Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Review

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens
In-Depth Review

Sigma has been delivering excellence in their DN Art lenses, and it is great to see the DN Art lineup bolstered with the 50mm f/1.4 combination.

50mm lenses are photographers' perennial favorites. My first camera came with a 50mm lens, and the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens is the 34th 50mm prime lens I've reviewed (and the Sony FE 50mm F1.4 GM Lens is expected to arrive any day).

Most of these 50mm lenses open wide, with f/1.8 or wider apertures. However, only in recent years have wide aperture 50mm lens designs delivered outstanding image quality at the widest aperture. The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens joins this elite group.

Featuring great image quality, a high-quality design and build, excellent HLA-driven AF performance, and a reasonable price, the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens argues strongly for a position in your kit.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Top View

Focal Length

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The focal length is the first consideration for lens selection, and with a prime lens, you get only one angle of view. That angle of view drives subject distance choices (or meets distance-related requirements), and subject distances determine perspective.

On a full-frame body, a 50mm focal length provides an angle of view that seems natural, and that aspect brings great general-purpose usefulness. So useful, and thus, so popular, is this focal length that 50mm (or similar) focal length prime lenses are found in all major brand lens lineups, with some brands having many options. For example, Sony has six FE 50mm prime lenses in their line-up at review time, plus a 55mm option for those who need just a little more.

Fifty mm lenses are frequently used for fashion, portraiture, weddings, documentary, street, lifestyle, sports, architecture, landscape, commercial, around-the-home, and general studio photography applications, including product photography or recording your lunch. As you likely noted, a number of useful applications for this lens include people as subjects. While a 50mm lens used (on a full-frame body) is modestly too wide for tightly framed headshot portraits (a too-close perspective is required), this angle of view is excellent for wider portrait framing.

Having a 50mm focal length and f/1.4 aperture available opens many artistic opportunities, including those found in nature.

To visualize where 50mm fits among other common focal lengths, I'll borrow a focal length range example from a zoom lens review.

Focal Length Range Example

24mm | 35mm | 50mm | 70mm | 85mm | 105mm

On an ASP-C/1.5x sensor format body, the 50mm focal length provides an angle of view like a 75mm lens on a full-frame sensor format body. Uses for this angle of view coincide with most uses of the 50mm focal length, with modestly tighter framing or modestly longer perspective for the same framing being the difference. The APS-C 50mm angle of view favors more-tightly-framed portraits.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Front View

Max Aperture

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How much light does the lens bring to the imaging sensor? Usually, that question is the second most important when selecting a lens.

The f/1.4 max aperture made available by this lens is nearly as wide as MILC lenses get. The wider the aperture opens, the more light that can reach the imaging sensor. Allowing more light to reach the sensor permits freezing action, handholding the camera in lower light levels, and using a lower (less noisy) ISO setting. Often critical is the improved low-light AF performance availed by a wide-aperture lens.

Increasing the opening also permits a more substantial, subject-isolating background blur. The shallow f/1.4 depth of field must be acceptable to the scenario, but a shallow depth of field is a highly-desired lens capability, perfect for making the subject pop from a blurred background. I love the shallow DOF look that draws the viewer's attention to the subject by eliminating background distractions. The ability to blur the background so strongly bolsters this 50mm lens's artistic capabilities.

Following are 50mm aperture examples.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Aperture Comparison Example

The background is a significant percentage of many images, and when the background is not complementary to the subject (or even distracting), blurring it away is highly advantageous. That capability is in this lens's skill set.

Note the difference between the above results captured at f/1.4 and your widest 50mm lens's max aperture.

Notable drawbacks to lenses that feature wide maximum apertures are increased size and weight, directly reflecting the use of larger and heavier lens elements. Unfortunately, those larger elements are also evidenced by the increased price of the lens. For most photographers, the benefits of a wide max aperture prime lens far outweigh the drawbacks, and those drawbacks are minimal for this lens.

Sigma includes an iris (aperture) ring on this lens model, permitting a ring-selected aperture. With the ring in the A (Auto) position, the camera controls the aperture setting. All other settings force the aperture to the selected opening, and a 2-position switch on the bottom-left side of the lens toggles between 1/3 stop clicks and smooth, quiet, non-clicked adjustments ideal for video recording. An iris ring lock switch on the right side of the lens enables only the A (Auto) setting or only the full range of manual settings to be locked.

The following image illustrates the maximum blur this lens can produce.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Maximum Blur Example

I love that look. The details are gone, leaving a non-distracting backdrop for your subject to stand out within.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens on Tripod

Image Stabilization

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The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens, like all other 50mm prime lenses, does not feature image stabilization, but with the f/1.4 aperture available, image stabilization is often not needed.

Omitting the optical stabilization system reduces the size, weight, complexity, and cost of a lens. However, image stabilization is a useful feature.

Sony addresses that omission with Steady Shot IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization) in their Alpha cameras. In addition to reducing camera shake, the stabilized imaging sensor provides a still viewfinder image, enabling careful composition. Furthermore, sensor-based AF takes advantage of the stabilized view for improved accuracy.

With no IS switch on the lens, the camera menu must be used to enable or disable IBIS or check the current settings. This extra step is a slight impediment to working quickly, going from tripod mounted to handholding, for example.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Front View on Camera on Tripod

Image Quality

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You buy a wide-aperture prime lens to use that wide aperture. However, as I mentioned in the beginning of this review, wide-aperture 50mm lenses historically did not deliver great image quality at their widest apertures. For some lenses, that statement is kind, with wide-open performance appearing like that of a special effects lens. This is a good time to be a photographer, and the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens rewards wide-open aperture use with sharp results.

At f/1.4, this lens produces good sharpness across the entire full-frame image circle.

In general, lenses become sharper as they are stopped down one or two stops from their wide-open apertures. At f/2, contrast and resolution increase slightly for excellent sharpness. The sharpness produced at f/2.8 is outstanding, slightly better than even the f/2 results.

Often, subjects are not placed in the center of a composition, and lenses typically show decreased sharpness in the periphery of the image circle, where light rays are refracted to a stronger angle than in the center. As mentioned, this lens produces sharp corners at f/1.4, and, especially with peripheral shading clearing at narrower apertures, overall corner performance improves through a few stops of narrower aperture.

The resolution chart is merciless on image quality, so let's take the testing outdoors, next looking at a series of center-of-the-frame 100% resolution crop examples. These images were captured in RAW format using a Sony Alpha 1 and processed in Capture One using the Natural Clarity method. The sharpening amount was set to only "30" on a 0-1000 scale. Note that images from most cameras require some level of sharpening, but too-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the deficiencies of a lens.

I nearly exclusively capture outdoor lens test results on a clear day, with a subject in direct sunlight. Clear days were lacking during my time with this lens, so use your discernment when viewing the brick wall examples. Expect the cloudy day to produce lower contrast lighting. The tree bark samples were captured during a later brief moment of direct sunlight.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

The tiny details are looking nice at f/1.4 and additional contrast takes f/2 sharpness to outstanding.

Next, we'll look at a series of comparisons showing 100% resolution extreme top left corner crops captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images. The lens was manually focused in the corner of the frame to capture these images.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Corner Sharpness Comparison Example

Samples taken from the outer extreme of the image circle, full-frame corners, can be counted on to show a lens's weakest performance. Still, this lens delivers excellent periphery image quality.

Does corner sharpness matter? Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't. I always prefer my lenses to be razor sharp in the corners in case that feature is needed, but each of us must consider our applications to answer this paragraph's initial question, and if no better option exists, any limitations present must be accepted.

This lens does not exhibit focus shift, the plane of sharp focus moving forward or backward as the aperture is narrowed (residual spherical aberration or RSA).

Especially ultra-wide aperture lenses are expected to show strong peripheral shading wide at the widest aperture settings when used on a camera that utilizes its entire image circle. This lens's about 3 stops of f/1.4 corner shading are not unexpected, but this shading is noticeable.

Want less shading? Select a narrower aperture. By f/2, the shading amount drops to about 2 stops. Further improvements are not as abrupt, with about 1.5 stops of shading deep in the corners at f/5.6 and just under a stop in the f/16 corners.

APS-C format cameras using lenses projecting a full-frame-sized image circle avoid most vignetting problems. In this case, the just-over one-stop of corner shading showing at f/1.4 may be visible in select images, primarily those with a solid color (such as a blue sky) in the corners.

One-stop of shading is often used as the visibility number, though subject details provide a widely varying amount of vignetting discernibility. Vignetting is correctable during post-processing, with increased noise in the brightened areas the penalty, or it can be embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer's eye to the center of the frame. Study the pattern shown in our vignetting test tool to determine how your images will be affected.

Lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration) refers to the unequal magnification of all colors in the spectrum. Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii), with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the most significant amount as this is where the most significant difference in the magnification of wavelengths typically exists.

With the right lens profile and software, lateral CA is often easily correctable (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide. However, it is always better to avoid this aberration in the first place.

Color misalignment can be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a worst-case example. The image below is a 100% crop from the extreme top left corner of an Alpha 1 frame showing diagonal black and white lines.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Lateral Chromatic Aberration Example

Only black and white colors should be present in these images, with the additional colors indicating the presence of lateral CA. While there is some color separation showing here, the amount of separation is modest for lenses in general and moderate for a prime lens.

A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light. More simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration, along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to observe. Axial CA remains somewhat persistent when stopping down, with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing. The spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused, and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.

In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation, with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.

The examples below look at the defocused specular highlights' fringing colors in the foreground vs. the background. The lens has introduced any fringing color differences from the neutrally-colored subjects.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Spherical and Axial Aberration Example

The f/1.4 results show strong color separation, and you should expect to see this separation in some images, such as in the details of a white bridal dress. As the aperture narrows, the colors better align with f/4 results looking good.

Bright light reflecting off lens elements' surfaces may cause flare and ghosting, resulting in reduced contrast and sometimes interesting, usually destructive visual artifacts. The shape, intensity, and position of the flare and ghosting effects in an image are variable, dependent on the position and nature of the light source (or sources), selected aperture, shape of the aperture blades, and quantity and quality of the lens elements and their coatings. Additionally, flare and ghosting can impact AF performance.

On this lens, Sigma utilizes Super Multi-Layer Coating to combat flare and ghosting. This lens produced practically no flare effects even at narrow apertures in our standard sun in the corner of the frame flare test, an excellent performance.

Flare effects can be embraced or avoided, or removal can be attempted. Unfortunately, removal is sometimes challenging, and in some cases, flare effects can destroy image quality. Thus, high flare resistance appears to be a welcomed trait of this lens.

Two lens aberrations are particularly evident in images of stars, mainly because bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners, and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light that can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma) or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). The coma clears as the aperture is narrowed. Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either sagittal (radiating from the center of the image) or meridional (tangential, perpendicular to sagittal). This aberration can produce stars appearing to have wings. Remember that Lateral CA is another aberration apparent in the corners.

The image below is a 100% crop taken from the top-left corner of a Sony Alpha 1 image captured at f/1.4 (on a moonlit night).

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Coma

While those stars are not rendered as perfect dots, they look good from a relative standpoint.

This lens has pincushion distortion that ranges from modest to strong. I know, that is an unusual statement for a prime lens. However, this lens has modest pincushion distortion at long focus distances and strong pincushion distortion at close focus distances, with a gradual variation in between.

Especially when using this lens at 9' (3m) or closer focus distances, you will want to enable distortion correction in-camera and during RAW image processing. Find the focus breathing example later in this review to see the full variation from a minimum focus distance to infinity focus distance adjustment. Also, the minimum focus distance sample photo shows the worst-case distortion.

With increasing frequency, manufacturers are relying on software over physical lens design to manage geometric distortion. Reasons include lower cost, smaller size, and lighter weight. While distortion correction AI is good, this correction is destructive at the pixel level as some portion of the image must be stretched or the overall dimensions reduced. Correction profiles for this lens must be focus distance aware.

As seen earlier in the review, it is easy to illustrate the strongest blur a lens can create. Due to the infinite number of variables present among available scenes, assessing the bokeh quality is considerably more challenging. Here is an f/11 (for diaphragm blade interaction) example.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Bokeh Example

This example shows defocused highlights filled rather smoothly and shaped relatively round, especially for this number of stops down from wide open.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Outdoor Bokeh Example

This example shows a full image reduced in size and looking nice.

Except for a small number of specialty lenses, the wide aperture bokeh in the frame's corner does not produce round defocused highlights, with these effects taking on a cat's eye shape due to a form of mechanical vignetting. If you look through a tube at an angle, similar to the light reaching the frame's corner, the shape is not round. That is the shape we're looking at here.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Cat's Eye Bokeh Example

As the aperture narrows, the entrance pupil size is reduced, and the mechanical vignetting diminishes, making the corner shapes rounder.

An 11-blade count diaphragm will create 22-point sunstars (diffraction spikes) from point light sources captured with a narrow aperture. Generally, the more a lens diaphragm is stopped down, the larger and better shaped the sunstars tend to be. Wide aperture lenses tend to have an advantage in this regard, and this lens rocks the sunstars.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Sunstar Effect Example

The example above was captured at f/16.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Design

The design of this lens, featuring 3 aspherical lenses and 1 SLD glass element, is illustrated above.

While the wide-aperture color blur and moderate geometric distortion keep this lens from perfection, the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens is otherwise a great performer optically. This performance exceeds the price.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Front View on Camera

Focusing

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As first seen in the recently introduced Sigma 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG DN OS Sports Lens, Sigma's HLA (High-response Linear Actuator) is featured in the 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens. "This high-output linear motor and advanced electronic control realize a quiet autofocus with unparalleled high speed and high precision. The new motor also enables high focus-following performance, ensuring that the decisive moment is not missed." [Sigma]

Sigma High-Response Linear Actuator

This lens smoothly focuses quickly and with consistent accuracy. It also focuses quietly, with only a barely detectable buzz and clicks heard.

This lens's f/1.4 aperture is an asset for Low-light AF, one of this lens's specialties. While AF slows in a dark environment, the Sony Alpha 1 can lock focus with this lens on reasonable contrast in dark scenarios.

A customizable AFL (Autofocus Lock) button is provided. With the camera set to continuous focus mode, press AFL to lock focus at the currently selected focus distance, permitting a focus and recompose technique. This button also functions as a custom button to be programmed to a desired function using the camera's menu.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Side View

This lens has an AF/MF switch, a feature that is going missing on many modern lenses, that allows this frequently used camera setting to be quickly changed without accessing the menu system.

Normal is for the scene to change size in the frame (sometimes significantly) as the focus is pulled from one extent to the other. This effect is focus breathing, a change in focal length resulting from a change in focus distance. Focus breathing impacts photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques, videographers pulling focus (without movement to camouflage the effect), and anyone critically framing while adjusting focus.

This lens produces a strong change in subject size through a full-extent focus distance adjustment.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Focus Breathing Example

Notice the geometric distortion change with the focus distance. The vertical lines take on a stronger curve at the closest focus distance.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Side View with Hood

Sigma consistently provides a great manual focus experience with the Art lenses, and this lens has the same. The sharp-ribbed, rubber-coated focus ring is large and, being raised from the lens barrel behind it, is easy to find. The focus ring is smooth, has nice resistance, and, when turned slowly, the 875° of MF rotation adjusts focus at a rate enabling precise manual focusing even at close distances.

This is a variable response MF ring. Turn it quickly, and about 210° of rotation will complete the full extent focus distance adjustment. While I often prefer a linear response MF ring, this lens's multi-speed adjustment rate works well.

With a minimum focus distance of 17.7" (450mm), this lens has a mediocre 0.15x maximum magnification spec. That capability is not remarkable, but it is normal for this lens class.

ModelMin Focus Distance "(mm)Max Magnification
Canon RF 50mm F1.2 L USM Lens15.7(400)0.19x
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens17.7(450)0.15x
Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM Lens11.8(300)0.25x
Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens15.7(400)0.15x
Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens17.7(450)0.15x
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens15.7(400)0.18x
Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens15.8(400)0.17x
Sony FE 50mm F1.4 GM Lens16.1(410)0.16x
Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA Lens17.7(450)0.15x
Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 Lens17.7(450)0.14x
Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens6.3(160)1.00x
Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Lens19.7(500)0.14x
Tamron 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Lens11.4(290)0.29x
Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Milvus Lens17.7(450)0.15x
Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus Lens19.7(500)0.14x

A subject measuring approximately 7.3 x 4.9" (185 x 123mm) fills a full-frame imaging sensor at this lens's minimum MF distance.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Maximum Magnification Example

The USPS love stamps shared above have an image area that measures 1.05 x 0.77" (26.67 x 19.558mm), and the overall individual stamp size is 1.19 x 0.91" (30.226 x 23.114mm).

While this lens produces sharp center of the frame details at minimum focus distance with a wide-open aperture, expect the image periphery to be soft due to field curvature. A narrower aperture brings increased depth of field, and this lens produces excellent close-up corner image quality at narrow apertures.

Need a shorter minimum focus distance and higher magnification? Mount an extension tube behind this lens to significantly decrease and increase those respective numbers. Extension tubes are hollow lens barrels that shift a lens farther from the camera, allowing shorter focusing distances at the expense of long-distance focusing. Electronic connections in extension tubes permit the lens and camera to communicate and function normally. As of review time, Sigma and Sony do not manufacture these items, but third-party Sony-compatible extension tubes are available.

This lens is not compatible with Sigma teleconverters.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Angle View

Design & Features

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From aesthetic and construction perspectives, Sigma's Art lenses are beautifully built.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Product Images

MFD |    w/ Hood:  MFD |    Rotated   Compare »

Most of this lens's exterior has been already discussed. The AF/MF switch and AFL button share a shallow switch panel that emphasizes them, making them easy to locate. The click switch is just below the panel, and the aperture lock is positioned on the right side of the lens for easy grip hand access.

These 2-position switches snap crisply into position and display a white background when the enabled position is selected

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Mount

This is a weather-sealed lens, and this feature can save the day, trip, event, etc.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Weather Sealing

A water and oil-repellent coating repels dust and moisture from the front element. This coating also makes the lens much easier to clean.

I'll call the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens medium-sized and medium-weighted. While there are many smaller and lighter lenses available, not many of those lenses have an f/1.4 aperture. The size and weight of this lens make it comfortable for long periods of use.

ModelWeight oz(g)Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)FilterYear 
Canon RF 50mm F1.2 L USM Lens33.5(950)3.5 x 4.3(89.8 x 108.0)772018
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens10.2(290)2.9 x 2.0(74.0 x 51.0)581993
Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM Lens5.6(160)2.7 x 1.6(69.2 x 40.5)432020
Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens42.4(1200)3.5 x 5.2(87.8 x 131.0)822018
Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens23.3(660)3.1 x 4.4(78.2 x 111.5)722023
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens28.8(815)3.4 x 3.9(85.4 x 99.9)772014
Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens27.5(778)3.4 x 4.3(87.0 x 108.0)722021
Sony FE 50mm F1.4 GM Lens18.2(516)3.2 x 3.8(80.6 x 96.0)672023
Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA Lens27.5(778)3.3 x 4.3(83.5 x 108.0)722016
Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 Lens6.6(186)2.7 x 2.3(68.6 x 59.5)492016
Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens8.3(236)2.8 x 2.8(70.8 x 71.0)552016
Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Lens9.9(281)2.5 x 2.8(64.4 x 70.5)492013
Tamron 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Lens19.2(544)3.2 x 3.6(80.4 x 91.4)672015
Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Milvus Lens32.5(922)3.2 x 3.8(82.5 x 97.5)672015
Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus Lens36.4(1030)3.6 x 5.7(92.4 x 144.0)772013

For many more comparisons, review the complete Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Specifications using the site's lens specifications tool.

Here is a visual comparison:

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Compared to Similar Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens
Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens
Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA Lens
Canon RF 50mm F1.2 L USM Lens

The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Compared to Similar Lenses with Hoods

Perhaps most surprising in this comparison is the size similarity. The f/1.2 lenses are wider, but the lengths are especially close.

Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens to other lenses.

This lens uses 72mm filters. These are common, mid-sized, mid-priced filters.

Sigma includes hoods with their lenses and, the Sigma LH782-02 Lens Hood ships with the 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Angle View with Hood

The LH782-02's petal shape is optimized to block as much flare-inducing light outside the utilized image circle as possible, and the size of this hood provides considerable front element protection from dust, water, fingers, limbs, etc. The petal shape looks cool, and an advantage of this hood shape is easier installation alignment (simply align the small petal to the top), though a round-shaped hood enables the lens to better stand on its hood. The interior is ribbed for reduced internal reflections.

A push-button release makes hood installation and removal a smooth process. The ALC-SH168's rather rigid plastic build absorbs some impact and adds a layer of physical protection to the camera and lens.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Case

Sigma once again provides my favorite packing material in the box, a nice zippered, padded nylon case. A web belt loop is stitched onto the back of the case.

Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens Cap

Price, Value, Wrap Up

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In general, mid-focal length f/1.4 prime lenses are reasonably affordable relative to their capabilities, and the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens falls into this generalization. It is a good value, with an especially strong image-quality-to-price ratio.

The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens is compatible with all Sony E-mount cameras, including APS-C sensor format models, and it is also available in the L mount (Sigma, Panasonic, Leica).

Made in Japan, each Art lens is tested with Sigma's proprietary MTF measuring system, ensuring a quality product. Regarding the Sony E-mount version of this lens, Sigma develops, manufactures, and sells lenses based on the specifications of the E-mount, disclosed by Sony Corporation under license agreement.

Sigma provides a 1-year limited warranty, and Sigma USA provides a limited 3-year warranty extension.

The reviewed Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens was on loan from Sigma Corporation of America.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Angle on Tripod View

Alternatives to the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens

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There are an endless number of lenses to compare this one to. So, let's dive in, starting with the predecessor Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens, shown below to the left of the DN version.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Compared to Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens

In the wide-open aperture image quality comparison, we see the two lenses performing similarly in the center of the frame. However, the DN lens is considerably sharper in the mid and periphery of the image circle. The DN advantages at f/2 are even more striking. The DN lens has considerably stronger geometric distortion and stronger peripheral shading at f/1.4 (and still modestly stronger shading at narrower apertures).

The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens vs. Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens comparison shows the DN lens is slightly narrower, slightly longer, and modestly lighter. Being narrower enables the DN lens to use narrower filters, 72mm vs. 77mm. The DN lens has a longer focus ring and 11 aperture blades vs. 9 for rounder stopped down bokeh, has an aperture ring, and has an AFL button. The HSM has a slightly higher maximum magnification (0.18x vs. 0.15x). The price is the same. I'd get the DN lens.

The equally-specced Sony FE 50mm F1.4 GM Lens review was introduced about the same time as this Sigma lens. In that image quality comparison, the Sony lens is sharper in the center of the frame. The Sony lens has slightly less peripheral shading at f/1.4 and less pincushion distortion.

The Sony FE 50mm F1.4 GM Lens vs. Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens comparison shows the Sony lens is modestly lighter and smaller. The smaller lens uses smaller filters, 67mm vs. 72mm. What is the Sigma lens's greatest advantage? Price. It is significantly less expensive than the Sony lens. While I recommend the Sony FE 50mm F1.4 GM Lens over the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens, the price is an equalizer in this case.

That Sony GM lens's predecessor is the FE 50mm F1.4 ZA Lens, a lens also worthy of comparison.

In the image quality comparison, the Sony lens is slightly sharper in the center at f/1.4. By f/2, that difference is gone. The Sony lens has less geometric distortion.

The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens vs. Sony FE 50mm F1.4 ZA Lens shows mostly similarities. The Sigma lens is slightly lighter, has an aperture ring, and has an AFL button. For many, the primary decision factor will be the Sigma lens's considerably lower price.

Is it worth stepping up to the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens? The significantly wider f/1.2 aperture enables more strongly blurred backgrounds, faster shutter speeds, and lower ISO settings.

The image quality comparison shows the Sony lens slightly sharper in the center of the frame at f/1.2 and holding a bigger advantage at f/1.4. The two lenses perform similarly at f/2. The Sony lens has slightly less peripheral shading at f/1.4 and stronger shading at narrow apertures. The Sony lens has less geometric distortion.

The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens vs. Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens comparison shows the Sigma lens is slightly lighter and narrower. The Sony has a slightly higher maximum magnification, 0.17x vs. 0.15x. While the Sony lens is the easy choice from the performance standpoint, paying for it is the hurdle. The Sigma lens is dramatically less expensive.

While the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens is in a different class (considerably smaller, lighter, and less expensive), it was a favorite of many. As another data point, I want to share this image quality comparison. The Sigma lens far outperforms this old Canon favorite.

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Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens Top View with Hood

Summary

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All of the details must be considered for a conclusive lens review, but in summary, the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens is beautifully built and provides great utility for a reasonable price.

The 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens provides a wide aperture in a favorite focal length, and great image quality is part of the package. This lens's two biggest negative factors are the wide-aperture color blur and the strong pincushion distortion at short focus distances.

The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens is a good choice for portraits and wide variety of other general-purpose needs. Leave this lens mounted and nearby to capture daily life.

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Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens
Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens
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