of this 10 second exposure).
The Sigma appears to be similar to the Canon in this comparison, but I need to point out two advantages the Sigma holds. The first is that the Canon has an extra stop of vignetting in the corner, darkening the results. The other is that the Sigma performs modestly better in the mid-frame region.
The Sigma's performance is perhaps similar to the Samyang comparable. I say "perhaps" because the effects are differently shaped (the Samyang lens is not as sharp wide open).
Stopped down to f/2.8, the effects of coma are much diminished.
An advantage that prime lenses typically hold over the widest focal length of a zoom lens (24mm is a common one) is the lack of distortion. The 24 Art is nearly distortion free, showing just the slightest amount of barrel distortion. It takes a long, critically straight line near the long edge of the frame to detect any line bending happening. Performance in this regard is similar to the Canon and Nikon equivalents and much better than the Samyang.
I have already established that an f/1.4 lens can produce a nice amount of background blur even at a wide 24mm focal length. I'll now dig deeper into that blur to share a strength of the 24 Art Lens: bokeh. Bokeh refers to the quality of the out of focus areas of an image and this lens performs very well in this regard. Here is a stopped down comparison between the Sigma and its Canon counterpart.
Both of these images were manually focused on a target positioned closer to the camera than the blurred subjects shown above. Ignore the size difference of the out of focus highlights as these lenses have a slightly different angle of view at this focus distance. The smoother results are to the Sigma's advantage.
Overall, this lens is turning in image quality that is equal or superior to anything else available in the 24mm focal length today.
The 24mm f/1.4 Art Lens AF is powered by Sigma's HSM (Hypersonic Motor). Autofocusing happens with decent speed and in a quiet environment, only some very light shuffling is heard during AF. Focusing is internal and FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is enabled (unless intentionally disabled using the Sigma Dock).
Based on my experience with the first two Sigma f/1.4 Art lenses, focus accuracy testing was a high priority on my review to-do list. I shot hundreds of tripod-based f/1.4 focus accuracy test photos using a 5D Mark III, each from a slightly de-focused lens, using various AF points, both indoors and out, and saw near-ideal results from all tests. But sometimes, typically in a specific test scenario, the results were all over the place, showing AF inconsistency. I have not determined what leads to the inconsistent AF results, but they happen enough that you need to be aware of this issue.
Here is an example of a problematic scene I encountered while trail running with this lens.
There is very little color in the early spring woods, so the "No Trespassing" sign caught my attention. I decided to use the f/1.4 aperture to make the sign stand out against the background. Sitting on the ground with my elbows resting on my knees (a very stable 3-point position), I focused a mid-upper-left AF point on the sign and recomposed slightly. Over half of the results were unusably miss-focused.
Unfortunately, inconsistent AF cannot be corrected with focus calibration. Check your results carefully while shooting – make sure that you have captured the image you expected.
Finding a subject approaching fast enough and close enough to challenge a 24mm AF system in AI Servo (subject tracking) mode is ... challenging. Rising to this challenge was a track and field meet, allowing me to be positioned immediately inside the track and jumping approaches. I shot an entire meet, capturing nearly 1,000 images, using only the 24 Art lens. I walked away impressed. This lens' performance was not perfect, but it performed quite well in this capacity.
When focus distances are changed, 24 Art lens subjects change size by a noticeable amount. While this attribute is not unusual, photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques involving focus distance adjustment should be aware. Videographers pulling focus are sometimes also concerned about this attribute. When very-critically framing a scene using such a lens, focus should be fine-tuned while adjusting distance.
Circular polarizer filter users will be happy to know that the filter threads on this lens do not rotate during focusing.
Sigma provides a small depth of field scale on this lens, though f/8 and f/16 are the only marks provided.
The 24 Art's 1.22" (30.9mm) manual focus ring is very nicely-sized, ideally positioned and, being raised just slightly from the barrel, especially easy to find. The focus ring is smooth, has no play and has ideal resistance. The 98° of rotation causes focus distance changes to happen more quickly than I prefer for critical manual focusing.
Focusing as close as 9.8" (250mm), the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art Lens turns in a 0.19x MM. This is not a high figure, but it is better than the Canon and Nikon options and at least as good as the non-specified Samyang spec.
|Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Lens||9.8"||(250mm)||0.17x|
|Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens||7.9"||(200mm)||0.23x|
|Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens||6.3"||(160mm)||0.27x|
|Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Lens||11.8"||(300mm)||0.18x|
|Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Lens||9.4"||(240mm)||0.24x|
|Nikon 24mm f/1.4G AF-S Lens||9.8"||(250mm)||0.179x|
|Nikon 28mm f/1.8G AF-S Lens||9.8"||(250mm)||0.22x|
|Nikon 35mm f/1.4G AF-S Lens||11.8"||(300mm)||0.20x|
|Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S Lens||9.8"||(250mm)||0.16x|
|Samyang 24mm f/1.4 US UMC Lens||9.8"||(250mm)|
|Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||9.8"||(250mm)||0.19x|
|Sigma 24mm f/1.8 EX DG Lens||7.1"||(180mm)||0.37x|
|Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||11.8"||(300mm)||0.19x|
|Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon T* ZE Lens||8.7"||(220mm)||0.15x|
|Zeiss 25mm f/2.0 Distagon T* ZE Lens||9.8"||(250mm)||0.17x|
|Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon T* ZE Lens||11.8"||(300mm)||0.20x|
The cookie images in the aperture comparison earlier in the review illustrate this lens' close-focusing capabilities.
Placing one or more extension tubes behind a lens is a common way to decrease MFD and increase MM. With a 12mm ET behind it, the 24 Art focuses no farther than the end of its lens hood for a very high macro-like MM (with little room for lighting the subject). Put a 25mm ET behind it and the max focus distance is practically against the glass, making this extension impractical for real world uses.
This lens is not compatible with Sigma teleconverters.
If you are familiar with the Sigma 35 Art and/or 50 Art lenses, you likely feel already familiar with this one. I shared the Sigma f/1.4 Art lens family picture at the beginning of the review and will share the with-hoods version now:
The lens hoods sizes, each appropriate for the focal length's angle of view, are perhaps the most-visible external difference among these lenses. While I did not tear these lenses apart to compare internals, it is very obvious that minimally the exterior design characteristics are heavily shared.
I view this design sharing as a very positive attribute of the 24 Art. Sigma's Global Vision lenses all have an excellent, classy, high-end look and feel and the 24 Art is no different. From the aesthetic mix of matte and gloss black finish to the great-feeling sharply ribbed rubber rings to the smooth overall dimensions (aside from the modestly raised switch area in this lens), these lenses all have very impressive design qualities.
The 24 Art is a fixed-size lens with plenty of ribbed surface provided for a sure grip. Most-significantly ribbed is the focus ring. The deep, sharp, tightly-spaced ribs on the Sigma Art lens focus rings remind me of the quality feel of Zeiss lens focus rings – though the Sigma ring is rubber-coated vs. the all metal Zeiss rings. Additional ribs are provided on half of the lens barrel and on the lens hood (making removal and installation easier).
Lens construction is once again of a Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material with traditional metals used in places. This design allows "... greater precision and use in wide temperature variations." [Sigma] This is a solid lens with no play and a fixed size (no extending parts).
The Sigma 24's single switch, enabling or disabling autofocus, is located within easy reach of the left thumb. A classy-looking, high-visibility white switch background shows when in AF mode with black showing when in MF mode. Sigma engraves the product introduction year into the lens barrel of Global Vision lenses, with this one receiving "2015".
Typically revealed by the bare silver lens mount ring showing when the lens is camera-mounted or has its rear cap installed is a lack of weather sealing. Weather sealed lenses typically (minimally) have a gasket that seals this area of the lens. Like the other two f/1.4 Art lenses, this lens is not weather-sealed. Make provisions to keep the lens dry/protected if inclement weather may be encountered during use.
The rear of the included lens hood is rubberized for a sure grip as well as a step up in quality feel and appearance. The lens hood is large enough to provide reasonable protection, but not so large as to become intrusive. The hood remains compact when reversed.
If I had to choose the perfect size for a lens in use, this is it. The 24 Art is not tiny, but it is big enough that I can grasp securely and controllingly with my left hand. There are lighter lenses, but I like having some weight to help stabilize the camera. Enough size and weight are provided for use, but this lens is small enough to not consume a large amount of space in the pack and not heavy enough to be a burden to carry for long periods of time.
Wide apertures typically mean larger glass lens elements and larger elements typically mean more weight. An f/1.4 aperture is very wide and there is a weight penalty paid to gain that opening. Lenses with a significant amount of glass in them (typically wide aperture lenses), including this one, tend to feel solid due to their density.
Use the chart below to compare many lenses with various similarities.
|Model||Weight||Dimensions w/o Hood||Filter||Year|
|Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Lens||22.9 oz||(650g)||3.3 x 3.4"||(83.5 x 86.9mm)||77mm||2008|
|Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens||9.9 oz||(280g)||2.7 x 2.2"||(68.4 x 55.7mm)||58mm||2012|
|Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens||4.4 oz||(125g)||2.7 x 0.9"||(68.2 x 22.8mm)||52mm||2014|
|Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens||9.2 oz||(260g)||2.7 x 2.0"||(68.4 x 51.5mm)||58mm||2012|
|Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Lens||20.5 oz||(580g)||3.1 x 3.4"||(79 x 86mm)||72mm||1998|
|Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Lens||11.8 oz||(335g)||3.1 x 2.5"||(77.9 x 62.6mm)||67mm||2012|
|Nikon 24mm f/1.4G AF-S Lens||21.9 oz||(620g)||3.3 x 3.5"||(83 x 88.5mm)||77mm||2010|
|Nikon 28mm f/1.8G AF-S Lens||11.6 oz||(330g)||2.9 x 3.2"||(73 x 80.5mm)||67mm||2012|
|Nikon 35mm f/1.4G AF-S Lens||21.2 oz||(600g)||3.3 x 3.5"||(83 x 89.5mm)||67mm||2010|
|Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S Lens||10.8 oz||(305g)||2.8 x 2.8"||(72 x 71.5mm)||58mm||2014|
|Samyang 24mm f/1.4 US UMC Lens||19.4 oz||(550g)||3.3 x 3.7"||(83 x 95mm)||77mm||2012|
|Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||23.5 oz||(665g)||3.3 x 3.6"||(85 x 90.2mm)||77mm||2015|
|Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||23.5 oz||(665g)||3.0 x 3.7"||(77 x 94mm)||67mm||2012|
|Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon T* ZE Lens||21.2 oz||(600g)||3.4 x 4.3"||(87 x 109mm)||82mm||2010|
|Zeiss 25mm f/2.0 Distagon T* ZE Lens||21.2 oz||(600g)||2.9 x 3.9"||(73 x 98mm)||67mm||2011|
|Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon T* ZE Lens||29.7 oz||(840g)||3.1 x 4.7"||(78 x 120mm)||72mm||2010|
For many more comparisons, review the complete Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens Specifications using the site's Lens Spec tool.
Below is a visual comparison of four 24mm f/1.4 lenses.
Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:
These lenses are shown vertically aligned on their lens mounts with the Sigma appearing to be positioned higher due to its shallower rear cap. The same lenses are shown below with their lens hoods in place.
Many other visual combinations are possible using the lens comparison tool.
The 24mm Art lens accepts the very common 77mm-sized filters. While not small or inexpensive (relatively speaking), filters of this size can often be shared across a broad range of lenses, saving up-front cost and saving space in the case. Standard thickness circular polarizer filters will increase light falloff in frame corners by a very slight amount at f/1.4. You may not notice this in real world photos, but a slim filter model such as the B+W XS-Pro would completely avoid any shading effects.
The Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens ships in a nice zippered, thinly-padded nylon case that includes a belt loop for carrying or lashing to another pack. Good thing as the outer and inner boxes this lens arrived in were completely crushed. The lens, in its padded case, suffered no ill effects from the significant box damage.
Sigma's Global Vision lenses get a classification of "A", "C" or "S", representing a primary Sigma-intended use of "Artistic", "Contemporary" and "Sports". A full description of these categories can be found in the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art Lens press release.
I've said it before; I am not a fan of the overly-simplistic categorization structure. As a Global Vision lens, the 24mm f/1.4 Lens gets an "A" stamped in a classy chrome circle on the lens barrel (visible above). As with some of the other "A" lenses, I'm sure that the wide "A"perture has some responsibility for the "Art" classification. Image quality also gets an "A". While there are plenty of artistic uses for this lens, it appears by dictionary definition to be "Contemporary" and the 24 Art has proven a good choice for "Sports" as well.
Regardless, I am really liking what Sigma is doing with the Global Vision lines. Just don't limit the lens' use to their letter designation.
A great feature of the Global Vision lenses is compatibility with the Sigma Dock. The dock, working in conjunction with the Sigma Optimization Pro software, allows the lens' firmware to be updated (bug fixes, compatibility updates, feature enhancements, etc.) and allows precise autofocus calibration at four distances. FTM can also be disabled/controlled via the dock as illustrated below.
The Sigma 24 Art lens wears a medium-sized price tag, but when compared to its primary competition, this lens is a bargain.
The Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens is available in Canon (reviewed), Nikon, Sony and Sigma mounts and this lens qualifies for Sigma's Mount Conversion Service in case you change your mind. My standard disclaimer: There are potential issues with third party lenses. Since Sigma reverse engineers (vs. licenses) manufacturer AF algorithms, there is always the possibility that a DSLR body might not support a (likely older) third party lens. Sometimes a lens can be made compatible by the manufacturer, sometimes not. There is also the risk of a problem that results in the lens and body manufacturers directing blame at each other. While the risks associated with a Sigma lens purchase are low, compatibility with the Sigma USB Dock is risk reducing as Sigma can release user-installable firmware updates for this lens. Sigma USA's 4-year warranty is superior to Canon's standard 1 year warranty (Sigma's international warranty is also 1 year).
The two copies of the 24 Art lens were used for this review. Both were purchased online/retail.
The primary alternatives to the Sigma 24 Art lens, those lenses sharing the same fundamental feature set, are the two positioned next to it in the comparison photos last shown. They are the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Lens and the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G AF-S Lens.
The 24 Art is, overall, delivering best-in-class image quality performance, but this lens' lead over the Canon and Nikon equivalents is not dramatic (to be honest, not as dramatic as I had hoped). From a price/performance perspective, the difference between these lenses is huge. The Sigma's biggest advantage over these two lenses is the very strong price advantage it holds. The 24 Art's price tag is just over 50% of the price of the Canon and just under 45% of the price of the Nikon. That factor alone will make the decision for many. This lens' biggest disadvantage is AF inconsistency.
In addition to studying the standardized test comparisons, I shot several outdoor comparisons between the Sigma and the Canon 24 L II that has been part of my kit since it was introduced. Concisely describing the image quality differences between these lenses is challenging. I could share comparison results that would paint either lens the winner. Overall, these lenses are more similar than they are different, but I would give the Sigma the slight edge in wide aperture sharpness. The Sigma has less vignetting at wide apertures, better bokeh and very slightly less CA. The Canon has modestly less flare, especially at narrow apertures. The Canon's MF ring is slightly smaller, but it has 145° of rotation vs. the Sigma's 98°. The Sigma focuses slightly closer for a higher MM (0.19x vs. 0.16x). The Canon is weather sealed.
My experience with the Nikon is not nearly as significant as with the Canon, but in lab testing, I see the Sigma and Canon holding a slight image sharpness edge at f/1.4. The Nikon has noticeably more CA. The Nikon's MF ring is slightly smaller than the Sigma, but it has 150° of rotation vs. the Sigma's 98°. Otherwise, these lenses are very similar.
The Samyang 24mm f/1.4 US UMC Lens shares the max aperture and focal length, but this lens lacks autofocus. The Sigma has noticeably better image sharpness until stopped down to at least f/5.6 and the Samyang has some barrel distortion. The Samyang's roughly 60% lower price tag is its primary advantage.
If f/2.8 is good enough, your 24mm options are plentiful including some very good zoom options. Use the review navigation menus to investigate these options.
As I see it, there is always room on the market for another good ultra-wide aperture prime lens. Though I don't want to discount the AF inconsistency I occasionally encountered, Sigma continues to deliver greatness with their Art lenses and considering the performance the 24mm f/1.4 Art Lens is delivering at its price point, this lens is another winner. For considerably less cost than the Canon and Nikon equivalent, the 24 Art provides (marginally) better image sharpness in a similar feature package. For those reasons and the versatility afforded by a wide focal length combined with a very wide aperture, Sigma’s 24mm f/1.4 Art lens will surely find significant popularity.
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