Sigma’s incoming 50mm f/1.2 prime lens could be an affordable Sony alternative for pro portrait photographers

Sigma lens attached to mirrorless camera on dark gray background
A Sigma 30mm lens with the familiar Art series desgin, attached to the Sigma FP (Image credit: Sigma)

We rate the Sony 50mm f/1.2 as one of the best Sony lenses ever made and, much like its f/1.4 sibling, it could the only lens you ever need, especially if portrait photography is your thing. The buzz surrounding Sigma's recent March 26 event teaser comes as no surprise then, given that it’s expected the lens maker will announce a rival 50mm for pros that could be much more affordable. 

According to Sony Alpha Rumors, the new 50mm lens will also have an extremely large f/1.2 aperture – perfect for bright portraits with an extremely shallow depth of field – and will come in both Sony E-Mount and L-Mount (for Sigma and Panasonic full-frame mirrorless cameras); there's no mention of a Nikon Z-Mount version. 

There’s also word that Sigma’s latest lens, which looks strikingly similar to its own 50mm f/1.4 in leaked images (which have since been taken down), will be smaller and lighter than the Sony rival, though not by much.

The real carrot dangled in front of aspiring and pro portrait photographers looking for a new Sony-mount lens is the potential money saved – Sigma's lenses are almost always around half the price of Sony's, and with the aforementioned Sony 50mm f/1.2 costing north of $2,000 / £2,000, we could be looking at something nearer $1,000 / £1,000. 

Is Sigma's latest portrait lens really needed? 

If the image quality of Sigma’s soon-to-be-announced lens holds up – which is practically a given based on the third-party lens maker’s decorated history – then it will be a compelling alternative to Sony’s pricier 50mm f/1.2 lens. The only concern I have – which is based on the leaked images, which show the Sigma lens diameter as much narrower than the Sony version – is that cat's eye bokeh could be more pronounced, although this is mere speculation until the lens is made official and we can test it.

Sony FE 50mm f/1.2

Sony's own 50mm f/1.2 for full-frame E-Mount cameras.  (Image credit: Future)

Given that Sigma already makes a 50mm f/1.4 lens, is this f/1.2 version what photographers really need? Well, while on paper there are fine margins between f/1.2, f/1.4, and f/1.8 prime lenses, these details matter to pro. The larger the maximum aperture, the easier a lens is to use in low light, plus the creamier and potentially rounder the bokeh when shooting with the aperture wide open – and the Sigma lens is rumored to pack a generous 13 aperture blades, which would enhance bokeh still further.

A potential 50mm f/1.2 would be larger, heavier and pricier than Sigma's existing 50mm f/1.4, although most pros will fork out the extra to gain that larger aperture, and will put up with the bulk. For everyone else, a 50mm f/1.4 or even f/1.8 will probably do just fine. In any case, it looks like Sigma is set to deliver another impressive lens for pros who shoot Sony especially, or Panasonic – we only have to wait just over a week, until March 26 (4am PT / 7am EST / 12pm GMT / 11pm AEDT) to find out more.

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Timothy Coleman
Cameras editor

Tim is the Cameras editor at TechRadar. He has enjoyed more than 15 years in the photo video industry with most of those in the world of tech journalism. During his time as Deputy Technical Editor with Amateur Photographer, as a freelancer and consequently editor at Tech Radar, Tim has developed a deeply technical knowledge and practical experience with cameras, educating others through news, reviews and features. He’s also worked in video production for Studio 44 with clients including Canon, and volunteers his spare time to consult a non-profit, diverse stories team based in Nairobi. Tim is curious, a keen creative, avid footballer and runner, and moderate flat white drinker who has lived in Kenya and believes we have much to enjoy and learn from each other.