DxOMark: The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art Series Lens ‘Comes Seriously Close’ to the Otus


We have our own Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens on the way for full review, but until then it’s interesting to see what some of the big names in gear review are saying about this optical beast and how it compares to the Otus it was meant to compete with.

Today, one of the biggest of those reviewers, DxOMark, released the results of its tests — and news is good if you’re planning to pick one of these beauties up.

The headline-making conclusion reached by DxO when it pitted the new Sigma against the Otus and the old Sigma 50mm f/1.4 is that, where image quality is concerned, Sigma ‘comes seriously close’ to the Otus and leaves its brethren far behind.


In fact, it seems the reviewer found very little to complain about at all. If you’re looking for pitfalls, the closest you’re going to get is this little bit from DxOMark’s conclusion:

If there’s a downside it’s that lenses built with few compromises are generally large and heavy, but at least Sigma isn’t making you pay through your wallet.

Of all the lenses that DxOMark has tested the $950 Sigma comes in second behind (you guessed it) the Otus, and is actually the only one to match the Otus’ sharpness score. And while DxO did admit that ZEISS could best Sigma in a few categories — some of which might even be noticeable in real life — it seems a fair conclusion to say those differences are not worth $3,000 difference in price.


To read the full review and see how the Sigma stacked up in every category — it actually bested the ZEISS in vignetting — head over to DxOMark by following the link below.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM A Canon lens review: Art for Art’s sake? [DxOMark]

  • Mark Brown

    But it’s not as pretty as the Otus! :-)

  • David Vaughn

    How did the Otus get rated higher? The Sigma has lower distortion and vignetting. Or maybe I’m just reading the chart wrong.

  • Photoman

    Sigma shows best results at F2, Zeiss does it at F1.4.

  • Mike

    Two things:

    1) Wide open resolution. The peak resolution of the two lenses is the same, but the Otus is better at f/1.4 across the frame than the Sigma. This is significant in terms technical/optical differences, though perhaps less relevant since at f/1.4 the focus plane is so much narrower. I suppose that the Otus gives more freedom in terms of where you place your subject in the frame in relationship to resolution.

    2) Transmission. t/1.5 vs t/1.7.

  • Adam Cross

    this is easily going to be Sigma’s best selling lens ever, nothing in their line-up, previous or current, not even the 18-35 f/1.8 will out sell this lens, the 50 has some catching up to do but after 6 months, a year, it will have surpassed the 18-35 by a looong way

  • Adam Cross

    Also, just take a look at the difference between Canon’s 1.8II and their 1.2L, people never believe me when I talk about how great that little plastic fantastic is and that the 1.4 and 1.2 are a waste of money.

  • TSY87

    wow. that is amazing. They need to make some FE mount lenses! (and not just built in adapters, I mean actual smaller lenses that would balance better)

  • scatterbrained

    There’s more to a lens than outright sharpness. Put someone in front of a bush or tree or tall grass and shoot with the 50 1.8 wide open then with the 50 1.2 wide open. The “twitchy” bokeh of the 50 1.8 is miserable and distracts from the image, while the L smooths all that out. The L also has better AF and a much better build.

  • David Liang

    Not exactly, if you shot the 1.2 at 1.8 against the 1.8 at 1.8, the 1.2 will show better performance. Significantly better is up to debate, and certainly the price/value proposition even more up for debate. but that’s the thing about the uber wide lenses, stop them down and IMO they smoke native lenses at 1.8-2.8

  • Me

    Sharpness is one factor in a lens. How’s the colour rendition? How’s its ability to maintain saturation in out of focus areas? How’s the grade into and out of focus? How’s the contrast curve? How’s it render tones? How’s its flare resistance? How fast is the focus motor? What’s the build quality?

    Oh. None of that shows on on MTF charts? I guess that none of that probably matters. But since LP/MM are the easiest things to measure, I guess that’s only thing we ever need to talk about!

  • Chun K

    Damn, this with D800e = epic. Not sure about Canon side.

  • Ayden Gotzmer

    It will be at least until they make an Art 85! I’m hoping it will be just as good or better than this 50.

  • Pedrê

    how believe in same results for sharpness on Canon 1.8 and Zeiss planar 1.4? I got twice, the Zeiss is ridiculously better!

  • TomasF

    Thankfully beauty is subjective. I kinda think the Otus looks more like a plastic extension tube, while the others look like lenses, but there you go ;)

  • Adam Cross

    is “twitchy” a technical term? I’m not exactly sure what “twitchy” means in terms of bokeh. In terms of AF I’ve used all 3 lenses and the 1.8, in my experience, generally focuses faster. the 1.4 is well known to be the slower and less accurate of the 3, but I’ve never found any significant difference between the 1.2 and the 1.8, build quality and manual focus overide are, in my opinion, not worth the premium price tag. The 1.2 isn’t invincible regardless of how well it’s built, and is a bigger dent out of your pocket should you actualy break it, the 1.8 delivers images that are negligibly different and if it breaks it’s not going to cost you an arm to replace

  • Adam Cross

    That’s my point, it’s whether the more expensive, more desirable lens has actual, real-world noticeable difference in image quality and in my experience it doesn’t, I’ve shot with all three, the 1.4 is terrible compared to both of the others but I would pack the 1.8 every time, it weighs less, focuses faster and often more accurately depending on the situation. Sure, you get manual focus override on the 1.2 and it’s built better – but I don’t think that justifies the price difference or a place in my bag. Very rarely do I shoot below f/2.8 and the lenses are basically identical at that aperture, give me the less than £100 lens every time :) I know others will prefer the 1.2 and that’s fine, I get that the larger apertures are preferred for portrait and wedding work etc but for me the 1.2 doesn’t produce noticeably different results or better images

  • jonathan

    I agree. The bokeh on the 50/1.2 is creamy. The 50/1.8 is busy (maybe a better descriptor than “twitchy.” I am afraid that the bokeh on the new Sigma 50/1.4Art will be similarly busy–I haven’t seen much discussion of this, but in a few sample shots, I was a bit suspicious.

  • jonathan

    The 50/1.2 is a specialty lens. If you don’t need f/1.2 for your work, then great. Most people really don’t, tbh. But it’s still an exotic lens, and that will be reflected in the price. I do believe that the image it renders is nicer than the Canon 50/1.4 and the 50/1.8, however.

  • jonathan

    Thank you. All things I’d like to know, too. We will be seeing reviews crop up very soon, I hope.

    I must say, the 55FE really hit every note for me, besides vignetting (such a shame that all the FE lenses vignette so badly. I’d be amazed if the Art50/1.4 has nicer bokeh and colour. But we’ll see. I personally like Sigma a lot more than any of the other lensmakers, so…

  • Gabriele Correddu

    Ok, Sigma just bought my heart. This, the 35 and an eventual 85 will be my kit.

  • Vince

    dude… the Canon 50 1.2 is not a waste of money! The nifty 50 is nice… but go shoot in the rain with it… hahaha… go shoot in low light with it… just saying.. the 50 1.2 is an amazing lens for the application. If you just shoot in the studio all the time … get the 50 1.8 …. sure… but the 50 1.2 is a work horse and amazing piece of glass!

  • Jedy

    Reviews are already up…well, a lot of comments on forums! People are already making comparisons and drawing conclusions. They must be geniuses as the lens isn’t even available for the public to try yet!

  • Jedy

    Sigma’s current 85 is already a stunner, unless you need a usb dock compatible 85. I’d be interested to see a new 24 so I could compare it to my Sigma 24 which I find surprisingly good (despite mixed reviews from the usual sites).

  • Gabriele Correddu

    How does it compare to Nikon’s?

  • Olivia Mungal

    Sigma lenses are famous for having really creamy bokehs. Even the much less expensive Sigma 1.4 EX DG HSM gave the Canon 1.2L a run for its money.

    If it’s competing with the Otus in any way, it will probably have an incredibly smooth bokeh.

  • Olivia Mungal

    Agreed. I’d love to see a few side by side photos from the Otus, Sigma 1.4 Art, and Canon 1.2L to really get a good sense for the differences in quality.

  • yitzchak

    When will it be available???

  • dan p

    I wonder why DXOmark hasn’t tested the 50mm art on a nikon yet? the sigma 35mm gets higher ratings on a d800 than the otus does on the canon body.

  • tope

    what’s the difference when you compare it in human eyes anyway?