Sigma 50mm Matches the Otus in Almost All Tests, Said to Cost One-Fourth as Much


Just days after publishing their glowing review of the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art series lens that ranked it leaps and bounds ahead of the Canon and Nikon competition, SLRgear finally got their hands on the ZEISS Otus for comparison.

And it seems ZEISS will have to work hard to justify the rumored price difference between those two lenses…

As you might expect, the ZEISS 55mm f/1.4 Otus was no slouch in SLRgear‘s tests. Having given it a go ourselves, we can confirm that this is one beast of a lens with the only real problem being a bit of vignetting wide open (which, incidentally, is easily fixable in post). But it wasn’t the review we were interested in as much as the comparison, and on that count SLRgear was clear:

Despite the dramatic difference in price, the Sigma competes handily with the $4,000 Zeiss 55mm Otus lens… While the Zeiss does show better performance in the corners at ƒ/1.4 on a full-frame camera, the other optical performance characteristics are pretty evenly matched.


Combine that with a new rumor published by Photo Rumors that claims the new Sigma will cost approximately $1,030 US (this matches with some tips we received yesterday) and you start to see why ZEISS might be sweating a bit.

The Sigma is smaller, lighter, can autofocus, performs almost identically in the lab and will possibly cost as little as one-fourth the price… that’s a big ‘Yes, Please!’ from us.

To read both their Sigma and ZEISS lens reviews, head over to SLRgear by following the corresponding links. And don’t hesitate to drop some opinions in the comments down below.

(via Imaging Resource and Photo Rumors)

  • Bob

    First, the idea of “German engineering prowess” is basically positive racism, or at best, nationalism. It’s the same line of thinking that supports “Chinese people are good at math” and “Black musicians make the best jazz and blues”.

    Anyway, if you believe those things about all those brands, then their marketing teams have done their jobs effectively. Do some research on double-blind brand tests – like the famous blind wine tests, or the recent Stradivarius vs. modern violins tests. Or just blindfold someone and put them in a Merc or a Lex and see if they can tell the difference.
    Price-to-performance ratio is what really matters, but marketing teams are there to mess with your mind and make you think you’re getting something that you’re not in order to justify a higher price tag. And it works because of people’s psychological heuristics. But when you take the brand away, there’s not so much difference as you’ve been led to believe.

  • Doc Pixel

    Well that’s rich: I’m now a German nationalist! I’ll surely have to show my German friends as an English/French Canadian living in Germany that continually is pointing out what’s wrong with their thinking quite often :)

    Please do tell: at what point does it become racist to acknowledge inherent and learned strengths of a particular culture may I ask? I’m thoroughly flummoxed that anyone would ever call me racist for raising positive values that come from tradition, schooling and a dedicated folk to preserve what makes them special in this multicultural world of ours. I certainly didn’t mean to be racist in the least. Maybe you’re just questioning your own beliefs, because since you brought it up… yes… I believe that African-American Jazz and Blues is the finest the world has to offer as a generalization. So you would call me racist for my belief that it’s in their blood and their culture, and they should be as proud for it as I’m pleasured to listen to it? Does that mean that no other person(s) of any other descent CAN’T perform equally powerful jazz and blues? No. I never said that, would ever mock the effort, would ever stop anyone else from believing it… or myself from enjoying it. But for stating that I tend to gravitate or choose African-American Blues for it’s (again generalized) excellent consistency… I’m now a racist?! Forget answering that… you haven’t thought your position through nor have the intelligence to see why you were wrong in implying something into my post that wasn’t there.

    Price to performance ratio is a fine “starting” metric, but you might also take into consideration extended services, longevity, and total cost of ownership…. and resale value.

    Your wine and violin analogy doesn’t work here because it’s subjective, and also a learned taste and ability to hear/taste the nuances. In fact, it very well could be that there are an over abundance of people that don’t like the quality of an OTUS, and it’s only appreciated by photography aficionados. Does that really make it worthless as an investment? I dare say not… however now you’re surely going to label me an Elitist as well as the other obnoxious and pathetic little drawer you like to stick people in without knowing them first.

  • Arkarch

    I’ve had some very successful images at 50mm. But I think it comes down to individual shooting style and feel – and subject.

  • Arkarch

    As we have only seen reviews on hand-picked demonstrator copies, I would really like to see the actual variance on production copies. Am I going to need to buy 4 Sigmas to find one to keep? Whereas I know Zeiss has built the reject cost into the price – yielding lenses that are well within tolerance. Of course in the end if I find a Sigma that matches the review, then the price vs performance issue falls firmly with Sigma.

  • Kelly Trimble

    A few years ago I was at my local camera shop and had some money burning a hole in my pocket and I bought Nikon’s cheapie 50mm 1.8 for $110 as I recall (Nikon makes a faster 50mm that costs much more). I thought I might use it on rare occassions, but carried it because it was so small and light. I found that I use it a lot-far more than I expected. I’ve used it on a crop sensor camera to do portraits, I’ve done products with it, I’ve done street photography with it, I’ve put it on a film camera for some experimental lomo work, and I’ve put on a set of $5 ebay extension tubes and done a lot of macro work with it. It has surprised me how much I have used this 50mm lens. I have made money with this lens.

    But I probably use that 50mm lens only about 5 % of the time, even though it is a joy to use. I have spent a bucket of money on equipment, and I have probably thirty lenses on the shelf, some of them very high dollar special purpose glass, most of which I use only very rarely. But probably 85 % of what I do is done with two lenses, one a Nikon, the other a Sigma. I use the hell out of the Sigma lens. I wouldn’t hessitate to buy another Sigma lens if it did something I needed, but I wouldn’t spend four grand on a lens unless I had an actual need for what that lens did. The thousand dollars for the Sigma 50mm 1.4 art lens sounds almost affordable, and based on my experience with Sigma lenses, I don’t view them as cheap, as in crappy, I view them as cheap, as in an opportunity to afford a piece of equipment I can make money with. Although I would love to try this lens out someday, I don’t really have a $1,000 need for it, and I certainly don’t have a $4,000 need for it, since my $110 Nikon cheapie seems to do what I need.

    But it did surprise me that I use this 50mm lens as much as I do. Part of the reason I use it so much is that it is so light and easy to use, and being light it is almost always in the bottom of my bag, so I have it on me most of the time. I’ve heard both the Sigma and the Zeiss lenses described as ‘moster’ lenses. It is possible that if I had the thousand dollar sigma lens instead of the cheapie Nikon (and I don’t mean to imply that Nikon lenses are inferior quality, but its cost was about 2 % of the Zeiss lens) it would probably sit on the shelf back at the shop most of the time and not be used as much as I have used the Nikon 50mm.