Sigma Slaps a $950 Price Tag on the 50mm f/1.4 Art Series Lens, Shocks Us All


The first reviews have been clear: the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art series lens delivers quality on par with the exceptional $4,000 ZEISS 55mm f/1.4 Otus. That’s no small feat, but just how impressive that fact was revolved entirely around what the company decided to price the lens. Well the answer is finally official, and it’s going to blow some minds.

You’ll be able to get Otus-quality PLUS autofocus for, get this, only $950!

Almost nobody expected Sigma to price this lens so competitively. Most had it pegged at least a few hundred dollars more, and we wouldn’t be surprised if this announcement has some people at ZEISS sweating now.

The lens will be available in late April (April 29th, according to B&H) for Canon, Nikon, Sony and Sigma mounts, and can already be pre-ordered from B&H Photo by clicking on any of those links.

  • Jérémie

    Want it!

  • Poki

    I think it should be compared to the Sony Zeiss FE 55/1.8 rather than to the Otus, as the former is much closer in price and performance is also very close to both rivals. The Otus is a non-compromise lens, and we all know how expensive those additional 5 – 10% of image quality can be. For a “very good and competitively priced” lens, Zeiss has other alternatives.

  • Brian MacLochlainn

    Okay this has upset me, (owner of an Otus)

  • RealityCheck

    This is not the case. Otus has not 5-10% more quality. This SIGMA is ON PAR with Otus. Same IQ at 1/4 the price. Deal with it.

  • Poki

    If this is your standard of “on par”, then the Sony Zeiss FE 55/1.8 is also on par with it. But in reality, there are differences when it comes to microcontrast and chromatic aberrations. Although nothing bad in any of those lenses, the Otus is a little more perfect than the others.

  • RealityCheck

    So you compared the sigma and the otus by yourself. I guess.

  • Peteris

    No, it should totally be compared to the Otus, read the review from SLRGear and educate yourself, the Sigma is an incredible lens when you take into account it even beats Otus in some respects when it comes to image quality (I’m not even talking size, weight, *autofocus* + dock, PRICE here) So in my book Sigma outright beat Otus if they’re on par with image quality/sharpness and then some.

    A sad day for Otus owners and ignorant 3rd party manufacturer haters. Open minded people rejoice. Good job, Sigma.

  • BD

    ZEISS is sweating marbles in snowy Germany.

  • Poki

    I did, but by “compared” I did an actual comparison, not just comparing it by saying it’s “on par”. It’s not. Although the difference is nowhere near worth three grand, it’s there. No doubt the Sigma will sell much better though.

  • Peteris

    So in a nutshell you just compared the Otus to Sigma yourself. Ironic. Let me ask you this, does ‘a little more perfect’ justify 4x price, +weight, +size, no autofocus?

  • Poki

    Oh, I like Sigma, they put out some awesome lenses recently. I’m just saying it should be compared with Zeiss lenses aimed at the same market, i.e. the Zeiss FE 55/1.8, which again, is smaller and lighter than the Sigma. The Otus is a status product which is there to show how good a lens can be, size, weight and price were no critical parts when developing this lens according to Zeiss.

  • Poki

    Didn’t I just write “the difference is nowhere near worth 3 grand”? Please first read my comment before replying. As I wrote down below, the Otus was created without size, price and weight in mind, to get the most perfect results possible. The FE 55/1.8 is aimed at the same market as the Sigma, developed with the same aims in mind, and look – it’s smaller and lighter than the Sigma (although a little slower). Just compare apples with apples, and do the apple to orange comparisons for fun. No reason to bash the Otus because the developing targets were different.

  • Peteris

    At the end of the day I don’t care much for ‘status’ products, especially when a company claims it’s own product as ‘the best in the world/history’, I care about the tools that help me get the job done – 3rd party or not. Should Sigma now claim their 50 1.4A the best lens status since they beat Zeiss? Or is that something only Zeiss can claim?

  • Tim

    Bye bye Zeiss, what do u expect with same quality with high labour cost.

  • Gabriele Profita

    Why would you ever compare a lens with a different focal lenght and aperture?
    Just price wise? Nonsense IMHO…
    The comparison with the Otus is more than correct since it’s the same focal length and aperture.
    Zeiss likes to use hefty price tags, but that’s not really the production cost (nor is the Sigma one), production costs are always a fraction of what the final customer will pay and in case of Zeiss is always too high because they wont to keep their premium and exclusive market position of the brand.

  • Poki

    Of course they could. But did they actually “beat” the Otus or are they “almost up on par” for a fourth of the price? I know it sounds like a play of words, but once a lens is this high quality, every bit of improvement comes with high costs in price, size and weight.

  • Gabriele Profita

    You know there’s a thing called perceived quality and REAL quality.
    You stick thinking one is better just because you pay more for it? You should do a blindfolded test.

  • Adam Cross

    I can’t say that the price has shocked me at all, given the price of their other new Art series lenses. Now to take advantage of that $-£ exchange rate :’)

  • Poki

    If the focal length / aperture difference is too big for you to compare it, well, than I guess Zeiss doesn’t have a competing product. Or, well, the Otus. Still, with different development aims it’s not a great comparison at all. What next? Compare a Sigma lens to an Arri Zeiss Master Prime?

    As for production cost – sure, they’re only a fraction. But they’re not cheap at all – optical glass can be very expensive.

  • Poki

    No, I always believe what I see, and in all the comparisons, the Zeiss looked to have a slight advantage. And I said a slight – not enough to warrant paying more for 99,99% of people I’m sure. And I can totally understand it – if I were in the market for a 50mm 1.4 lens, this Sigma was my first choice.

  • Larry

    Poki, go home. You’re drunk.

  • RealityCheck

    With all the respect but

    one thing is you, single user, reviewing two lens with in mind the fact that one cost 4000$,

    another thing is SLRgear and DxOmark who have all the stuff to precisely measure all the parameters. They simply say Sigma is ON PAR with the Zeiss OTUS which is bigger and heavier

  • Poki

    Not yet.

  • Poki

    If I may quote SLRgear, they say the following in the review of the Sigma lens:

    “There are certainly good reasons to choose the Otus over the Sigma, but we doubt if many photographers will make this decision.”


    “Put simply: it trounces any similar model available for less than $4,000.”

    Statements I fully agree. I also agree that the two lenses are on par from a practical standpoint, they’re just not completely on par from a technical point of view.

  • lexplex

    Can someone point me to these detailed comprehensive tests that have been done to compare this lens to others? So far, I’ve only seen websites saying how amazing the lens is (mostly ones that also feature Sigma adverts), no actual proof.

    For my part, I’m not really willing to pay more than $550 for a 50mm f1.4. I have a Canon 50mm f1.4 I’ve had for six years and I’m still perfectly happy with it. It’s taken photos that have been used for full page adverts in magazines and fashion shoots – even as a professional I can’t really justify paying that much extra money for a little bit of extra microcontrast and sharpness. The Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art lens is impressive for sharpness and contrast wide open, but it doesn’t focus fast enough. Certainly great that Sigma is investing heavily into high quality glass though.

  • Pixelschubser

    Shocking!1!! Not really…compared to the prices of the other Sigma Art Lenses…

  • RussianPhotographer

    Sigma might be not very smart here. They could charge 1400 bucks for at least a year as Zeiss obviously too expensive and new Canon’s 35 is not any where near the shelves.

  • JohnQuill

    Compared to the Sigma, the SEL55F18 is around a stop slow, 1/3 of the weight and only comes in E-mount. Apples and oranges. And unless you’re earning your living through photography, it’s crazy to buy the Otus over the Sigma.

  • Sir Stewart Wallace

    In most cases, you can ignore the Sigma adverts on the websites. More than likely, their advertising is of the targeted kind and since you happen to be reading an article about Sigma…

  • Gabriele Profita

    I can’t see this advantage.
    Maybe the Otus has a bit less cromatic aberrations (that are already nearly non existent on the sigma and easily fixable in PP), but the Sigma looks a bit more contrasted as if it transmits more light and also has a 10cm advantage on minimum focusing distance, 40cm Vs 50cm.
    Also the Otus is 55mm not 50, so probably seeing an enlarged picture makes you think it’s better…in any case nothing, absolutely nothing will ever justify the price difference and the hefty tag, also considering the Zeiss lacks AF.

  • Gabriele Profita

    It’s called market positioning.

  • Nikola Ovcharski

    GJ Sigma

  • Syuaip

    thank you Sigma. i’m getting one.

  • john

    you know zeiss is a japanese company now right?

  • Mike

    Looks like a nice portrait lens on a crop camera :-D (seriously)

    But as I don’t need f 1.4 and rarely use f 1.8, I would be interested how the Sigma compares to the Nikon 1.8G when used with f 2.2 / f 2.8 or even closed even more. Would you still be able to see a difference?

  • lexplex

    Nah they’re not dynamic AdSense style adverts and I’m not talking about ones that appear alongside that particular article.

  • DavidC

    Best example of competition being good….now maybe Canon will get on the ball

  • CTS

    PP sounding more like an infomercial every day.

  • Kiltedbear

    The point is that there are valid reasons other than price to choose the Sigma over the Zeiss and because the articles you read didn’t mention them, you are not even considering them in the equation. I would take a lighter lens with the option of having auto-focus (whether I used it or not) over one without if the quality difference is that minor any day. The price is the double Dutch icing on the cake. Stop telling people that see benefits of the Sigma over the Zeiss they are wrong to think that. Maybe they have slightly different priorities than you and it makes you look like a right git.

  • Poki

    Wait, I never said the Sigma didn’t have advantages. I myself always buy the best quality I can get for a certain weight, so I would never buy the Otus. As for AF – don’t forget that the quality of the manual focus ring is another part of the equation which you seem to forget here, and it’s more important to some than the option to have AF. To each his own.

  • TN

    we all await the publication of your review, and test/sample images =D

  • Rick Scheibner

    You speak the truth. I recently attended a wedding with two seasoned pro photogs who were doing everything right. L glass everywhere, except I noticed one guy was shooting with the 50mm f/1.4. I took advantage of a break in the action to ask him why they weren’t using the 50L, and he said the IQ between the two was negligible and they couldn’t justify the difference in cost. That was the only non-L lens I saw the entire day.

  • tonyc0101

    Sigma knows that only a VERY (relatively) small percentage of the photography community actually cares about the Zeiss name and legend, so they were VERY smart to aim the price at a wider audience who could actually afford the lens. in due time, they’ll be able to sell more units than the Z-50.

  • Poki

    You’re welcome. :]

  • @JacksonCheese

    10x the price of the Thrifty 50?
    I’m good.

  • Sky

    Can we stop repeating this “Otus-quality” nonsense, please? Yes, this lens is brilliant, one of the best on a market and miles ahead of the lenses that Canon or Nikon offer at this focal length and aperture. However it doesn’t offer the quality that’s equal to Zeiss Otus. It’s close, but not it just yet.

  • @JacksonCheese

    This isn’t a photography blog anymore.
    It’s a place for gearheads to mastubate over new toys.

  • Sky

    It’s been like that for quite a while. I have no idea why the surprise.

  • Sky

    f/1.8 vs f/1.4 – yes, the difference is large enough to justify skipping the comparison. These are two very different classes of lenses. It’s MUCH easier to build sharp f/1.8 than f/1.4 lens.

  • Sky

    10x the quality ;)