Sigma 50 1.4

I just got one of these and I’d thought I’d share my experiences, in case anyone is in the market for a new 50mm.

Over the past month or so my Canon 50 1.4 started having issues the focussing ring was sticking at one point and low light focussing was frankly a joke. Because these lenses have an inherently weak focussing system due to their design (They are canon’s only micromotor USM lens) I decided that even though I’d get this lens repaired I needed to get a replacement that would stand up to heavy use as the 50mm is what I shoot the majority of my wedding work on, it would also mean I’d have two lenses that covered my most important focal length.

This is where things got interesting. In an ideal world I’d like Canon to make an F2L fifty. I don’t need a faster lens than this, it would be easy to design and probably sharper than anything else Canon has to offer. Canon though, make the 50 1.2L, which by nature of its design has a substantial focus shift though the 1.2 to F4 at close ranges. Well I shoot a lot of work at F2 to F4 so this lens seemed tailor made to make my life a misery, and £1200 seemed a high price to pay for such torture. I looked at the independant options. I was very tempted by the Zeiss 50 1.4 but it’s manual focus only and I don’t fancy follow focussing in dark chuches by hand, I may still buy one though for outdoor work. By default then the only ‘serious’ 50mm was Sigma’s. I got mine from my local dealer and it’s certainly appears well made. The only problem was that the lens front focussed, I could adjust this with the microadjustment on my 5D mark II and the lens performed beautifully on that body. It seems sharper than the Canon 50 1.4 but more than that it’s out of focus areas wash out very quickly to a creamy blur. So much in fact that the lens feels like a longer focal length with less depth of field.

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The only drawback with the lens is that focus was not accurate on my classic 5D and that camera has no way of adjusting the lens, so yesterday I had to send the body and lens to Sigma for calibration, and pray it comes back in time for my next wedding.

I read a lot of reports slamming the focussing issues with this lens, but if it is only a simple calibration issue I don’t see what the problem is. At the end of the day I’ve got L quality glass for £370 plus the shipping to Sigma and if the issues end there I’m happy.

To put this into further perspective I tested my Canon 50mm and found it to be backfocussing by a similar margin. I’d been using that lens for years like that only avoiding 1.4 and manual focussing at F2. I never tested it as rigourously as I did the Sigma because I hadn’t read a lot of internet moaning, and the issue never ruined a job. Maybe I’m getting fussy in my old age

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