Unsolicited editorials on cameras, lenses, film, developer, and black and white photography in general.

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Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sigma 50 f 1.4

Ever since I first saw them in the 1970's, Sigma lenses always seemed like just another Vivitar or Soligor budget lens. But the independent lens makers like Sigma and Tamron are getting more serious with their optical quality, at least in some of their offerings. I was sort of surprised to read the reviews of the current Sigma 50 1.4 lens for dSLR and full frame SLR cameras. Some reviews have it neck and neck or even better than the current Canon or Nikon 50 1.4 primes. An admitted 50 mm focal length fanatic, I managed to hold off for about a year before finally caving in.
This weekend was an overcast, cool day in New Orleans, and we had a field trip to the Audubon Zoo for some of our biology students. Good opportunity to try out the glass. The frame below is an uncropped shot at f 2.0, ISO 200. The point of focus was the lizard's eye. I like the lens' bokeh at this aperture, particularly of the girl's face.

Below is a cropped area of the lizard's eye from the same frame, again without any sharpening or PS enhancements.
No complaint about the sharpness at nearly full aperture.

The frame below is an uncropped, unedited shot at f 5.6, ISO 200.

A cropped area of same photo, no PS tweaking.

Shot of gorilla below is at f 5.0, full frame and unedited.

A crop of same photo, unedited.

I have to say that I'm liking this Sigma lens. It IS rather big and heavy, with a huge front element. But I'm not apt to walk out the door with a Domke bag full of lenses, so carrying this one 50 around all day is not a problem. I think it is going to work out well as a street/documentary photography lens. I'm happy with the center sharpness and the bokeh. Sigma is not particularly famous for its durability over the long haul, so it will be interesting to see how this lens holds up over time.