Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM review

Is bigger better for 50mm prime lenses?

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Our Verdict

Tested side-by-side alongside the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 on a D700 body, the Sigma produced similar resolution levels throughout the aperture range. The results looked perhaps slightly crisper at wider apertures with some shots, but not with others – the depth of field is so limited that it's difficult to rule out tiny focussing variations


  • Solid build
  • Excellent images


  • Expensive

What a whopper! Sigma's 50mm f/1.4 is twice the size and weight of other similar lenses and has a colossal front element promising superior peripheral brightness (reduced corner shading) and improved contrast at wider lens apertures.

The finish and the controls are rock-solid. This is one area where the independent lens makers like Sigma are every bit as good as camera-makers' own lenses, and sometimes better.

Sigma's HSM autofocus motors aren't quite as quiet as Canon and Nikon's, but the differences are small. You get full-time manual focus override, and the focus movement has a smooth, if slightly heavy feel.

The distance scale is very clear and there are depth of field index markers for f/8 and f/16. It would be better if there were markers for wider apertures, too.

This is a good, solid, top-quality lens, but there is both a weight and price premium to be paid.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeLens
Fixed Focal Length50 mm
Lens Mount TypeCanon EF/EF-S
Maximum Aperture Fixed1.4
Brand NameSigma
Filter Attachment Diameter77 mm
Lens TypeFixed Focal Length
Width68.2 mm

Canon Digital SLR Cameras

ManufacturerSigma Corporation
Product Name50mm F1, 4 EX DG HSM Fixed Focal Length Lens
Manufacturer Part Number310954
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Sigma's 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM is high quality, professional optics and you'll know it the minute you pick it up. In the past few years, camera manufacturers have overlooked the need for a reasonable fast prime lens that is compact enough for everyday use, yet provides the necessary image quality to meet the highest expectations. Now, with the advent of the APS-C cameras, the long popular 50mm focal length takes on double duty as a portrait length lens of approximately 75mm on most of the small chip cameras.

Weight (Approximate)505 g